There was great shouting and fury in the Palace of Jotenheim where the great Norse Giants lived.
"You are a fool, Rungnir!" some of the Giants were shouting. "You have agreed to fight the great god Thor! You are mad, quite mad!"
"Thor is our greatest enemy. He will surely kill you, Rungnir," other Giants cried. "Then he will kill all of us and destroy Jotenheim. You have brought disaster upon us! Not even a Giant can resist Thor with his mighty thunder and his deadly hammer, Miolnir!"
Rungnir, the Giant of the Mountains, looked very ashamed of himself. His fellow Giants at Jotenheim were right to be angry with him. If only he had not gone to Valhalla, the home of Odin, Thor and the Viking gods. If only he had not drunk so much mead when he was there.
'But I am not to blame,' thought Rungnir, as his fellow Giants shouted at him. 'I didn't force my way into Valhalla. Odin, the chief of the gods, invited me in... and the mead of the gods did taste wonderful!'
The mead, however, had made Rungnir ' very drunk, and he started talking very stupidly. "I like this place!" Rungnir cried looking around the splendid hall in Valhalla, which was lined with shining golden shields. "I will take it back with me to Jotenheim. We Giants are big fellows, as big as mountains. We could do with more room to live in."
Rungnir thumped his enormous fist on the table and laughed loudly. His stone fist made the table shake violently. The sound echoed all through Valhalla.
"I think I shall also take the beautiful Freya and the golden-haired Sif with me," Rungnir decided. "They can be my slaves. As for the rest of you..."
The Giant looked around at the other gods and goddesses. "I shall kill you all and the Giants shall become the gods of the Vikings instead!"
Thor, the Viking god of thunder, was not at Valhalla. He was busy making storms over the lands of Scandinavia where the Vikings lived. The noise of the storms was very great. All the same, Thor could hear the strange voice coming out of Valhalla. He hurried home to find out what was going on.
When he marched into Valhalla and found Rungnir there he was furious.
"What's this? What is a Giant doing here drinking our mead?" Thor demanded in a terrible voice. "Have you all forgotten that the Giants are our deadliest enemies?"
Thor's eyes were blazing with anger. He was swinging his enormous hammer Miolnir in a very threatening manner.
"Odin invited me here," Rungnir protested, his voice trembling.
"What!" shouted Thor, making the shields along the walls clatter with the noise. "Is this true, Odin?"
"Yes," Odin told Thor firmly. "I am chief of the gods. I invite whoever I like to Valhalla. Greet Rungnir as a guest or you will feel my anger!"
Thor knew Odin was all-powerful and could punish him severely, but he was too angry to care. "Greet a Giant as a guest!" he shouted. "Never! I shall kill him where he sits."
"I have no Weapon, Thor!" Rungnir cried. "It is a great dishonour to kill an unarmed opponent."
Despite his fury, Thor knew this was true. "Very well, Giant," he replied "Arm yourself and we shall fight in single combat. Each of us shall have only a squire to attend us."
Rungnir had to accept Thor's challenge. To refuse would make him a coward. But when the other Giants learned that Rungnir Was to fight Thor they were horrified. They realised they must do something to stop disaster.
The hall at Jotenheim fell silent as the Giants sat and thought about it.
The Giants' brains were made of stone. So they were not very intelligent, and it took a long time before one of them thought of an idea.
"I know what we can do," the Giant suggested. "Let's make the biggest and tallest squire there has ever been for Rungnir!"
The other Giants liked the idea. "Splendid! Splendid!" they cried. "Thor only has Thialfi as his squire, and Thialfi is no bigger than a human's fingernail."
The Giants set to work straight away. With their huge fists, they pulled enormous amounts of clay and rock out of the earth and began to build a colossal creature out of it. It grew bigger and bigger until it stretched nine miles into the air. Its chest measured three miles across. It was so enormous that the gods in Valhalla could see it rising up above the mountain peaks.
"Look at that!" Thialfi said to Thor, That's Rungnir's squire! And look at me! How tiny I am! What are we going to do, great god of thunder?"
It was a problem, even for the mighty Thor.
"We must call a meeting of the gods," Thor told Thialfi. "Together we must decide what to do."
The gods discussed the problem for many hours, then, at length, the cunning demon Loki, thought of a solution.
"This is how we shall defeat the Giants' huge creature..." said Loki, and he told of his plan.
The day of the battle dawned. It was very clouds. The clouds were so thick they hid the sun. Rungnir arrived on the battlefield carrying his hone a large stone shaped like a letter 'Y'. The minutes passed. The time for the battle to start went by. But where was Thor? He was nowhere to be seen.
"He is afraid to fight Rungnir," said the Giants, feeling very pleased and excited.
More time Went by. In Valhalla, all was quiet. It was as if the gods were all asleep. Then suddenly, there was a tremendous noise beneath Rungnir's feet. The earth shook and shuddered as the noise became louder and louder, until the stone ears of Rungnir began to hurt. The enormous squire was terrified. He began to sweat with fear.
Across the mountains, Loki was watching from his hiding place. Next to Loki was Tir, the sky god. "It's working, Tir," whispered Loki excitedly. "Are you ready to play your part in our plan when the time comes?"
"Of course," Tir whispered back.
The thundering inside the earth increased. The ground at Rungnir's feet split open with a terrific tearing noise. A great blaze of fire and lightning leapt out of it and there in the middle was Thor. In his hand, there was his mighty hammer, Miolnir.
At this, Rungnir's squire gave a frightful shriek. He was sweating so much that he was almost melting into mud. Rungnir was frightened too, but he managed to fling his great hone at Thor. At the same moment, Thor released Miolnir and the hammer went flying through the air, making straight for Rungnir.
"Now, Tir, now!" the watching Loki cried.
The sky god thrust his hand up into the sky and pushed aside the clouds. As they rolled back, the sun shone hot and brilliant. Its rays beat down upon Rungnir's sweating squire, drying him out in a second. At once, huge cracks appeared all over him and he started falling apart. Great chunks of rock and began pouring down upon the Giants. They started to run, but only one or managed to escape. The rest could not run fast enough. The rocks and clay rained down upon them.
Thor's hammer and Rungnir's hone were flying towards one another. They collided in mid-air.
The hone smashed to tiny pieces, but Miolnir was undamaged. It came crashing down at great speed, striking Rungnir on the forehead. Rungnir shattered into stones that fell in a shower all over the earth.
Thor let out a yell of triumph.
"Loki!" he shouted. "You are the cleverest of all the gods in Valhalla."
Loki came out of his hiding place, smiling.
"I never thought that I, Thor, god of thunder, could be more terrifying than I was already," Thor cried, grinning broadly. "But your idea that I tunnel through the earth has proved me wrong."
That night, the merrymaking in Valhalla Went on for many hours. A lot of mead was drunk as the gods celebrated Thor's great victory and Loki's cleverness.