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April 29th, 2007

Chapter IV

In the next section of the story, Thor meets the Midgard Serpent. In Gods and Myths of Northern Europe, H. R. Ellis Davidson has pointed out that this fits a recognized pattern in world mythologies, where a Sky-God fights a World Monster. This is also seen in the legend of Saint George and the Dragon. Again, this episode differs from the popular The Life of Hymir, giving a much more detailed account of the battle and calling the Serpent by its Beothuck name, a name not suited to the English tongue, Cthulhu.

IV. Setting out to Sea

The sea was black as ink, with tepid waves like ripples in velvet. The only sound was of the oars breaking the water. The Giant Hymir started to row faster, hoping to exhaust his guest. “Let me know if you begin to tire, Voerr, and we can take a break.”

Thor, disguised as Voerr, was ready to take his hammer, Mjollnir, to the giant’s head, but he restrained himself and replied that he was just getting his second wind. Thor then increased his pace and the boat began to fly across the water.

They soon came to the reef where Hymir was accustomed to sit. “Stop!” Hymir cried. “This is where I always fish for whales.”

“Then this is where you failed to catch a minnow yesterday?” Thor continued to row. “Surely if we go out deeper, we can catch bigger fish. Besides, I’d like to get beyond the fog.”

Hymir was not pleased with this idea, but Thor rowed for a few more hours. They were soon out so far that Hymir could no longer smell the land. The fog had not thinned, so that it was impossible to know the hour. Again Hymir said that they should stop, as it would be dangerous to go any farther in the dark and he had no desire to spend the night at sea.

“Near here is the home of the Midgard serpent, which you call Jormungand and the Skraelings Cthulhu. It is not safe to fish in these waters, especially at night.”

“Cthulhu!” said Thor. “I’ve met his head priest and now I’d like to meet him.”

Hearing this, Hymir realized that Thor must indeed be one of the gods, as no single man ever escaped after seeing the Red Men of the North. They had even managed to chase most of the Vikings out of Vinland and into the arms of the Christians. It was believed that the Beothuck painted themselves with the blood of their victims, being very fond of the color red, and that they offered all strangers to their dead priest, Cthulhu, hoping to entice him back from the watery depths.

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