Excerpts from Ragnarok: The Doom of the Gods
ODIN: I must journey. To find the truth.
FRIGGE: No! I pay no mind when you leave my bed
To go off sporting in every realm,
The females of Elves, Dwarfs, Primals,
Mortals or swine.
But I scorn your quest for Truth.
You gouge out an eye for keener sight.
Is blindness vision? Is Truth
The crafting of better lies to live by?
Are the cries of our son no more than a frail excuse
To gather the dust of the road?
ODIN: No quelling the demons once they root in the eyes.
When we suck at the breast do we suck in shadows?
Well then I ask Thor to journey there
To that land of chaos, to know the threat.
THOR: I will.
BALDUR: Thor is quick-tempered, Father.
I mean no disrespect, but I ask that others go.
Loki, silent until now, comes forward.
LOKI: Well said.
As Thor’s companion I offer myself.
I know the ways of the Strange Ones.
Their blood is in me.
ODIN: Loki speaks. Blood brother.
LOKI: Strangely so. The stream, the eddies, the tangles.
We have shared many sunsets.
THOR: Dare I trust him?
FREYR: Half-breed.
IDUN: Trickster.
ODIN: You must. Go, my brother in blood.
Primals waddle in, grotesque clowns with red noses. They see Thor and Loki, speak with unison gestures.
ALL: Look. Funny. Ho ho ho.
THOR: What do they say?
LOKI: They say, “We greet you, mighty ones.”
Chief speaks, echoed by the others.
CHIEF: Welcome, small fry. Come eat. You want kiddie meals?
LOKI: (to Thor) “Welcome to our feast.”
THOR: I’m starved.
ALL: Oh. Starved. Cute.
THOR: I’ll have some drink.
ALL: He drink. He big drunk huh? Ho ho.
CHIEF: Start feast with games. Play game, li’l nippers? Drink up?
LOKI: (to Thor) Drinking contest. Tradition of hospitality. Challenge guests to prove themselves.
CHIEF: We drink.
THOR: Drink you under the table, blubber-guts.
ALL: Blubber-guts. Ho ho.
CHIEF: Mark. Set. Go.
They drink. Primals upend their drinking horns, belch. Chief signals touchdown.
Thor continues, unable to drain his goblet. Gasping:
THOR: I’ll do it.
Drinks. Gasps. Collapses.
ALL: Blubber-guts!
THOR: What they say?
LOKI: “Nice try.”
My friend isn’t thirsty. We’ll try my skill. Foot race.
CHIEF: Foot race. We got fast runner. Hot foot.
ALL: Zoom.
Runner appears, fat, limping and wheezing.
CHIEF: Run to mountain. Pluck holly. Run back. Go fast.
ALL: Zappo.
LOKI: The speed of an arrow.
CHIEF: Mark. Set. Go.
Loki starts off. Instantly, Runner raises arms, holding sprig of holly.
THOR: They’re cheating. I’ll choose. Wrestling.
I’ll take on your champ.
Lay my hands on something solid.
ALL: Oh boy. Big rumble. Wowser.
THOR: Bring on your big fellow. Bring on your whopper. Bring me on your colossus.
A doddering Old Lady appears.
CHIEF: She the champ. Tough cookie.
LOKI: (to Thor) Control yourself.
CHIEF: Mark. Set. Go.
Thor lunges at the Old Lady, runs into her arm, falls flat. Grabs her arm to throw her over his shoulder, slowly collapses under its weight. Squeezing her in a bear hug, she coughs, sends him reeling. He gets an arm lock around her neck, they twist about, and he winds up strangling himself to the point of collapse.
ALL: Ho ho ho ho ho.
CHIEF: He want milk and cookies? Build up muscle?
THOR: What’d he say?
LOKI: He calls it a draw.
We have much travel ahead. Thanks for your hospitality.
ALL: (vehemently) Bye bye.
Primals waddle off.
HELGA: That was good, Bjorn. That was very good.
SNORRI: Very true to life.
BJORN: I never died before.
SNORRI: Well you’re going to die again. Every time we do the play you die. At the end everyone dies.
BJORN: You didn’t tell me that.
SNORRI: You sell fish. The fish all died. Gasping for air! Slit up the belly! Bashed in the head!
BJORN: Well I’m sorry!
HELGA: Snorri—
SNORRI: Death is true to life.
Helga hands around bread and a wineskin. Snorri goes into his true character: the born comedian.
HELGA: You think you’re making a joke. It wasn’t so funny at Uppsala.
SNORRI: They said we brought the plague. You could die from watching us pretend to die.
HELGA: You took it as a compliment.
SNORRI: They were set to burn us up. Burn us at the stake.
BJORN: I saw that once.
SNORRI: I said, “If our crime is pretending to die, then let us pretend to get punished.” They didn’t like that.
HELGA: Thanks be to the soldiers of the Earl our lord protector.
BJORN: And Thor.
SNORRI: Don’t worry about dying. It gets easier all the time.
My dad. I saw my dad die about a thousand times. I believed it every time. But then when he really died, he made these weird faces. It looked fake.
Suddenly, Helga explodes.
HELGA: Every story we tell is death, death, death. I’ve got life inside me. What stories do we tell about that?
HELGA: Birth.
BJORN: I never heard any stories where babies just got born. Where a woman just has a baby?
HELGA: Why shouldn’t there be? Why shouldn’t the bard sing the nine months of the baby being born? The work it takes? The blood! If it’s blood that makes it all heroic, then what about that blood? Why don’t they sing about that?
SNORRI: Well they don’t. No reason. They just don’t. That’s crazy. Everybody gets born, there’s nothing special in that. It’s the killing that makes the story.
ODIN: (to Frigge) You would speak. Then speak.
FRIGGE: So let it be.
Guardianship of the light is entrusted
To hammers, monsters, shadow.
That is the way of it then
In this world-not-as-it-was-before.
And so, my lord, it would be foolish waste
To let brave warriors rot with Hel.
We must not squander the dead.
Look to Midgard.
Shall Mortals live out their days in labor
And spend their death in darkness?
Let them make war.
Let sons of mortal mothers live lives of worth,
Die to enrich their kings and cry our glory.
I speak as a mother—
LOKI: Strange words to come from a mother’s lips.
FRIGGE: An echo.
I speak the words I hear in the wind.
The sperm that floods my womb
Begets the fruit I bear.
My daughters,
Who ages past ages bring forth springtime:
I name you now the Valkyries,
Choosers of the Dead.
To Valhalla, the Hall of the Slain, you bring the heroes.
Let the unworthy cluster with Hel
While in Valhalla these warriors wage perpetual war.
By day they die, by night they drink and mend.
And so they prepare for Ragnarok,
Streaming forth from five hundred gates to stall the tide.
Centuries long, they wait to seize the day.
LOKI: An odd reward for virtue, to be slain and slain again.
ODIN: We must honor the prophecies:
Murder must not enter Asgard.
FRIGGE: The killing of Mortals by Mortals is not murder.
They expect to die.
ODIN: Let it be so.
I strain to see what’s near at hand.
What looms on the blind side—
LOKI: Reap the harvest then.
Your arm ring Draupnir sheds eight rings of gold on every ninth night.
Fling these rings into Midgard,
Spurs to war, to multiply our legions.
Odin casts the rings. All watch as they descend.
FRIGGE: Now I mother Death.
Odin and Frigge turn away. Loki looks downward to Midgard.
LOKI: Mortals are the Runes.
What their bodies spell out will resound among the Gods.
A God is only a creature obsessed,
A monster of love, of light, of thunder—all madness.
Myself, the god of maggots, purging the rotted flesh,
Or of dentists, probing the tooth’s decay.
I am the water crept into the rocks that, freezing, cracks mountains.
Unmaker for what must be unmade.
I frolic.