Morag woke with a start, realising that she had missed the end of her father’s story the night before.
Although she had heard the Saga of Magnus the Magnificently Bearded from Olaf many times before, she was upset to have fallen asleep part way through this time.
She got up, searching for her father, but was told that he would be gone from the village all day.
She spent the day playing and doing chores and attending to her studies but all the while, all she could think of was the ending to the story.
She knew she knew it, but try as she might, she could not find the words to tell the Saga herself.
Finally, the sun began to set and Morag knew it would be a few short hours until she was in her father’s warm embrace once more.
“Once upon a time…” began Olaf, as he did every night.
“No, no, Daddy!” interrupted Morag, “I missed the end of Magnus’ Saga! Please can we finish that story?”
“You fell asleep?” gasped Olaf, feigning disbelief. “I thought you went quiet because you were so enthralled by my story telling!”
Morag giggled, knowing she was being teased, but enjoying the game. “No! Daddy! You knew I was sleeping!”
“Did I?” he growled, as he began tickling her.
“Yes! Yes! You did! Stoooop!” Morag was wriggling and giggling.
“I suppose I did. So, would you like me to start from the beginning? Or from the mystery voice..?”
“The voice. From Thor’s voice!” Morag squealed.
“Thor’s voice? See, you already know the story! You don’t need me to finish it at all.” Olaf teased once more.
“Only because you asked so nicely.” Olaf jostled Morag’s position slightly so that she was nestled into the crook of his arm more comfortably.
“Now, where were we..? Oh yes!
“One day, as he was walking along the coast, trying to find new fishing spots, Magnus – the newly titled Magnificently Bearded – was startled by a voice from the clouds.
‘Magnus!’ it boomed, ‘I have given you all that you asked and prayed for, all that you worked and trained for and all that you have yearned for, why do you now turn your back on me?’
Magnus stopped where he was and searched the skies for a face.
He saw nothing.
But he heard the voice once more.
‘Magnus!’ it thundered, ‘Do not forget that I can take away what I give just as swiftly as that magnificent beard appeared on your face!’
And with that, Magnus felt a gush of wind across his face.
Instinctively, he put his hands to his cheeks and found they were once again as bare as the day he was born.
Magnus dropped to his knees.
‘Oh Mighty Thor!’ he yelled to the clouds, ‘Please forgive me! Please don’t take away my magnificent beard! Please don’t take away my magnificent strength and agility and ability. Please do not punish me for being a foolish mortal! I have learnt my lesson, Oh Thundering Thor, and I shall never again take your gifts for granted.’
Magnus paused, hoping that he’d hear or see a sign from the Gods, but nothing came.
The air was still, the waves were calmed and not a sound was heard.
Again, Magnus called out, ‘Mighty God of Thunder and War! Mightiest Thor! I beg of you to return my magnificent beard! If you grant me this one final request, I shall spend the rest of my life working harder than any other warrior to make you proud and to spread word of your great work.
God amongst Gods, I will vow to die with a reputation heralded across Sagas, and I will ensure that every Viking knows I do all that I do in your name!’
Again, Magnus waited.
He heard nothing.
He saw nothing.
Slowly, sadly, he began to pick himself up off the sand.
He stood, with a defeated look on his face and a sad bow to his neck.
Just as he lifted his leg to take a step toward the ocean, the mightiest gust of wind knocked his other leg out from under him and he fell onto his back.
He lay there, on the black sand, feeling the air swirl around him.
Then, he heard the loudest crack of thunder any man’s ears had ever beheld.
And with that, the skies went bright, the sun shone down and the birds began to sing.
Magnus stood once more.
This time he had a pride to his stance and a knowledge in his heart.
He walked to the still calm water and looked down at his reflection.
Staring back at him was a beard even more MAGNIFICENT than the one Thor had ripped from his face.
It was a beard that would bring him reputation throughout the Norse world and beyond…”
“And it was a beard that Magnus worked to keep for the rest of his days.” concluded Morag.
“That it was, my darling girl.” smiled Olaf. “Because, like Magnus the Magnificently Bearded, we must all work to keep a reputation we are awarded. Luck must be fought for.”
Before Morag had time to question her father further about the concept she didn’t yet fully understand, a crack of thunder sounded over their heads and they locked eyes and giggled conspiratorially.
“Thor is showing his appreciation for us!” Olaf whispered into her ear, before tucking Morag in for another warm night of deep sleep.