(These events are almost a thousand years old, happening before I started working in Japan. Much more recently, I was crouched close by a house, one dark night, listening to a storyteller. I almost laughed out loud, but kept quiet. Here's the REAL story!)
I was out fishing once, off the east coast of Iceland. Swimming deep, I happened to meet a Kelpie of my acquaintance.
"Waes hail, Lore-ka! Is all well with you?"
"Pie-Eye! You've been gone some while. How's your esteemed mother?"
"Still hibernating under the Greenland icepack. I've been back here a fortnight."
"Out fishing, eh? Well, there's a fish coming that is no fish at all."
"Is there a tale to this fish?"
"(Laughs) Certainly, and that a short one! Harold Gormsson, King of the Danes, looks this way; thinking to expand his holdings. He's hired a magician to scout out a landing. This mage is swimming hither in the form of a whale."
"Not the best form for sneaking, but maybe better to keep from getting eaten meanwhile. Just when the humans are getting settled-down, too; someone wants trouble. I was looking for a few dozen big cod; now I think I'll go whale-hunting!"
"Luck go with ye, Pie-Eye; and watch out for Thor!"
I rise up, and go airborne. After a while, I spot a suspicious-looking whale who seems to be making for the East coast shore at the Fjord of Weapons (Vopnafjörður). I make a diving pass and it turns back, heading deep. I watch for a while and see it finally turn northward.
Going somewhat inland, I spy the king of the Frost Giants. We aren't really friendly, but I wing in nearby.
"Go away, wyrm; or you'll have trouble."
"Trouble is already coming: Wizard trouble. There's a whale coming this way who's spying for the Danish king."
"Then I'll give HIM trouble!" Utgard-Loki puts on the shape of a huge sea-eagle, and drives the whale away from the Northern coast at the Fjord of Isles (Eyjafjörður). The flocks of natural shore birds loudly protest the eagle's presence.
I follow the whale at a distance, as it approachs the Western coast at Wide Fjord (Breiðafjörður).
There are no convenient giants nearby; the
beach holds only a large male Walrus
and his harem.
Lying on his side, the long shiny tusks look very like the horns of a bull. The walrus shakes himself and bellows. The whale, not having the best viewpoint from sea-level out among the waves; decides to forego any closer view here.
The wizard-whale swims South round the Smoke Peninsula (Reykjanes), and makes for the Sands of Vikar (Víkarsskeið). A troop of Stone Giants are already there, fishing. The tallest has just beached his sixth large fish when the lookouts spot the whale. The fisher hoists his long iron harpoon and wades around to try and hem-in the whale. The wizard sees that matters are coming to a point, and quickly turns back out to sea, and Eastward. He found no other suitable landing area and returned to the King of the Danes, with no good news.
A loose translation of the official version of "The Guardian Spirits of Iceland", may be found at Virtually Virtual Iceland.
The Seal of Iceland
is based upon the "official" story;
with the Dragon in the Eastern part,
the Bird in the Northern part,
the Bull in the Western part
and the Stone Giant the Southern part.
The four guardians have also appeared as Icelandic postage stamps.
(Without even knowing it at the time, I've been "licked" by many mere humans! - PED)
[Some of the above beings and situations have been suggested by very old Icelandic stories.]
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