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Monday, October 17, 2005

The Saga of Ratatosk

The most charming character in world mythology is Ratatosk, the squirrel who runs up and down the World Ash, Ygdrassil, carrying insults between Nidhog, the dragon at the bottom, and the Eagle at the top.

It's high time he had his saga written down.

THE SAGA OF RATATOSK THE SQUIRREL

1.

Ratatosk the Squirrel lived on a bough of Ygdrassil, the World Ash, that was neither near the top or the bottom. He was the son of Siegmund, the son of Olaf, the son of Ivan-the-not-so-Terrible, who was said to have been able to carry more than ten acorns at a time and who had lost his left front paw in a fight against the moles of Trondheim.

Ratatosk had a glossy brown coat, bright eyes, quick ears and a sharp tongue. He was famed amongst the squirrels for his wit and poetry.

2.

Now we turn our attention to a bough, lower down upon Ygdrassil. It was here that Fair Annabelle the Squirrel lived. She was the daughter of Fluffnir, the son of Njal, the son of Gruffin who took Fat Cloffin the squirrel for his wife. Fair Annabelle was lively and had a face like a rat, which was attractive for a squirrel.

3.

Now we turn our attention to Nidhog the Dragon, who dwelt at the bottom of the World Ash and ate babies for his breakfast. He was the son of nobody and the father of nobody, for dragons are neither born nor do they give birth; they just are.

In the morning when the dew was wet upon the bark of Ygdrassil and the sun shone weakly through the foliage of the tree, Nidhog extended his scaly neck out of his cave and sniffed at the air.

4.

Nidhog spied Ratatosk creeping along a nearby branch with one of his four eyes. "RRRRATATOSK the SQUIRRRRREL," he rumbled, "Come closer!"

"Oh no, my Lord Nidhog," replied Ratatosk, "For as the rune says, 'A squirrel knows how to keep his place.'"

"But I would just like to eat ... er, meet you!" replied Nidhog.

"Has your lordship not had his fill of babies this morning?" asked Ratatosk.

"Don't answer back!" roared Nidhog. "It's not easy being a dragon, you know!"

"It is said," continued Ratatosk, "That you desired to see me."

"Yes," rumbled Nidhog, "I have a little message that I would like you to take."

"A wise squirrel," replied Ratatosk, "Does not share secrets with just anyone."

"You will do my bidding!" roared Nidhog.

"The truth is, my Lord," said Ratatosk, "I am a little hungry myself. I would not want to carry a message on an empty stomach."

Nidhog looked Ratatosk in the eye.

"You may have three fine brown acorns from my store if you will hear my message,"

"And who is this message for?" asked Ratatosk.

"For the eagle who lives on the topmost bough of Ygdrassil."

Ratatosk dared to run some way down the bark of the tree.

"What is your message, my Lord?" enquired Ratatosk.

Nidhog opened his mouth and Ratatosk had to dance quickly up the tree to save his tail hairs from being singed.

"Come back, little squirrel," pleaded Nidhog. "I did not mean to singe your tail hairs."

"Oh no, Mr Nidhog," said Ratatosk, "For you have four eyes and ten stomachs, but I have only one tail."

"I will give you three more fine brown acorns from my store," said Nidhog, stretching his neck in a wheedling fashion.

So Ratatosk came back down the tree and listened, very carefully, to Nidhog's message.

5.

As Ratatosk run back up the trunk, the sun rose high and shone strongly, and he grew exceedingly thirsty. He stopped to rest and refresh himself at an inn in the side of Ygdrassil. Three mice were sitting at a table there, and they grew silent and their faces drew closed as Ratatosk approached them.

Then Ratatosk placed two acorns upon the table and the mice smiled and slapped him on the back and offered him a hollow dogs tooth full of mead. Then many sagas were told and Eddas sung and it was not for some time that Ratatosk left.

As he stood in the doorway, he looked at the three mice, and said:

Three mice,
One squirrel,
Two acorns,
Mead,
And much talk -
And who is the poorer?

Then he ran on up the tree.

6.

The sun hid his face behind a cloud and the rain bit into Ratatosk's fine fur coat as he ran on up the tree.

Then he came to the bough of Fair Annabelle the Squirrel, and the sun came out and the rain dried from his coat.

Ratatosk was received pleasantly and he offered three more acorns as payment and he stayed for many minutes. Then Fluffnir, the father of Fair Annabelle, approached.

"Far away, in a bough to the southern side of Ygdrassil, there are three cats," he said.

"They have destroyed many of our family, and now the Squirrels are preparing for war."

Ratatosk agreed to go with Fluffnir. He bade farewell to Fair Annabelle and her mother, Ragin the Worried.

7.

For several hours, Ratatosk fought alongside his brother squirrels against the mighty cats Loudroarer, Sharpclaw, and Fang. Many of them fell, and the cats bore burning brands amongst their camp.

The sky was heavy with cinders and the day grew grey.

Fluffnir was fallen, alongside gentle Sigurd son of Siegmund Squirrel and Bargun of the Red Coat.

Then Ratatosk stood amongst the fields of fire, and he said:

I saw the best squirrels of my generation dragged starving, hysterical, naked,
Fluffnir, Fluffnir, wherefore art thou, Fluffnir?
Won't somebody please think of the acorns?

Which was quite good, for a squirrel.

8.

Now we turn our attention to the top of the tree, where lived Margle the Eagle. He was the son of Gargle, the son of Gan, the son of Grun, the son of Talon the Savage.

He held court at the top of the tree, and had one eye. Nobody knew where he had lost the other one, probably not even him.

With this one eye he surveyed all that went on in the world below.

9.

Ratatosk ran onwards, up the trunk of Ygdrassil, the World Ash that always was and always will be. Then he came upon an ant. The ant was sitting upon a twig sticking out from Ygdrassil, and looking up towards a higher branch. Sap was slowly seeping along this branch and some day, it would form into a droplet and fall downwards.

"Then I will have some food to bring to my Mistress, the Queen of the Ants," explained the Ant.

"How long have you been sitting here?" enquired Ratatosk.

"My father was sitting here before me, and his father before him, and his father before him," replied the Ant. "We perform a sacred office, known, as The Keeper of the Sap."

Then Ratatosk wished the Ant good luck and ran on up the slope.

10.

When the eagle saw Ratatosk running up the slope, he was overjoyed, for he had not eaten that day.

Ratatosk peeked above the leafy branches of Ygdrassil. They were high, higher than anything else in this world, higher than the sky, even. And as he looked above, snow fell upon his small squirrel's crown.

Margle screeched and flew towards Ratatosk, but not before Ratatosk guessed what he was about and darted away to a far branch.

"Good afternoon, Margle, son of Gargle, son of Gan!" squeaked Ratatosk. "I bear you good news!"

"I don't want to hear any good news. I want to eat!" squawked Margle, and made another grab for Ratatosk. But Ratatosk was too quick for him. He ran hither and thither along the trunk, evading the eagle's talons.

"Oh, come closer, Ratatosk," crooned the eagle, "For you must, if you want to tell me something. I'm hard of hearing, you know."

Ratatosk stepped carefully out on to the topmost branch of the tree, and walked gracefully towards Margle.

"Now," chirped Margle the Eagle, "What is it you want to say, little squirrel?"

Then Ratatosk looked Margle in the single eye, and told him.

And as Ratatosk told him, Margle looked melancholy, then sad, then angry, then horrified, then terrified, then indifferent, then offended.

"And that," gasped Margle, "Is that?"

"And that," finished Ratatosk, "Is what your dear friend Nidhog wants me to tell you."

"That's … quite an insult," said Margle. "Where on earth could he have come up with that?"

"I wouldn't know," smirked Ratatosk.

"Well," said Margle, "I have something to tell him. Come closer, little squirrel."

And Ratatosk indeed edged closer, until the Eagle sat side by side with the squirrel. Margle leant down and whispered in Ratatosk's ear.

Then, just when Ratatosk blinked, Margle whipped out his talon and scooped a quivering Ratatosk towards his gaping beak.

Thinking quickly, Ratatosk grabbed the acorn from his paws, and hurled it into Margle's eye. The eagle instantly let Ratatosk go, and flapped about, screeching, "AWWWWWWK! I'm BLINDED! I'm BLINDED! ARRRRRRK!"

"Sorry, My Lord," replied Ratatosk, "But I have a message to take back to your friend Nidhog ... and you wouldn't want him not to hear it, now, would you?"

And with that he scurried down, down, down through the white tops of Ygdrassil, and into the green foliage below.

11.

As night drew on, Ratatosk came to the home of Fair Annabelle. He was received warmly, and soon he approached the mother Ragin the Worried, mother of Fair Annabelle, and asked whether she would agree to his becoming her son in law.

"I would agree to that," replied Ragin the Worried, "If my daughter would."

Fair Annabelle replied that she thought it sounded like a good bargain. And so they were married.

Although, as luck would have it, it turns out that Ratatosk and Fair Annabelle had already married on the previous night. But they were just squirrels, and couldn't be expected to remember that.

HERE ENDS THE SAGA OF RATATOSK THE SQUIRREL



5 comments:

rachy said...

hurry the fuck up and write a novel...

TimT said...

Thanks so much! I had fun writing this, and I was thinking of getting it published in a children's magazine.

rachy said...

the thanks is all mine, just do me a favour and get your ass published!

TimT said...

I called up School Magazine today. It's in with a chance, but I dunno ... the death and violence might rule it out for the littlies, and the fact that it's a story mostly about squirrels might make it seem a bit too sucky for the older kids.

rachy said...

der Bruder Grimm got away with it, and kiddies LOVE violence... maybe not French ones, but most do

Email: timhtrain - at - yahoo.com.au

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