The Myth Behind the Gard: Minotaur & Risi


Magmataur is based on the Minotaur from Greek mythology. The name Minotaur stems from the King Minos of Crete and the Greek word for bull. In Greek mythology, King Minos asked Poseidon for white bull as a show of his favor by the gods. Poseidon obliged, but demanded that Minos also sacrifice the bull to him in his honor. Minos refused and instead kept the bull for himself. As retribution, Poseidon made Minos' wife fall in love and mate with the bull, giving birth to the half-man half-bull Minotaur named Asterion.


As the Minotaur grew up, he became more vicious and could only be sated by human flesh. Minos had him hid away in a labyrinth built by the craftsman Daedelus, the father of Icarus. King Minos forced the Athenians to regularly offer Seven youths and seven maidens to be devoured by the Minoutar as punishment for killing his son Androgeous.


On the third offering, King Aegeus of Athens sent his son Theseus in Hope's to kill the Minotaur and end the sacrifices. Minos' daughter Ariadne fell in love with Theseus and on the night before being thrown in the labyrinth gave him a ball of string to use so he could find his way through the maze. After killing the Minotaur, Theseus fled Crete with Ariadne and her sister Phaedra, but the Goddess Athena appeared to him while sleeping and told him to leave Ariadne on the island of Naxos to be wed to the God Dionysus and to have him marry Phaedra instead. Distraught over leaving Ariadne, Theseus forgot to change the color of his sail from black to white, which was supposed to indicate to his father if he survived or not when his boat returned. When King Aegeus saw the black sail he threw himself off a cliff into the sea, which now bears his name.


While many depictions of the Minotaur are of a bull's head and man's body, the myths do not specify how the parts were mixed, just that he is half-man half-bull. Some depictions instead show Asterion as having the lower half bull like a satyr or centaur. While the Minotaur in Greek mythology was a singular being named Asterion (which means 'starry sky'), it was not until the 20th century that science-fiction writers began adapting the creature into a species of beings.




Risi are a type of Jotun; like trolls, vaettir, and thurs. While all are referred to as 'giants,' they vary greatly in shape, size and form. Risi tend to be depicted as what are most commonly thought of as giants, often large in stature.


All Jotnar (plural of Jotun) descend from Ymir, a Giant formed from the mixing of the icy waters of the river Elivagar and the warm waters of Muspel that existed before the earth was formed. Ymir was hermaphroditic, birthing a male and female Jotun from the sweat of each armpit when he slept. Also formed from the ice was a cow that produced four rivers of milk from which Ymir drank. The cow survived by licking salt off the rime-stones that surrounded her. After several days, one of the rocks she licked took the form of a man and gave birth to Buri. Buri then had a son named Bor, who married a Jotun named Bestla and gave birth to the gods Odin, Ve, and Vili.


 According to the Eddas, Ymir became evil and was killed by Odin and his brothers. Ysmir bled so much from his mortal wound that it drowned all but one Jotun and his family who survived by building an ark. The gods then used Ysimr's body to create the Earth. Ysmir's blood became the oceans and seas, while his bones became the rocks. His hair became the trees and his skull used to form the sky. The sparks and molten rock from Muspell were used to make the stars, while Ysmir's brain was thrown into the sky to form clouds. Lastly, his eyelashes were used to fence in the Jotun from the rest of the Earth.


After their victory, the gods made humanity out of two logs they found on the beach. When the first humans had children, they were so beautiful the gods became jealous and put them in the heavens to become the Sun and the Moon. To ensure they always had a pathway back to Earth, the gods also created rainbows to serve as a bridge, but designed them to break apart if men tried to use it to reach the heavens.


Giants have been a popular trope across numerous ages and cultures. From the fairy tale Jack and the Beanstalk to the Manga Attack on Titan, giants are known by many names: Nephilim in Hebrew, Quinametzin (Metzin Giant) by the Aztec, Titans by the Greek, and Rubezhal by the Wends (Wendish Giant).

Bragi Finds His Muse: Loki’s Showdown


Bragi could see the red blinking beacon of the radio tower cut through the fog of Jotunheim in the distance. He knew they were close. Only the steaming snorts of the molten Magmataur and fiery locks of the Volcanic Risi stood between them and Loki's illusory retreat.


'Think you can hold them off Leif?' Bragi looked hopefully to his beefy compatriot.


'Jos wan, maebe tew if ah wasnae sow tuckered fram dae climb. Bat Ahm ah raite gentaleman. Ah naer poot 'ands ahn ah lass.' Leif nodded toward the Risi that stood guard with the Magmataur.


Fossegrim hopped onto Leif's shoulder and carefully tuned his fiddle. He adjusted each note until they pulled punches and kicks out Leif's limbs like a marionette.


'I'm no Jin-Sook, but I'll get your battered old bones moving just yet!'


'Fare ehnoof mate, baht wat aboot lass wan?'


'Looks like you're up Gywyn.' Xin pushed the reluctant elf forward.


'What?! Look at her! She's a giant made of lava! Why me?!'


'Bragi is gonna need all our musical accompaniment if he wants to have a chance against Loki, you're the only one we can spare!'


'I'll get squished in a second! what good will that do?'


'A second is all we need to get past them, don't you have a hazardous duty pay stipulation? Whatever it is, we'll triple it.'


'triple triple pay?...Agh, I'm sure my estate will appreciate your contribution. This verbal contract is binding by the way!'


'Alright then: Leif and Grim, go left; Gywyn, go right!' The party split apart, drawing away the gateway's guardians from their posts. Bragi and the Muses narrowly managed to dodge the magmataurs fiery axe swings. Grim's furious fiddling pulled the two beasts away just in time to compel them into an uncontrollable locked horn tango. Leif squared off against the tangled Magmataur, perfectly timing his flurry of punches to Grims manic tempo fast enough to avoid singing his fists on the magmatur's scalding skin.


'Lukes laeik weis gaut dis par sinched! Puer Gywyn, Sooch a brave lad. Eh as nae chance doose eh?'


'Oh no, he's totally dead.' Grim grinned gleefully.


Gywyn belted a shrill shriek to accent his clumsy sidestep of the Risi's molten lash. He wasn't used to relying on his elven nimbleness for survival, he much prefered lurking behind some kind of defender over direct confrontation.


'Hey lady, take it easy, maybe we can work something out?! Uhh...have you ever thought about representation?'


'AND WHY WOULD I NEED THAT?' The Risi's voice rung with an earth shattering boom.


'Well,...you're very hot, have you thought about being an influencer?'


'I mean, it's not like I don't try...wait, you think I'm hot?' The Risi's voice softened as she spun a lock of her molten hair between her fingers.


'Of course! You're smoking...literally! At least an 8…' The Risi's eyes narrowed, surging with smouldering ire. 'out of 8!' Gywyn recoiled reflexively. his mouth was just as good at getting him out of trouble as in it.


'I dunno, I update all the time but my posts never seem to gain any traction, all I get are trolls that spam my feed saying I'm too tall or jotun who sat I'm not tall enough. I never can please anyone. It really hurts my self-esteem. I don't want to be a guard, but it's not like there's whole bunch of employment opportunities out here.' The Risi whipped out her phone and snapped a forlorn high-angle duckface selfie.


'Your talents are underappreciated out here baby! Spotty coverage, slow wifi, toxic users; come with me to Neo-Gangnam and I guarantee once you're out of this backwater podunk you'll get all the attention you deserve!'


'Ya know you might be short, but you're also kinda cute. You really think I got what it takes?'


'For a small percentage, I'm thinking you'd be perfect for a whole range of beauty product endorsements exclusive to the niche incendiary being market!' Gywyn cautiously put his arm around her, when his arm didn't instantly catch fire he gave her a look that would make her melt if she wasn't already a molten elemental.


___



A silken veil billowed with a warm breeze and glowing sunlight at the end of the dark stone corridor. The illusion reeked of Loki's magic. Bragi and the muses passed through the drape into a tropical oasis of archways and waterfalls. A broadcasting antenna grew from the middle of a nearby clearing with Loki blythely reclined on a lounge chair sipping an obscenely over-garnished cocktail.


'Well, well, well: it looks like you've come a long way from where I last left you brother. I'm happy to see you didn't stay in such a sordid state! You really ought to thank me, you never would have reached this level of growth without my initial motivation. From that perspective, can you really say I'm such a bad of a guy?'


'I find it hard to believe that you ever have benevolent motivations.'


'Where would you be if it wasn't for me? Still sitting alone in your green room spiraling further into depression? Now look at you: out and about, making new friends, learning new things; if anything I'm the real hero here!'


'If that's the case, then you should have no problem giving back Idunn's Ballad.'


'Now, what would be the point of having you come this far just to make it easy for you? How can you be sure of your strength unless you test it?' Loki kicked the lounge chair away and drew Bragi's stolen guitar from nothingness. A stack of amps sprung from the ground behind Loki, pumping a reverberating chord that forced Bragi and the Muses to tumble back.


'Not bad, but the real tragedy is you'd never make the cut!' Mel threw his dagger through the pulsing waves, slicing cleanly through the amp's cord.


'I don't need to, with the acoustics in here my riffs will put all of you on ice!' Loki plucked a cool jazz tune, summoning a frigid blizzard that immobilized Bragi and the muses in their tracks.


'You really think your little breeze compares to the cold we endured getting here? Real musicians like Bragi put their souls into their work, so song snakes like you really make my blood boil!' Xinyi cracked through her icy entrapment, unleashing a roaring flame from her lyre and freeing her friends.


'We're just getting warmed up, so you better watch our steps!' Psi Strummed up a jaunty beat, transforming each of the band's chaotic contributions into perfectly synchronized melodies. Under the cover of the maximized mayhem, Pan tossed her skeletal lamb into Loki's guitar, stifling the strings with his bones. Pan's lamb gave a satisfied bleat as each note became twisted off-key with a chattery twang.


With Loki's musical magic disabled, Nia was able concentrate and project the Cognate from her domed head. The Cognate's ethereal form filled the sky, toppling the antenna into Loki and trapping him under the strewn heap. Cal whispered a divining incantation upon the incapacitated Loki, leeching the stolen musical abilities back into Bragi's fingertips. Bragi dusted off his fallen guitar with solemn reverence, lifting a heartwarming litany to express his emotion behind their reunion.


'I know we've each given so much over this, do we also have to exhaust ourselves taking what little we have left from each other?' Bragi extended his hand to Loki.


'Don't be so quick to make yourself the better man. I may be vanquished, but you still have yet to emerge the victor. You really think I would have left you any chance of usurping my plans? I broadcasted your precious ballad long before you arrived. Now we shall see a true test of strength with how you deal with defeat.' Loki winked before dissolving into a glimmering fog, leaving Bragi with a wisp of a tauntingly satisfied smirk.


___



'Welcome back to "Gods of Rock!" On tonight's episode, we've been exploring the tumultuous career of the legendary rocker Bragi Runesinger! So far, we've followed him from his contentious upbringing, his topping of the charts in his early centuries, to his tragic descent into drugs and depression after Ragnarok. But how did this seemingly down-and-out star rise back into recent relevance?


In a daring feat of guerrilla marketing, Bragi shocked the world by broadcasting an unattributed drop of his first hit single in years over an old-school medium called "radio." Picked up and pirated by fans, the song quickly went viral as the mystery behind its author spread and grew along with it. Many impostors tried to claim ownership of the song, but were easily disproven when they were unable to replicate the speed, complexity, and vocal range of the song. Die-hard Bragi fans banded together to develop a deep-learning AI that compared the song to Bragi's known discography and concluded with a high degree of confidence that he was indeed the composer and lyricist. When Bragi finally came forward by playing the song live at a charity concert, the discovery fueled Bragi's resurgence.


Along with his own projects, Bragi also began branching out as a producer. Bragi became responsible for bringing a number of new talents into the music scene, with one of his more prominent being the unlikely duo of Leif & Grim. Blending classic blues fiddle with Gaelic folk singing and dancing, the pair best illustrates Bragi's talent for bringing novel tastes to familiar dishes.


But Bragi wasn't alone in his second rise to success. Teaming up with the band "the Musions" for an upcoming collaborative album, his classic rock sound will be infused with a refreshing fusion twist to appeal to a broad new audience. But this new musical partnership was not the only thing brewing between them…' The docuseries plugged Bragi's voice over a kiltered slideshow of black and white snapshots of him and Xinyi.


Remember the card you picked wayyy back in part 3? What ending did your choice give you?



The Hermit:


'Of course the media likes to play up the rumors, but Xin and I agreed that it would be best to stay friends. We all worked so well together, it would have been a shame to risk that going sour over a fleeting fling. If anything, it has brought us closer in our collaborations. We're still open to possibilities in the future, but right now it's great that we can focus our efforts without distractions.'



The Lovers:


'I think releasing Idun's ballad was just what I needed to finally make peace with losing her. She will always hold a special place in my heart; but knowing her, she would have also wanted me to move on. It's refreshing to be able to work with Xin on so many levels: Igniting each other's inspiration, syncing our synergies, and complementing our respective strengths and shortcomings. We're cautious, but hopeful for what each day making music together brings.



The Hanged Man:


'I'm glad we gave ourselves a fair chance, but I think we were also lucky we both had the maturity to recognize when it wasn't working like we had hoped. I know it's not the scandalous fallout some folks were hoping for, but we were fortunate to be able keep things not only professional, but amicable between us. You never know; maybe it's something we could revisit somewhere down the road, when the time is right.



'What a class act! We can be sure to expect many good things from Bragi for years to co-' Loki switched off the monitor in disgust, stewing in the darkness of his shadowy retreat surrounded by empty pizza boxes and full piss jugs. His fingers drummed gratingly on his nacho cheese dust stained armrest, his other hand pensively stroking his stubbled chin. A sinister curl crept onto the edge of his lips, cracking them open into a foreboding cackle.

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