Thor's drinking quest
Thor stood in the middle of the mead hall of Utgarda-Loki the giant-kings castle, feet planted squarely, his face defiant. Pride was at stake. His companions Loki and Thjalfi had both failed their challenges to the giant-kings’ men. Flashing a crooked grin in the direction of his crestfallen friends, he turned to address Utgarda-Loki. “So Jötunheimr has proven it can both eat and run. But can it do something that really matters,” he laughed, “like drink?”
The Giant-King smiled wryly, and with a snap of his enormous fingers, barked an order to a servant, “Fetch one of our usual drinking horns for our guest”. Scurrying out the servant returned quickly with a large vessel filled to the brim with mead, placing it before Thor. The god regarded the horn, almost scornfully. Yes, it was sizeable, but this would prove no match for his prodigious drinking talent.
“Finish it one, you’re a great drinker. In two, you’re just about worthy,” said the giant King, grinning, “but none here has ever been so weak as to need three attempts”.
Hefting the horn Thor chuckled to himself and brought it up to his lips muttering “in one it is then”. Taking gulp after hearty gulp, he began to drink. But no matter how deeply and how much he drank, as he felt his breath running out he could see the horn was still almost full. His brows furrowed in confusion, he lowered the horn and wiped froth from his lips as he caught his breath.
“The god needs a second attempt?” goaded Utgarda-Loki with a condescending smile.
Ignoring the giant’s gibe, Thor took in another huge lungful of air and raised the horn once again drinking even more deeply than before. He drank and drank, impossibly huge gulp after impossibly huge gulp. Slowly, the level in the horn began to drop. But all too slowly. Its level was only down to about halfway. Raising his hand to silence any sarcasm as he did so, Thor lowered the drinking horn and turned to glower at the stony-faced king.
By all the mighty fallen in Valhalla, he would not be defeated. Immediately he raised the horn again and began quaffing deeply for the third time. One after another, the god inexorably swigged down huge mouthfuls of mead. The level in the vessel sank even more quickly than before, but yet again, Thor found himself defeated. He simply could not drain the drinking horn fully.
“How, just how, could this be?” the god thought to himself in confusion as he wiped his mouth free of froth a final time, gazing perplexedly at the vessel.
Wrapped up in his own confusion the god had failed to notice the look of great unease on the King’s face. For what he had been given to drink was not just mead. By trickery, the horn had been connected to the very ocean of Midgard itself. And Thor had very nearly succeeded in draining it utterly.