He caught himself on his balled fists before he could fall face-first into the shallows. A faint reflection in the water stared up at him, backlit by a sky the color of banked embers. “Am I dead?” he roared, his hot breath sending ripples across the shadowy visage.
It was a face familiar to him, this reflection: a broad forehead, heavy brow, prominent cheekbones descending to a hard pointed chin; an old scar bisected the left side of his face, running from the bridge of his nose, through his left eye, and into his hairline at the temple. That eye was cold and dead, an orb of carved bone, inlaid with silver. Thin lips curled into a sneer over yellowed fangs.
But, through a veil of stringy hair as black as night — woven throughout with worn discs of bone, beads of scrimshaw, silver, and amber, and still-bright cylinders of gold, heavy and ancient — his right eye burned as hot and red as a forge-glede. He tossed his head back and loosed an inarticulate roar. “Answer me, you dung-hill rat! Am I dead?” No answer came from his watery reflection. “Faugh!”
I have long sought the perfect image of Grimnir. Several artists have come close, especially Jason Deem, Robert Zoltan, and (inadvertently) Dal Merge. But, imagine my surprise when an AI — MidjourneyAI — just casually nailed it. The original output wasn’t perfect. The ears were too long and the hairline reminded me of Boris Karloff (the hair still isn’t right — imagine ragged and beaded dreads, like those of Hakim Alston from the original Mortal Kombat movie). But, friend o’ the blog Tom Doolan cleaned it up for me. The result, Gentle Readers, is this:
Whipcord-thin, Grimnir prowled along like a starveling wolf who hungered for hot blood and the choicest cuts of flesh. His arms were long, knotty with gristle and sinew; his coarse skin was the color of old shale, veined by scars and tattooed in cinder and woad. He was clad in the same war-rags he’d worn before. His hob-nailed boots were soaked through; his trousers and gambeson, too. His mail hauberk, taken off a dead Turk at Caffa, in the Crimea, and cut down to fit, had steel links threaded with silver that gleamed in the twilight. Of silver, too were the fittings on his weapon’s belt. A short bearded axe rode his right hip; on his left, the carved bone hilt of his long-seax jutted from its gilt-worked scabbard. The long-seax, called Hátr — Hate — had at its heart the shards of Sárklungr, the Wound-Thorn, forged by the dvergar when the world was young.Quotes from THE DOOM OF ODIN