UtgardThe city of Utgard (which means, literally, the outland fortress) is the single biggest Jotun settlement in the Nine Worlds. If the halls of Asgard function as the Paris or Rome of the Nine Worlds, Utgard is the New York or Los Angeles - huge, sprawling, not always clean, a constant babble of interracial trade in the streets and fighting in the back alleys. It is the most "civilized" place in all the Jotun-controlled worlds, but that doesn't make it particularly safe.
The main area of Utgard is surrounded by a great stone wall, although there is a good deal of sprawling suburb outside of the wall. Once through the gates, the narrow, crowded, noisy roads slope upwards to the highest central point, where Utgard-Loki keeps his hall. To get in the gates, you will need coin or some kind of worthy trade good, of which you will be tithed a certain percent in order to enter. The gate fees are fickle and variable and almost certainly higher for strangers. If you come with nothing in your pockets, it will be assumed that you are a beggar and you will be turned away. Make sure that you have some kind of coin or other goods that you might sell. This is a change from the usual hospitality of the Nine Worlds, but if the warders of Utgard did not set limits, all the flotsam of the other worlds, not to mention the greedy of Jotunheim, would be preying on the streets of the city.
Inside, Utgard is crowded with markets where you can buy almost anything produced in the Nine Worlds. Vendors come in all sizes, shapes, and species. Taverns, inns, and brothels abound. There are yards where people can play competitive games with each other while the onlookers bet on them. (Don't get involved; there is usually a catch, such as the loser forfeiting everything they own.) Haggling is the rule, unlike our modern marketplaces, and the first named price of any item is likely to be ridiculously high, with the assumption that it will be argued down. There is no one coin of Utgard; any barter or coin is accepted at the discretion of the seller. You may want to do an anti-glamour spell on any item that looks too good to be true; it just might be.
The lord of Utgard is Utgard-Loki, a name he took to distinguish himself from Laufey's son. He is both warrior and sorcerer, and is a brilliant, canny leader who invokes deep respect from his people. He is known to be generous to visitors if he wants to impress them, or if they have something he wants from them; he is a faultless and courteous host, although he has been known to bait guests who seem too full of themselves. It is said that among all the great ones of Jotunkind, Utgard-Loki has never been seen to lose his temper. The kind of iron control behind that mask of flawless, regal politeness is awe-inspiring. He has mastered the ability to quell the most violent of drunken giants with his piercing gaze, and on the off chance that it doesn't work, he has a supremely competent, loyal, and well-organized cadre of city guards who can handle it for him.
The Guard of Utgard is an elite corps with a reputation similar to the Landsknechts of Renaissance Germany. Unlike most other Jotun warriors, they are actually drilled and trained with a great deal of precision. They patrol the roads outside of the city, rounding up troublemakers (which includes strange outlanders who might be up to no good) and keeping the trade routes safe for merchants. They also patrol the city itself, breaking up brawls and keeping the peace. Like all Jotun warrior bands, the Guard has both male and female soldiers, including some warrior-couples who are shieldmates. Care should be taken not to underestimate female Guardswomen as weaker, less skilled, less ruthless, or more likely to accept a sad story than their male compatriots.
While Utgard-Loki is nominally liegesworn to Thrym, the King of Jotunheim, he technically commands more power and respect than the King himself. Their relationship is reminiscent of that between the medieval Japanese emperor and the Shogun; one was the ceremonial wearer of the crown, and the other was the actual war leader who made most of the decisions. Thrym The Old, as he is called (or sometimes Thrym The Loud) is the tribal head of the Jotunheim frost-thurses, and has been the elected monarch of the realm since Jotunheim was first boundaried. He is a blustering, white-bearded frost-thurse who mostly amuses himself in his royal hall in the northernmost mountains, coming south only for ceremonial occasions. He dislikes noisy, crowded Utgard and is content to let Utgard-Loki handle most of the state decisions, as well as the defense of Jotunheim.
MimirsbrunnrProbably one of the most-visited tourist attractions in Jotunheim is Mimir's well, which is found next to the second extruded root of the World Tree. The Tree's root extrudes from the ground like a vast earthwork, curling around to the southeast, and in the small valley made by its knotted bulk is the mouth of a cave. The well is just inside, and floating in it are a number of skulls and severed heads. Some are offerings that folk give to Mimir; some are trophies that he takes when folk fail to answer a bargain-question properly. The heads are a ward-off; many folk become frightened at the sight and leave, which is fine with Mimir.
Sometimes one of the heads will turn and speak, which means that Mimir has decided to make the first move. His head is old and wrinkled, with long white hair floating in the water like a cloak all around. More often, though, he will be underwater and you will have to call him up. Pouring good booze in the water is one way to start. Good offerings for him, before and afterwards, are alcohol and food with strong, sweet flavors that dissolves easily in water. While he gets no nourishment from it, he enjoys tasting it.
Mimir is one of the proto-etins, from the oldest generation of etins, and he is Odin's maternal uncle. At one time, he was the consort of the former Hel, the old Death Goddess who held the title before Loki's daughter claimed it. He is the god of underground waters, and like them his wisdom runs deep and hidden. He has a fairly direct line into the Library of the Akashic Records as well as a good relationship with the Norns, which is why people bother him with questions. He is also old, tired, capricious, embittered, and spiteful. Cranky doesn't even begin to cover it. Being a floating oracular head down a well is a lousy job, and several journeyers have noted with compassion that the kindest thing that could happen to Mimir is to be released into death. He might like you, in which case he might actually be cooperative, although possibly sarcastic and insulting. If he doesn't like you - and whether he takes to you or not seems to be less about you and your offerings and more about whether he's just in a bad mood that day - you might think about coming back another time.
If Mimir says that the only exchange for your question is for you to answer one of his, do not take him up on the challenge. First of all, there is no way that you can beat him at this game. He will always come up with something you don't know. He's especially good at finding things that you ought to know but don't, so that you are groaning and slapping your forehead and feeling stupid in the moments before you die. That's right...the price for losing is beheading. Don't think that because he is a severed head down a well that he can't kill you. Floating blades will fall from the ceiling or fly from the walls before you can even turn around. Take those rotting, bloated skulls seriously. If he is in a bloodthirsty mood, apologize for disturbing him, leave your offering to perhaps sweeten his disposition towards you at a later time, and come back another time. (Remember that even Odin had to extract one of his own eyes to get some of Mimir's wisdom. This is not a god to be taken lightly.)
Even if he does answer your question, keep in mind that he may make it deliberately cryptic, or leave out important information that may trip you up if you act on it. He will not, however, lie. Mimir never lies. The truth is his weapon, to manipulate and strike with. If he offers to tell you the most likely date of your own death, I strongly suggest that you decline. While it may be tempting to know, the next temptation will be to attempt to stave it off, and that gets into messing with the strands of Wyrd and into the work of the Norns, and can often just dig you deeper into the hole. Besides, it wastes your question, and he may not be inclined to answer any others.
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