The story of three foul offspring, a magic thread comprised of the breath of a fish, and a venomous punishment.
A Norse Tale
IT appeared a wierd factor that for therefore many years Odin ought to have permitted Loki to roam about at pleasure, practising his dangerous units towards each gods and men. Yet in fact Allfather, regardless of his knowledge, was not allowed by the Fates to know or see every little thing, and typically his hand was held towards his will by a power above him, whose omnipotence he felt, but couldn’t explain.
Whether Loki was blood-brother to the King, born in those far-off occasions earlier than the enormous Ymir’s brood had been drowned, whether or not he was a son of Bergelmer, the only monster who escaped the flood; or whether he was true son of Odin, bred in advantage, however led astray by the Jotuns, nobody knew. Yet certain it is, that he would long earlier than have been forged out of the sacred city, had there not existed betwixt him and Allfather a mysterious bond, and had he not so typically used his crafty brains to extricate the gods from difficulties into which, as typically as not, he had himself led them.
When, nevertheless, his love of evil might not be ignored—but before his biggest and remaining crime, the betrayal of Baldur—Odin determined to name a council of all his sons, and search their recommendation on this troublesome matter.
“Who is there among ye,” he stated, “that can tell me why Loki is lately grown from mere mischief-maker into downright evildoer? And where does he spend those long absences from his palace, which grieve the heart of his gentle wife Sigyn?” Then Heimdall, whose watchful eye by no means slumbered, got here ahead.
“Father, he goes to a wood in Jotunheim, called Jarnvid, and there dwells with the hideous giantess Angurbod, whom, indeed, he has married, notwithstanding his vows to Sigyn. He is at this moment playing with his three monstrous children, while Angurbod watches and encourages them. It is from these creatures that he learns his wickedness.”
The gods groaned with horror as the complete perfidy of Loki was made recognized to them; and Odin directly ascended his air-throne and forged his gaze in the direction of the wood Jarnvid. There, simply as Heimdall had stated, he noticed Loki sporting within the porch of Angurbod’s home with three frightful varieties, evidently his youngsters. One was like a large and loathsome serpent, but with a face that bespoke more than serpent craft. One was a fierce-fanged wolf. And the final was no aside from Hel, whose face and determine might never be described, so terrible have been they.
Allfather dispatched his two strongest sons, Thor and Tyr, to fetch up the offender and his misshapen household, for judgment. At first Loki refused to obey, but soon the threats of Thor frightened his craven heart into submission, and the procession began. The serpent writhed alongside in entrance, the wolf leapt back and forth, and Loki led Hel by the hand, while Tyr and Thor marched behind brandishing sword and membership. In this order they reached Asgard and followed by all of the amazed and horror-stricken gods, made their solution to the Nice Judgment Corridor, where Odin sat waiting.
For a couple of moments Allfather gazed down upon the monsters, unable to talk; then in stern tones he addressed the Hearth-god, who stood cussed and defiant earlier than him.
“These, then, O Deceiver, are thy foul offspring, and Angurbod it is who has helped thee on thy downward course? No longer may such plagues as these three creatures thrive at large; hear their doom. The serpent shall be cast into the depths of the sea which separates Midgard from Jotunheim; he shall be called Jormungand, the Sea-Snake, and there must he stay buried until the Fates release him. The wolf shall be called Fenris, and he shall be penned in a courtyard on the outskirts of Asgard, fed and looked to by Tyr, who alone is strong enough to control him. Thy daughter Hel, whose hand thou holdest so fondly, shall depart to her appointed place. A throne awaits her in the Underworld, and she shall rule over the kingdom of Death. As for thee, Loki, stripped of these evil children, perchance thy love of evil will lessen, and for the sake of the bond between us, thou shalt keep thy freedom a little longer.”
Thus was judgment handed upon the youngsters of Loki and Angurbod; Odin’s behests have been carried out, and for a time all went nicely. But Fenris grew mightier and fiercer each day, and his cries of hunger earlier than Tyr went to feed him, and his howls of greed as he tore his meat, oppressed all the dwellers within the city, until at size they appealed to their King, saying—
“Allfather, we fear that soon Fenris will grow beyond the control of Tyr, and breaking from his pen will devour us all. Give us, therefore, a chain with which to bind him.”
Odin answered that he had no such chain to bestow, but when they wished, they could make or seek one. At this, Thor readily provided to put Miolnir to such good use on his anvil, that an unbreakable chain ought to be completed by the subsequent morning. And all that night time the sounds of hammering proceeded from his smithy, and the sparks flew for miles around, and the bellows blew a hurricane. At dawn Thor emerged black with toil, holding out to the assembled gods the chain Laeding, more mighty in every of its links and more virtuous in its metallic than anybody might have dreamed. However, once they had sure Fenris, neck and foot with it, he merely shook himself, and the hyperlinks tore like paper.
Thor ground his tooth, but went again to his smithy and labored again, this time for a day and a night, till he had cast Dromi, which was as robust once more as Læding; and for the second time they sure Fenris, neck and foot. But the wolf solely stretched himself, and Dromi fell into as many items as Læding.
The gods went away crestfallen, Thor muttering aloud, “Look not to me for further help. Who is there in the world that can forge more strongly than I?” To which, indeed, there seemed no reply.
Some time handed, and the facility and fury of Fenris doubled itself, till Tyr advised his brethren that earlier than many more days the beast would definitely break from his pen and wreak mischief in the metropolis. Then Hermod raised his voice.
“Why not send to the King of the Dwarfs who lives in Swartheim?” he asked. “Have not the little cave-men fashioned Draupnir, Allfather’s wondrous ring? And the ship Skidbladnir, that defies all weather? And Thor’s hammer, and endless other marvels? Perchance with their spells they can weave a chain to bind Fenris.”
Whereupon the messenger of the Vans, Skyrnir, who knew the land of Swartheim, was dispatched with presents and promises to the Dwarf King, and he, when he had heard the gods’ request, thought for some time with pursed lips and wrinkled brow.
“Yes,” he stated at size, “it may be done. Wait here for three days and at the end of that time the chain shall be ready.”
So Skyrnir waited, and on the third day the King put into his hand a gentle silken thread, so advantageous that it might move by means of the attention of a needle, and so mild in weight that it floated in the air like a bit of fluff.
“You think this will never hold Fenris?” asked the King with amusing, as he learn doubt and shock on Skyrnir’s face. “I will tell you what it is made of. It is fashioned out of six things—a cat’s footfall, a woman’s beard, the roots of a mountain, the sinews of a bear, the breath of a fish, and the spittle of a bird. No strength, however great, can break such a chain—nothing but the sound of the trumpets calling to the Last Battle.”
Skyrnir now hurried back to Asgard together with his treasure, and enormously did the gods marvel as they tried, one after the other, and all unsuccessfully, to interrupt or reduce the thread. A happy smile lit up Odin’s face as he, with the remaining, examined it.
“Go now, my sons,” he stated, “and if ye succeed in beguiling the wolf to wear this fetter, methinks ye will have no further trouble with him.”
However when Fenris saw the fragile thread which the gods had brought, he feared magic, towards which he knew his power was ineffective. At length he stated that he would stand and permit them to wind it about him, if one of them would place a hand inside his mouth as a sign of good faith. There was a second’s silence, and then Tyr strode ahead and calmly positioned the whole of his right arm inside the cruel, hungry jaws. Shortly Thor and the remaining wound the thread concerning the wolf’s head, and round his legs, and fixed it firmly to the most important flagstone within the courtroom. Fenris plunged ahead, expecting his bond to provide like burnt cotton, but the more he struggled, the firmer did he discover himself fettered. With an indignant snarl he bit off Tyr’s hand. He had been beguiled, however he had claimed his hostage.
Loki’s three evil youngsters have been now safely put into bondage, and there they might remain until the Final Day, when both gods and giants should perish. But their father went free, and as an alternative of diminishing in evil, as Odin had hoped, he turned much less and less like a god, extra and extra like a satan, till at length, as you already know, he committed the greatest treason of all, by betraying Baldur into the facility of his daughter Hel.
After that, Allfather might not keep in mind the mystic bond which sure him to the Hearth-god, and he gave orders that if ever the Deceiver appeared again in Asgard he must be seized and held prisoner. Loki knew full nicely that his crime towards Baldur had gained him common hate, so to escape punishment he fled from the Peacestead on that deadly day, and hid in the mountains; and there he constructed himself a dwelling with four doorways, wanting north, south, east, and west, and the doors he stored all the time open. By this means he hoped to make certain of escape if ever the avenging gods should search and uncover him. He planned rigorously, that as quickly as he ought to see his foes approaching, he would rush out in the direction of the mountain stream which ran down not far from his hut. There he would turn himself into a salmon, and disguise among the many stones and weeds.
“Nevertheless,” he stated to himself, “though I could easily escape a rod and hook, they could catch me if they made a net like that of the Sea-Goddess Ran.”
And this worry so haunted him that he determined to show whether such a internet could possibly be made. At some point he was busily at work together with his twine and flax when a sudden dart of flame from the fireside made him lookup. In the distance he noticed Odin, Thor, and many other gods hurrying in the direction of the hut. He sprang up, threw the web into the hearth and dashed out in the direction of the stream unperceived, so that when the gods entered they found their enemy gone, and nothing however a half-burned internet smouldering on the fireside, and some unused twine on the floor.
“What,” stated one of them, “if he has been testing the power of nets to catch fish? Let us see if the stream yonder be worth dragging.”
They usually started, with the remaining of Loki’s twine, to make a internet just like the items they saw smouldering. When it was finished they carried it out and forged it into the water, and dragged the stream completely. However Loki, within the type of a salmon, hid between two stones and escaped. A second time they dragged, and now the web was weighted in order that it delivered to the surface even stones. A giant salmon got here up, leapt excessive within the air, and dropped into the water.
“’Tis he,” shouted Thor. “Once more, brothers, and our enemy will be captured.”
Again the web was forged, and this time, as the salmon leapt, Thor caught it by the tail and held it fast, till, virtually lifeless with struggling, it lay faint and nonetheless.
“Put on your true form,” cried the captor, and the salmon modified to Loki, who sullenly allowed himself to be sure, for he knew that no further preventing might avail him.
The gods then led him right down to a cavern within the very bowels of the earth, and there fettered him to 3 pointed rocks, one for his shoulders, one for his waist, and one for his knees. Over his head the Giantess Skadi, his historic foe, hung a venomous serpent, from whose mouth fell drops of poison, which burnt and stung like scalding water. Such torment, nevertheless, was too terrible, even for treacherous Loki, and Sigyn, his mild wife, was allowed to descend to the cavern with a bowl, which she held aloft for ever after, catching in it the drops of venom as they fell. Only when she moved to empty the vessel did the drops hiss upon the Deceiver’s upturned face, and then he shook the entire earth in his struggles to get free.
Such was the destiny of Loki, doomed to lie unpitied, unrelieved, until the Nice Day of Doom, Ragnarok, ought to come. Then he, together with his youngsters, and all other evil issues, ought to be loosed from bondage, and the entire Universe ought to collapse by cause of the mighty wrestle between them and the gods. Each side should perish within the battle, and out of the destruction should arise a new Asgard and Midgard, new varieties of the gods, new males and ladies, fairer and extra virtuous than of previous. But Loki and the giants, with all their sin and kin, ought to have vanished for ever.