THE CHILDREN OF LOKI
The children of Loki and the witch Angerboda were not like the children of men.They were as formless as water, or air, or fire, but each of them could take on the form that was most like their own evil desire.
Now everyone in Asgard knew that these powers of evil had been born into the world and they thought it would be better that they should take on forms and appear before them in Asgard. So they sent one of them to Jarnvid, the Iron Wood, asking Loki to bring before the Gods the powers born from him and the witch Angerboda. So Loki came into Asgard once more. His offspring took on forms and showed themselves to the Gods. The first, whose evil desire was for destruction showed himself as a fearful wolf. He was named Fenrir. The second, whose evil desire was for slow destruction, showed itself as a serpent. It was called Jörmungand. The third, whose evil desire was for withering of all life, took on a form also. When the Gods saw it they were frightened. For this had the form of a woman, and one side of her was that of a living woman and the other side of her was that of a corpse. Fear ran through Asgard as this form was revealed and as the name that went with it, Hela, was uttered.
Hela was thrown far out of sight of the Gods. Odin took her and hurled her down to the deeps that are below the world. He threw her down to Niflheim, where she took power over the nine regions. Hela reigns there, in the place that is lowest of all. Her hall is Elvidnir.It is set round with high walls and it has barred gates Hunger is the table inside it, worry is the bed, and anguish is the wall hanging in the chamber.
Thor seized Jörmungand. He hurled the serpent into the ocean that encircles the world. But in the depths of the ocean Jörmungand flourished. It grew and grew until it encircled the whole world. Men knew it as the Midgard Serpent.
Fenrir the Wolf could not be caught by any of the Æsir. Frighteningly he wandered through Asgard and they were only able to bring him to the outer courts by promising to give him all the food he was able to eat.
The Æsir were frightened to feed Fenrir. But Tyr, the brave swordsman, was willing to bring food to the Wolf’s lair. Every day he brought him huge amounts of food and fed him with the point of his sword. The Wolf grew and grew until he became monstrous and a terror in the minds of everyone in Asgard.
At last the Gods in council considered it and decided that Fenrir must be tied up. The chain that they would tie him with was called Laeding. In their own smithy the Gods made it and it was heavier than Thor’s hammer.
The Gods could not get the chain on Fenrir by force, so they sent Skirnir, the servant of Frey, to trick the wolf into letting it get on him. Skirnir came to his lair and stood near him, and he was dwarfed by the Wolf’s monstrous size.
“How great is your strength, Mighty One?” Skirnir asked. “Could you break this chain easily? The Gods would like to see you try.”
In scorn Fenrir looked down at the chain Skirnir dragged. In scorn he stood still allowing Laeding to be placed on him. Then, with the least effort, he stretched himself and broke the chain in two.
The Gods were dismayed. But they took more iron, and with greater fires and mightier hammer blows they forged another chain. This one was called Dromi, and it was half again as strong as Laeding was. Skirnir the bold brought it to the Wolf’s lair, and in scorn Fenrir let the mightier chain be placed on him.
He shook himself and the chain held. Then his eyes became fiery and he stretched himself with a growl and a snarl. Dromi broke, and Fenrir stood looking menacingly at Skirnir.
The Gods saw that no chain they could forge would tie Fenrir and they became more fearful of him. They had another council and they thought them of the wonderful work the Dwarfs had made for them, the spear Gungnir, the ship Skidbladnir and the hammer Miölnir. Could the Dwarfs make the chain to tie Fenrir? If they would do it the Gods would add to their kingdom.
Skirnir went down to Svartheim with the message from Asgard. The Dwarf Chief swelled with pride to think that it was left to them to make the chain that would tie Fenrir.
“We Dwarfs can make a chain that will tie the Wolf,” he said. “We will make it out of six things.”
“What are these six things?” Skirnir asked.
“The roots of stones, the breath of a fish, the beards of women, the noise made by the footfalls of cats, the muscles of bears, the spit of a bird.”
“I have never heard the noise made by a cat’s footfall, nor have I seen the roots of stones or the beards of women but use whatever you like, Helper of the Gods.”
The Chief brought his six things together and the Dwarfs in their smithy worked for days and nights. They forged a chain that was named Gleipnir. It was smooth and soft as a silken string. Skirnir brought it to Asgard and put it into the hands of the Gods.
The Gods said that once again they should try to put a chain on Fenrir. But if he was to be tied they would do it far from Asgard. Lyngvi was an island that they often went to ,to play, and they talked about going there. Fenrir growled that he would go with them. He came and he played in his own terrible way. Then as if it were to make more fun, one of the Æsir shook out the smooth cord and showed it to Fenrir.
“It is stronger than you might think, Mighty One,” they said. “Why don’t you see if you can break it?”
Fenrir looked scornfully at them. “What fame would there be for me,” he said, “in breaking it?”
They showed him that none of them could break it, even though it was so thin. “Only you could break it, Mighty One,” they said.
“The cord is slender, but there may be an enchantment in it,” Fenrir said.
“You can’t break it, Fenrir, and so we do not need to fear you anymore,” the Gods said.
Then the Wolf was furious, for he lived on the fear that he made in the minds of the Gods. “I am willing to have this cord on me,” he said, “but if one of the Æsir will put his hand in my mouth as a pledge that I shall be freed of it, I will let you put it on me.”
The Gods looked thoughtfully at one another. It would be good for them all to have Fenrir tied up, but who would lose his hand to have it done? One and then another of the Æsir stepped back but not Tyr, the brave swordsman. He stepped up to Fenrir and laid his left hand in front of those tremendous jaws.
“Not your left hand—your swordhand, Tyr,” growled Fenrir, and Tyr put his swordhand into that terrible mouth.
Then the cord Gleipnir was put on Fenrir. With fiery eyes he watched the Gods tied him. When the cord was on him he stretched himself as before. He stretched himself to a monstrous size but the cord did not break off him. Then with fury he snapped his jaws on the hand, and Tyr’s hand, the swordsman’s hand, was torn off.
But Fenrir was tied. They fixed a mighty chain to the cord, and they passed the chain through a hole they bored through a great rock. The monstrous Wolf made terrible efforts to break loose, but the rock and the chain and the cord held. Then seeing him secured, and to avenge the loss of Tyr’s hand, the Gods took Tyr’s sword and drove it to the hilt through his jaw. the Wolf howled horribly. The foam flowed mightily down from his jaws. That foam flowing made a river that is called Von—a river of fury that flowed on until Ragnarök came, the Twilight of the Gods.