LOKI AGAINST THE ÆSIR

The Æsir were the guests of the Vanir. Everyone in Asgard met and feasted in friendship in Frey’s palace. Odin and Tyr were there, Vidar and Vali, Niörd, Frey, Heimdall, and Bragi. The Asyniur and the Vana were also there—Frigga, Freya, Iduna, Gerda, Skadi, Sif, and Nanna. Thor and Loki were not at the feast, for they had left Asgard together.

In Frey’s palace the vessels were made of shining gold.They made light for the table and they moved on their own to serve those who were feasting. Everything was peaceful and friendly there until Loki entered the feast hall.

Frey, smiling a welcome, showed Loki to a seat. It was beside Bragi’s and next to Freya’s. Loki did not take the place but instead he shouted out, ” I will not sit beside Bragi ,the most cowardly of all the inhabitants of Asgard.”

Bragi sprang up at that insult but his wife, the mild Iduna, quieted his anger. Freya turned to Loki and scolded him for speaking such unkind words at a feast.

“Freya,” said Loki, “why were you not so mild when Odur was with you? Would it not have been better to have been a good wife to your husband instead of going behind his back for the sake of a necklace that you desired from the Giant women?”

Everyone was amazed at the bitterness that was in Loki’s words and looks. Tyr and Niörd stood up from their seats. But then the voice of Odin was heard and all was still for the words of the All-Father.

“Take the place beside Vidar, my silent son, Loki,” said Odin, “and let your tongue which drips bitterness be silent.”

“All the Æsir and the Vanir listen to your words, Odin, as if you were always wise and just,” Loki said. “But must we forget that you brought war into the world when you hurled your spear at the messengers of the Vanir? And didn’t you allow me to deceive the one who built the wall around Asgard for a price? You speak Odin, and all the Æsir and the Vanir listen to you! But wasn’t it you who, thinking not of wisdom but of gold when a ransom had to be made, brought the witch Gulveig out of the cave where she stayed with the Dwarf’s treasure? You are not always  wise or just, Odin, and we at the table here need not listen to you as if you always were.”

Then Skadi, the wife of Niörd, threw words at Loki. She spoke with all the fierceness of her Giant blood. “Why shouldn’t we rise up and chase from the hall this chattering crow?” she said.

“Skadi,” said Loki, “remember that the compensation for your father’s death has not yet been paid. You were glad to snatch a husband instead of it. Remember who it was that killed your Giant father. It was I, Loki. I have paid you no compensation for it, although you have come to live amongst us in Asgard.”

Then Loki fixed his eyes on Frey, the host of the feast, and everyone knew that he was about to attack him with bitter words. But Tyr, the brave swordsman, rose up and said, “You may not speak against Frey, Loki. Frey is generous. He is the one amongst us who spares the defeated and frees the captive.”

“Stop speaking, Tyr,” said Loki. “You may not always have a hand to hold that sword of yours. Remember this in days to come.

“Frey,” he said, “Because you are the host of the feast they think I will not speak the truth about you. But I will not be bribed by a feast. Didn’t you send Skirnir to Gymer’s home to trick Gymer’s daughter? Didn’t you bribe him into frightening her into a marriage with you, who, men say, were the killer of her brother? Yes Frey. You parted with the magic sword that you should have kept for the battle. You had reason to regret when you met Beli by the lake.”

When he said this, every one of the Vanir rose up, their faces threatening Loki.

“Sit still, you Vanir,” Loki scolded. “If the Æsir are to do most of the fighting in Jötunheim’s and Muspelheim’s war on Asgard it was your part to be the first or the last on Vigard’s plain. But already you have lost the battle for Asgard, for the weapon that was put into Frey’s hands he bartered for Gerda the Giantess. Ha! Surtur shall triumph over you because of Frey’s bewitchment.”

They looked in horror at the one who could let his hatred speak of Surtur’s triumph. They would all have seized Loki but Odin’s voice rang out. Then another appeared at the entrance of the feasting hall. It was Thor. With his hammer upon his shoulder, his gloves of iron on his hands, and his belt of strength around him, he stood glaring at Loki with furious eyes.

“Ha, Loki, betrayer,” he shouted. “You planned to leave me dead in Gerriöd’s house, but now you will meet your death by the stroke of this hammer.”

His hands were raised to hurl Miölnir. But the words that Odin spoke were heard. “No killing may be done in this hall, son Thor. Keep your hands on your hammer.”

Then, Loki left the feast hall. He went beyond the walls of Asgard and crossed Bifröst, the Rainbow Bridge. He cursed Bifröst, and longed to see the day when the armies of Muspelheim would break it down in their rush against Asgard.

East of Midgard there was a place more evil than any region in Jötunheim. It was Jarnvid, the Iron Wood. Witches lived there who were the most evil of all witches. They had a queen over them, a hag, mother of many sons who took the shapes of wolves. Two of her sons were Skoll and Hati, who pursued Sol, the Sun, and Mani, the Moon. She had a third son, who was Managarm, the wolf who was to be filled with the life-blood of men, who was to swallow up the Moon, and stain the heavens and earth with blood., Loki made his way to Jarnvid, the Iron Wood. And he married one of the witches there, Angerboda, and they had children that took on terrible shapes. Loki’s children were the most terrible of the foes that were to come against the Æsir and the Vanir in the time that was called the Twilight of the Gods.