LOKI THE BETRAYER

He stole Frigga’s dress of falcon feathers. Then as a falcon he flew out of Asgard. toward Jötunheim.

The anger and the fierceness of the hawk was in Loki as he flew through the Giants’ kingdom. The heights and the chasms of that terrible land made his spirits rise up like fire. He saw the whirlpools and the smoking mountains and these sights gave him joy. Higher he soared until, looking toward the south, he saw the flaming land of Muspelheim. Higher still he soared. With his falcon’s eyes he saw the gleam of Surtur’s flaming sword. All the fire of Muspelheim and all the gloom of Jötunheim would one day be brought against  Asgard and against Midgard. But Loki was no longer dismayed to think of the ruin of Asgard’s beauty and the ruin of Midgard’s promise.

He hovered around one of the dwellings in Jötunheim. Why had he come to it? Because he had seen two of the women of that home, and his rage against the Asyniur and the Vanir was such that the ugliness and evil of these women was pleasing to him.

He hovered in front of the open door of the Giant’s house and he looked at those who were inside. Gerriöd, the most savage of all the Giants, was there and beside him, squatting on the ground, were his two evil and ugly daughters, Gialp and Greip.

They were big and bulky, black and rugged, with horses’ teeth and hair that was like horses’ manes. Gialp was the uglier of the two, if one could be said to be uglier than the other, for her nose was a yard long and her eyes were crooked.

What were they talking about as they sat there, one scratching the other? Of Asgard and the inhabitants of Asgard whom they hated. Thor was the one they hated most of all, and they were speaking of what they would like to do to him.

“I would keep Thor bound in chains,” said Gerriöd the Giant, “and I would beat him to death with my iron club.”

“I would grind his bones to powder,” said Greip.

“I would tear the flesh off his bones,” said Gialp. “Father, can you not catch this Thor and bring him to us alive?”

“Not so long as he has his hammer Miölnir, and the gloves with which he grasps his hammer, and the belt that doubles his strength.”

“Oh, if we could catch him without his hammer and his belt and his gloves,” cried Gialp and Greip together.

At that moment they saw the falcon hovering in front of the door. They were eager now for something to hold and torment and so the hearts of the three became set upon catching the falcon. They did not move from the place where they were sitting, but they called the child Glapp, who was swinging from the roof tree, and told him to go out and try to catch the falcon.

Concealed by the great leaves the child Glapp climbed up the ivy that was around the door. The falcon came hovering near. Then Glapp caught it by the wings and fell down through the ivy, screaming and struggling as he was being beaten, and clawed, and torn by the wings and the talons and the beak of the falcon.

Gerriöd and Greip and Gialp rushed out and seized the falcon. As the Giant held him in his hands and looked him over he knew that this was no ordinary bird. The eyes showed him to be from Alfheim or Asgard. The Giant took him and shut him in a box until he would speak.

Soon he tapped at the closed box and when Gerriöd opened it Loki spoke to him. So glad was the savage Giant to have one of the inhabitants of Asgard in his power that he and his daughters did nothing but laugh and chuckle to each other for days. All this time they left Loki in the closed box to starve from hunger.

When they opened the box again Loki spoke to them. He told them he would do any injury to those in Asgard that would please them if they would let him go.

“Will you bring Thor to us?” said Greip.

“Will you bring Thor to us without his hammer, and without the gloves with which he grasps his hammer, and without his belt?” said Gialp.

“I will bring him to you if you will let me go,” Loki said. “Thor is easily deceived and I can bring him to you without his hammer and his belt and his gloves.”

“We will let you go, Loki,” said the Giant, “If you will swear by the gloom of Jötunheim that you will bring Thor to us as you say.”

Loki swore that he would do so by the gloom of Jötunheim, Yes, and by the fires of Muspelheim,” he added. The Giant and his daughters let him go, and he flew back to Asgard.

He returned Frigga’s falcon dress to her. Everyone blamed him for having stolen it, but when he told how he had been shut up without food in Gerriöd’s home those who judged him thought he had been punished enough for the theft. He spoke in a friendly manner to everyone in Asgard, and the rage and hatred he had against them since he had eaten Gulveig’s heart he kept hidden in his heart.

He talked to Thor of the adventures they had together in Jötunheim. Thor would now roar with laughter when he talked of the time when he went as a bride to Thrym the Giant.

Loki was able to persuade him to make another journey to Jötunheim. “I want to tell you of what I saw in Gerriöd’s home,” he said. “I saw the hair of Sif, your wife there.”

“The hair of Sif, my wife,” said Thor in surprise.

“Yes, the hair I once cut off from Sif’s head,” said Loki. “Gerriöd was the one who found it when I threw it away. They light their hall with Sif’s hair. Oh, yes, they don’t need torches where Sif’s hair is.”

“I should like to see it,” said Thor.

“Then pay Gerriöd a visit,” Loki replied. “But if you go to his house you will have to go without your hammer Miölnir, and without your gloves and your belt.”

“Where will I leave Miölnir, and my gloves and my belt?” Thor asked.

“Leave them in Valaskjalf, Odin’s own home,” said cunning Loki. “Leave them there and come to Gerriöd’s dwelling. You will certainly be well treated there.”

“Yes, I will leave them in Valaskjalf and go with you to Gerriöd’s home,” Thor said.

Thor left his hammer, his gloves, and his belt in Valaskjalf. Then he and Loki went toward Jötunheim. When they were near the end of their journey, they came to a wide river, and with a young Giant whom they met on the bank they began to cross it.

Suddenly the river began to rise. Loki and the young Giant would have been swept away only Thor gripped both of them. The river rose higher, and became rougher. Thor had to plant his feet firmly on the bottom or he and the two he held would have been swept away by the flood. He struggled across, holding Loki and the young Giant. A tree grew out of the bank, and, while the two held onto him, he grasped it with his hands. The river rose still higher, but Thor was able to pull Loki and the young Giant to the bank, and then he himself scrambled up on it.

Then looking up the river he saw a sight that filled him with rage. A Giantess was pouring a flood into it. It was this that was making the river rise and rage. Thor pulled a rock out of the bank and hurled it at her. It struck her and knocked her into the flood. Then she struggled out of the water and went shrieking away. This Giantess was Gialp, Gerriöd’s ugly and evil daughter.

The young Giant who Thor had helped across insisted that the pair go and visit Grid, his mother, who lived in a cave in the hillside. Loki did not want to go and was angered to hear that Thor thought of going. But Thor, seeing that the Giant youth was friendly, was willing to go to Grid’s home.

“Go then, but get to Gerriöd’s home soon. I will wait for you there,” said Loki. He watched Thor go up the hillside to Grid’s cave. He waited until he saw Thor come back down the hillside and go toward Gerriöd’s home. He watched Thor go into the house where, as he thought, death awaited him. Then in a madness for what he had done, Loki, with his head drawn down on his shoulders, started running.

Grid, the old Giantess, was seated on the floor of the cave grinding corn between two stones. “Who is it?” she said, as her son led Thor inside. “One of the Æsir! What Giant do you go to injure now, Thor?”

“I do not go to injure any Giant, old Grid,” Thor replied. “Look at me! Can’t you see that I do not have Miölnir, my mighty hammer, with me, or my belt, or my gloves of iron?”

“But where in Jötunheim do you go?”

“To the house of a friendly Giant, old Grid—to the house of Gerriöd.”

“Gerriöd a friendly Giant! You are out of your wits, Thor. Is he not out of his wits, my son—this one who saved you from the flood, as you say?”

“Tell him about Gerriöd, old mother,” said the Giant youth.

“Do not go to his house, Thor. Do not go to his house.”

“My word has been given, and I should be a coward if I stayed away now, just because an old crone sitting at a quernstone tells me I am going into a trap.”

“I will give you something that will help you, Thor. Lucky for you I am mistress of magical things. Take this staff in your hands. It is a staff of power and will help you instead of Miölnir.”

“I will take it since you offer it in kindness.”

“And take these mittens, too. They will serve you for your gauntlets of iron.”

“I will take them since you offer them in kindness.”

“And take this length of string. It will serve you for your belt of strength.”

“I will take it since you offer it in kindness.”

“It is lucky indeed for you, Thor, that I am mistress of magical things.”

Thor put the worn length of string around his waist, and as he did he knew that Grid, the old Giantess, was indeed the mistress of magical things. For immediately he felt his strength increased just as when he put on his own belt of strength. He then put on the mittens and took the staff that she gave him in his hands.

He left the cave of Grid, the old Giantess, and went to Gerriöd’s home. Loki was not there. It was then that Thor began to think that perhaps old Grid was right and that a trap was being laid for him.

No one was in the hall. He came out of the hall and into a great stone room and he saw no one there either. But in the center of the stone room there was a stone seat, and Thor went to it and seated himself on it.

No sooner was he seated than the chair flew upwards. Thor would have been crushed against the stone roof but he held his staff up. So great was the power in the staff, so great was the strength that the string around him gave, that the chair was pushed downward. The stone chair crashed down on the stone floor.

There were horrible screams from under it. Thor lifted up the seat and saw two ugly, broken bodies there. The Giant’s daughters, Gialp and Greip, had hidden themselves under the chair to watch his death. But the stone that was supposed to have crushed him against the ceiling had crushed them against the floor.

Thor strode out of that room in a rage. A great fire was blazing in the hall, and standing beside that fire he saw Gerriöd, the long-armed Giant.

He held tongs in the fire. As Thor came toward him he lifted up the tongs and flung from it a blazing piece of iron. It whizzed straight toward Thor’s forehead. Thor put up his hands and caught the blazing piece of iron between the mittens that old Grid had given him. Quickly he hurled it back at Gerriöd. It struck the Giant on the forehead and went blazing through him.

Gerriöd crashed down into the fire, and the burning iron made a blaze all around him. When Thor reached Grid’s cave (he went there to return to the old Giantess the string, the mittens, and the staff of power she had given him) he saw the Giant’s home in such a blaze that one would think the fires of Muspelheim were all around it.