To the south of Ginnungapap was Muspell, the world of fire and perpetual light-the opposite of Niflheim. Here lived Surt, the flame giant, the first living entity, who played a large role not only in the creation of the universe but also it's eventual destruction. It was Surt's job to protect Muspell from trespassers. But since he was the only living being, he found himself bored most of the time. In his boredom he practiced with his flaming sword, honing his skills, sending great waves of sparks and flame out into the chasm of Ginnungapap. There the fire met the blocks of ice on the abyss floor, sending great torrents of steam upward into the frigid air, where the moisture was frozen again, returning to the chasm floor. From this frost were formed two creatures:Ymir, the father of the frost giants, and Audhumbla, an enourmous cow.
Naturally, after a while both of these new beings became hungry, and while Ymir kneaded Audhumbla's udders supplying himself with rivers of milk, Audhumbla herself had nothing to eat but the frost from the ice. She licked the ice blocks until she uncovered the god Buri, whose name means "producer." Buri was the grandfather of the Æsir, the ruling gods of the Norse mythology.
After gorging himself on Audhumbla's rich milk, Ymir lay down on the chasm floor to sleep off the slothfullness brought on by overeating. As he dozed a sheet of fire from Surt's sword fell very close to him. The warmth made him sweat and from this perspiration was born Thrudgelmir, an ugly six-headed giant who was the grandfather of the frost giants, the sworn enemies of the Æsir. From the sweat of Ymir's armpits came two other children, also giants, though not as deformed as Thrudgelmir. This brother and sister had only one head each, but they were hideously ugly.
Soon after his birth, Buri produced a son, the god Bor. Bor soon married the giantess Bestla, and with her produced three sons.The first was Odin, the second was Vili, and the third was Ve.These children were the first of the race of Æsir, destined to become the ruling forces for good in Norse mythology.
When Thrudgelmir and his young son Bergelmir(who had sprung from his father much in the same was Bor had sprung from Buri) discovered the existence of Bor's children, they quickly enlisted the aid of their brother and sister giants to help them destroy the forces of good.
The war between the children of Thrudgelmir and the children of Bor raged for countless ages in the depths of Ginnungapap with neither side winning. Bor's children,though few in numbers,were incredibly strong. The wounds that they sustained were quickly healed; it was impossible to kill them. The giants, while more vulnerable than the children of Bor, kept producing new children to replenish their ranks. For thousands of years the battle between good and evil continued.
Odin, Vili, and Ve ambushed and defeated their most hated enemy, the original frost giant, Ymir,who fell to the floor of Ginnungapap, blood flowing from his wounds. From this flood of Ymir's blood the rest of the giant army, all of whom, save two, drowned.
Bergelmir and his wife, the two giants who survived the flood by piloting a ship on the ocean of blood,finally settled in a land far south,Jotunheim, the land of the giants. Here the two created a new race of frost giants, all of whom were taught to hate the Æsirs.
Now that the war was over, Odin, Vili, and Ve decided it was time to make the universe a more pleasant place. They decided to make the world out of Ymir'scorpse as it was all they had to fashion the world out of. Ymir's blood had already formed the oceans. From his flesh they created Midgard, the earth, and positioned it between themselves and Jotunheim. They used Ymir's bones to prop up the loose pockets of flesh, creating hills and valleys. His teeth, jagged and broken, became the world's many cliffs. His hair became the earth's vegetation. His skull became the heavens above. Whatever brains were left in his skull became the clouds.
With the earth and sky in place the gods decided that a light was needed. They traveled to Muspell to collect some of the sparks that flew from Surt's blade. They threw these pieces of undying fire into the sky, where they became the stars. Out of all the sparks there were two that outshone the rest and they became the sun and moon.
The gods fashioned two chariots, built for hauling the sun and moon across the sky. The sun chariot was equipped for the safety and comfort of both the steeds and the driver in mind. Pouches of ice were secured behind the horses, protecting their hindquarters from the heat of the sun. They also created the sheild Svalin to protect both driver and steeds from the undying rays. The moon chariot was not made in the same way as the sun's since the moon's rays were not as fierce as the sun's. The horse Arvakr, the "early riser",and Alsvin, "the quick-footed", were chosen to pull the sun chariot across the sky, Arvakr ensured that the sun rose early in the day and Alsvin made certain that it wouldn't linger over Midgard too long and scorch it. The moon's chariot steed was named Alsvider, which means "always quick." The drivers of the chariots were Sol for the sun's, and Manifor the moon's.
Quick on the heals of both Manifor and Sol were the wolves Skolland and Hati. These ravenous wolves were possessed of a singular desire:to overtake and swallow the magnificent glowing orbs in the sky. Only at the time of Ragnarök, when all the world would be destroyed, would these voracious wolves overtake and devour these two celestial chariots.
The gods assessed the foul, wriggling creatures and quickly changed them into forms fitting their natures. The creatures of an evil, greedy nature took on a hunched over, gnarled shape.They were hearty and could easily survive where others could not. These were the dwarfs and they were banished to Svartalfheim, a subterranean world, far below the surface of Midgard. Here they would be able to dig through the rich earth, uncovering the precious metals and gems that they so treasured. They could not venture to the surface during the day, for the slightest touch of a sunbeam on their bare skin would instantly turn them into stone.
The creatures who possessed a gentle, kind spirit, with no ill will or greed to taint their soul, were changed into beautiful beings. Light as the air itself:these were the elves. They lived in the land of Alfheim, the "world of the white elves," which was between Asgard and Midgard. In Alfheim the elves had a safe haven and whenever they chose they were permitted to fly down to Midgard for whatever reason took their fancy, be it to play with a flock of birds soaring through the air or to tend some flowers that needed some special care.
Running through the center of it all was the great ash tree Yggdrasil, the mightiest tree ever. It's three roots, one in Jotunheim, one in Niflheim, and one in Asgard, giving the universe its stability. Near each of these roots flowed a spring. The root in Niflheim was near Hvergelmir. Here lived the evil serpent Nidhog, who continually gnawed on the root of the mighty tree, hoping one day to bite clean through the root and thereby causing the universe to fall into chaos.
Near the root in Asgard flowed the well of Urd. Here was located Gladsheim, the meeting hall of the gods. The three Norns, the goddesses of destiny, whose names were Urd(past), Verandi(present), andSkuld(future), lived near the spring, from where they controlled not only the destiny of man but the universe as well.
The root in Jotunheim was near the spring of wisdom, which was guarded by Mimir. It was here that Heimdall, the watchman of the gods, kept the horn that would be blown at the beginning of Ragnarök. For countless eons the Æsir, giants, dwarves, elves, and man lived in harmony. Everyone kept out of everyone else's way and no trouble was caused.
But Gullveig's powers were mighty and she rose from the flames reborn. Three times the Æsir slew her and three times they set her body on the pyre but each time she rose from the flames as fresh as a newborn. After this the Æsir began calling her Heid, which means"shining one." Heid soon became the goddess of evil magick, letting loose her foul powers throughout the universe, tainting everything.
When the Vanir, the gods of the natural world, who lived in Vanaheim, not far from Asgard, learned of how the Æsir had played a part in the creation of this new black goddess, they became incensed and declared war on the Æsir.
The battle raged furiously for eons, with neither side gaining much of an advantage. As soon as the Æsir delivered a crushing blow to the walls of Vanaheim, the Vanir would amass their magick and lay waste to the walls of Asgard. It eventually became obvious to both sides that there could be no winner in this war, and so a truce was called.
It was decided that the Æsir and the Vanir should live in peace. To cement this agreement the two sides agreed to exchange key leaders.The Æsir sent Vili and Mimir. Vili was widely thought of as a born leader, strong in both thought and action. Mimir, the guardian of the well of wisdom, was consisered the embodiment of the well he protected. The Vanir sent Njord, the god of summer, and his son Freyr the god of sunshine and spring. Along with them came Kvasir, who was born from the combined saliva of the Vanir and Æsir, and Freya, Frey's sister, who would become the goddess of beauty and love, as well as the queen of Odin's warrior maidens, the Valkyries
One day Heimdall, the watchman of Asgard, came to Odin telling him of a stranger who had come demanding an audience with the Æsir. Odin called a meeting and soon the Æsir were assembled in Gladsheim. the stranger entered the hall and offered to rebuild Asgard's wall. The stone mason said that he would rebuild the wall in eighteen months, and that for payment he desired the hand of Freya, the goddess of love, as well as possession of the sun and the moon.
The gods were ready to run the craftsman out of Asgard right then, but Loki, the god of evil and trickery, spoke up, asking his fellow gods to at least consider the mason's offer. The stranger was ked out of Gladsheim so that the Æsir could discuss the situation.
Loki's plan was to agree to the mason's price, but to only allow the stranger six months, an impossibly short time, to finish the task. Loki figured that in six months the wall would be half-built and they wouldn't owe anything. the Æsir were hesitant to go along with Loki but couldn't find fault with his plan, so they agreed.
When the Æsir's conditions were related to the mason, he agreed, but asked to be allowed the use of his horse, Svadilfari. At first Odin refused, but Loki convinced the king of the Æsir to agree with the stranger's demand.
the mason began work the next morning. Svadilfari proved to be more powerful than the gods had thought possible. the stallion was able to haul massive amounts of rock up to his master, who was then able to chisel them into shape and fit them into the wall almost as fast as Svadilfari could bring them.
As the end of the six-month period neared, the gods saw that all that was left to be built was the gateway, which would take no time at all to build. Anxiety filled the gods, most of all Freya, who hated even the thought of being married to the stone mason.
Odin called a meeting in Gladsheim where it was soon decided that since Loki had gotten them into this mess, Loki would have to get them out if he wanted to continue to live in Asgard. With his quick words and quick mind, Loki devised a plan that he was sure would put the minds of the Æsir at ease.
That night Loki transformed himself into a beautiful mare and seduced Svadilfari. The shape changer led the fierce stallion far away from his master so that the next day the mason would have to haul the stones himself. With this added burden on his shoulders there was no way that the mason could complete the job in time.
When the stranger found Svadilfari missing he knew that he had been somehow tricked. In his anger he rushed into Gladsheim and voiced his complaint. His anger was so great that it becmae impossible to maintain his disguise and soon a lumbering, bellowing rock giant stood before the gods. Odin quickly called for Thor, the god of thunder, who killed the giant with one mighty blow from his hammer, Mjolnir.
Months passed and the Æsir soon completed the wall, but still no one knew what had become of Loki. Eventually Loki returned, crossing Bifrost with an eight-legged colt in tow. Loki went to Odin and told him how he tricked Svadilfari into running away, and how he'd had to mate with the stallion in order to keep it from returning to the mason. The eight-legged colt was the offspring of that union. Loki gave the colt to Odin, telling him that it was, without question, the fastest horse in all the universe. The young horse was named Sleipnir and grew to become Odin's faithfull steed. Asgard was now complete and secure again. the Æsir, with Odin in command. began their rule.
It wasn't long before the Æsir took notice of the change in Balder's disposition. When asked about it he told them of his nightmares. The gods became greatly distressed. The dreams the god of light was having had to be portents of great evil, they thought, since no untruth, and therefore no false visions, could pass through the walls of Breidablik. The gods knew that Balder's life was in great danger and that some method of forestalling his fate must be discovered.
they gathered in Gladsheim to discuss the problem. The Æsir racked their brains trying to think of every possible situation, weapon, disease, and being that could conceivably kill the most beloved of the gods. This catalog grew to astonishing proportions. When it was finished Frigg took it upon herself to travel to every corner of the nine worlds and get assurances form everything listed that they would never harm her son. She completed this task with little trouble.
Upon her return the gods again gathered in Gladsheim, this time for a celebration. It wasn't long before toasts to Balder's health and the crashing of drinking horns could be heard throughout Asgard. Soon, drunk with celebration and mead, the Æsir decided to put Frigg's safeguards to the test. Picking up a tiny pebble, one of the gods flicked it at Balder's forehead. When asked if it stung, Balder responded that he had felt nothing. The pebble, remembering its oath to Frigg, withheld its weight.
Growing in confidence the Æsir began experimenting with different weapons. From a pebble they graduated to a stone, then a boulder, then a dagger, then a sword, on and on, until even mighty Thor was hurling enormous axes at Balder. All of these items bounced off his skin, harmless as feathers.
Sulking in a dimly lit corner of Gladsheim, Loki determined to find something that could truly harm the god of truth. His eyes glowed with evil intent, a plan forming in his mind. With his characteristic slither, Loki left Galdsheim to mull over the possibilities.
A few days later Loki had his plan. He transformed into a haggard old woman and made his way to Fensalir, Frigg's palace. When he got there he found the queen of the gods alone, taking a break from the ongoing celebration in Gladsheim.
Loki barged in, trying to be as obnoxious as possible. He made a long, warted nose he'd given himself run, creating quite a disgusting mess on the grungy frock he was wearing. In his grizzled voice he asked Frigg what all the commotion was throughout Asgard, referring to the cacophany emanating from Gladsheim. Frigg told the annoying hag that the revelers were celebrating the health of the god of truth. If this was the case, the old woman asked, why was there someone there being tortured with all manner of weapon? Frigg then explained how she'd traveled the nine worlds, seeking assurances from everything that no harm would ever come to her son. With a wrinkled, bony finger, Loki picked a boil and asked Frigg if she was certain she'd gotten an assurance from everything. Now, being quite disgusted, and simply wanting the hag out of her sight, Frigg told her that in fact there was one thing she hadn't asked. that thing was the mistletoe, a shrub so young she'd been certain it wouldn't have been able to understand her.
Loki kept up his revolting disguise until Frigg rather forcibly asked the old woman to leave. Complying with her demands, the old woman left, heading in the direction of a patch of forest where mistletoe grew. Loki changed back into his original form, broke off a sizable branch, and sharpened one end into a fine point. With this in hand he walked back to Gladsheim.
Comming into the hall Loki made a beeline for Hoder. The blind god was standing over in a corner, propping himself up rather clumsily on a wall. He was not taking part in the festivities due to his blindness. Loki, pretending to be kindhearted, told Hoder that it was a shame he had to be left out of the celebration. He offered not only to provide Hoder with a formidable looking weapon but to guide his aim as well. Thanking Loki for his kindness, Hoder let himself be guided by the Trickster over to where the others were positioning themselves for the next throw. Grasping the mistletoe spear firmly in his hand, he let Loki guide his arm. He threw with all his strenght. The staff pierced Balder through the chest, and without so much as a groan the god collapsed to the floor.
The other gods were stunned. No one said anything; they simply looked at each other in befuddlement. But when they noticed the Trickster standing besides Hoder, still grasping his throwing arm, the Æsir knew the whole story. With a coward's speed Loki fled the great hall.
Then the lamentations began. The gods and goddesses could not restrain their grief. Where once Asgard echoed with the sounds of revelery, now there was the sound of mourning. Of all the gods only Odin knew the true consequences of this event, and because of this his mourning was the most soulful of all. He knew that with light and truth gone form the world Ragnarök could not be far off, when evil and death would gain a hold, shaking the stability of the universe. The nine worlds would soon be nothing more than a smoldering pile of ashes.
Frigg, in her distress, called for some brave soul to travel to Hel's domain and ask for Balder's return to the land of the living. Hermod, son of Odin and the messenger of the gods, offered his services. To aid him in his journey Odin lent him the use of the eight-legged Sleipnir. Without any goodbyes Hermod mounted Odin's steed and began the long journey to Niflheim.
As the sound of Sleipnir's hooves faded in the distance Odin ordered that Balder's body be taken to Breidablik and prepared for the funeral. He ordered a great many trees felled so that a funeral pyre worthy of the slain god could be built. Down to Ringhorn, Balder's dragonship, the gods hausled their massive tributary gifts. On the ship's deck the pyre was built. When it was completed the bathed body was brought, dressed in the finest batle clothes, and placed on top the mountain of wood.
In keeping with tradition the ship was outfitted with the most luxurious worldly goods. Ornate tapestries, magnificent weapons, blazing golden objects-all were laid next to Balder's corpse. As the gods drew nearer, each one paid their last respects to the slain god by presenting his corpse with their most prized possessions. Odin graced his fallen son with Draupnir, his self-replicating armband. After he did this Allfather bent down and whispered something into Balder's ear. To this day Odin's words remain a mystery, although it has been speculated that he whispered the lone word "resurrection," for Odin possibly knew that his son waould be reborn after the fires of Ragnarök destroyed the world. When Nanna approached her to kiss her husband one last time, she fell down dead, the grief too much for her to bear. Her body was then laid next to his.
With all the preperations now completed the next step in the sad ceremony was to launch the ship, but due to it's massive weight, the gods found Ringhorn to be unmovable. Seeing the problem, Odin sent a messenger, Hermoch, to Jotunheim to ask the aid of the mountain giantess Hyrrokin, who was so strong that she could launch the overladen craft singlehandedly.
Hyrrokin's arrival made many of the Æsir gape in horror. She was a terrifying vision, a monstrous form riding atop an equally huge wolf. The reins Hyrrokin held in her gnarled hands were not made of leather, but writhing serpents. She halted her mount and announced to the gods that she would help them launch the craft, but first her mount must be held fast, lest the ravenous wolf begin to devour all around him. Odin ordered four of his most savage beserkers to hold the reins of the snakes. Despite their insane strength, the beserkers could not restrain the massive beast. Annoyed, Hyrrokin had to bind the monster's legs.
With a mighty shove the giantess pushed Balder's funeral ship into the water with an ear-splitting splash. So heavy was Ringhorn that the splash was heard throughout the nine worlds. With a heavy heart, Thor boarded Ringhorn and, while the pyre was being lit, held aloft Mjolnir, and spoke magickal words that would safeguard Balder's journey to Niflheim.
As Ringhorn sailed off to the horizon, the flames from the pyre gradually consumed the entire ship, making it sink into the sea along with the setting sun. Together the two created the most sadly beautiful sunset the Æsir had ever seen.
While the mourning continued in Asgard, Hermod was nearing Niflheim. He rode over the dreaded bridge Giallar that spanned Giall, the river of the dead. Horse and rider jumped the massive enterance gates to Hel's domain with no trouble and galloped to Hel's palace, deep in the heart of Niflheim, realm of the dead.
upon entering Hel's dining hall Hermod saw both Balder and Nanna reclining on couches. The food in front of them was untouched, as were the horns of mead set before them. Their spirits seemed as dead as their bodies. Hermod tried in vain to convince Balder that he should return to the land of the living. The dour spirit's only reply was a mournful look of sadness, telling Hermod that such things were now impossible.
Hermod approached Hel and told her of Frigg's plea to return her son to life. The goddess of death quitely listened, crossing her decaying legs. When Hermod finished Hel told him that she would release Balder if everything in the world, both animate and inanimate, shed a tear of grief for Balder. Acknowledging the bargain, Hermod again mounted Sleipnir for the journey back to Asgard. As he left Hel's murky realm, he was filled with a breath of hope. All of nature loved Balder, so he found it hard to imagine that Hel's request wouldn't be met.
Upon hearing the news, Odin ordered four of his most trusted messengers to comb the four corners of the world and announce Balder's death. He was certain that when the news was heard, nothing in all pof creation would be able to resist grieving. The messengers did their jobs well, and it wasn't long before everything, even the rocks and dirt of the earth shed tears for the fallen god.
Returning to Asgard, the messengers saw one cave none of them had investigated before. Going inside they found it to be the home of the giantess Thok. When they told her of Balder's death she remained unmoved. When they asked her if she felt grief at Balder's death she replied that she did not, that Hel could keep him forever for all she cared.
With dismal hearts the mesengers returned to Asgard, carrying their sad news. When it was told that all but Thok had wept there was a great depression throughout Asgard. It mattered little that no one had ever heard of Thok before. The conditions had not been met. Balder would remain dead.
In their mourning no one noticed the cunning glint in Loki's eye, a glint that revealed the true identity of the giantess Thok; the Trickster had struck again. The god of deception turned and left the others, doing his best to make it look like he was weeping.
Later, when time for mourning ended, Odin determined that something should be done to avenge Balder's murder. He lay with his third wife, Rinda, and produced a son named Vali. Vali soon came to be called the Avenger, as it became clear that he would be the one to seek justice for Balder's murder. He constantly carried both a small quiver of arrows and a look of vengance unfullfilled. One day, shortly after his birth, Vali came across Hoder and immediately slew the blind deity. By doing this, even though Loki was the true murderer, Balder's death was avenged in the eyes of the northern races. Balder and Hoder, now both dead, escaped the fury of Ragnarök.
For too long the Æsir had tolerated Loki in their midst. Too often they had taken his advise and had had trouble because of it. Now, with Loki banished to Midgard, Odin was certain Loki's evil was slowly seeping into the hearts and minds of men. With Balder dead, there was nothing with which to keep the spread of evil in check. Portents of doom were all that reached the eye of the mighty Odin.
All too soon the malignant forces began to manifest themselves in Midgard. High on Hlidskialf Odin saw the men on earth wage war on each other, their hearts overtaken with evil and malice. He saw fathers cut down sons in fits of rage, sons slay their families under the blanket of night, brothers and sisters lay down together, fathers and daughters bear children, mothers lust after sons. It was the time of metal on metal, sword blade on sword blade. Hatred and anger ran freely. Midgard ran red with blood. During this stage, mankind forgot the civilization it had created and reverted back to a more monstrous state.
After this age of weapons and blood came the time of Fimbulvetr. For three years the earth was blanketed in an unending winter. The cold was unbearable. Ice and frost covered the world as far as Odin's eye could see. All of the creatures of the world starved. The lucky ones froze to death before starvation gripped them in it's throes. It was a barren, desolate age, when the sun refused to shine and the earth refused to warm. During this hideous winter all that remained of people's humanity was discarded. The men of the earth turned into nothing more than snarling, savage beasts, akin more to brutes than men. When the winter finally ended, all love and compassion was gone from the feilds of Midgard. Only the blackest and most savage of hearts remained.
After the age of metal and the age of winter came the age of the wolf. The giantess Angrboda diligently fed Skoll and Hati, the wolves who pursued the sun and moon every day. Into their snarling jaws were thrust the bodies of those men who had killed their families and members of their clans. The bodies of those who had taken liberties with their kin also found their final resting place between the jaws of these tremendous wolves. As the past years had been full of such brutality, Hati and Skoll never went hungry. In fact, they grew to such fantastic size and strength that they soon caught the heavenly orbs they had been chasing for so long. Skoll overtook the sun, chomping the chariot and its driver in his massive jaws, covering Midgardian snow with bright red gore. Hati likewise devoured the moon. After these loses, the stars lost their will to shine and the earth was covered in blackness.
This all pervasive darkness not only killed the will of the stars, but destroyed the integrity of all magickal bonds as well. All those imprisoned quickly found themselves free. Fenris felt Gleipnir drop around him, limper than unwoven flax. Loki felt his bonds dissolve and his freedom restored. the fires of vengance flooded through these two evil beings, and their eyes glowed red with hate.
This darkness also gave Nidhogg, the serpent that lay deep in Niflheim curled around the root of Yggdrasil, the strength he needed. Nidhogg bit through the root, shaking the mighty ash tree to the heights of Asgard. the moment his teeth bit through, cocks crowed, alerting all to the fact that the end was near. In Niflheim, Hel's blood-red rooster crowed it's warning. Gullinkambi, the cock of Asgard, screeched his signal at the same time. From his perch high above Valhala, Gullinkambi could be heard throughout the realm of noble Einheriar.
Apart form Odin, however, the only other Æsir to hear Gullinkambi's terrible portent was Heimdall. Like Odin on Hildskialf, Heimdall was able to see all that went on in Midgard given his position on Bifrost, the bridge that seperated the two worlds. After having seen the terrible age of blood and blinding white age of Fimbulvetr, Heimdall knew the time had come for him to finally blow the sacred horn Gjallar. He did not do this lightly, for the music from Gjallar would not only rouse the Æsir but also the noble Einheriar for one final, valiant battle. Upon hearing the call to arms the Æsir and Einheriar quickly drew their swords, axes, and hammers and left the warm tables of Valhalla. Through each of the five hundred and forty doors of the palace emerged eight hundred noble souls ready for battle. They crossed Bifrost to Vigrid, the feild where all knew the final battle would take place.
The residents of Asgard were not alone in hearing the call to arms. Deep in the depths of the ocean, Jormungand, the serpent that encircled Midgard, heard the call and began to writhe and twitch, causing massive tidal waves and storms. Jormungand's movements brought the terrible ship Nagilfar to the surface. This ship was constructed of the nails of dead men, whose families had forgotten to clip them before entrusting their corpses to the flames of the funeral pyre.
As soon as Nagilfar broke the surface of the water, Loki, free from his torture, landed on its deck and steered towards Vigrid. Along the way he was joined by his children, Fenris and Jormungand. The two evil brothers flanked the ship, Fenris devouring everything that came his way and Jormungand spewing poison everywhere. Where Nagilfar went only desolation was left in its wake. As the ship neared Vigrid, Loki caught sight of another ship, sailing from Jotunheim, packed to the brim with giants, all of them armed and ready for the final battle. This second ship was steered by the hideous giant Hrym. Loki also saw, coming from Asgard, where they had just destroyed Bifrost, the flame giant Surt and his children of fire, their eyes ablaze with the flames of wrath.
Loki beached Nagilfar on the shores of Vigrid and was delighted to see that his daughter Hel had emerged from a crack in the earth, bringing with her the terrible demon dog Garm. Nidhogg crawled out of the crack as well, bits of Yggdrasil's roots still hanging from it's reptilian jaw. It was a terrible sight when Nidhogg spread his wings and took to the air, letting fall to earth the countless corpses previously tucked away inside his leathery wings.
The forces were assembled. The final battle, the melee of Ragnarök, was about to begin. The two sides stared at each other for a long time. The Æsir, Einheriar, and the Vanir carefully studied the evil forces that stared back at them across Vigrid. Likewise, Loki, his minions, the flame giant Surt, and the frost giants glared at the forces of good with hate and loathing in their eyes.
The feild of Vigrid was soon filled with a cacophony of battle cries as the forces of good and the forces of evil commenced their attack. Odin fought Fenris. Thor faced Jormungard. Frey met Surt. Tyr met Garm. Heimdall clashed with Loki. The Einheriar and the Vanir valiantly met Hel's undead army and the frost giants.
Odin's battle with Fenris was long and fierce, but eventually the terrible child of Loki swallowed Allfather in one gulp. Thus transpired the death of Odin, King of the Æsir. But Fenris had no time to savor victory; Vidar, Odin's son, quickly leapt at the gigantic wolf and stretched the beasts foul jaws so wide that they scraped both earth and heaven. With a mighty crack Vidar finally ripped Fenris in two.
Thor and Jormungard were equally matched, but it was soon proven that Mjolnir was mightier that the giant serpent. As the creature lay dead at Thor's feet, the Thunder god staggered back, overcome by the venom the snake had saturated him with during their battle. After only nine steps, the Thunderer likewise fell dead.
No sooner had Frey and Surt clashed weapons than the god of sunshine regretted the fact that he had given away his magickal fighting sword to his faithful servant Skirnir. Although the battle between the two was long, Surt's fiery blade proved to be the death of noble Frey.
Tyr and the hideous Garm fought long and hard, and fell together in a heap, both of them dead. Likewise, longtime enemies Loki and Heimdall, their mutual dislikes for each other burning strongly in their hearts, slew one another after a hideously melee.
When the sounds of the battle faded and Vigrid was covered in nothing but corpses, Surt, who alone survived, flung his massive flaming sword around his head, throwing the fires of Muspell into every corner of the nine worlds, covering everything with devouring flames. All was destroyed. The palaces of Asgard and Jotunheim, the mortal villages of Midgard, and the dank depths of Hel were all consumed by Surt's cleansing fire. The world was dead. And so it snak beneath the enveloping waves of the sea.
A number of these destructive forces were unleashed by the trickster god Loki, whose practical jokes became more and more sinister. When Loki brought about the death of Odin's favorite son Balder, the trickster made matters worse by refusing to mourn, thereby condemning Balder to the underworld. After this episode the gods chained Loki up and he plotted the finale battle, which Norse myths say will bring the world to ruin and rebirth.