The Children of Odin The Book of Northern Myths

Page: 100

"Little do I care about the hoard he guards," Sigurd said. "I care only that he has made the King's good lands into a waste and that he is an evil thing to men. I would have the renown of slaying Fafnir the Dragon."

"With Gram, the sword thou hast, thou couldst slay Fafnir," Regin cried, his body shaken with his passion for the hoard. "Thou couldst slay him with the sword thou hast. Harken now and I will tell thee how thou mightst give him the deathly stroke through the coils of his mail. Harken, for I have thought of it all.

"The track of the Dragon to the River is broad, for he takes ever the one track. Dig a pit in the middle of that track, and when Fafnir comes over it strike up into his[Pg 218] coils of mail with Gram, thy great sword. Gram only may pierce that mail. Then will Fafnir be slain and the hoard will be left guardless."

"What thou sayst is wise, Regin," Sigurd answered. "We will make this pit and I will strike Fafnir in the way thou sayst."

Then Sigurd went and he rode upon Grani, his proud horse, and he showed himself to King Alv and to Hiordis, his mother. Afterwards he went with Regin to the Heath that was the haunt of the Dragon, and in his track they dug a pit for the slaying of Fafnir.

And, lest his horse should scream aloud at the coming of the Dragon, Sigurd had Grani sent back to a cave in the hills. It was Regin that brought Grani away. "I am fearful and can do nothing to help thee, son of the Volsungs," he said. "I will go away and await the slaying of Fafnir."

He went, and Sigurd lay down in the pit they had made and practiced thrusting upward with his sword. He lay with his face upward and with his two hands he thrust the mighty sword upward.

But as he lay there he bethought of a dread thing that might happen; namely, that the blood and the venom of the Dragon might pour over him as he lay there, and waste him flesh and bone. When he thought of this Sigurd hastened out of the pit, and he dug other pits near by, and he made a passage for himself from one pit to the other that he might escape from the flow of the Dragon's envenomed blood.[Pg 219]

As he lay down again in the pit he heard the treading of the Dragon and he heard the Dragon's strange and mournful cry. Mightily the Dragon came on and he heard his breathing. His shape came over the pit. Then the Dragon held his head and looked down on Sigurd.

It was the instant for him to make stroke with Gram. He did not let the instant pass. He struck mightily under the shoulder and toward the heart of the beast. The sword went through the hard and glittering scales that were the creature's mail. Sigurd pulled out the sword and drew himself through the passage and out into the second pit as Fafnir's envenomed blood drenched where he had been.