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The Children of Odin The Book of Northern Myths

Page: 80

Odin looked on his unflinching battle-maiden, and he said, "Is there aught thou wouldst have me bestow on thee in thy mortal life, Brynhild?"

"Naught save this," Brynhild answered, "that in my mortal life no one but a man without fear, the bravest hero in the world, may claim me for wife."

All-Father bowed his head in thought. "It shall be as thou hast asked," he said. "Only he who is without fear shall come near thee."[Pg 173]

Then on the top of the mountain that is called Hindfell he had a Hall built that faced the south. Ten Dwarfs built it of black stone. And when the Hall was built he put round it a wall of mounting and circling fire.

More did Odin All-Father: he took a thorn of the Tree of Sleep and he put it into the flesh of the battle-maiden. Then, with her helmet on her head and the breast-mail of the Valkyrie upon her, he lifted Brynhild in his arms and carried her through the wall of mounting and circling fire. He laid her upon the couch that was within the Hall. There she would lie in slumber until the hero who was without fear should ride through the flame and waken her to the life of a mortal woman.

He took farewell of her and he rode back to Asgard on Sleipner. He might not foresee what fate would be hers as a mortal woman. But the fire he had left went mounting and circling around the Hall that the Dwarfs had built. For ages that fire would be a fence around where Brynhild, once a Valkyrie, lay in sleep.


[Pg 174]

THE CHILDREN OF LOKI

The children of Loki and the witch Angerboda were not as the children of men: they were formless as water, or air, or fire is formless, but it was given to each of them to take on the form that was most like to their own greed.

Now the Dwellers in Asgard knew that these powers of evil had been born into the world and they thought it well that they should take on forms and appear before them in Asgard. So they sent one to Jarnvid, the Iron Wood, bidding Loki bring before the Gods the powers born of him and the witch Angerboda. So Loki came into Asgard once more. And his offspring took on forms and showed themselves to the Gods. The first, whose greed was destruction,[Pg 175] showed himself as a fearful Wolf. Fenrir he was named. And the second, whose greed was slow destruction, showed itself as a Serpent. Jörmungand it was called. The third, whose greed was for withering of all life, took on a form also. When the Gods saw it they were affrighted. 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.


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