LOKI AGAINST THE ÆSIR
HE Æsir were the guests of the Vanir: in Frey's
palace the Dwellers in Asgard met and feasted
in friendship. Odin and Tyr were there, Vidar
and Vali, Niörd, Frey, Heimdall, and Bragi. The
Asyniur and the Vana were there also—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 of shining gold; they made
light for the table and they moved of their own accord to serve
those who were feasting. All was peace and friendship there
until Loki entered the feast hall.
 Frey, smiling a welcome, showed a bench to Loki. It was
beside Bragi's and next to Freya's. Loki did not take the
place; instead he shouted out, "Not beside Bragi will I sit;
not beside Bragi, the most craven of all the Dwellers in Asgard."
Bragi sprang up at that affront, but his wife, the mild Iduna,
quieted his anger. Freya turned to Loki and reproved him for
speaking injurious words at a feast.
"Freya," said Loki, "why were you not so mild when Odur
was with you? Would it not have been well to have been wifely
with your husband instead of breaking faith with him for the
sake of a necklace that you craved of the Giant women?"
Amazement fell on all 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, O Loki," said
Odin, "and let thy tongue which drips bitterness be silent."
"All the Æsir and the Vanir listen to thy words, O Odin, as if
thou wert always wise and just," Loki said. "But must we
forget that thou didst bring war into the world when thou didst
fling thy spear at the envoys of the Vanir? And didst thou not
permit me to work craftily on the one who built the wall around
Asgard for a price? Thou dost speak, O Odin, and all the Æsir
and the Vanir listen to thee! But was it not thou 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? Thou wert not always wise nor always
just, O Odin, and we at the table here need not listen to thee as
if always thou wert."
Then Skadi, the wife of Niörd, flung words at Loki. She spoke
with all the fierceness of her Giant blood. "Why should we not
rise up and chase from the hall this chattering crow?" she said.
"Skadi," said Loki, "remember that the ransom for thy
father's death has not yet been paid. Thou wert glad to snatch
a husband instead of it. Remember who it was that killed thy
Giant father. It was I, Loki. And no ransom have I paid thee
for it, although thou hast come amongst us in Asgard."
Then Loki fixed his eyes on Frey, the giver of the feast, and all
knew that with bitter words he was about to assail him. But
Tyr, the brave swordsman, rose up and said, "Not against Frey
mayst thou speak, O Loki. Frey is generous; he is the one
amongst us who spares the vanquished and frees the captive."
"Cease speaking, Tyr," said Loki. "Thou mayst not always
have a hand to hold that sword of thine. Remember this saying
of mine in days to come.
"Frey," said he, "because thou art the giver of the feast they
think I will not speak the truth about thee. But I am not to be
bribed by a feast. Didst thou not send Skirnir to Gymer's
dwelling to befool Gymer's flighty daughter? Didst thou not
bribe him into frightening her into a marriage with thee, who,
men say, wert the slayer of her brother? Yea, Frey. Thou didst
part with a charge, with the magic sword that thou shouldst
 have kept for the battle. Thou hadst cause to grieve when thou
didst meet Beli by the lake."
When he said this all who were there of the Vanir rose up,
their faces threatening Loki.
"Sit still, ye Vanir," Loki railed. "If the Æsir are to bear
the brunt of Jötunheim's and Muspelheim's war upon Asgard
it was your part to be the first or the last on Vigard's plain.
But already ye 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
In horror they looked at the one who could let his hatred speak
of Surtur's triumph. All would have laid hands on Loki only
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 prowess
around him, he stood marking Loki with wrathful eyes.
"Ha, Loki, betrayer," he shouted. "Thou didst plan to leave
me dead in Gerriöd's house, but now thou wilt meet death by the
stroke of this hammer."
His hands were raised to hurl Miölnir. But the words that
Odin spoke were heard. "Not in this hall may slaying be done,
son Thor. Keep thy hands upon thy hammer."
Then shrinking from the wrath in the eyes of Thor, Loki passed
out of the feast hall. He went beyond the walls of Asgard and
crossed Bifröst, the Rainbow Bridge. And 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. There dwelt
witches who were the most foul of all witches. And they had a
queen over them, a hag, mother of many sons who took upon
themselves 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. To Jarnvid,
the Iron Wood, Loki made his way. And he wed one of the
witches there, Angerboda, and they had children that took on
dread shapes. Loki's offspring 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.
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