THE DRAGON'S BLOOD
IGURD went to war: with the men that King Alv gave
him he marched into the country that was ruled over by
the slayer of his father. The war that he waged was
short and the battles that he won were not perilous.
Old was King Lygni now, and feeble was his grasp upon
his people. Sigurd slew him and took away his treasure
and added his lands to the lands of King Alv.
But Sigurd was not content with the victory he had
gained. He had dreamt of stark battles and of renown
that would be
 hardily won. What was the war he had
waged to the wars that Sigmund his father, and Volsung
his father's father, had waged in their days? Not
content was Sigurd. He led his men back by the hills
from the crests of which he could look upon the
Dragon's haunts. And having come as far as those hills
he bade his men return to King Alv's hall with the
spoils he had won.
They went, and Sigurd stayed upon the hills and looked
across Gnita Heath to where Fafnir the Dragon had his
lair. All blazed and wasted was the Heath with the
fiery breath of the Dragon. And he saw the cave where
Fafnir abode, and he saw the track that his comings and
goings made. For every day the Dragon left his cave in
the cliffs, crossing the Heath to come to the River at
which he drank.
For the length of a day Sigurd watched from the hills
the haunt of the Dragon. In the evening he saw him
lengthening himself out of the cave, and coming on his
track across the Heath, in seeming like a ship that
travels swiftly because of its many oars.
Then to Regin in his smithy he came. To that cunning
man Sigurd said:
"Tell me all thou dost know of Fafnir the Dragon."
Regin began to talk, but his speech was old and strange
and filled with runes. When he had spoken it all
Sigurd said, "All thou hast told me thou wilt have to
say over again in a speech that is known to men of our
Then said Regin: "Of a hoard I spoke. The Dwarf
Andvari guarded it from the first days of the world.
But one of the Æsir
 forced Andvari to give the hoard
to him, masses of gold and heaps of jewels, and the
Æsir gave it to Hreidmar, who was my father.
"For the slaying of his son Otter the Æsir gave the
hoard to Hreidmar, the greatest hoard that had ever
been seen in the world. But not long was it left to
Hreidmar to gloat over. For a son slew a father that
he might posses that hoard. Fafnir, that son was
Fafnir, my brother.
"Then Fafnir, that no one might disturb his possession
of the hoard, turned himself into a Dragon, a Dragon so
fearful that none dare come nigh him. And I, Regin,
was stricken with covetousness of the hoard. I did not
change myself into another being, but, by the magic my
father knew, I made my life longer than the generations
of men, hoping that I would see Fafnir slain and then
have the mighty hoard under my hands.
"Now, son of the Volsungs, thou dost know all that has
to do with Fafnir the Dragon, and the great hoard that
"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 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 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
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 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
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 towards 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.
Drawing himself up out of the second pit he saw the
huge shape of Fafnir heaving and lashing He came to
him and thrust his sword right through the Dragon's
neck. The Dragon reared up as though to fling himself
down on Sigurd with all hi crushing bulk and dread
talons, with his fiery breath and his envenomed blood.
But Sigurd leaped aside and ran far off. Then did
Fafnir scream his death scream. After he had torn up
rocks with his talons he lay prone on the ground, his
head in the pit that was filled with his envenomed
Then did Regin, hearing the scream that let him know
that Fafnir was slain, come down to where the battle
had been fought. When he was that Sigurd was alive and
unharmed he uttered a
 cry of fury. For his plan had
been to have Sigurd drowned and burnt in the pit with
the stream of Fafnir's envenomed blood.
But he mastered his fury and showed a pleased
countenance to Sigurd. "Now thou wilt have renown," he
cried. "Forever wilt thou be called Sigurd, Fafnir's
Bane. More renown than ever any of they fathers had
wilt thou have, O Prince of the Volsungs."
So he spoke, saying fair words to him, for now that he
was left alive there was something he would have Sigurd
"Fafnir is slain," Sigurd said, "and the triumph over
him was not lightly won. Now may I show myself to King
Alv and to my mother, and the gold from Fafnir's hoard
will make me a great spoil."
"Wait," said Regin cunningly. "Wait. Thou hast yet to
do something for me. With the sword thou hast, cut
through the Dragon and take out his heart for me. When
thou has taken it out, roast it that I may eat of it
and become wiser than I am. Do this for me who showed
thee how to slay Fafnir."
Sigurd did what Fafnir would have him do. He cut out
the heart of the Dragon and he hung it from stakes to
roast. Regin drew away and left him. As Sigurd stood
before the fire putting sticks upon it there was a
great silence in the forest.
He put his hand down to turn an ashen branch into the
heart of the fire. As he did a drop from he roasting
Dragon-heart fell upon his hand. The drop burnt into
him. He put his hand to his mouth to ease the smart,
and his tongue tasted the burning blood of the Dragon.
 He went to gather wood for the fire. IN a clearing
that he came to there were birds; he saw four on a
branch together. They spoke to each other in birds'
notes, and Sigurd heard and knew what they were saying.
Said the first bird: "How simple is he who has come
into this dell! He has no thought of an enemy, and yet
he who was with him but a while ago has gone away that
he may bring a spear to slay him."
"For the sake of the gold that is in the Dragon's cave
he would slay him," said the second bird.
And the third bird said: "If he would eat the Dragon's
heart himself he would know all wisdom."
But the fourth bird said: "He has tasted a drop of the
Dragon's blood and he k knows what we are saying."
The four birds did not fly away nor cease from
speaking. Instead they began to tell of a marvelous
abode that was known to them.
Deep in the forest, the birds sang, there was a Hall
that called the House of Flame. Its ten walls were
Uni, Iri, Barri, Ori, Varns, Vegdrasil, Derri, Uri,
Dellinger, Atvarder, and each wall was built by the
Dwarf whose name it bore. All round the Hall there was
a circle of fire through which none might pass. And
within the Hall a maiden slept, and she was the wisest
and the bravest and the most beautiful maiden in the
Sigurd stood like a man enchanted listening to what the
 But suddenly they changed the flow of
their discourse, and their notes became sharp and
"Look, look!" cried one. "He is coming against the
"He is coming against the youth with a spear," cried
"Now will the youth be slain unless he is swift," cried
Sigurd turned round and he saw Regin treading the way
towards him, grim and silent, with a spear in his
hands. The spear would have gone through Sigurd had he
stayed one instant longer in the place where he had
been listening to the speech of the birds As he turned
he had his sword in his hand, and he flung it, and Gram
struck Regin on the breast.
Then Regin cried out: "I die—I die without having
laid my hands on the hoard that Fafnir guarded. Ah, a
curse was upon the hoard, for Hreidmar and Fafnir and I
have perished because of it. May the curse of the gold
now fall on the one who is my slayer."
Then did Regin breathe out his life. Sigurd took the
body and cast it into the pit that was alongside the
dead Fafnir. Then, that he might eat the Dragon's
heart and become the wisest of men, he went to where he
had left it roasting. And he thought that when he had
eaten the heart he would go into the Dragon's cave and
carry away the treasure that was there, and bring it as
a spoil of his battle to King Alv and to his mother.
Then he would go through out the forest and find the
House of Flame where slept
 the maiden who was the
wisest and bravest and most beautiful in the world.
But Sigurd did not eat the Dragon's heart. When he
came to where he had left it roasting he found that the
fire had burnt it utterly.