THE SWORD GRAM AND THE DRAGON FAFNIR
OUNTED upon Grani, his proud horse, Sigurd rode to the
Hall and showed himself to Alv, the King, and to
Hiordis, his mother. Before the Hall he shouted out
the Volsung name, and King Alv felt as he watched him
that this youth was a match for a score of men, and
Hiordis, his mother, saw the blue flame of his eyes and
 to herself that his way through the world would
be as the way of the eagle through the air.
Having shown himself before the Hall, Sigurd dismounted
from Grani, and stroked and caressed him with his hands
and told him that now he might go back and take pasture
with the herd. The proud horse breathed fondly over
Sigurd and bounded away.
Then Sigurd strode on until he came to the hut in the
forest where he worked with the cunning smith Regin.
No one was in the hut when he entered. But over the
anvil, in the smoke of the smithy fire, there was a
work of Regin's hands. Sigurd looked upon it, and a
hatred for the thing that was shown rose up in him.
The work of Regin's hands was a shield, a great shield
of iron. Hammered out on that shield and colored with
red and brown colours was the image of a Dragon, a
Dragon lengthening himself out of a cave. Sigurd
thought it was the image of the most hateful thing in
the world, and the light of the smithy fire falling on
it, and the smoke of the smithy fire rising round it,
made it seem verily a Dragon living in his own element
of fire and reek.
While he was still gazing on the loathly image, Regin,
the cunning smith, came into the smithy. He stood by
the wall and he watched Sigurd. His back was bent; his
hair fell over his eyes that were all fiery, and he
looked like a beast that runs behind the hedges.
 "Aye, thou dost look on Fafnir the Dragon, son of the
Volsungs," he said to Sigurd. "Mayhap it is thou who
wilt slay him."
"I would not strive with such a beast. He is all
horrible to me," Sigurd said.
"With a good sword thou mightst slay him and win for
thyself more renown than ever thy fathers had," Regin
"I shall win renown as my father won renown, in battle
with men and in conquest of kingdoms," Sigurd said.
"Thou art not a true Volsung or thou wouldst gladly go
where most danger and dread is," said Regin. "Thou
hast heard of Fafnir the Dragon, whose image I wrought
here. If thou dost ride to the crest of the hills thou
mayst look across to the desolate land where Fafnir has
his haunt. Know that once it was fair land where men
had peace and prosperity, but Fafnir came and made his
den in a cave near by, and his breathings as he went to
and came from the River withered up the land and made
it the barren waste that men call Gnita Heath. Now, if
thou art a true Volsung, thou wilt slay the Dragon, and
let that land become fair again, and bring the people
back to it and so add to King Alv's domain"
"I have naught to do with the slaying of Dragons,"
Sigurd said. "I have to make war on King Lygni, and
avenge upon him the slaying of Sigmund, my father."
"What is the slaying of Lygni and the conquest of his
kingdom to the slaying of Fafnir the Dragon?" Regin
cried. "I will tell thee what no one else knows of
Fafnir the Dragon. He
 guards a hoard of gold and
jewels like of which was never seen in the world. All
this hoard you can make yours by slaying him."
"I do not covet riches," Sigurd said.
"No riches is like to the riches that Fafnir guards.
His hoard is the hoard that the Dwarf Andvari had from
the world's early days. Once the Gods themselves paid
it over as a ransom. And it thou wilt win this hoard
thou wilt be as one of the Gods."
"How dost thou know that of which thou speaks, Regin?"
"I know, and one day I may tell thee how I know."
"And one day I may harken to thee. But speak to me no
more of this Dragon. I would have thee make a sword, a
sword that will be mightier and better shapen than any
sword in the world. Thou canst do this, Regin, for
thou art accounted the best sword smith amongst men."
Regin looked at Sigurd out of his small and cunning
eyes and he thought it was best to make himself active.
So he took the weightiest pieces of iron and put them
into his furnace and he brought out the secret tools
that he used when a master-work was claimed from his
All day Sigurd worked beside him keeping the fire at
its best glow and bringing water to cool the blade as
it was fashioned and re-fashioned. And as he worked he
thought only about the blade and about how he would
make war upon King Lygni, and avenge the man who was
slain before himself was born.
 All day he thought only of war and of the beaten blade.
But at night his dreams were not upon wars nor shapen
blades but upon Fafnir, the Dragon. He saw the heath
that was left barren by his breath, and he saw the cave
where he had his den, and he saw him crawling down from
his cave, his scales glittering like rings of mail, and
his length the length of a company of men on the march.
The next day he worked with Regin to shape the great
sword. When it was shapen with all the cunning Regin
knew it looked indeed a mighty sword. Then Regin
sharpened it and Sigurd polished it. And at last he
held the great sword by its iron hilt.
Then Sigurd took he shield that had the image of Fafnir
the Dragon upon it and he put the shield over the anvil
of the smithy. Raising the great sword in both his
hands he struck full on the iron shield.
The stroke of the sword sheared away some of the
shield, but the blade broke in Sigurd's hands. Then in
anger he turned on Regin, crying out, "Thou has made a
knave's sword for me. To work the thee again! Thou
must make me a Volsung's sword."
Then he went out and called to Grani, his horse, and
mounted him and rode to the river bank like the sweep
of the wind.
Regin took more pieces of iron and began to forge a new
sword, uttering as he worked runes that were about the
hoard that Fafnir the Dragon guarded. And Sigurd that
night dreamt of glittering treasure that he coveted
not, masses of gold and heaps of glistening jewels.
 He was Regin's help the next day and they both worked
to make a sword that would be mightier than the first.
For three days they worked upon it, and then Regin put
into Sigurd's hands a sword, sharpened and polished,
that was mightier and more splendid looking that the
one that had been forged before. And again Sigurd took
the shield that had the image of the Dragon upon it and
he put it upon the anvil. Then he raised his arms and
struck his full blow. The sword cut through the
shield, but when it struck the anvil it shivered in his
He left the smithy angrily and called to Grani, his
proud horse. He mounted and rode on like the sweep of
Later he came to his mother's bower and stood before
Hiordis. "A greater sword must I have," said he, "than
one that is made of metal dug out of the earth. The
time has come, mother, when thou must put into my hands
the broken pieces of Gram, the sword of Sigmund and the
Hiordis measured him with the glance of her eyes, and
she saw that her son was a mighty youth and one fit to
use the sword of Sigmund and the Volsungs. She bade
him go with her to the King's Hall. Out of the great
stone chest that was in her chamber she took the
beast's skin and the broken blade that was wrapped in
it. She gave the pieces into the hands of her son.
"Behold the haves of Gram," she said, "of Gram, the
mighty sword that in the far-off days Odin left in the
Branstock, in the tree of the house of Volsung. I
would see Gram new-shapen in thy hands, my son."
 Then she embraced him as she had never embraced him
before, and standing there with her ruddy hair about
her she told him of the glory of Gram and of the deeds
of his fathers in whose hands the sword had shone.
Then Sigurd went to the smithy, and he wakened Regin
out of his sleep, and he made him look on the shining
halves of Sigmund's sword. He commanded him to make
out of these halves a sword for his hand.
Regin worked for days in his smithy and Sigurd never
left his side. At last the blade was forged, and when
Sigurd held it in his hand fire ran along the edge of
Again he laid the shield that had the image of the
Dragon upon it on the anvil of the smithy. Again,
with his hands on its iron hilt, he raised the sword
for a full stroke. He struck, and the sword cut
through the shield and sheared through the anvil,
cutting away its iron horn. Then did Sigurd know that
he had in his hands the Volsungs' sword. He went
without and called to Grani, and like the sweep of the
wind rode down to the River's bank. Shreds of wool
were floating down the water. Sigurd struck at them
with his sword, and the fine wool was divided against
the water's edge. Hardness and fineness, Gram could
cut through both.
That night Gram, the Volsungs' sword, was under his
head when he slept, but still his dreams were filled
with images that he had not regarded in the day time;
the shine of a hoard that he coveted not, and the gleam
of the scales of a Dragon that was too loathly for him
to battle with.
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