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The Twilight Of The Gods






Source: Asgard Stories Tales From Norse Mythology

Loki and Fenrir, the wolf, were safely bound, each to his separate
cliff, but still happiness and peace did not return to Asgard, for
Baldur was no longer there, and light and joy had gone from the home of
the gods. The Aesir felt that the Twilight of the gods, which Odin knew
was to come, must be near.

Soon began a long cold winter; surely it must be the beginning of the
Fimbulwinter, which was to come before the last great battle. From the
north came cold blasts of freezing wind; snow and ice covered the earth;
men could not see the face of the sun or the moon. Everywhere there was
darkness; the people grew fierce and unhappy and wicked, for they seemed
no longer to love each other. So the evil deeds of men kept on, and the
fierce frost giants grew stronger and stronger. They killed the trees
and flowers, and bound the lakes and rivers with icy bands.

Even when summer time came, the cold still held on, and no one could see
the green grass or the beautiful golden sunlight. The frost giants were
pleased to see the trouble they had brought upon men, and hoped they
soon could destroy Asgard and the gods.

Three long winters passed, with no light to warm and brighten the world;
after that still three other dreary winters, and then the eagle who sat
on the top of the great world tree, Yggdrasil, gave a loud, shrill cry;
at that the earth shook, the rocks crumbled and fell, so that Loki and
the wolf were freed from their chains.

The waters of the deep ocean rose and rolled high over the land, and up
above the waves writhing out of the deep, came the monster Midgard
serpent to join in the last battle. Now the enemies of the gods were
gathering from all sides,--the frost giants, the mountain giants, with
Loki, Fenrir, and the Midgard serpent.

Heimdall, the faithful watchman, looked from his watch-tower by the
rainbow bridge, and when he saw the host of monsters appearing and
raging toward Asgard, he blew his magic horn, Giallar, which was the
signal of warning to the gods.



When Father Odin heard the blast of Heimdall's horn, he hastened to arm
himself for the battle; once again it is said the Allfather sought
wisdom at Mimir's fountain, asking to know how best to lead the Aesir
against their enemies. But what Mimir said to him no one ever knew, for
a second call sounded from the Giallar horn, and the gods, with Odin at
their head, rode forth from Asgard to meet their foes.

Thor took his place beside Odin, but they were soon parted in the
struggle. The thunder-god fell upon his old enemy, the serpent, whom
twice before he had tried to slay, and after a fierce fight, he at last
conquered and slew the monster; but the poisonous breath from the
serpent's mouth overcame the mighty Thor, and he also fell.

Heimdall and Loki came face to face, and each slew the other. Thus every
one of the gods battled each with his foe, till at last the darkness
grew deeper, and all, both gods and giants lay dead. Then fire burst
forth, raging from Utgard to Asgard--and all the worlds were destroyed
in that dreadful day of Ragnarok.

But this was not the end of all: after many months, and years, and even
centuries had passed, a new world began to appear, with the fair ocean,
and the beautiful land, with a bright, shining sun by day, and the moon
and stars by night. Then once more the light and heat from the sun made
the grass and trees grow, and the flowers bloom.

Baldur and Hodur came to this beautiful new world, and walked and talked
together. Thor's sons were there, too, and with them, the hammer,
Miolnir, no longer for use against giants, but for helping men build
homes.

Two people, a man and a woman, who were kept safe through the raging
fire, now came to dwell on the earth, and all their children and
grandchildren lived at peace with each other in this beautiful new
world.

Baldur and Hodur talked often of the old days when the Aesir dwelt in
Asgard, before Loki, the wicked one, brought darkness and trouble to
them. With loving words they spoke of Odin and Frigga; and the brave
Tyr, who gave his right hand to save the Aesir; of mighty Thor; and
faithful Heimdall; of lovely Freyja, with her beautiful necklace; and of
fair Iduna's garden, where they used to sit and eat her magic apples.
"But still," they said, "we know now that this new world is fairer than
the old, and here, also, the loving Allfather watches over his
children."





Next: What Makes The Eclipse

Previous: The Punishment Of Loki



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