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Creatures of Norse Mythology

Norse Mythology is full of tales of daring heroes and terrible monsters, many of which feature in Age of Mythology. Here you can find some background info on many of the creatures that feature in the Norse culture in AoM.

 


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Fenrir.

Fenrir was a gigantic and terrible monster who favoured the shape of wolf greater in size than any man. He was the eldest child of the malevolent god Loki and the giantess Angerboda.

Prophecy stated that the wolf and his family would one day be responsible for the destruction of the world, so while he was still a pup, the gods caught the wolf and locked him in a cage. However as he grew greater no cage could hold him, and no matter how hard the gods tried to chain him, he always broke loose.

In desperation the gods ordered the dwarves to make a chain strong enough to hold the wolf. The result was a deceivingly thin ribbon of graet strength: Gleipnir - fashioned from the footstep of a cat, the roots of a mountain, a woman's beard, the breath of fishes, the sinews of a bear, and a bird's spittle.

Fenrir however, saw how thin the chain was, and said that was no pride in breaking such a weak chain. Eventually, though, he agreed, thinking that otherwise his strength and courage would be doubted. Suspecting treachery however, he in turn asked the gods for a token of good will: one of them had to put a hand between his jaws. The gods were not overly eager to do this, knowing what they could expect. Finally, only the god Tyr agreed, and the gods chained the wolf with Gleipnir. No matter how hard Fenrir struggled, he could not break free from the ribbon, and so he was bound; but during the struggle, Fenrir bit off Tyr's hand. The gods carried Fenrir off and chained him to a rock a mile down into the earth. They put a sword between his jaws to prevent him from biting.

On the day of Ragnarok, Fenrir will break his chains and join the giants in their battle against the gods. He will seek out Odin and devour him. Vidar, Odin's son, will avenge his father by killing the wolf.

Frost Giant.

Ymir, the great frost giant was the first living creature in the nine worlds. He was created from the melting ice of Niflheim when it came in contact with the hot air from Muspell; and from him descended the race of giants. Odin and his brothers however, felt threatened by the giants, so they killed Ymir. In the huge amount of blood that flowed from his wounds all the giants, except two, drowned.

Ever after, the race of giants retained a bitterness and loathing of the gods; but it is the Frost Giants of Jotunheim - the world of ice, far to the north - who hold the most rancor towards the gods, and in turn are viewed as the greatest threat by the gods due to their ability to manipulate magic and the elements of nature. On the day of Ragnarok, the Frost Giants will lead the giants into battle to destroy the gods.

Fire Giant.

Fire Giants were less powerful than the Frost Giants, and not as malevolent; though both shared the hatred of the gods and the Fire Giants would march alongside the Frost Giants into battle at Ragnarok.

Fire Giants lived in Muspellheim, a flaming, torrid region, far to the south of the other worlds. It is opposed to Niflheim and whose animating beams made the ice in Niflheim melt and created the first living beings. The celestial bodies were made from its sparks which flew out into space. The ruler of the Fire Giants and the realm of Muspellheim is Surt, who is fated to destroy Yssdrasgil, the world tree at Ragnarok.

Gullinbursti.

Gullinbursti was the golden bristled boar crafted by the dwarves Brokk and Sindri during their wager with Loki. He later pulled the chariot of the god Frey. The boar is said to be able to run through the air and over the sea, day or night. Also, it shines so brightly that wherever it goes, no matter how gloomy the surrounding, the boar will light the way.

Kraken.

In tales told by Norse sailors, the Kraken was a great monster that would attack ships. It had many arms, like the roots of an upturned tree, and would seize ships and drag them underneath the water. While originally believed to be an agent of Aegir - the god of the sea - it is believed that the Kraken described in folklore was in fact the giant squid, which would easily give the terrifying impression the stories lent to the Kraken's flailing arms.

Nidhogg.

Nidhogg, the tearer of corpses, was the most powerful of the terrifying serpents that gnawed perpetually at the deepest root of the world tree Yggdrasil, hoping to destroy it. (Other serpents include Graback, Grafvolluth, Goin and Moin.) He often described as a fearsome creature hundreds of feet long, and had a scaly hide so tough no blade could pierce it...though his most peculiar attribute is that he enjoyed arguing with anyone who would listen. The eagle that lived at the top of the tree, Vidofnir, was one of his favourite targets for bickering.


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Hugin and Munin.

Odin had two ravens, Hugin and Munin, which represented thought and memory. Each morning Odin sent forth the Raven and they flew over the nine worlds, gathering information about the activities of the different peoples of the earth.. At night they returned and sat on his shoulders to tell him what they heard and saw.


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Troll.

Trolls were dimwitted and malicious creatures who hated humans. They were much bigger and stronger than humans, but could leave their mountain and cave homes only after dark to hunt, since if they are exposed to sunlight they will instantly turn to stone. Trolls are very fond of human flesh, and were frequently blamed for the dissapearance of a villager out at night, since Trolls were well known to snatch lost humans up and carry them back to their lairs. Some stories tell of helpful trolls, though these are few.

Many stories also say that the Trolls will accompany the giants into battle at Ragnarok.


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Valkyrie.

The Valkyries were the warrior maidens of Odin. Odin would split half the warriors who fell in combat with Freyr, and so his Valkyries would collect his half of the dead. Wherever a battle occurred, the warrior maidens would be riding in the clouds above on celestial horses, waiting to take up the valiant slain and carry them to feast with Odin in the halls of Valhalla.

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