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Ragnarok

Adapted by Cloudchaser_Eagle, originally told by Kevin Crossley-Holland
Author's note: This tale is an adaptation of the myth Ragnarok as it appears in the book The Norse Myths, by Kevin Crossley-Holland. I am in no way attempting to take credit for Mr. Crossley-Holland's excellent work.

The many ages of man... they have now progressed through the iron age, but a new age is ushered in -the wolf age. This is the beginning of the end.

A winter known as Fimbulvetr will begin the chain of events known as Ragnarok. But this winter is unlike any other, for it will last for three long years. During this time, mankind will suffer. Fathers will go to war, sisters will sleep with their brothers, and friends will fight each other.

At the end of this horrendous winter, a rooster's crow can be heard all through Midgard. This crow will be echoed by roosters in Niflheim and Asgard. Upon hearing the crow of the rooster, Yggdrasill, the eternal tree, will shudder. All fetters will break, all ropes shall be shattered. Loki and Fenrir run free once more. They will depart for Niflheim, to organize the legions of the dead.

At once, the divine sentry Heimdall will dash to Mimir's spring, and raise the great horn Gjall to his lips. Such a blast will be echoed all through Asgard, from Valhalla to Alfheim. The gods will meet in council, and Odin will join Heimdall at Mimir's spring to take advice from Mimir himself.

In the meantime, the armies of evil will have united. They will be led by Loki, his two sons Fenrir and Jormungand, and the fire giant Surt, son of Muspell. They will advance, wreaking havoc upon Midgard. Fenrir, anticipating the carnage to come, has his slavering jaws wide open, encompassing Midgard. With every breath, Fenrir's brother Jormungand will spew poison upon the world of men. This terrifying army will halt at Vigrid, the plain that stretches 120 leagues in every direction. However, not Loki nor Surt nor Fenrir nor Jormungand sees two humans secretly take refuge in Yggdrasill.

The Aesir, however, will not be idle. They will arm themselves, putting on their coats of chain and plate mail, donning their shields and helmets, and grasping their swords. Odin's mighty army of slain warriors, the Einherjar, will do likewise. Eight hundred men will march out of each of Valhalla's 540 doors. This powerful host will make its way to Vigrid, with Odin, Thor, and Freyr riding at the head. Odin, mounted on Sleipnir, will be wielding his spear Gungnir. Thor will have his mystical hammer Mjolnir. Freyr, having given his sword to his faithful servant Skirnir, will be armed only with his magic and his wits.

At Vigrid, Odin, the Allfather, will ride straight for the wolf Fenrir. However, Thor will be unable to assist his father, for Jormungand will attack him. So begins the last battle.

The vicious hound Garm of Gnipahellir will leap for the throat of one-handed Tyr, and they will kill each other. Loki will engage his archenemy Heimdall, and each will die by the other's hand. Freyr will fight the fire giant Surt. And when Surt brandishes his flaming blade, Freyr will rue the day he gave up his own sword. Despite this, the God of the World and the son of Muspell will engage in a long struggle. In the end, Freyr will be smitten down by Surt's blade and he shall perish as well.

Thor and Jormungand have met twice before, and theirs is a battle of equals. Though the Lord of the Storm will eventually prevail, he will step back only nine paces before falling dead, lethally poisoned by the serpent's venom.

Odin and Fenrir were the first to come to grips, and their fight will be the most fearsome. However, Fenrir will eventually take the Allfather between his jaws and swallow him. So shall be the death of Odin. Immediately, though, Odin's son Vidar will rush forward, and planting his iron foot upon Fenrir's bottom jaw to paralyze the wolf, Vidar will tear Fenrir in two, so avenging his father.

By then, Surt will have flung fire in every direction. Asgard, Vanaheim, Alfheim, Midgard, Johtunheim, Muspell, Svartalfheim, Niflheim, and Hel will become little more than raging furnaces of flame and ash. The gods and the giants and the dwarves will die. The humans and the Einherjar and the elves will die right beside them. The entire world, save Yggdrasill itself, shall sink into the sea.

But the world shall rise again, as beautiful and pure as it was before the terrible winter. Vidar and Vali, Odin's sons, will survive the fires and floods and make it back to Vigrid. Also surviving the fires of Surt will be Thor's sons Magni and Modi, and they will inherit their father's legendary hammer Mjolnir. Balder and Hod will be alive once more, and they will be joined by Honir. These are the gods that will make up the new pantheon.

The two humans who sought refuge in Yggdrasill will finally emerge, and their names shall be Lif and Lifthrasir. Their food shall be the morning dew, and together they will have children. Their children will have children, as will the children after them. This is how the world will be repopulated and reborn. For that was the end, but the end was also the beginning.

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