The Fire Dragon's Quest
( Part Three Of The Ítreksjóð Trilogy )
The Cursed Sword
The king of East Agder wanted to accompany Loki to Svartalfheim to see these Dwarves in person, but Farbauti's son would not take Rolleifr along.
" If Odin were to find out that I brought one of his human children to the Land of the Earth Dwarves he would not be pleased ! " Loki informed the king after he asked for the third time.
Rolleifr looked at the king with a suspicious frown.
" Then how do I know that you will not simply run off with the fifty gold pieces that I have already paid you for this ' magic sword ' ? " he asked.
" Well, quite frankly you have no way of knowing for certain whether I will return or not,.... but I assure you that if you defeat King Nefgeirr of West Agder it will be worth much more to me than just these measly fifty bits of gold ! " he explained to the East Agder king as he held up the pouch containing the coins.
King Rolleifr nodded his approval.
" Then I guess I have little choice but to trust that you will return with my sword. " he told the Mischief Maker.
Loki laughed as he walked away.
" You have no choice in the matter human ! " he whispered under his breath.
There were two ways that Loki could have returned to Svartalfheim. The quickest path would have been to strike his spear staff upon the ground, and with his dark magic transport himself to the land of the Dwarves. Loki, however, decided on a more conventional method of traveling to the Dark Dwarves domain. Needing time to decide who he could trust in Svartalfheim, the son of Farbauti chose to walk among the thick forests, and through deep caverns to return to the land where the most skilled blacksmiths lived and worked.
Loki did not know if he could trust the sons of Ivaldi to make the sword. If their father found out what they were up to he would immediately tell Durinn, who in turn would surely inform the Lord of Asgard. And of course there was no guarantee that Ivaldi's sons would make the sword without first getting their father's permission. And once his plan was exposed Ítreksjóð would certainly take out his angry wrath on him. No ! He would have to choose other master craftsmen to make the cursed sword.
The Mischief Maker took a deep breath as he stood in front of the door of the only Dwarves he felt could be trusted to keep a secret. As he reluctantly knocked on the door he remembered back to the time he had cut off Sif's hair as a prank, only to have Thor threaten him with bodily harm. To rectify this hazardous situation he had asked Ivaldi's sons to make a headpiece for Sif from the finest strands of gold. Along with this gift, for the Goddess, they made the ship Skidbladnir, and the spear Gungnir for Odin. As always he could not leave well enough alone and bet the Dwarf craftsman Brokk, and his brother Eitri, that they could not make three items of equal or better worth. The bet was a high one ! The loser would have his head cut off ! Eitri carefully crafted the precious metals while his brother Brokk worked the bellows. Despite his attempts to disrupt the process, in the form of an annoying fly, the brothers were still capable of making the golden boar Gullinbursti, the ring Draupnir, and Thor's mighty hammer Mjolnir. With the bet lost Loki refused to allow the Dwarves to take off his head. Brokk, however, had gotten satisfaction by sewing up his lips for lying !
As the door opened and Loki's eyes met those of Brokk, the Mischief Maker could not help but wince as he recalled the pain of the needle going in and out of his lips.
" Hello Brokk, my old friend ! " he greeted the Dwarf coldly.
The little Dwarf could not believe his eyes when he saw Loki standing on his doorstep !
" Eitri ! Come at once ! Loki has finally come to pay up on his wager ! " he called out gleefully to his brother.
Loki narrowed his eyes, and banged his spear angrily on the ground, in response to the Dwarf's insolence.
" Do not forget who you are speaking to little worm ! " Loki reminded Brokk.
Eitri came running up to the front door with a large, and very sharp looking, butcher's knife.
" Is he really here to pay off his debt ? ! " Eitri asked his brother hopefully.
Loki was quickly losing his patience with the two little fools !
" I am here to make a business proposal. One that is worth forty gold coins to you both,... if you are interested ! " Loki explained with a hint of anger.
Eitri put down his knife and grinned at the son of Jotuns.
" My brother and I are always interested in gold coins,.... what is it that you have in mind ? " he asked.
Brokk, however, was suspicious. He placed his hands on his hips, and narrowed his eyes, as he glared at Loki.
" What have you done this time, ... or maybe I should ask,... who have you done it to ?! " he inquired.
Loki ignored Brokk's question, then patted the pouch that held the coins with a finger as he spoke.
" Forty gold coins to make a sword for the Midgardian King Rolleifr of East Agder. That is my offer,... take it or leave it ! " he told the Dwarves harshly.
Brokk and Eitri looked at one another with a knowing stare, and then with a suspicious look upon their faces they turned their gaze back to Loki.
" And ....? " Brokk and Eitri asked almost simultaneously.
Loki wet his lips, and fidgeted a little, before he responded.
" Well ! I do want you to incorporate a cursed coin into the hilt so it's power will protect the wielder,... and of course curse his opponent with death,... but that is all,... I assure you ! " he explained in a halting fashion.
" Sixty gold coins ! " Eitri blurted out.
Loki pretended to be mad for a moment before replying to his offer.
" Forty - five ! " he countered.
" Fifty - five ! " Brokk added to the deal making.
Loki angrily pounded his spear on the ground and stepped forward in a menacing manner.
" Fifty ! And that is my final offer ! " he shouted back at the Dwarves.
" Then fifty it is ! "
Loki pretended to be mad despite the fact that he had played the Dwarves game and wound up paying exactly what he had been given by King Rolliefr.
Loki watched the craftsmen closely as Eitri forged the blade over a glowing hot bed of coal, while his brother Brokk skillfully worked the bellows to keep the heat at exactly the right temperature. At first he showed great interest in the process, and asked numerous questions that annoyed the Dwarves to no end.
" We are carbonizing the steel over the extremely hot coals to make the carbon diffuse itself deep within the metal. Later we will temper the metal by quenching it quickly in cool water. This makes the outer shell extremely hard while the inner core remains soft, but tougher than it would be without the process . " Eitri informed Loki to shut him up.
When the temperature in the little blacksmith shop reached sweltering levels Loki left and stayed out in the cool damp air of the caverns. And it was there that he would wait as the days turned into weeks. Loki had to admit that the little worms, as the Rock Dwarves liked to call the Earth Dwarves, were hard workers. Eight, ten, sometimes even twelve hours a day they worked on the sword. These Dwarves did not make many items, but what they did produce was perfectly crafted down to the last minute detail.
Then one day, while Loki was taking a nap outside the Dwarves house, he felt something cold on his neck. When the sharpness of a steel blade began to make him feel very uncomfortable his eyes shot open !
" The sword is finished ! We will be wanting our fifty gold coins now ! " Eitri demanded.
As Loki gathered his wits about him he looked up at Brokk, who held the sword against his neck, and Eitri who had placed his palm in his face expecting payment. Loki reached down and untied the coin pouch. He handed it gingerly to Eitri without moving his head too much.
" How do I know that this sword is as fine as your reputations ? " the trickster asked.
Brokk took the blade from Loki's neck, turned it around and handed it to him.
" The blade is extremely well made and strong as any we have ever made. When we placed the coin into the hilt , however, something incredible,... and quite magical happened to it ! " Brokk told Odin's blood brother.
Intrigued, Loki could not help but ask :
" And what was that ? "
Eitri pointed to a thick stalagmite.
" Strike the blade against that stalagmite. " he instructed Loki.
The Mischief Maker rose up and walked over to the hardened natural structure. With both hands he gripped the sword tightly before looking back at the Dwarves.
" One hand will be more than enough,... but suit yourself ! " Brokk told Loki.
Loki swung the sword with all his might. He expected to hear a loud clang as the sword bounced off the hardened mineral rock, but instead he felt nothing !
" Did he miss the stalagmite? " he asked himself as he looked at the rocky spire.
Then, to his absolute amazement, the stalagmite toppled over, and broke into pieces as it hit the ground. When Loki went over and examined the stump that remained he saw how cleanly the sword had cut through the rock and he was astonished. Loki quickly looked the blade over from end to end, but he could not even find one small scratch upon it's shining surface.
" That is incredible ! Simply amazing ! " he shouted joyfully.
Eitri, who was not as impressed as Loki shouted to the Mischief Maker as he threw him the scabbard for the sword.
" We have our gold, and you have your sword. This business transaction is concluded. " Eitri informed Loki before entering their house with Brokk.
Before closing the door Brokk peeked out and grinned at Loki.
" You still owe us your head,.... so come back anytime you are ready ! " he chuckled as he locked the door.
- End Chapter 8
- Next : Chapter 9 : Son Against Son !
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2017.