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by Alexeythegreat

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Original Thread: No cool thread title, but I have Old Norse myths. Let's Play Jotun

If you liked this LP, you might also like Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2 by Alexeythegreat, Legacy of Kain: Defiance by Alexeythegreat and Oregon Trail by Vanilla Ice


What is this?
Jotun is an indie top-down action-adventure game released in September 2015. The game draws heavily on Old Norse mythology and folklore, and its art style is absolutely gorgeous. This is somewhat offset by gameplay that has some flaws, including fairly slow pace of the game and brutal and unfair difficulty of combat.

Are you one of those mythology nerds?
No, I am not a nerd of Old Norse mythology, or any mythology, for that matter. Consequently, I will not always be able to keep yapping about what legends are specific elements of the game taken from. Sometimes I won't even know where does a certain element come from (when the game doesn't explain it, which it usually does). This does not, however, stop me from appreciating the visuals and the narration of the game. My commentary will be focused mostly on the game design, be it visuals or gameplay mechanics. Besides, geeking out over mythology is what the thread is for!

Wait, why is the voiceover in a language I don't understand that isn't English?..
It's in Icelandic. Icelandic is the language that retained the most similarities to Old Norse out of all modern languages. Some people don't like the fact that you have to read the subtitles to understand what's being said, but I think it's a brilliant move that doesn't break immersion, but enhances it.

Editing policy
The gameplay will be heavily edited. The first update is not really representative of how the remainder of the game plays. Jotun is very heavily focused on exploration - in order to get the power-ups and skills, you must explore every last bit of every map. I will not do all of it on camera. What I will do is I will "blaze" through the levels on camera (this still allows for plenty of scenery admiring, trust me), and then cut to power-ups and the pieces of scenery that are a bit out of the way.

Please don't. I haven't even beaten the game yet myself (I was about halfway through by the time I said "screw it" and went for the LP).

Hyper Crab Tank's lessons on Old Norse mythology

Part 1

Hyper Crab Tank posted:

Ginnungagap is the primordial void that predates all existence. It is flanked on its south and north sides by Muspelheim, the realm of fire, and Niflheim, the realm of ice. From a wellspring in Niflheim sprung twelve rivers, which froze into a mighty glacier. In the midst of Ginnungagap, the flames of Muspelheim met the frost of Niflheim and from the fog that created came the first jötun (that is, giant), Ymir. He nursed from the primordial cow, Audhumbla, and in time from him sprung the first hrimthursar (frost giants), two from his armpit, and a third when his legs mated with each other. The gods appeared soon after... but let's not get ahead of ourselves. I've never played this game, so maybe it'll come up later.

The narrator (who is clearly Odin) mentions the Well of Mimir; Mimir was another giant, who guarded the well of wisdom at the foot of Yggdrasil, the world tree. Odin sacrificed one of his eyes in order to be allowed to drink from the well, from which he gained, well, wisdom. Odin did a lot of other things too, but we might get to them later.

The thing you fought in the barrow is probably not something specific... it's probably a random draugr (a revenant or risen dead), a dead person who has brought himself back to unlife through force of will. Draugr guard their barrow graves and the treasures within, and can grow to tremendous sizes at will (like the boss did).

I don't think the final boss is something specific either, but jera is an ancient Germanic word meaning "harvest", and is the root word of the English word "year". It was also the name of the "J" rune in the elder futhark... interestingly enough, the rune as depicted in the game is just that, an elder futhark rune, and not the Old Norse equivalent rune (which looks quite different).

Part 2

Hyper Crab Tank posted:

Hvergelmir is the aforementioned spring in Niflheim from which twelve (or was it eleven?) rivers flow. It is one of three wells that lie beneath the roots of Yggdrasil, the world tree - a gigantic ash tree that connects all the realms of the cosmos. The other two wells are the well of Mimir, mentioned before, and the Urdarbrunnr, the well of fate, around which the Norns gather to weave the threads of life. The Norns are three jötun women named Urdr, Skuld, and Verdandi. They were also wise in the ways of runes, and Odin, foremost among the aesir, wished to know their art. In order to do so, he hanged himself from one of Yggdrasil's branches above the well, stabbed himself in the side with a spear dedicated to himself, and hung there on the precipice of life and death for nine days and nine nights until the runes revealed themselves to him. In reference to this, the name "Yggdrasil" means "Odin's gallows" - or more literally, "Ygg's horse", as Ygg is an alias of Odin's and "horse" is a metaphor for gallows.

Nidhöggr, then, is the dragon we saw there. His name means "hate-striker". He sits underneath the roots of Yggdrasil, in the waters of Hvergelmir, gnawing at the roots of the tree and the corpses of the dead - Niflheim is also the realm of the dead, and underneath its ice is the halls of the unglorious dead - Hel (or Helheim). Nidhöggr will one day herald the coming of Ragnarök, the end of the world... but I suppose we'll get to that later. Nidhöggr has a fierce rivalry with Hraesvelgr ("corpse-swallower"), a giant eagle that sits at the crown of Yggdrasil and on whose brow perches the hawk Vedrfölnir ("wind-paler"). The squirrel Ratatoskr ("gnaw-tooth") is constantly running up and down the tree ferrying messages between the two.

Nidavellir (the "fields of darkness") is indeed the realm of the dwarves. The dwarves of Norse legend are much like the popular Tolkienesque dwarves we're all familiar with today, which of course is no coincidence. They are masters of all kinds of smithing and made many wondrous items for the aesir.

I don't know if it's going to come up later, so I'll just retell this part now: I mentioned before where the jötun came from, but what of the aesir, the gods? Well, the cow Audhumbla, in order to sustain herself, licked the salty ice blocks on the edge of Ginnungagap. From those blocks appeared the shape of a man: Buri, first of the gods. Buri had a son named Borr, and Borr married a jötun (whose name I can't recall) and had three sons: Odin, Vili and Ve. In time, Odin would beget the race of aesir, but what few works survive tell little of his brothers. At any rate, the brothers slew the giant Ymir, and fashioned the world from his body. The built the land out of his flesh, mountains and precious metals from his bones, made lakes and oceans from his blood - in the process drowning most of the hrimthursar - and made the sky from his skull. Out of his brain they fashioned clouds, and took the fiery sparks of Muspelheim and placed them inside the dome of the sky to guide their way at night.

Part 3

Hyper Crab Tank posted:

Dainn, Dvalinn, Duneyrr and Durathror - or Dead One, Dormant, Downy-Ear and Slumber - are four red harts that graze at the top off Yggdrasil. Interestingly, at least three of those names - Dainn, Dvalinn and Durathror - are also the names of various dwarves. Dvalinn in particular shows up several times in various sagas, bringing the art of runes to the dwarves and smithing the magical sword Tyrfing together with another dwarf, Durin. It is not clear whether the red harts and the dwarves are supposed to be the same entities or not, or if they just happen to have the same names. Sadly, period sources for Norse mythology are kind of sparse.

Before we talk more about the sun and moon, we should continue the creation myth. After Odin, Vili and Ve had slain Ymir, while they were creating the world out of his body parts, the giant's body began to rot and maggots crawled out of his flesh. The gods granted the maggots the shape of men, though short and misshapen as they were, and the ability to think, thus becoming the first dwarves. The gods chose four of them to hold up Ymir's skull, naming them North, South, East and West, and the rest went to live in Nidavellir. On the fields of Idavöllr the gods built Asgard, home of the aesir. Walking along the beach one day, the gods happen upon two stout tree-trunks, which Odin imbues with life, calling them Ask and Embla - the first word means "ash", as in the tree, and the meaning of the latter is uncertain. At any rate, they are the first humans, and the gods fashion a circular barrier out of Ymir's eyebrows to keep them safe, calling the space within Midgard. Outside the barrier is a mighty ocean, on the outer rim of which are mountains beyond which lies Jötunheim, the realm of the jötnar, in which is the stronghold Utgard.

Or at least, something like that. The Norse cosmology is not very geographically consistent if you think too hard about it, just like every other creation myth in the universe.

So. Here's the thing about the sun and moon: in Norse cosmology, the concept of sun and moon is distinct from that of day and night, and if I recall the latter came first. Dagr and Nott, Day and Night, were children of uncertain jötun heritage who herald the coming of the day and night. Day rides the shining horse Skinfaxi (shining mane), and Night rides the shadowy horse Hrimfaxi (frost mane). If you know your Tolkien, you might remember the name of Gandalf's horse - Shadowfax. Same "fax". As for the sun and moon... it's not entirely clear, but the Poetic and Prose Eddas tell the story of a brother and sister named Mani and Sol, children of Mundilfari, who considered them the most beautiful things in the world, the arrogance of which annoyed the gods who threw the pair into the sky. They ride their glowing chariots through the sky, chased by the wolves Skoll and Hati (mockery and hate) until Ragnarök, when they will be swallowed up. Sol carries with her the shield Svalinn (cool), without which the heat from the chariot would turn the world to ash.

Sources differ on whether Mundilfari was a human, a jötun, or whether he existed at all. The part about them being thrown into the sky because they angered the gods comes solely from the Prose Edda, and Snorri Sturlusson's sources are... unclear. It's impossible to know all this for sure today. Vaftrudnismal also mentions the summer and winter, and names their parents Svosuth ("gentle") and Vindsval ("wind-cool"), respectively, but says nothing else about them.

Finally, let's say something about the aesir so I don't overlook it, because we've seen several of them already. Odin had a wife named Frigg, of uncertain heritage, associated primarily with prophecy and wisdom. Odin had several children, of different mothers, and the whole family descended from Odin are collectively called the aesir. With Frigg, Odin had the son Baldr or Baldur, god of peace, justice and beauty, and probably also Hödr, a blind god that's barely mentioned outside one very crucial story (which we'll get to, I'm sure). With the jötun Jörd (earth), or possibly Fjörgyn, Odin fathered Thor, god of thunder, lightning and bravery, and protector of mankind. With the jötun Gridr (greed), he fathered Vidarr, god of vengeance, who is destined to survive until Ragnarök and avenge his father's death at that time. He had many other sons besides those, and sources differ on exactly who they are, and sources contradict each other.

Hyper Crab Tank posted:

I'm out and about without much to do, so you get a double lore update to catch up on the aesir and their exploits, since there are several the game has mentioned already that I didn't say much about!

As alluded to before, the actual origins of a lot of the aesir are unclear, and sometimes contradictory. More interesting are the characters themselves, and the stuff they get up to. I've mentioned Thor, Hödr, Baldr and Vidarr already, but there are many more. But first, let's talk about another lineage of gods: the vanir.

It is not clear where the vanir came from or who begat them. Some have suggested they represent the lineage of one of Odin's brothers, but there are no real sources to corroborate that. What is clear is that the vanir and aesir were both gods. The most relevant gods of the vanir pantheon are the gods Njördr and his twin children Freyr (male) and Freyja (female). Njördr was a god of the sea, seafaring and fishing, and in a fashion considered rather unseemly by the aesir, married his own (unnamed) sister and fathered Freyr and Freyja (who themselves engaged in similar activities) with her. Freyr, at any rate, is one of the most important Norse gods. He is described as handsome and regal, and is the god of lordship, prosperity, fertility and good fortune. He rides the golden boar Gullinbursti ("golden-bristle"), which the dwarves made for him, and he is the lord of Alfheim, having received it as a present as an infant. He also holds the magic ship Skidbladnir, which can be folded up like a cloth and carried in his pocket, and he once owned a magic sword that could fight on its own. His name means "lord".

His sister Freyja, meanwhile, is a god associated with love, sorcery, gold, death, and war. She rules over the great hall Sessrumnir ("seat-room") in the field Folkvangr ("field of the people"), where half of those who die glorious deaths on the battlefield go. The other half go, as you may be aware, to Valhalla ("hall of the dead"). She owns a magic cloak that turns its wearer into a falcon, rides a chariot drawn by cats, and she is a great sorceress.

So, the vanir and the aesir are two separate lineages of gods, at least at first. At one point, a sorceress named Gullveig arrives in Asgard and practices her sorcery, but in doing so somehow offends the aesir, who stab her with spears three times and burn her on a bonfire three times. Each time, Gullveig is reborn. Now, some have suggested that Gullveig is just another name for Freyja; I don't know, myself. At any rate, this vexes the aesir greatly, and a war between the aesir and the vanir ensues. Both being gods, they find themselves at a gruesome stalemate, and at last arrange for a truce and exchange of hostages. Thus, Njördr, Freyr, and Freyja went to live among the aesir, while Odin's counsellor Hönir and a person referred to as Mimir (it's not certain of this is meant to be the jötun or not) go to live with the vanir.

The vanir are at first impressed by Hönir's sage advice, but it slowly dawns on them that he only speaks wisdom when Mimir is in the room with him. With Mimir absent, all Hönir does is try to push decision making on someone else. Enraged, they cut off Mimir's head and send it back to Odin, who enchants the head with magic spells to keep it alive and able to counsel him. Meanwhile, Frejya is appointed as a priestess in charge of sacrifices, and she teaches her sorcery (seidr) to the aesir. In the end, the vanir and aesir decide not to war any longer. In order to ensure they will not be lead astray again, they come together and collectively spit in a giant cauldron, from which is born Kvasir, the wisest being to ever exist who never gives false advice. Kvasir travelled the world, giving advice to all, until... well, we can talk about that later.

Parts 4 and 5

Hyper Crab Tank posted:

I'm a little bit behind, it seems! Time to catch up on the .

So let's start with Loki. Who, or what, is he supposed to have been? Sources are a bit unclear. He seemed to have lived among the aesir, so likely he was one. His parents are said to be the giants Farbauti and Laufey, suggesting he's a giant. There is a particularly interesting case that suggests that Loki may be a brother of Odin. In short, there are two versions of the human creation myth; according to Snorri Sturluson, humanity was created by Odin, Vili and Ve, while others name the latter two Hönir and Lodur. That's probably the same Hönir that gets sent to the vanir as a hostage, by the way. Anyway, in turn, there are several stories of Odin, Hönir and Loki going on adventures, which suggests Ve, Lodur and Loki are all just names for the same character.

What we do know is that Loki got up to all kinds of things, from virtuous deeds to mischief and outright mayhem. With the giantess Angrboda ("grief-bringer"), Loki fathered a daughter and two sons: Hel, Fenrir, and Jörmungandr. A prophecy foretells that the children of Loki will cause great suffering and sorrow, so Odin calls for the three to be rounded up.

He casts Hel into Niflheim, where she comes to have dominion over the halls of the inglorious dead (i.e. those who die from sickness or age rather than on the battlefield). Odin charges her to give shelter to all those who come to her, and she wields a knife called Famine, a plate called Hunger, and a bed called Sickness.

Fenrir is a ferocious wolf, and Odin has trouble dealing with him. Twice Fenrir is bound in iron chains, but he breaks free each time. Odin consults with the dwarves of Nidavellir, who forge the magical chain Gleipnir with which to bind the wolf. They forge it out of six impossible things: the sound of a cat's footsteps, the beard of a woman, the breath of a fish, the sinews of a bear, the roots of a mountain, and the spit of a bird. To lure Fenrir close, the brave war-god Tyr offers to put his hand inside the wolf's mouth to calm him; Odin throws Gleipnir over Fenrir and successfully binds him, but Fenrir bites off Tyr's hand in retribution. Fenrir is then bound underneath the world, and will not break free until Ragnarök.

Jörmungandr, then, is a serpent. Odin casts him into the vast ocean outside Midgard, where the serpent grows so large that it encircles the entire world and bites its own tail. There are several myths involving Jörmungandr, usually in association with Thor.

In one tale, Thor and Loki have travelled to Utgard, a castle in Jötunheim, where the king (who is also named Loki for some reason) tells them that all guests who come to his table must prove their worth with a feat of strength. Loki is challenged to an eating contest against a giant named Logi, who defeats the god by eating not just the food, but all the bones and the trestle table itself. Thor meanwhile has to quaff from a horn of mead, which he also fails to do. Thor refuses to give up, and the giant king has him try to lift a cat off the ground, which Thor also fails to do, save for that he manages to force the cat to take one foot off the ground. He is then made to wrestle the giant king's elderly godmother, and once again Thor fails.

The gods are humiliated, of course, but they are nevertheless accepted among the king's host. The next day, the giant king reveals the secret of why they failed: the giant had used his magic to mislead the eyes of the gods. The giant Logi was actually an all-consuming fire ("Logi" means "flame"), the horn was the ocean itself, the cat was actually Jörmungandr (making the fact that Thor managed to lift one of its feet off the ground quite impressive), and the giant's godmother was old age itself which will conquer all men in time. Enraged, Thor turns around to smite the king with his magic hammer, Mjölnir, but the king, his castle and host have disappeared, and the two gods return home.

Hyper Crab Tank posted:

While we're on the topic of Loki, there are three more tales I want to tell that involve him.

The first begin when a jötun mason shows up in Valhalla and offers to build a fortification around it. He swears that he can finish the fortification in the course of a single winter - an extraordinary feat - but if he succeeds, he wants as a reward the sun and the moon and the goddess Freyja. The gods are reluctant, but Loki convinces them there is no way the mason can finish the task so quickly, and they accept on the condition that the mason will do the task without the help of any man. He agrees, on the counter-condition that he is allowed the help of his stallion Svadilfari ("unlucky traveler").

As it turns out Svadilfari is a giant of a horse, and carries a load half over as great as the giant, and as time passes, it looks like he will finish the task as promised. This worries the aesir, who go to Loki and accuse him of giving bad advice and making a bad deal for them. They threaten Loki with violence if he doesn't find a way to finagle them out of the promised payment. So, Loki, being a skilled sorcerer and shapeshifter, transforms himself into a mare and... "distracts" Svadilfari long enough that the mason cannot finish his work. The giant is enraged, and Thor slays him with a single blow from his hammer. Loki, presumably still in the shape of a mare, gives birth to the eight-legged horse Sleipnir ("slippery"), the finest horse, who becomes Odin's mount.

The second story is far darker, and foretells the end of days. You will no doubt remember Baldr, son of Odin and Frigg, who was fair and handsome and beloved by all. Well, Frigg had foretold a horrible fate would befall him, so she went to all the living beings of the world and asked each to promise never to harm Baldr. Each living thing promised thusly. But Frigg overlooked a small, fragile plant - mistletoe - that grew behind Asgard, which she thought was too weak to be any threat to her son, and so didn't ask it for a promise.

Baldr was thus immune to weapons of all kinds, and the aesir made a sport of hurling spears and arrows at Baldr, who would laugh and shrug them off. But Loki had heard of the mistletoe, and crafted an arrow from its wood and gave the arrow to Baldr's blind brother, Hödr. Hödr loosed the arrow, and in a single blow slew his brother, and thus Frigg's prophecy came true. The aesir fell silent as Baldr's spirit was carried off to Hel. Odin does the only reasonable thing and sires a child with yet another random giantess - the child, named Vali, grows to adulthood in a day and slays Hödr in revenge.

But Frigg refused to let things stand, so while the other aesir prepared Baldr's funeral pyre, she sent a messenger - Hermodr, another son of Odin - to the underworld to petition Hel to allow her son back among the living. Hermodr rides for Hel on Odin's horse Sleipnir, and there he finds Baldr in the seat of honor in the halls of the dead. He tells Hel that all beings love Baldr and that he must return to the living. Hel agrees, on the condition that the aesir can prove this claim by asking all things, living and dead, to weep for Baldr. The gods send messengers to do this, and all things weep, except for one - the giantess Thökk, actually Loki in disguise, who refuses to do so and consigns Baldr to his fate.

It's about this time that the aesir have had enough of Loki's bullshit. It all comes to a head when Loki crashes a feast held by the sea god Aegir, to which he was not invited, and demands a place at the table. When he is told to shut up and that there was a reason no one invites Loki to parties, he starts insulting the other gods. He calls Odin a traitor in not so many words, reminding him that Odin and Loki used to drink together and swear never to drink lest in the other's company. He calls Bragi - the god of skalds and poetry - an ineffectual coward, accuses Frigg of infidelity, Freyja of sleeping with all the other gods (making a special point of her brother Freyr) and that Njördr fathered the pair with his own sister. He calls Tyr a swindler and mocks him about the hand he lost to Fenrir. Heimdall says Loki is drunk and that he should just be quiet, which Loki replies to with scorn. He claims to have personally slept with Skadi (wife of Njördr) and Sif (wife of Thor), and on it goes.

Then Thor arrives, and boy is he pissed off. Loki calls Thor a coward, and three times Thor threatens to bash Loki's skull to pieces with his hammer. The third time Loki relents and leaves the hall. But the gods have had enough and send to have him captured. For a while, Loki evades them by transforming himself into a salmon, but is eventually caught.

The gods slay Loki's son Narfi (by his wife Sigyn), and transform his intestines into iron, which they use to bind Loki beneath the earth. The ice jötun Skadi places a serpent above his head, which is constantly dripping venom onto his forehead. Loki's wife Sigyn sits above him with a bowl, catching the serpent's venom, but every now and then she must turn aside to empty the bowl, and the pain this causes Loki makes him writhe and moan, causing earthquakes. There Loki is foretold to remain until he too will break free when Ragnarök comes.

Cerebral Bore posted:

Basically, when Loki is involved it goes like this:

Hyper Crab Tank posted:

You want more Loki? There is one more tale I remember. I mentioned Sif before; she is the wife of Thor, and the goddess of marriage. She has a son named Ullr (who is an expert bowman, skier, and duelist), and with Thor she had another son, Modi. Thor's son with the giantess Jarnsaxa ("iron-sword"), Magni, is her stepson. But when she was young, Loki played a prank on her and cut off her hair while she rested. This enraged the gods, who as usual threatened Loki with violence unless he fixed things.

Loki went to Nidavellir and asked a group of dwarves referred to as the Sons of Ivaldi to craft a golden hairpiece for Sif. The dwarves did so, and additionally made the magic ship Skidbladnir and the spear Gungnir ("swayer"). Then Loki decided to push his luck, and made a bet with the dwarf brothers Brokkr and Sindri that they could not make three treasures as great as those three, and that Loki would give them his head if they could. The pair set to work; Brokkr worked the bellows while Sindri smithed the items. Loki transformed himself into a fly and bit Brokkr while he worked, but he was relentless, and the brothers first produced the golden boar Gullinbursti ("golden-bristle"). Then they started anew, and Loki bit Brokkr again, but he relented, and the treasure they took from the furnace this time was the golden ring Draupnir ("dripper"), which manifests eight new golden rings every ninth night. Finally, the dwarves set to work again, and this time Loki managed to distract Brokkr for a mere second, which nearly ruined the treasure they were making, which was the hammer Mjölnir ("mealer", as in that which crushes); its handle came out far too short.

The dwarves and Loki went before the aesir and asked them to adjudicate the wager. The dwarves gifted Gungnir and Draupnir to Odin, Gullinbursti and Skidbladnir to Freyr, the golden hairpiece to Sif, and the hammer Mjölnir to Thor. The gods agreed that the treasures Brokkr and Sindri had made were just as fine as the others, and the dwarves asked to have Loki's head cut off, according to the wager. But Loki interjected that while he had promised them his head, he had not promised them his neck, so they had no right to cut it. Instead, the dwarves sewed Loki's mouth shut as punishment, since it was part of his head, but not his neck.

Part 6

Hyper Crab Tank posted:

So, since the game is at an end, I think it's time to get on to the tale of the end of the reign of the aesir, as foretold by the völva and retold to Odin by the giant Vaftrudnir: Ragnarök. These stories live on to us through the Poetic Edda, through the poems Völuspa (Prophecy of the Völva) and Vaftrudnismal (The Sayings of Vaftrudnir). The first one is about a prophetess who tells Odin about the origin of the world and its end; the latter is similar, in which Odin is engaged in a battle of wisdom with the giant Vaftrudnir, who answers his questions about the world one by one. Additionally, the book Gylfaginning from Snorri's Prose Edda quotes both of these directly and gives us more information.

The word Ragnarök is etymologically slightly unclear, but "ragna", of the same root as words like "reign" and "regal", means "ruler". "Rök", or in some sources, "rökkr", means either "fate" or "twilight", respectively. Thus, Ragnarök means "fate of the ruling powers", which is to be understood as the aesir.

The prophecy foretells that there will come three winters without summers in between, and then three more winters. This shall be known as Fimbulvetr ("mighty winter"), and the ways of men shall fall. Kin will slay kin, brothers will lie with their sisters, and there will be bloodshed and war throughout Midgard.

Völuspa posted:

Brothers shall fight and fell each other,
And sisters' sons shall kinship stain;
Hard is it on earth, with mighty whoredom;
Axe-time, sword-time, shields are sundered,
Wind-time, wolf-time, ere the world falls;
Nor ever shall men each other spare.

At the height of this dreadful winter, three roosters will crow: in Asgard, the golden rooster Gullinkambi ("golden-crest"); in Jötunheim, the fiery Fjalar; and in Hel, a soot-red, unnamed rooster.

The beasts of the underworld will be set free. The monstrous hound Garm will tear its chains and let loose a howl that will be heard throughout the world. Nidhögg will fly through the skies once more. The mountains will crumble and wolf Fenrir will run free, no longer shackled to them, and his sons Hati and Sköll will devour the sun and the moon after chasing them for so long. Jörmungandr will tremble and rise, and his gyrations will cause dreadful tidal waves.

Völuspa posted:

O'er the sea from the east there sails a ship
With the people of Muspell, at the helm stands Loki;
Surt fares from the south with the scourge of branches,
The sun of the battle-gods shone from his sword;
The crags are sundered, the giant-women sink,
The dead throng Hel-way, and heaven is cloven.

From Muspelheim, the giant Surtr ("swarthy one") and his army of fire jötnar will stride towards Asgard. In his hand is a sword of flame brighter than the sun, and the dread ship Naglfar ("nail-ship" or possibly "corpse-ship"), made from the bodies of the dead (or maybe just their nails), will depart, piloted by the jötun Hrymr and carrying the Sons of Muspel, led by Loki, now free of his chains. Guarding the rainbow bridge Bifrost, which connects Asgard and Midgard, the god Heimdall (born of nine mothers, keeper of Yggdrasil) will sound the Gjallarhorn as the army of jötnar approaches, and the aesir will wake and mobilize. The aesir hold councils and prepare for war. Odin rides with haste to Mimirsbrunnr, to consult with Mimir. The einherjar, those warriors who died glorious deaths and reside within Valhall and Sessrumnir, will ride forth to fight for the gods. The dwarves retreat to their halls of stone.
Vaftrudnismal posted:

Vaftrudnir posted:

Speak forth now, Gagnrath, if there from the floor
Thou wouldst thy wisdom make known:
What name has the field where in fight shall meet
Surt and the gracious gods?

Odin: Vigrith is the field where in fight shall meet Surt and the gracious gods;
A hundred miles each way does it measure. And so are its boundaries set.

Völuspa posted:

Now comes to Hlin yet another hurt,
When Othin fares to fight with the wolf,
And Beli's fair slayer seeks out Surt,
For there must fall the joy of Frigg.

At last, the hosts of the jötnar and aesir will clash. The wolf Fenrir and allfather Odin will fight, and Fenrir will slay him. His son Vidarr, god of vengeance, will avenge his father by literally tearing the wolf's jaw in half with his foot and hand, and stab the beast through the heart with the spear Gungnir. The hound Garm will swallow the war-god Tyr, but Tyr will stab the hound to death from within its belly before he dies. Jörmungandr will breathe a torrent of poison across the battlefield, and Thor will fight him. The god will successfully slay Jörmungandr, and then take nine steps before falling, dead from the wyrm's poison. Loki and Heimdall will duel, and impale each other on their spears, both dying. Surtr will advance with his fiery sword, and engage Freyr in single combat, but since the vanir no longer has his magic sword that can fight on its own, he will fall.

The aesir have fallen and the einherjar have gone to their last deaths. The jötun Surtr, wielding his sword of flame which is like the sun, sets all the world ablaze, and Midgard and Asgard alike will burn and sink underneath the sea.

Völuspa posted:

The sun turns black, earth sinks in the sea,
The hot stars down from heaven are whirled;
Fierce grows the steam and the life-feeding flame,
Till fire leaps high about heaven itself.

And so, the world is undone.

Gylfaginning posted:

Then asked Ganglere: What happens when heaven and earth and all the worlds are consumed in flames, and when all the gods and all the einherjes and all men are dead? You have already said that all men shall live in some world through all ages.

Völuspa posted:

Now do I see the earth anew
Rise all green from the waves again;
The cataracts fall, and the eagle flies,
And fish he catches beneath the cliffs.

The gods in Ithavoll meet together,
Of the terrible girdler of earth they talk,
And the mighty past they call to mind,
And the ancient runes of the Ruler of Gods.

The world rises, born anew, from the waves. Idavöllr, the field on which Valhall once stood, is now green and fertile and it grows crops without needing to be sown. The sons of Thor, Magni and Modi, find here their father's hammer, Mjölnir. Odin's son Vidarr joins them, and Baldr and Hödr are released from the underworld. The gods sit in the field and reminisce of the world that is now gone, of the world-serpent and the runes. Together, they erect a new golden hall, which they call Gimli, and which will stand forever as a symbol of an age of peace and joy.

But what of mankind? Did it perish in the flames of Surtr?

Vaftrudnismal posted:

Odin: Much have I fared, much have I found, much have I got of the gods:
What shall live of mankind when at last there comes the mighty winter to men?

Vaftrudnir: In Hoddmimir's wood shall hide themselves Lif and Lifthrasir then;
The morning dews for meat shall they have, such food shall men then find.

In the woods around Mimir's well, at the foot of Yggdrasil, two members of mankind have survived: Lif ("life") and her husband Lifthrasir ("lover of life"). They will eat the morning dew for sustenance, and mankind will be reborn from them.

Thus ends the prophecies of the völva, and the sayings of Vaftrudnir. That is Ragnarök, the fate of the ruling powers, as foretold.
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