Idun's Peril

    Strolling one day through the groves of Åsgard, Loki found the beautiful maiden all alone in a sunny corner performing skillful tricks with the golden fruit. "Aha!" cried he, approaching gently so as not to startle her, "what a fair game thou playest here, maiden!" But Idunn only smiled at him happily and went on juggling the apples.

    Then Loki came nearer and said: "Till this day, fair Idunn, I had said that nowhere in the wide world grew apples like thine. But now have I found a tree whereon the fruit is of finer gold, and of greater size than these, and a taste of it needs not to be renewed again, but makes one young forevermore."

    Then Idunn stopped playing and her blue eyes grew dark and stormy, for she could not bear to think that her apples would no longer be the joy and delight of the Asas. But then she remembered Loki's deceitful ways and said: "I believe thee not. This is one of thy tricks, Red Loki."

    "Ho, you think so, do you?" said the crafty one. "Then come and see them for yourself, and bring your own to compare with them." Idunn asked, "Are they near by?", rising doubtfully to her feet and still holding fast to the basket of fruit. "Only just a little way off," replied Loki, and taking hold of her hand he drew her outside the thicket.

    On and on they went, and when she asked where they were going he always replied that the grove where the apples grew was just a little farther than he had thought. At length, without noticing that she had passed the boundaries, Idunn stood outside the walls of Åsgard on a dreary region of barren heath and then she at last began to suspect mischief. "Where am I?" she cried, "and where, O Loki, are the golden apples?"

    But she only heard the jeering "Ha! Ha! Ha!" of the Asa as he returned to Åsgard, and that was soon lost in the whirr-r-r of wings as a mighty eagle, swooping down upon her, fixed his talons in her girdle and rose with her into the air. And this of course was Thiassi, the Storm Giant, who had been on the watch for her all the time, and who now carried her off, basket and all, to the bleak and desolate abode over which he ruled.

    Poor Idunn grew pale and thin and sad in her captivity, but she would not purchase freedom with a taste of the Apples of Youth, although the Storm Giant coaxed and begged and threatened by turns.

    For a time the Asas took little notice of her absence, for they thought she was amusing herself somewhere in the sunny groves of Åsgard and had forgotten her daily visit. Then they began to feel old and weary, and at first scarcely knew what was wrong. Glancing at each other they saw, with startled eyes, wrinkles and lines and gray hairs where these things were not before. Their youth and beauty were disappearing, and then they suddenly awoke to the need of a thorough search for the missing Idunn.

    And when she could nowhere be found, All-Father Odinn, mindful of former tricks, sent for Red Loki and began very closely to question him. Others had seen Idunn in his company on that fateful day when she had been carried away, and so, finding it impossible to keep the matter hidden, Loki confessed with a mocking laugh that he had betrayed her into the power of the Storm Giant. Then all the Asas arose in hot wrath and threatened Loki with death or torture if he did not at once restore the beautiful goddess of youth with her magic fruit.
    And at length being fairly frightened he undertook to bring her back if Freya would lend him her falcon plumes that he might disguise himself as a bird.

    Thus equipped, Loki flew off to Giantland, and arrived, fortunately for him, just as Thiassi had gone out a-fishing . . .

    apples by Vikmouse

    Tale concludes