Page 49 of Norse Mythology

Heimdall will blow the Gjallerhorn, the horn that once was Mimir’s, and he will blow it with all his strength. Asgard shakes with its noise, and it is then that the sleeping gods will wake, and they will reach for their weapons and assemble beneath Yggdrasil, at Urd’s well, to receive the blessing and the counsel of the norns.

Odin will ride the horse Sleipnir to Mimir’s well to ask the head of Mimir for counsel, for himself and for the gods. Mimir’s head will whisper its knowledge of the future to Odin, just as I am telling it to you now.

What Mimir whispers to Odin will give the all-father hope, even when all looks dark.

The great ash tree Yggdrasil, the world-tree, will shake like a leaf in the wind, and the Aesir and with them the Einherjar, all the warriors who died good deaths in battle, will dress for war, and together they will ride out to Vigrid, the final battlefield.

Odin will ride at the head of their company. His armor gleams, and he wears a golden helmet. Thor will ride beside him, Mjollnir in his hand.

They reach the field of battle, and the final battle will begin.

Odin makes straight for Fenrir, the wolf, now grown so huge as to be beyond imagining. The all-father grips Gungnir, his spear, in his fist.

Thor will see that Odin is heading for the great wolf, and Thor will smile, and whip his goats to greater speed, and he will head straight for the Midgard serpent, his hammer in his iron gauntlet.

Frey makes for Surtr, flaming and monstrous. Surtr’s flaming sword is huge and it burns even when it misses. Frey fights hard and well, but he will be the first of the Aesir to fall: his sword and his armor are no match for Surtr’s burning sword. Frey will die missing and regretting the loss of the sword he gave to Skirnir so long ago, for love of Gerd. That sword would have saved him.

The noise of battle will be furious; the Einherjar, Odin’s noble warriors, are locked in pitched battle with the evil dead, Loki’s troops.

The hellhound Garm will growl. He is smaller than Fenrir, but he is still the mightiest and most dangerous of all dogs. He has also escaped his shackles beneath the earth and has returned to rip the throats of the warriors on the earth.

Tyr will stop him, Tyr the one-handed, and they will fight, man and nightmare dog. Tyr fights bravely, but the battle will be the death of both of them. Garm dies with its teeth locked in Tyr’s throat.

Thor will finally kill the Midgard serpent, as he has wanted to do for so long.

Thor smashes the great serpent’s brains in with his hammer. He will leap back as the sea snake’s head tumbles onto the battlefield.

Thor is a good nine feet away from it when its head crashes to the ground, but that is not far enough. Even as it dies, the serpent will empty its venom sacs over the thunder god, in a thick black spray.

Thor grunts in pain and then falls lifeless to the earth, poisoned by the creature he slew.

Odin will battle Fenrir bravely, but the wolf is more vast and more dangerous than anything could possibly be. It is bigger than the sun, bigger than the moon. Odin thrusts into its mouth with his spear, but one snap of Fenrir’s jaws, and the spear is gone. Another bite and a crunch and a swallow and Odin, the all-father, greatest and wisest of all the gods, is gone as well, never to be seen again.

Odin’s son Vidar, the silent god, the reliable god, will watch his father die. Vidar will stride forward, as Fenrir gloats over Odin’s death, and thrust his foot into the wolf’s lower jaw.

Vidar’s two feet are different. One of them has a normal shoe on it. The other wears a shoe that has been constructed since the dawn of time. It is assembled from all the bits of leather that people cut from the toes and the heels when they make shoes for themselves, and throw away.

(If you want to help the Aesir in the final battle, you should throw away your leather scraps. All thrown-out scraps and trimmings from shoes will become part of Vidar’s shoe.)

This shoe will hold the great wolf’s lower jaw down, so it cannot move. Then with one hand Vidar will reach up and grasp the wolf’s upper jaw and rip its mouth apart. In this way Fenrir will die, and so Vidar will avenge his father.

On the battlefield called Vigrid, the gods will fall in battle with the frost giants, and the frost giants will fall in battle with the gods. The undead troops from Hel will litter the ground in their final deaths, and the noble Einherjar will lie beside them on the frozen ground, all of them dead for the last time, beneath the lifeless misty sky, never to rise again, never to wake and fight.

Of Loki’s legions, only Loki himself will still be standing, bloodied and wild-eyed, with a satisfied smile on his scarred lips.

Heimdall, the watcher on the bridge, the gatekeeper of the gods, will also not have fallen. He will stand on the battlefield, his sword, Hofud, wet and bloody in his hand.

They walk toward each other across Vigrid, treading on corpses, wading through blood and flames to reach each other.

“Ah,” Loki will say. “The muddy-backed watchman of the gods. You woke the gods too late, Heimdall. Was it not delightful to watch them die, one by one?”

Loki will watch Heimdall’s face, looking for weakness, looking for emotion, but Heimdall will remain impassive.

“Nothing to say, Heimdall of the nine mothers? When I was bound beneath the ground, with the serpent’s poison dripping into my face, with poor Sigyn standing beside me trying to catch what venom she could in her bowl, bound in the darkness in the intestines of my son, all that kept me from madness was thinking of this moment, rehearsing it in my mind, imagining the days when my beautiful children and I would end the time of the gods and end the world.”

Heimdall will still say nothing, but he will strike, and strike hard, his sword crashing against Loki’s armor, and Loki will counter, and Loki will attack with fierceness and intelligence and glee.