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Fafnir and the Cursed Hoard (Andvari's Curse, part II)

'Andvari’s Curse' told how the trickster god Loki killed an otter who was in truth the son of the human sorcerer Hreidmar. After Hreidmar and his surviving sons Regin and Fafnir captured Loki and his companion Odin, Loki ransomed both their lives with gold stolen from the wealthy dwarf Andvari. Andvari tried to withhold one precious ring, Andvaranaut, from the hoard, and when Loki insisted on taking it as well, Andvari cursed the ring and said it would ruin all its possessors.
 
Returning to Hreidmar’s house, Loki showed Odin the treasure and the ring, but concealed the curse. Odin saw that the ring was fair, and he resolved to keep it for himself.
 
 Golden vessels and rings: photo of prehistoric gold cache "Tesoro de Villena" from Wikimedia Commons, https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7a/Tesoro_de_Villena.jpg--Viking Dragon Blogs
 
Odin offered the rest of the treasure to Hreidmar. According to the terms of their ransom, Hreidmar filled the flayed otter-pelt of his dead son with gold and then began to cover it with treasure. But when all Andvari’s hoard was on the pile there was still an uncovered hair, and Hreidmar swore that his terms had not been met and his guests’ lives were forfeit.
Odin The Allfather - Viking Dragon Blogs
 
Odin handed over the ring with great reluctance. Then Hreidmar pronounced himself satisfied and returned to Odin his never-failing spear and to Loki his seven-league shoes.
 
Shod and poised for flight, Loki looked over his shoulder, laughed, and told Hreidmar that the ring was cursed, and that the price Hreidmar had claimed for the death of his eldest son would cause his own death and the death of his remaining sons.
 
Loki The Trickster God - Viking Dragon Blogs
 
 
Hreidmar cursed his guests as they departed. (This was perhaps needless, as Andvari had cursed them already. In any case, it was after this that Loki broke Odin’s heart and brought about his own destruction by betraying Odin’s son Balder, as recounted in ('The Death of Balder') Then Hreidmar turned to gloating over his treasure. When Fafnir and Regin demanded their share of the ransom for their brother’s death, he refused them.
Hreidmar - Viking Dragon Blogs
 
 Hreidmar’s sons did not challenge him then. He was a powerful sorcerer in his own right. He also owned the Helm of Terror; when he wore that, no enemy dared to stand before him. So his sons went away quietly and grumbled to each other. But that night as Hreidmar lay dreaming of his treasure, Fafnir and Regin stabbed him. Hreidmar died cursing his sons.
 
Regin hurried to the chamber where the treasure lay heaped on the floor, but Fafnir was there before him, with his sword drawn and the Helm of Terror on his head.   When Regin demanded a share of the gold, Fafnir laughed mirthlessly and told him to flee at once if he didn’t want to get what their father had just gotten.
 
Fafnir in a crevice between rocks, crouched over gold and human bones, breathing smoke; 1911 illustration by Arthur Rackham, retrieved from Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fafnir#/media/File:Siegfried_and_the_Twilight_of_the_Gods_p_022.jpg)--Viking Dragon Blogs
 
Regin, more prudent than valiant, obeyed, and Fafnir took all the hoard for himself—and the cursed ring as well. He carried Andvari’s treasures and Hreidmar’s implements of magic away to the deserted heath of Gnitta. There he transformed himself into a dragon of great stature and fearsome aspect, and he brooded over his gold. His very breath was poison; the land withered about him, and none dared to approach him. Certainly Regin knew better than to make any foolhardy attempt.
 
The Dragon Fafnir - Viking Dragon Blogs
 
 However, Regin did not forget his grievance. He fled to the court of King Alf, where his skill as a smith got him both work and honor—and also, in time, the fostering of a brave and naive boy whom Regin saw as an instrument for his revenge. What came of that will be described in another story.
 

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