After the deaths of Sigurd and Brynhild, Gudrun’s brothers Gunnar and Hogni took the cursed treasure that Sigurd had won from Fafnir, and they set themselves up as rich and powerful rulers. But Gudrun grieved bitterly for her husband Sigurd and would not be comforted. She fled to King Alf, who had been Sigurd’s foster-father. Tin his court she lived in honor and remembered her lost husband along with others who had also loved him. But she still wore the cursed ring Andvaranaut
that Sigurd had given her.
Now Brynhild’s brother King Atli was as greedy for gold and for power as Gunnar and Hogni were. He began to reproach them for murdering Sigurd and to seek occasions to fight with them. The brothers sought peace terms, and at last they agreed that Atli should marry Gudrun.
This agreement was made without Gudrun’s knowledge or consent, and when she learned of it she scornfully refused. Then Grimhild her mother came to deal with Gudrun. Grimhild was mighty in sorcery—she had brewed the potion of forgetfulness that caused Sigurd to abandon Brynhild and marry Gudrun. Now Grimhild gave another potion to Gudrun to cause her to forget her anger at her brothers and to make her will more pliable. Even so, Gudrun pled that she did not wish to marry another after Sigurd; but Grimhild commanded her daughter and bent the full force of her will on her, and Gudrun consented, though she said the marriage would bring only grief.
So Atli and Gudrun were wed, and they rode away together to his country. But his dreams became dark and full of death-omens so that he feared his wife. Gudrun for her part never looked on him with kindness, even as she bore his sons. And when she heard that he meant to summon her brothers to visit him and be feasted and honored, she knew he meant them harm. She persuaded the king’s head messenger, Vingi, to carry a parcel from her to her brothers. In that parcel was a warning carved in runes, and another warning sign: the ring Andvaranaut, with wolf’s hairs knotted round it.
Vingi added to the rune carving so that the message seemed an invitation, not a warning, but he gave the ring as it was. The brothers doubted what this meant, but Vingi promised that they would receive rich gifts and might even be named as Atli’s heirs, and Vingi plied them with drink and flattery, and they resolved to go.
They rode away eagerly, and stared in surprise and horror when they approached Atli’s gates and found his war-host drawn up for battle against them. Whatever other virtues they lacked, they had courage. They attacked the host that greatly outnumbered their party, and drove right through the gates of Atli’s city. Then Gudrun ran out and stood between the warring hosts and pled for peace, but both sides were set on vengeance. Seeing this, she armed herself and fought beside her brothers, and the three of them did deeds of great renown; but in time the sheer number of Atli’s army overcame theirs, and they were taken captive.
Atli killed Hogni and urged Gunnar to ransom his own life with dragon-treasure. But Gunnar laughed a fey laugh and said it was too late for that. Gudrun’s warning had achieved so much at least. Before riding to Atli’s kingdom the brothers had cast all the dragon-hoard into the depths of the river.
Atli had Gunnar killed, and he himself died soon after at Gudrun’s hand, along with the sons she had born him. Gudrun carried her grief and fury into far lands, and the tale of her descendants is bitter and brief. But she never went back to reclaim the dragon’s treasure, or the ring that was drowned with it.
So Andvari’s ring and Andvari’s curse passed out of the tales of men, having destroyed many generations of magicians and heroes among mortals. It may have done its damage among the gods as well, for it was after they stole Andvari’s ring that Odin’s lost his best-beloved son and Loki was bound in torment.
The old stories do not tell if Andvari its maker ever found Andvaranaut again, or if it lies in the river’s depths until Ragnarök comes and the earth is unmade.