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Loki's Punishment

A snake.
Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Odin knocked on Loki’s door.

There was no answer.

He knocked again. ‘Come on, Loki. I know you’re in there.’

Thor barged Odin out of the way. ‘Let me try.’ He began to pound on the door with his big, meaty fists. ‘Open up, Loki! Killing Baldur was the final straw. We’re here to punish you.’

‘Don’t tell him that. He’ll never open the door,’ Freyr said.

Thor laughed awkwardly. ‘I was only joking,’ he shouted. ‘We aren’t going to punish you. We just wanted to know if you’d like to come to the mead hall with us.’

The gods could hear footsteps behind the door.

Thor turned to Sif. ‘I think he bought it.’

Suddenly, there was a loud clatter.

‘Quick! He’s getting away!’

Sif kicked down the door, and the gods stormed inside.

Loki’s house was empty. The trickster god was gone.

Odin thought something like this might happen. He stepped outside and looked up at the sky. Sure enough, a crow was flying out of Asgard. He whistled and called for his two ravens.

‘Follow that crow,’ he told them. Huginn and Muninn soared into the sky.

Tyr came over to Odin. ‘He has escaped us. What should we do now?’

‘Nothing,’ Odin said. ‘I suspect we will find him soon enough.’ He glanced up at the three black specs moving through the sky.

Thor joined them outside. He moaned and kicked a stone. ‘I was really looking forward to hitting him with my hammer.’

Odin put his hand on Thor’s shoulder. ‘I am sure you will get another opportunity to hit him with your hammer.’

Huginn and Muninn followed Loki to a small house on a high hilltop. It had four windows on either side and a wooden door with a rusty lock. A stream ran down the hill.

Loki flew inside the house through a venting hole on the roof. The two ravens didn’t follow him. Instead, they flew back to Asgard to report to Odin.

When they arrived in the halls of Valhalla, they flew over to Odin’s golden throne. Huginn whispered into Odin’s ear, telling him the location of Loki’s hiding place.

Odin didn’t act on this news right away. He knew that Loki was cunning. If the Aesir stormed the hideout now, Loki would have an escape plan ready. If they waited, however, Loki would think he’s escaped his punishment, and the gods could catch him off guard.

So, Odin waited.

When he finally decided that it had been long enough, he told the other gods.

‘What are we waiting for,’ Thor said. ‘Let’s get him.’

They left Asgard and travelled to Loki’s hilltop hideout.

Loki was sprawled on a bench beside a crackling fire when he heard a thumping on his door. ‘Open up, Loki. We have found you!’ Thor yelled.

‘Shush, Thor. If he knows it’s us, he’ll run away again,’ Freyr said.

Loki leapt up and looked around. He had no escape plan. If he turned into a crow and flew away again, the gods would just track him down again. He needed to do something new, something none of the gods would expect. Just then, he caught a glimpse of the stream that ran down the hill. Suddenly, an idea hit him.

Loki turned into a crow and flew out of the venting hole. He carefully lowered himself over the stream and turned into a salmon. The fish plopped into the stream as Thor kicked the hideout door down.

Tyr looked at the empty house. ‘He’s escaped us once again.’

‘Don’t be too sure,’ Odin told him. He went over to the window and looked at the sky. ‘I see no birds flying. He must still be here somewhere.’

Odin noticed the shadow of a salmon swimming in the stream.

He turned to Thor and whispered something in his ear.

‘But what if it’s just—’

Odin nudged him. ‘Whisper. You don’t know who is listening.’

Thor nodded and whispered in Odin’s ear.

Odin whispered something back.

When they were finished, Thor cleared his throat. ‘Loki’s beaten us again. He must be long gone by now. I think I’m going to look at that stream outside.’ He winked at Odin.

Thor went outside and knelt by the stream. He watched the salmon swim around.

‘I am so very hungry,’ Thor said. ‘I think I’ll have a nice, tasty, raw salmon.’

He plucked a salmon out of the lake. The fish flopped around, trying to escape, but Thor’s grip was too strong. He opened his jaws and slowly lifted the fish to his mouth.

The salmon transformed back into Loki. ‘Ok. You win!’ he said. ‘Here I am.’

Thor threw Loki on the floor. ‘I’ve found him,’ he called out. ‘Do we need him conscious?’ he asked.

‘No,’ Odin said.

Thor grinned. He took out Mjolnir and hit Loki across the head.

The gods carried Loki to a cave deep below the nine worlds. Trickling water echoed around the cavern, and long stalagmites hung from the ceilings. They dropped Loki on the hard earth and poured a bucket of ice-cold water over him.

Loki looked around. There was a giant boulder beside him. The gods stood in a circle. Sif cracked her knuckles. Thor was brandishing Mjolnir. Skadi held a viper with green scales and sharp fangs.

Odin stepped forward. His face was stern. ‘Loki, your crimes have been many. At some point, you have offended each of us. We have overlooked this because you have been useful. You helped us get back the apples of immortality and bargained with the dwarves to bring us some of our most prized possessions. But recently, you have caused a crime that was so grave it cannot be overlooked. Because of you, one of our most beloved gods is dead.’ Odin took some rope out of his pocket. ‘This is your punishment.’

Thor, Sif, and Freyr came up to Loki. They picked him up and lay him over the boulder while Odin tied him to it.

After Odin had tied Loki so tightly that he could no longer move, Skadi stepped forward. ‘This is for my father.’ She stretched out her viper and tied it to the stalagmite directly above Loki’s head.

The snake’s venom slowly dripped onto Loki’s face. Each time it did, he let out a piercing shriek.

The gods, satisfied with all they had done, left the cave and returned to Asgard.

There was one who remained, though. Sigyn, Loki’s wife, had secretly followed the gods. She had hidden behind a rock and watched her husband be imprisoned. Now that the gods had left, she came out of her hiding place. She tried to untie Loki from the boulder, but the rope that bound him was too tight. Then, she tried to unfasten the viper above his head, but she could not.

The venom dropped onto Loki’s face, and he screamed once more.

If Sigyn could not free her husband, at least she could ease his pain. She picked up the empty bucket the gods had used to wake Loki and held it over his face to collect the droplets of venom. She remained by Loki’s side until Ragnarok.


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