‘We cannot allow Fenrir to roam free any longer,’ Odin told the other gods.
‘But he is not a threat to us,’ Loki argued. ‘Why must we do this?’
‘I have seen it in my visions. The beast brings about all of our deaths.’
‘Whoa!’ Thor said. ‘If it’s that bad, why not just be done with it and kill him now?’
‘No! We cannot kill him!’ Tyr shouted. ‘Where is the honour in killing him for something he hasn’t done yet?’
‘Tyr is correct. While it is true that killing the beast may change our fate, there is no honour in running from destiny like a coward. My will, therefore, is not to change our fate but to give us enough time to prepare for it. That is why we must bind Fenrir and make him our prisoner.’
Loki stroked his chin. ‘That’s all fine and dandy, but how do you propose to bind him? I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but he’s massive!’
Odin took a long silk thread from his pocket. ‘This is Gleipnir. It was made by the dwarves. It may not look like much, but it is stronger than any metal in the nine worlds. If we were to tie it around Fenrir, it would bind him for many years.’
‘And how do you expect to get him to stay still for long enough for us to tie it around him?’
‘That is for you to figure out. You are renowned for your schemes and tricks. Surely, you can think of something.’
‘I’d rather not,’ Loki said.
‘I think we know why,’ Frigg sneered. ‘We’ve all heard the rumours.’
Odin took no notice and stepped towards Loki. His face was stern. ‘Because we swore an oath of brotherhood long ago, I allow you to stay in Asgard. But if you refuse this task, I will forsake those oaths and banish you back to Jotunheim.’
Loki laughed awkwardly. ‘Of course, I was going to help. I was just messing around with you. Did you really think I wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to help my blood brother?’
Odin nodded. ‘Yes. That is what I thought. Now, be gone, all of you. I have much to do.’
The gods left Odin’s halls and returned to their daily duties, all except for Loki, who wandered around Asgard, deep in thought.
On the day of Fenrir’s binding, the Aesir assembled in a craggy valley. Thor and Tyr had lugged a large bag all the way from Asgard.
They dropped it on the floor.
‘Excellent,’ Loki said. ‘All we need now is Fenrir.’
He took a deep breath. ‘Fenrir. Oh, Fenrir,’ he called out. Then, he put his fingers against his lips and whistled.
After a while, the ground began to shake.
The gods looked around.
Fenrir stampeded through the mountain ranges. His paws pounded the earth like drums of war. He kicked aside boulders as if they were beach balls.
Loki whistled again.
As Fenrir drew nearer, Hoenir gulped. He was covered in shaggy black fur and had two fiery red eyes. His mouth was full of blood-stained fangs that were as sharp as daggers.
Thor nudged Loki. ‘He’s got your smile.’
Loki ignored him.
Fenrir skidded to a stop. ‘What do you want?’ he snapped.
‘You are the mightiest wolf in the higher worlds, are you not?’
‘That is what I told my friends here, but none of them seemed to believe me. They say the wolves of Vanaheim are far mightier than the puny Fenrir.’
Fenrir growled. ‘That is a lie.’
‘I thought so too, but they say they need proof.’
‘Should I got to Vanaheim and bring you their heads?’
‘No. I have a better idea.’ Loki took a thick chain out of the bag. ‘We will tie this around you, and then if you can break free, all these gods will see how strong you really are.’
Fenrir looked at the chain. ‘This fragile thing, it is no match for me. I could shatter it without even trying.’
‘I believe you. But it isn’t me you have to prove anything to.’
‘Fine.’ Fenrir dropped onto his side with a heavy thud. ‘Do your worst.’
The Aesir took the chain from Loki and began wrapping it around Fenrir.
Once they had tied him up, Fenrir sighed. He kicked his legs half-heartedly, and the chain burst. Pieces of metal flew everywhere.
‘Is that the best you can do?’ the wolf said. ‘Where’s the challenge?’
‘It’s funny you say that because I’ve bought another chain with me.’ Loki pulled the second chain out of the bag. This time it was much thicker. ‘If you were to break free from this, you would prove once and for all that you are the mightiest wolf in the nine worlds.’
Fenrir smiled. ‘Do it! And this time, make it tight.’
The Aesir once again tied up the wolf, and once again, the wolf broke free.
Fenrir roared. ‘I am Fenrir! There is no chain that can bind me.’
‘You may be correct,’ Loki said. ‘You are a mighty wolf, indeed. But, are you the mightiest wolf to have ever lived?’
‘I am,’ Fenrir snapped.
‘Then, prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt.’ Loki took Gleipnir out of the bag. ‘Let us bind you with this and see if you can break free a third time.’
Fenrir lifted his head and looked at the thread. ‘You want to bind me with a silk ribbon? I am not stupid.’ He sniffed the air. ‘I smell treachery.’
‘Is the mighty Fenrir backing out of our challenge? It seems the Aesir were correct after all. You are not the mightiest wolf alive.’
Fenrir snarled. ‘I just need assurance.’ He looked at the Aesir and licked his lips.
‘What kind of assurance?’ Loki asked.
‘Flesh,’ Fenrir said. ‘Have one of your Aesir place their hand in my mouth while the others tie me up. If my suspicions are wrong and this is no trick, I will release the hand. If it is, and I have been wronged, I will eat the hand.’
The gods looked at each other. Thor shrugged at Hoenir. Freya rolled her eyes at Idun. Frigg folded her arms and tutted.
Eventually, Tyr stepped forward. ‘I will give you my hand.’
He went over to Fenrir and put his arm in the beast’s mouth.
Fenrir’s sharp teeth clasped around Tyr’s arm. He could feel the jagged edges pierce his flesh. Fenrir was true to his word, though. He did not bite Tyr’s arm and allowed the other Aesir to tie the silk thread around him.
Once Fenrir was bound, he kicked his legs. The thread did not snap. He kicked again. But it did not snap that time, either. If anything, it seemed to become tighter.
Fenrir’s eyes flared. He bit down on Tyr’s arm, slicing straight through the bone. He swallowed the hand with one gulp.
‘You have tricked me!’ Fenrir roared. ‘You will pay for this.’
Odin turned to Loki. ‘You have done well.’
‘So, I get to stay in Asgard?’
Odin put his hand on Loki’s shoulder. ‘For now.’
The gods left the valley to return to Asgard. Odin was the last to leave, but as he went, Fenrir spoke. ‘Odin, you have wronged me. You have used trickery to bind me. But one day, I will break free from these bonds. On that day, I will find you, and I will kill you. Your beloved Aesir will fall to darkness, and I will devour your world. This, I promise.’