August 10, 2023

#08-334: The Otter's Ransom



Get Ready: TEASER

I have told you how Siegfried killed the dragon Fafnir, formerly brother to Siegfried's mentor, Regin, and learned the language of the animals. But what motivated his quest? Here's the story.

Once, the gods of Asgard--Odin, the All-Father, with his sons Hoenir and the evil Loki--traveled the earth in the forms of huntsmen. When they saw an otter in a stream, with a salmon it had caught, Loki threw a stone and killed it.

They stopped at a farmhouse, but the farmer--actually the powerful magician Hreidmar--said he had no food to give them. Loki threw down the otter and fish, saying they had food enough and needed only shelter. The farmer cried out, "This is my son, Otr, who can change to an otter. You have killed him, and must die!"

His sons, Fafnir and Regin, came and tied up the three gods, weak in their human form. They asked what ransom they could pay, and Hriedmar said if they could cover Otr's hide with treasure, he would let them go.

Loki was released, with the other two kept hostage. Loki caught a magic salmon that was actually Andvari, King of the Dwarfs. To save his life, the dwarf showed Loki where he kept all his treasure.

Loki took it all, and insisted on taking a magnificent ring the dwarf had kept back. When the Dwarf-King balked, Loki tore it from his finger. Andvari then cursed the ring, saying anyone who owned it would suffer untold ills and a violent death.

But Loki threw the net on his shoulder and returned to Hriedmar's farmhouse. There, the farmer set down the otter skin--which spread to cover 4,000 square meters! There was just enough treasure to cover it--except for a single hair near the otter's mouth.

But Odin had kept back the marvelous ring, and set it on the hair. Released, Odin and Hoenir left immediately, but Loki stayed long enough to tell Hriedmar of Andvari's curse.

And sure enough--the farmer/magician would not share the horde with his sons, but while they were out tending their sheep, turned into a dragon and coiled himself around the gold and jewels.

When Fafnir returned, he severed the serpent's head and took the treasure; he, too, changed into a cold and slimy reptile. And it was this dragon that Regin, the younger brother, tasked his student Siegfried with killing.


  • Read more: LINK

Practice: Match the term to its definition:

Term Definition
  1. balked
  2. coiled
  3. curse
  4. horde
  5. hostage
  6. ills
  7. ransom
  8. severed
  9. tasked
  10. untold
  1. pile of treasure
  2. money paid to free a hostage
  3. difficulties
  4. person held captive
  5. cut off
  6. assigned a job to
  7. hesitated
  8. countless
  9. wrapped (around)
  10. "magic" words meant to cause harm

Answers are in the first comment below.

Answers to the Practice: 1. g; 2. i; 3. j; 4. a; 5. d; 6. c; 7. b; 8. e; 9. f; 10. h

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for August 10, 2023

Please leave a comment - I can't WAIT to hear from you!