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    A Magical Escape

    High up at the window of a great stone castle fair Idun looked with tearful eyes upon the stormy sea, and, as she thought of the sunny groves of Asgard, suddenly the plumage of a great falcon almost brushed against her face. Drawing back in alarm, she saw the cunning red eyes of Loki looking at her from the bird's head. "See how kind am I!" he jeered. "I am come to take thee back to Asgard."

    Then Idun almost wept for joy, till she remembered that she was a prisoner, and so cried pitifully. "I cannot win forth from this cold stone tower, O Loki, and even if I could, thou canst never carry me and my basket back to Asgard. And lo! I cannot outrun the wicked Storm Giant, and though the fruit be heavy I will not leave it behind."

    Then Loki soothed her and by his magic arts he changed her into a nut, which he took up in one talon, while the basket he carried with the other, and so set off to fly back to Asgard.

    Now Thiassi, the Storm Giant, was ill at ease that day, for he felt the pangs and pains of old age upon him as he went a-fishing. So he determined to return earlier than usual in order to try once more to get the magic fruit from Idun. Judge then of his dismay when he found his prisoner flown! Hastily transforming himself into an eagle, Thiassi began to scour the regions of the air, looking everywhere for the maiden, and before long he noted the steady flight of a falcon toward the walls of Asgard.

    Sweeping toward him through the air, the keen eyes of the eagle saw the gleam of a golden basket in the falcon's talons, and he knew that it was an Asa who had come to the rescue of Idun. And now it seemed that Loki would be hard put to it to reach Asgard before he was overtaken; for the eagle swept through the air with his great wings much faster than the falcon could fly, and the Asas, who had assembled on the battlements of the city to watch the race, trembled for its issue.

    Then some of them remembered how once before they had played a trick upon the pursuer in a similar conflict, and they collected pine shavings in great abundance and piled them on the walls, and stood ready to fire them when the moment came.

    On, on flew Loki, hard beset; and close behind him came, with steady rush, the mighty eagle Thiassi. He was almost upon his prey as they neared the walls, but Loki made a last great effort which was successful, and he fell exhausted into the midst of the Asas.

    At the same moment the pile of fuel was lighted, and Thiassi, blinded with smoke and singed with flame, dropped over the battlements and thus fell an easy prey to his waiting enemies. In admiration of his good race, however, the Asas placed his eyes as stars in the heavens, and there they shine to this day.

    So the Apples of Youth returned to Asgard, and all the Asas hastened to eat of them and became young and beautiful again. And fair Idun once more resumed her shape, and never again was tricked by wicked Loki, but played with the magic fruit in the golden groves of Asgard till the End of All Things.

    And this is how the Apples of Youth were once very nearly lost to Asgard.

    apples by Vikmouse

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