When they had brought the third and smallest of Loki’s children back from the land of the giants, it had been puppy-sized, and Tyr had scratched its neck and its head and played with it, removing its willow muzzle first. It was a wolf cub, gray and black, with eyes the color of emeralds.
When he grew beyond cubhood the Aesir, Odin especially, plagued by dreams of Fenrir's future, devised a plan.
“You have grown so fast, Fenrir. It is time to test your strength. We have here the heaviest chains and shackles. Do you think you can break them?”
“I think I can,” said Fenrir Wolf. “Bind me.”
“If you can escape from these chains,” said the gods, “then your renown and your strength will be known to all the worlds. Glory will be yours. If chains like this cannot hold you, then your strength will be greater than that of any of the gods or the giants.”Fenrir nodded at this, and looked at the chains called Dromi, bigger than any chains had ever seen, stronger than the strongest of bonds. “There is no glory without danger,” said the wolf after some moments.
“I believe I can break these bindings. Chain me up.”They chained him.The great wolf stretched and strained, but the chains held. The gods looked at each other, and there was the beginning of triumph in their eyes, but now the huge wolf began to twist and to writhe, to kick out his legs and strain in every muscle and every sinew. His eyes flashed and his teeth flashed and his jaws foamed.He growled as he writhed. He struggled with all his might.The gods moved back involuntarily, and it was good that they did so, for the chains fractured and then broke with such violence that the pieces were thrown far into the air, and for years to come the gods would find lumps of shattered shackles embedded in the sides of huge tre“I can burst any chains,” he told them proudly. Odin opened his hand to display Gleipnir. It shimmered in the moonlight.“That?” said the wolf. “That is nothing.”The gods pulled on it to show him how strong it was. “We cannot break it,” they told him. The wolf squinted at the silken band that they held between them, glimmering like a snail’s trail or the moonlight on the waves, and he turned away, uninterested.
“No,” he said. “Bring me real chains, real fetters, heavy ones, huge ones, and let me show my strength.”
“This is Gleipnir,” said Odin. “It is stronger than any chains or fetters. Are you scared, Fenrir?”
“Scared? Not at all. But what happens if I break a thin ribbon like that? Do you think I will get renown and fame? That people will gather together and say, ‘Do you know how strong and powerful Fenrir Wolf is? He is so powerful he broke a silken ribbon!’ There will be no glory for me in breaking Gleipnir.”
“You are scared,” said Odin.
The great beast sniffed the air. “I scent treachery and trickery,” said the wolf, his emerald eyes flashing in the moonlight. “And although I think your Gleipnir may only be a ribbon, I will not consent to be tied up by it.”
“You? You who broke the strongest, biggest chains there ever were? You are scared by this band?” said Thor.
“I am scared of nothing,” growled the wolf. “I think it is rather that you little creatures are scared of me.”
Odin scratched his bearded chin. “You are not stupid, Fenrir. There is no treachery here. But I understand your reluctance. It would take a brave warrior to consent to be tied up with bonds he could not break. I assure you, as the father of the gods, that if you cannot break a band like this—a veritable silken ribbon, as you say—then we gods will have no reason to be afraid of you, and we will set you free and let you go your own way.”
A long growl, from the wolf. “You lie, All-father. You lie in the way that some folk breathe. If you were to tie me up in bonds I could not escape from, then I do not believe you would free me. I think you would leave me here. I think you plan to abandon me and to betray me. I do not consent to have that ribbon placed on me..."
“Fine words, and brave words,” said Odin. “Words to cover your fear at being proved a coward, Fenrir Wolf. You are afraid to be tied with this silken ribbon. No need for more explanations.” The wolf’s tongue lolled from his mouth, and he laughed then, showing sharp teeth each the size of a man’s arm. “Rather than question my courage, I challenge you to prove there is no treachery planned. You can tie me up if one of you will place his hand in my mouth. I will gently close my teeth upon it, but I will not bite down. If there is no treachery afoot, I will open my mouth when I have escaped the ribbon, or when you have freed me, and his hand will be unharmed. There. I swear, if I have a hand in my mouth, you can tie me with your ribbon. So. Whose hand will it be?”The gods looked at each other. Balder looked at Thor, Heimdall looked at Odin, Hoenir looked at Frey, but none of them made a move. Then Tyr, Odin’s son, sighed, and stepped forward and raised his right hand.“I will put my hand in your mouth, Fenrir,” said Tyr.
Fenrir lay on his side, and Tyr put his right hand into Fenrir’s mouth, just as he had done when Fenrir was a puppy and they had played together. Fenrir closed his teeth gently until they held Tyr’s hand at the wrist without breaking the skin, and he closed his eyes.
The gods bound him with Gleipnir. A shimmering snail’s trail wrapped the enormous wolf, tying his legs, rendering him immobile.
“There,” said Odin. “Now, Fenrir Wolf, break your bonds. Show us all how powerful you are.”
The wolf stretched and struggled; it pushed and strained every nerve and muscle to snap the ribbon that bound it. But with every struggle the task seemed harder and with every strain the glimmering ribbon became stronger.
At first the gods snickered. Then the gods chuckled. Finally, when they were certain that the beast had been immobilized and that they were in no danger, the gods laughed.
Only Tyr was silent. He did not laugh. He could feel the sharpness of Fenrir Wolf’s teeth against his wrist, the wetness and warmth of Fenrir Wolf’s tongue against his palm and his fingers. Fenrir stopped struggling. He lay there unmoving. If the gods were going to free him, they would do it now. But the gods only laughed the harder. Thor’s booming guffaws, each louder than a thunderclap, mingled with Odin’s dry laughter, with Balder’s bell-like laughter …Fenrir looked at Tyr. Tyr looked at him bravely. Then Tyr closed his eyes and nodded.
“Do it,” he whispered.Fenrir bit down on Tyr’s wrist.Tyr made no sound. He simply wrapped his left hand around the stump of his right and squeezed it as hard as he could, to slow the spurt of blood to an ooze.Fenrir watched the gods take one end of Gleipnir and thread it through a stone as big as a mountain and fasten it under the ground. Then he watched as they took another rock and used it to hammer the stone deeper into the ground than the deepest ocean.es or the side of a mountain.
There Fenrir was left until Ragnarok. The fall of the Old Gods was scripted and foretold. He was supposed to slay Odin only to fall to his son, Vidarr. But the fall of the Gods had not gone as prophesied and the Demi-Gods and lesser Gods which had grown tired of the Old Gods rule released Fenrir, harnessed his powers to overthrow the Aesir and other Old Gods- only to clamp Fenrir in his new bondage upon the dust settling, too fearful of his power being turned back on them. His new bindings, crafted from the old, did not keep him to one place, but kept him from his truest form- a monstrously large wolf. A god of destruction, chaos, illusion and darkness.