When Loki finally arrived back in Asgard he found Odin had prepared a mighty feast for him, believing him to still be hungry after trying to cook the meat. The Gods all sat down to eat, and many made fun of Loki and his failed attempt at cooking. When they had finished, they all got up and went to the orchard where Idunna grew her Golden Apples. These were special apples that only the Gods were allowed to eat because they allowed whoever ate them to live forever.
The Gods queued up , ready to each receive their apple for the day. When they all had their apples, Odin called the names of the Runes he had learnt, and of which we shall learn later. Then, the Gods all left the garden to go back to their own Halls.
All, except one. Loki.
After a moment of watching Idunna tending to her apple trees, she asked him, “Why are you still here, watching me? Don’t you have better things to do?”
Loki smiled and replied, “I am just wondering to myself, Idunna. I’m thinking about some apples I saw yesterday, and if they are the same as yours?”
“I can assure you, Loki, “ answered the Goddess, politely, “There are no apples in all the nine worlds that are exactly like mine.”
“No, you’re probably right,” said Loki, with a smile, “These apples I saw yesterday were shinier, and looked and smelled fresher.”
This comment upset Idunna, and because she had never known Loki not to tell her the truth, she began to cry. She couldn’t believe that there were other apples that were better than hers.
“No, Loki, I cannot believe you!” she sobbed, “My Golden Apples must be the fairest ever!”
“Well, you could always go see for yourself?” suggested Loki, with a wicked gleam in his eye, “After all, I was nearly home in Asgard when I saw the tree. You never leave this garden of yours, so you don’t really get to see what else grows in the world. Just on the other side of the Wall, it was.”
Idunna was scared to leave her garden, because she had never left it before, but she held her head high and said, “I will go to see these apples you speak of.”
Loki led the Goddess to the Wall of Asgard, where she climbed over to see the amazing tree. But when she was over the Wall, she heard a flapping sound,. Looking up, she saw a great eagle swoop down and grab her in its talons, carrying her far away from Asgard.
Far away she was carried, across Midgard, past Alfheim, home of the Light Elves and Svartalfheim, land of the Dark Elves, over Nidavellir, the Dwarf lands and Vanaheim, where the Vanir Gods had their Halls.
Eventually, the eagle came to rest in Jotunheim, land of the Giants. He flew through a gap in a mountain, leaving Idunna in a cave lit by tall pillars of fire. He ladned on a rock nearby, and as he did so, the eagle costume fell off him, and he stood before the Goddess as the Giant, Thiassi.
“Why have you brought me here, Giant?” asked Idunna, “ I have not done anything wrong to you.”
“I have brought you here, so that I can have your Golden Apples!” said the Giant.
“But you are not a God in Asgard,” replied the Goddess, “The apples are not for you, and I will not give them to you.”
The Giant got angry at this, and shouted at Idunna.
“Then I shall take them for myself!” he bellowed.
He took the basket she always carried, because Idunna never left her apples, and carried them everywhere with her. But when he took out an apple to eat, it shrivelled up in his hand. He put the basket down. He understood now, that he could only have an apple as long as Idunna gave it to him herself!
“I know you will not give me an apple now,” he said, “But you will stay here until such time that you do!”
Idunna was scared. She was scared of the Giant, Thiassi. She was scared of the cave with it’s pillars of fire. She was scared she would never see Asgard again.
Most of all, she was scared of how the Gods were feeling without the Golden Apples to keep them young forever.
The next day Thiassi came to her again, and again he went away without any apples. This happened the next day, and the next, and the next after that. Still Idunna would not give Thiassi an apple.
And at night, she dreamt. She dreamt of the Gods, withering away, growing old in Asgard. She saw their backs hunch up, their skin start to sag and wrinkle and their hair lose it’s colour and turn white. But try as they might, for as long as they could search, no God could find any trace of Idunna and her apples.
Odin sent out his two ravens Hugin and Munin, his thought and memory to search for the Goddess, and they travelled far and wide, coming at last to settle on his shoulders.
They told of Idunna’s prison in Jotunheim, and that it was the Giant, Thiassi, who kept her there.
And they told of Loki’s nasty trick that had led to her capture.
With this knowledge, Odin went to the other Gods, to talk about what they should do. Odin’s son, the Thunder God Thor, brought Loki before Odin.
Loki, who had never really got on with Thor, turned and asked him what was to be done with him.
“If I had my way,” said the Thunder God, “I would throw you into a hol in the ground and hurl thunderbolts at you! I cannot forgive you for giving Idunna to the Giant!”
“No, please, Thor,” cried Loki, “ No thunderbolts, please! Let me make it up to you! I will rescue Idunna and her apples from Thiassi’s prison!”
So that is what Odin and Thor agreed with Loki, that he would rescue the Goddess Idunna, or else he would be the target of Thor’s thunderbolts.
He borrowed the magickal falcon costume of Odin’s wife, Frigg, and transformed into the bird, flying swiftly to Jotunheim.
Once there, he found Skadi, daughter of Thiassi, and allowing himself to be caught, became her pet and was carried to the Giant’s Hall. One day Skadi took her pet for a walk to the cave where Idunna was kept. Now Loki knew where the Goddess was! He flew up into the dark ceiling of the cave where Skadi couldn’t see him. Crying, the Giant’s daughter ran back home.
When she was gone, Loki flew down to Idunna’s shoulder, and whispered to her of a spell he knew that would change her into a sparrow. But before the spell could work, she had to throw the apples far away from the Giant’s Hall, where Thiassi would never find them.
Then, with the spell working, the falcon and the sparrow flew out of the cave and right past Skadi and her father who were coming to search for her lost pet.
Thiassi immediately knew who the birds were, and turned into the great eagle. Knowing he could fly quicker than they could, he headed straight for Asgard, to catch them when they thought they were safe.
As they got closer to Asgard, the Gods saw them and made huge fires that Loki and Idunna could fly in between, but Thiassi could not.
The eagle could not find a way through, and fell to the ground, where Loki finished him.
With Idunna safe, she was able to fetch more apples, and the Gods felt their youth return to them.
And that was how the Gods nearly grew old and died because of Loki.