Hel was the dark child of Loki's union with the evil giant daughter of Angurboda. Her body was half whole and half rotting flesh, and she was the sister of both Fenris, the wolf, and Iormungandr, the World Serpent.
Odin gave her the kingdom of Niflheim, the land of the dead that lay deep within the earth. Far to the North it's boundary was the river Gioll, crossed only by a slender bridge guarded by the grim Modgud. At the Hel gate waited the fearsome hound Garm, watching from his dark cave - Gnipa. Once within her kingdom, the traveller was faced with wading across the cold and deadly Slithr, a river with an unceasing flow of sharp sword blades.
Hel's dismal hall was called Elvidner (misery). Upon her meagre table was a dish called Hunger and a knife named Starvation. Delay was her house slave and Sloth her bondmaid. Her threshold was Precipice and Care was her bed. The walls were decorated with Burning Anguish. It was a vast hall constructed of a wickerwork of woven snakes. Their heads turned inwards continually flooding the hall and it's luckless inhabitants with their venom.
To this place came not only all manner of criminals, murderers, adulterers and perjurers, but also those who died a bloodless death of sickness or old age.
Within her kingdom was Nastrond (strand of corpses), and near bye lay the pool of Hvergelmir, from which flowed the 12 streams known as Elivagar.
Occasionally Hel would leave her dark home to ride the earth upon her pale three legged horse. Wherever she went fame and pestilence were sure to follow - she brought misery and death in her wake.
At Ragnarok the three monsterous children would join their father in the final battle against the gods.
© copyright Clive Barrett 2012