Just then Odin came in, and when he had heard from Frigga the whole story, he looked even more mournful than she had done; neither did the cloud pass from his face when he was told of the oaths that had been taken.
“Why do you look so grave, my lord?” demanded Frigga at last. “Baldur cannot die now.”
But Odin asked very gravely, “Is the shadow gone out of our son’s heart, or is it still there?”
“It cannot be there,” said Frigga, turning away her head resolutely, and folding her hands before her.
But Odin looked at Baldur, and saw how it was. The hands pressed to the heavy heart, the beautiful brow grown dim. Then immediately he arose, saddled Sleipnir, his eight-footed steed, mounted him, and, turning to Frigga, said, “I know of a dead prophetess, Frigga, who, when she was alive, could tell what was going to happen; her grave lies on the east side of Helheim, and I am going there to awake her, and ask whether any terrible grief is really coming upon us.”
So saying Odin shook the bridle in his hand, and the eight-footed, with a bound, leaped forth, rushed like a whirlwind down the mountain of Asgard, and then dashed into a narrow defile between rocks.
Sleipnir went on through the defile a long way, until he came to a place where the earth opened her mouth. There Odin rode in and down a broad, steep, slanting road which led him to the cavern Gnipa, and the mouth of the cavern Gnipa yawned upon Niflheim. Then thought Odin to himself, “My journey is already done.” But just as Sleipnir was about to leap through the jaws of the pit, Garm, the voracious dog who was chained to the rock, sprang forward, and tried to fasten himself upon Odin. Three times Odin shook him off, and still Garm, as fierce as ever, went on with the fight. At last Sleipnir leaped, and Odin thrust just at the same moment; then horse and rider cleared the entrance, and turned eastward towards the dead prophetess’s grave, dripping blood along the road as they went; while the beaten Garm stood baying in the cavern’s mouth.
When Odin came to the grave he got off his horse, and stood with his face northward, looking through barred enclosures into the city of Helheim itself. The servants of Hela were very busy there making preparations for some new guest—hanging gilded couches with curtains of anguish and splendid misery upon the walls. Then Odin’s heart died within him, and he began to repeat mournful runes in a low tone.
The dead prophetess turned heavily in her grave at the sound of his voice, and sat bolt upright. “What man is this,” she asked, “who dares disturb my sleep?”
Then Odin, for the first time in his life, said what was not true; the shadow of Baldur dead fell upon his lips, and he made answer, “My name is Vegtam, the son of Valtam.”
“And what do you want of me?” asked the prophetess.
“I want to know,” replied Odin, “for whom Hela is making ready that gilded couch in Helheim?”