Eventually, Baldr headed out looking for Loki. He found him more easily than he wanted to imagine. Baldr started to tell Loki of the incident at the hunt, but Loki interrupted him. “News of your deeds travel faster than you.”
Both looked at each other without speaking. How they mirrored each other, and yet were so different. As each beheld the other after so long, they found favour in each other. In their hearts, they saw the marks of time that had passed since Loki had rejected Baldr. They were marks of dread, but also of great courage and determination.
Never had there been any doubt that Loki would find a way to deliver Baldr’s story to its purpose. And that he had, indeed, found a way, Baldr discerned from the look in his eyes. It was this that irrevocably tied them together.
They went into the mountains together, climbed the high peaks, and showed each other the beauty of the world.
Nothing is known of what Baldr showed Loki. Loki showed Baldr a sparrow’s nest, in which a fledgling had just hatched from its egg. When they saw it, Loki turned himself into a handsome-looking sparrow and sweet-talked the mother bird into distraction. Unbeknown to her, he stole the eggshells from the nest and gave them to Baldr as a gift.
None knew when or how it was going to happen. None knew exactly what was going to happen. It hadn’t been easy to forge a dagger from a sprig of mistletoe, but despite all adversities, Loki maintained a fruitful business relationship with several of the dwarves — although of course, he took painstaking care not to run across a certain number of them. And so, after difficult negotiations that were conducted by a very drunk Loki with an even drunker cousin of Andvari’s, he was able to secure the commission.
The dagger itself was tucked inside a scabbard that Loki had made for it himself. It was gorgeously adorned with gold and precious gems, and colourful little beads made of glass. But what was most special about it was that its seams were sewn from Baldr’s own hair — and how Loki had been able to obtain that, will probably remain his secret forever. Loki carried both dagger and scabbard with him at all times, inside a plain leather pouch that hung from his belt.
Autumn passed, and winter passed, and the following spring passed, as well. One morning, Sigyn ran home, out of breath. Loki was playing with his young sons, and he took an inordinate amount of pride in the fact that he had to put quite some effort into cheating without getting caught.
“Loki”, Sigyn called out as soon as she was within hearing range, “you must come quickly, to Iðavöllr! They have… Baldr is…” Sigyn cut herself short. Breathing heavily, she stood besides her husband. “Go there fast”, she said quietly.
“But mum, why?” Narfi wanted to know. He wanted to play some more with his father.
“Can we come, too?” Vali asked hopefully.
Out of the question, Loki wanted to respond, but he swallowed his harsh words. “Perhaps next time”, he answered instead, suddenly seized by a wave of sadness, “perhaps next time.”
Sigyn kissed him. “I wanna kiss, too”, demanded Narfi, and Loki knelt on the ground and Vali and Narfi both gave him a kiss to his cheek. He embraced them both, and then he headed to Iðavöllr.
When Loki arrived, the dagger hung heavily from his belt. A great assembly had formed, gathering around an elevated, wooden pedestal. There, next to a splendourously decorated post that reached far into the sky, stood Baldr.
Loki was rather short, so he could only catch a brief glimpse of him. Baldr was smiling. As Loki began to make his way through the crowd, he realised what the others were doing: they had taken to throwing flotsam and jetsam at Baldr — there were stones among it, but also spears, knives, and even axes. And Loki was ill-pleased. He was seized by impotent rage, craved to grab someone and shake him, or do worse to him. Because what the other gods were only playing at, for him, was deadly serious.
But nobody gave Loki any notice as he pushed himself further through the gathered crowd. Only Baldr had seen him now, and his painfully warm gaze was following him. Still, he was smiling. Loki took the dagger in his hand. The air was thick with the heaviness of oath.
The dagger gleamed in the sunlight. Only a few paces were separating Loki and Baldr anymore. Around them, silence fell. Some were muttering to each other.
“The world is no longer young”, spoke Baldr. In his hand was a metal ring that Loki immediately recognised as the oath ring he had sworn upon. Loki wanted to look away, but he could not tear his gaze off Baldr’s. As if guided by an unseen force, his hand rose to grip the oath ring that Baldr was offering him.
“The world is no longer young”, Loki repeated.
For an instant, their foreheads touched. Baldr’s hand closed around the nape of Loki’s neck.
Into the silence, the dagger cut through the glimmering, hot summer air. Then, with a sound that only Loki heard, it found its way through Baldr’s clothes and deep into his heart.
Loki carelessly discarded the dagger — it had served its purpose. He held Baldr upright in his arm, as he began to grow heavier and heavier. Only when Loki felt Baldr’s arm around his shoulder grow limp, he slowly let him sink to the ground.
Baldr was dead.
Without a further look, without a word, Loki turned away and left.
As he had done for so many years, Loki wandered around, driven by a nameless feeling of inevitability. He knew he had not yet fulfilled his role, and would have to continue playing it for all his life.
But he could not escape his grief. Loki only realised this as he approached the modest home of his mother, and his childhood.
On his knees he implored Laufey to undo what he had done, begged her for forgiveness, for punishment, to no avail. Loki screamed all of his pain and grief into her lap, and cried bitter tears in his mother’s arms. Laufey let her youngest son have his way, holding him until there were no more tears to shed.
“Nobody may ever see my tears”, Loki said then, and asked her to hide them for him.
And Laufey, who was familiar with all the living beings of the forests, called out to a stag; it was the very animal that had escaped Baldr and his hunting party — but neither Laufey nor Loki knew this. Then, Laufey took Loki’s tears and hid them in a small sac of skin she found between the stag’s shoulder blades. And there, they still are hidden today.
And no one saw Loki’s tears, and when everybody cried, Loki’s eyes remained dry.
The world was no longer young.