Every now and again, all who wander across the North hear tales about this eerie place full of numerous mysteries and tempting treasures. So what is Helheim, and what dangers are lurking in it?
Helheim is a dusky and cold world that lies at the very roots of the ash tree Yggdrasil and is surrounded by the icy torrents of the river Gjoll. The souls of Vikings who do not die on the battlefield are doomed to wander through these barren lands forever.
The path over Gjallarbru
The land of the dead lies across the gilded bridge of Gjallarbru, which is guarded by the giantess Modgud. Behind the giantess’s watch post lies the forest of Jarnvid, where sharp iron leaves grow on the trees. But that’s not the only danger of which a traveler should beware: the forest is also the domain of the bloodthirsty four-eyed dog Garmr.
Souls that have been sent to Helheim cannot leave it until the time of Ragnarok. They will sail to the last battle on the boat Naglfar, which is made of the fingernails and toenails of the dead. Loki himself will lead this ominous army.
The only person ever to learn how to get to Helheim and survive is the Aes Hermod. He managed to sneak past the giantess Modgud and return to Asgard.
Hel, the goddess of the dead, and her army
At the very heart of these lands of sorrow, the palace of Eljudnir rises up. Half of it is golden and splendid, while the other half is rotten and dilapidated. The hostess of this place is the goddess Hel, Loki’s only daughter. Her power is equal to that of the Aesir and Vanir, and perhaps even exceeds theirs, for her army grows day by day.
The army of the dead is called “Gloom”. It is comprised of the souls of cowards, traitors, and deserters, which roam the damp Catacombs of Helheim.
With the help of Gloom, the ambitious Hel wished to conquer all the nine worlds. The first world to come under attack was Svartalfaheim, which is inhabited by skilled blacksmiths, the dvergar, and excellent warriors, the alfar.
These peoples quickly realized that it was reckless and pointless to wage an open war against the dead. Battles turned into sieges and guerrilla attacks, and the best representatives of the alfar and dvergar set off on a journey to ask the Vikings of Midgard for help.
Thus, our Jarls have finally learned the answer to the question “Where is Helheim?” and will soon be able to enter these mysterious lands. Will rulers fall when faced with the unforgiving countenance of death or will they subject this hostile world to their will?