Idunn and her golden apples that gifted youth to the gods had been lost. For the first time, the Aesir began to fade and age. Tyr’s back grew weak and he walked with a stoop. Thor lost control of his bowels and smelt greatly. Heimdallr ears grew faint and he often forgot which way he was wandering. Odin’s eye grew glassy, Freyja lost her hair and beauty. Honir griped about the faults of his friends and the other gods fell silent and grew meek, shrinking from battle and conflict.
Odin was troubled greatly, for how could they defend Asgard against their enemies with creaking bodies and soft minds? He gathered what strength he had left and called the council to discuss who had last seen the youthful goddess. Heimdallr, for a time, knew not what they were discussing but after the third attempt to scream their meaning, he remembered. The memory was faint, but he had seen Loki lead Idunn down Bifrost some time ago. They looked around them, Loki was missing from the assembly. The gods knew without doubt, Loki had done this to them.
They pulled together their wrinkled and aching bodies and scoured Asgard for the trouble-maker. Finally, he was found on Idunn’s own porch and brought before Odin.
Odin named Loki a fool and threatened to pull his beguiling tongue form his mouth and bind him for a thousand years.
Loki protested, it could not be counted against him as a fault. The eagle they had seen was the giant Thjazi and he had been made to promise to deliver Idunn to save his life.
“And you could find no way to deceive the giant?” Odin said scornfully.
Loki opened his mouth to speak, but Odin allowed it not. There would be no more words from the silver tongued god. By deeds would he redeem his life. He would retrieve Idunn back from Thjazi or his tongue would rot in his own mouth and Odin would melt his mind behind his very eyes.
Loki bowed before the All-Father of gods, and made a single request. To be allowed the use of Freyja’s falcon skin to allow him to reach Jotunheim, the land of the giants.
Odin nodded for Freyja to lend him the skin. Loki wore it, shifted shape and flew away. He found the home of Thjazi and took up watch on a nearby oak, watching and waiting until the giant went out to sea. His patience was well rewarded, and he entered the giant’s home and found Idunn alone.
He shifted shape to his own self and approached Idunn. Seeing him appear, she slapped him hard across the face and ordered him off. Her eyes narrowed in contempt. Loki could see sweetness had given way to fear and anger.
He parsed no words, but turning her into a nut, took the shape of the bird to grasp her in his talons and fly back to Asgard. Not long after, the giant returned and seeing the apples missing, took flight and soared after Loki leaving wind storms in his wake.
Loki flew as quickly as his wings would carry him, but still the eagle gained. Odin saw the falcon and the nut being pursued by the eagle. Perceiving this to be Loki and giant, he called on the gods to raise their bones to gather tinder and twigs and cover entirely the Northern wall of Asgard.
Loki beat his wings, almost to exhaustion. The eagle was not even three strides behind. At the very moment Loki cleared the wall, the gods set the tinder aflame and created a wall of fire that lept into the air. Thjazi could no sooner turn the sun from its course than slow down, so he flew through the flames and his beautiful feathers caught flame and he died in the air and fell to ashes to the ground.
Loki returned Idunn to her form, and she quickly attended to the gods and returned to them their youth. She was reunited with her husband, who held her close and never left her side. And while she returned to her sweetness and innocence, she never still would trust a word that was uttered from the mouth of Loki.