6. The Dead Return On A Ship Of Nails
Then the dead will return. They will come on a boat, and a giant named Hrymr will be at the wheel, steering them on the path of war against the gods. At the helm of the ship will be their captain: Loki.
The dead, the Norse believed, have been getting ready for this moment throughout all of human history. Deep in Hel, where evil men go to die, the dead are building a ship called Naglfar, the ship made of nails. That’s a bit weirder than it sounds: In this case, “nails” doesn’t mean carpenter’s nails. It means fingernails and toenails.
At the end of times, the dead will rise on a ship made of toenails—and it’ll be the biggest ship on Earth. The dead get their nails from corpses, so whenever a Norseman died, his brethren had to trim his fingers and feet. Or, if they were particularly meticulous about it, they might even pluck them right off. Otherwise, they were lending a tool for the dead to make their ship of the damned. The world would end, they believed, the second the dead collected enough fingernails.
5. The Gods Will Die
At this point, it’s pretty safe to assume that people will already be dead. For the Vikings, though, the apocalypse didn’t end with the total extermination of all life on Earth. It was about a big battle between the gods.
The gods, Viking prophecies promise, will go to war with Fenrir, the Midgard Serpent, Loki, their giants, and their army of the dead, and pretty well everyone will die. Most simply beat each other to death, with neither side getting out alive.
Thor has the most dramatic death. He will wrestle with the Midgard Serpent, slaughtering it with his hammer. For a brief moment, he will think he has won—until he realizes that he has been bitten and that the serpent’s venomis flowing through his veins. Thor will take nine steps away from that spot. Then he will fall to the ground and die.