The Epic of Siegfried
- the ring, I say!" He pressed his pale lips to the cold and senseless metal, whispering "My dear, dear gold!" Then he died.
"Now you are mine - all mine!" Schilbung laughed as only madmen laugh. He kissed the hard stones and tried to grip them in his arms. But suddenly his hands trembled and failed. He shrieked, then fell lifeless upon his hoard of sparkling gems.
A strange, sad sight it was - boundless wealth and miserable death - two piles of yellow gold and sunbright diamonds, and two thin, starved corpses stretched upon them.
"O gold, gold!" cried the hero sorrowfully, "truly thou art the mid-world's curse - the bane of man."
But Siegfried had little time for thought and speech. A strange sound was heard upon the mountainside. The twelve great giants who had stood as watchmen upon the peaks above were rushing down to avenge their fallen masters and to drive the intruder out of Nibelungen Land. Siegfried mounted Greyfell and with the sword Balmung firmly in hand, he rode forth to meet his foes. With fearful threats and hideous roars, the giants strode toward him. Sunbeams flashed from Greyfell's mane and dazzled the dull eyes of the giants, unused as they were to the full light of day. Suddenly full of doubt, the giants paused and then again came forward. But they mistook every tree in their way for an enemy and every rock they thought a foe, and in their fear they fancied a great host to be before them. They dropped their heavy clubs and stood ashamed and trembling, not knowing what to do. Siegfried made each one swear to serve him faithfully and then he sent them back to the snow-covered mountain peaks to stand again as watchmen at their posts.
Now another danger appeared. The dwarf Alberich, the master of the elves who had guarded the Nibelungen Hoard, came out from his cavern, saw the two princes lying dead beside their treasures, and thought that Siegfried had murdered them.