Warriors battle at the 2012 JORVIK Viking Festival. This year promises to be even fiercer, with the apocalypse looming.
Steel your nerves, dear reader. Ragnarok, the Viking apocalypse, draws near.
According to Norse mythology, the end of times has been brewing for about 100 days. It all started when the wolf son of Loki broke out of prison and the giant Midgard Serpent rose from the sea.
Saturday, Ragnarok will culminate in an epic battle. The pantheon of Norse gods — Thor, Loki, Odin, Freyr, Hermóðr, every last god — will fight, the Earth will fall into the sea, and life as we know it will cease to be.
The cultural influence of Ragnarok is far-reaching: The legend has inspired everything from 13th-century Eddic poetry to the last installment of Wagner's Ring Cycle and death metal. But none of that matters, since the world is ending in one week.
In York, England, Viking enthusiasts are already gathering at the JORVIK Viking Festival to spend their final days on Earth. They will ring in Ragnarok with a parade, a staged battle, a light show and pyrotechnics.
Festival director Danielle Daglan says there's a silver lining in Ragnarok: Although gods and monsters will wreak havoc across the globe, humans might remain unscathed. (That's probably a bit too optimistic. Let's just say we won't be completely annihilated.)
"The end of the world is really an end of the world for the gods, and the world will be reborn for the human population," says Daglan.
Don't you just love happy endings?