Fafnir is, in the Sigurd myth of Norse mythology, the son of Hreidmar and the brother of Regin and Ótr, originally a relatively powerful dwarf, who, after seizing his father's cursed treasure, takes on the form of a snake-like dragon to protect it. He is finally put to death at the instigation of his own brother Regin, by the hero Sigurd.
In the Eddic poem Reginsmál and the Völsunga saga, Regin explains to his adopted son, Sigurd, the story of the dragon's gold Fáfnir. This episode is also summarized in the Skáldskaparmál part of Snorri's Edda.
The gods Odin, Loki and Hœnir arrive at a waterfall and Loki kills an otter. They then stay with Hreidmar, who recognizes in the animal his own son Ótr, who liked to fish in the form of an otter. With the help of his sons Fáfnir and Regin, he takes the three gods prisoner. He demands as compensation for the death of his son, a quantity of gold that would fill and cover completely the skin of the otter.
Loki is sent to recover this treasure, and he seizes the fortune of the dwarf Andvari, including a ring that the latter would have wanted to keep. The dwarf then curses his treasure so that he would give death to anyone who would possess it. The gods give this gold to Hreidmar, and Loki repeats Andvari's curse to him. Fáfnir and Regin ask their father for a share of the treasure.
As he does not want to give it to them, they kill him. Fáfnir then refuses half the gold to his brother, and, threatening him, forces him to flee. As for him, he goes to Gnitaheid where he takes the appearance of a snake and lies down on his gold to guard it.
Regin establishes himself as a master blacksmith for a Danish king, and is in charge of raising Sigurd. He engages him several times to seize the gold of Fáfnir. To do this, he forges the sword Gram for him. The murder of Fáfnir is detailed in the Eddic poem Fáfnismál, the Völsunga saga and soon in the Skáldskaparmál.
Following Regin's advice, Sigurd digs a pit where he could hide, on the path that Fáfnir used to take to go to a watering place. The Völsunga saga specifies that an old man appears, who is none other than the god Odin, who advises Sigurd to dig other pits that will allow to recover the blood of the monster.
Once this is done, the snake comes with a racket and spitting fire, and when it crawls over the pit, the hero pierces it with his sword. Hence Sigurd's nickname, Fáfnisbani, "murderer of Fáfnir". Before dying, Fáfnir reveals several secrets to Sigurd - for example, what the Norns are -, repeats the curse that attaches to gold and warns Sigurd against Regin.
Regin then asks Sigurd to cook the monster's heart for him. While cooking, Sigurd puts his finger to his mouth and tastes some of Fáfnir's blood. From then on, he understands the language of birds and learns that Regin intends to get rid of him to take the gold. So Sigurd beheads Regin, eats Fáfnir's heart and drinks their blood. He then goes to Fáfnir's lair and takes his treasure.
Fafnir's gold is then taken by Gunnar and Högni after Sigurd's murder.
The cycle of Sigurd, otherwise known as Siegfried, is the subject of several traditions that sometimes differ significantly. In the Nibelungen Song, Siegfried's fight with an unnamed dragon is only mentioned when the Burgundian vassal Hagen recounts the hero's exploits. Siegfried does not get the gold from the dragon, but from the Nibelungen people he had previously defeated.
The killing of the dragon remains essential to the story because by bathing in the blood of the monster, Siegfried becomes invulnerable except for a precise spot on his back which was not soaked because a leaf had been placed there. It is by this weak point that Siegfried will find death.
In the Saga of Theodoric of Verona, Sigurd is raised by the blacksmith Mime, and the dragon, who is also Mime's brother, is called Regen (from Regin). Mime wants to get rid of Sigurd and sends him to burn coal in the woods, where the dragon lies, so that the dragon will kill him. But it is Sigurd who kills Regen.
While cooking his meat, the hero licks a bloody finger and understands the language of the birds, which tell him that Mime had sent him to the dragon to be killed. Sigurd wants to clean his hand from the dragon's blood but it is as if it has become hard as horn, so he covers his body with it and it becomes invulnerable, except for a place on his back where a leaf had landed.
He takes the dragon's head to Mime who, terrified of Sigurd's revenge, gives him a suit of armor and the best Gram sword. Sigurd kills the blacksmith anyway.
Similar themes of fighting with dragons, and invulnerability gained by the melted horns of unnamed monsters can be found in the Song of Seyfried with the Hornskin.
Sigurd and the blacksmith Regin; Sigurd killing the serpent Fáfnir (right) and then Regin (left).
Portal of the medieval standing wooden church of Hylestad, Setesdal, Norway. (The church is destroyed)