The Nibelung dwarf Alberich attempts to woo the lovely Rheinmaidens, but they only mock him. Out of bitterness, he steals their magical Rheingold and forges the Ring, and with his brother Mime, a magical helmet out of it. Wotan, the king of the Gods, and Loge, the god of fire, descend to the realm of the Nibelungs and capture the dwarves. Wotan extorts Alberich in for his gold and uses it, including the ring and magic helmet, to pay the ransom on his sister-in-law, Freia, seized as collateral for his new castle. The angry and humiliated Alberich curses the ring, saying that whoever does not possess will desire it, and whoever possess it will only find unhappiness and death. The Ring's curse has already begun to manifest.
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