(a Norse legend)
Once upon a time, Loki, the trickster god and shape shifter, woke up in an especially mischievous mood. He happened upon Sif, the wife of the great warrior god Thor. Sif was fast asleep, and Loki noticed her long golden hair. The trickster in him just couldn’t help it: He sneaked up on her and burned off all her hair.
When Thor saw what he had done, he roared with fury and threatened to tear Loki limb from limb.
Quick-thinking Loki said, “Wait! Just wait. I’ll see to it that she gets an even better head of hair. I’ll go see the dwarves, and they will make everything right.”
With those words, Loki sped to Svartalfheim. There, he called upon the sons of the dwarf known as Ivaldi.
“Forge a new head of hair for the goddess Sif,” he charged, and the dwarves agreed.
At once, they set to work and assembled an exquisite mane of golden hair — more beautiful than anything anyone had ever seen. Of course, it was made of iron, but once placed upon a head, the dwarves told Loki, it would grow like natural hair, and Sif would be lovelier than ever.
The dwarves were not finished. Next, they created a magical ship they called Skidbladnir. This was a sailing ship that folded up so small it could fit in a man’s pocket. But when it was full-size, traveling the seas, the sails would always be full of wind.
Still, they were not finished. They forged a spear called Gugner that was unlike any that had ever existed.
“He who takes this spear to battle will always hit his mark,” they explained. “It cannot miss its target.”
As Loki watched the dwarves create their wonders, he began to wish he could stay in the caves. Then he noticed two brothers in the corner, and again the trickster in him had an idea.
“You, there! Brock and Eitri,” he called. “I’ll bet you could never forge a creation equal to those that the sons of Ivaldi have made.”
At once, Brock and Eitri fell for Loki’s ruse and accepted his challenge. Eager to outdo the others, they hurried to the forge. Eitri took hold of the bellows and began to work, and Brock began to blow. The fire inside the forge grew hotter and hotter.
Loki decided to play a trick. Transforming himself into a fly, he began to buzz furiously around poor Brock’s head. The dwarf was distracted, but he refused to stop blowing. The fire grew hotter and hotter.
Loki went on buzzing and then he settled on Brock’s hand and bit him, hard.
Still, Brock went on blowing, ignoring the stinging pain. Before long, out of the forge he drew a great boar with long bristles of gold.
Loki examined the boar and was impressed, and he watched as Eitri tossed gold into the fire.
“Do not stop blowing, Brock,” Eitri said.
Brock went on blowing, and Eitri went on working the bellows, and the fire sizzled. Loki, still disguised as a fly, settled on Brock’s neck and bit him again. But Brock never stopped blowing, and after some time, Eitri pulled a golden ring from the fire.
“This is called Drupner,” he said, “a magical ring that multiplies itself.”
Eitri then poured iron into the fire. “Blow, Brock, blow,” he said. “If you stop, all will be lost.”
Brock kept blowing as Loki the fly settled between his eyes and bit Brock’s eyelid really hard. Soon, the poor dwarf could not see, and he stopped blowing and reached up for the fly.
When he caught him, he tore off his wings, and Loki turned back into a god.
Eitri peered into the forge. “Everything is ruined,” he said angrily, pulling a hammer from the forge.
To his brother, Eitri said, “Now you must go to Asgard to see the gods and settle the wager. Find out who has made the best gift of all.”
But before Brock could even turn around, Loki had seized the gifts and returned to Asgard. There, he appeared before Odin, Freyr and Thor. He handed over the gifts, as if they were his and his alone.
To Odin, king of the gods, Loki gave the spear. “You shall have this spear that will never let you down.” And he also gave him the ring — every ninth night that ring turned into eight more rings.
To Freyr, Loki gave the ship and the boar. Forever after, Freyr traveled the seas, night and day, for there could never be a night so dark or a day so windy that the ship with its shining gold boar and strong sails could not lead the way.
To Thor, Loki gave the hammer.
The handle was short, this is true, but it was sure and strong and never missed its mark. When it was thrown, it boomeranged back to its owner.
“This is called Mjollnir, or Lightning,” Loki said.
Thor knew this would be a great help in his war against the giants. Forever after, whenever he pounded that hammer, the heavens thundered.