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The Treasures of the Gods

'The third gift — an enormous hammer' by Elmer Boyd Smith

Sif slammed her cup down on the table and wiped her mouth.

‘So, Loki, why exactly are you here? You don’t do anything. And it’s not like any of the Aesir like you. Even my other half, Thor, doesn’t like you, and he likes everybody. I hear there are some nice places in Vanaheim. Why not relocate?’

‘I—I,’ Loki stammered. He looked hopefully at Odin.

‘Getting rid of Loki?’ Tyr shouted from across the mead hall. ‘I’d drink to that!’ He raised his cup and took a swig.

The other Aesir did the same. Then, they began singing.

In the raucous, Loki stood up and tried to slip out of the mead hall unseen. Hoenir, however, noticed him. ‘Where are you scampering off to? Don’t tell me you’re scared of a seven-foot girl?’

‘It’s getting a bit late, that is all.’

‘It’s not like you to leave without getting the last word in,’ Hoenir said.

Loki smirked at Hoenir. Then, he left the mead hall. He didn’t return home, however. Instead, he transformed into a magpie and waited in a tree outside Thor and Sif’s house. Once they had staggered home and collapsed on their bed, he flew inside through the venting hole in their roof.

He changed back into his usual form and snuck into the bedroom as quietly as he could. In truth, he needn’t have bothered, though, because the two gods were in such a deep sleep that if he had burst into the room bellowing on bagpipes, they would still be snoring away.

He took a knife from his boot and crept over to Sif.

He began cutting off her long, beautiful, golden hair.

When Sif and Thor awoke the next day, Loki was long gone.

Sif’s head felt unusually cold, almost like her hair had been drenched in icy cold water. She rubbed it, expecting to feel strands of thick, silky hair, but instead, she felt soft, prickly skin. She sat up. Her prized golden hair was scattered all over her pillow. ‘Loki,’ she snarled.

She sprang out of bed and stormed to Loki’s house. She thumped on his door. ‘Come out, you weaselly little coward.’

Eventually, the door creaked open, and Loki’s head peered out.

Sif stepped forward and barged the door open with enough force that it sent Loki hurtling backwards.

‘Look at my hair! Do you think this is funny?’

Loki put his hand over his mouth to hide his smile. ‘No. I see nothing funny,’ he said.

Sif cracked her knuckles. ‘You know what happens now, don’t you?’

‘Let’s not do anything rash.’

‘Where’s the fun in that?’ Sif said. She loomed over Loki.

‘Wait. Just wait. I can fix everything. I promise. Give me a day. I can fix it. I know how. Please don’t hurt me.’

Sif glared at him. ‘You have one day.’

She left, slamming the door so hard that it shattered the hinges.

Loki sat, gazing at the floor. He had done what he always does. He had lied. He had no clue how he would make Sif’s hair grow back in a day.

He got up and paced back and forth. Then, it hit him. The Dwarves! He had heard tales about their legendary works. Perhaps they could make something for Sif.

He headed to the stables and took a horse.

He rode to Nidavellir, the realm of the dwarves.

Nidavellir was very dark. Towering mountains surrounded him like looming giants. ‘Hello,’ he shouted. His voice echoed through the craggy valley.

Loki frowned and wandered around.

Eventually, he found a doorway at the foot of a mountain.

He got off his horse and went through the door.

A dwarf with a long beard and a sharp axe stood on the other side.

‘Hello,’ Loki said. ‘I don’t suppose you could direct me to a Metalsmith?’

The dwarf looked at Loki. ‘Follow the main path downwards, then turn left at the crossroads. Keep going straight, and you will come to the smithies. There will be plenty of Metalsmiths there.’

‘Thank you.’

Loki went down the path and into the mountain.

The smithies were lit up by a warm orange glow. Smoke billowed from the rooftop of each workshop. And the clatter of hammers hitting anvils rang through the mountain.

Loki went into one of the workshops.

A dwarf with grey hair and round spectacles sat talking to several younger dwarves.

‘Excuse me. Are you one of these master dwarven metalsmiths I hear so much about?’

‘I am Ivaldi,’ the grey-haired dwarf said. ‘And these are my sons. What can we do for you?’

‘I come on behalf of the mighty Odin. He has heard many tales of the treasures made by the dwarves. He would like to see some of them with his own one eye. Perhaps, you could make him some samples.’

The dwarf’s eyes lit up. ‘A chance to share my life’s work with the All-Father will be a great honour.’


‘How many treasures does he want?’

‘I think he said three. Oh, and could one of them be golden hair?’

Ivaldi thought for a second. ‘We can do that.’

He got up and patted one of his sons on the shoulder. ‘Come on. We’ve got work to do.’

They left the room and went into their forge.

Whilst Loki waited, he could hear the crackling of fires and the pounding of bellows being pumped.

Ivaldi eventually came out carrying a silver chest. His sons followed behind. One of them held a razor-sharp spear with a golden handle.

Ivaldi opened the chest. First, he showed Loki the hair he had made. It was softer than silk and shimmered with the light of a golden sunrise. Beside it was a small golden ship.

‘This is Skidbladnir.’ He picked up the ship. ‘When the ship is in the ocean, it will grow until it is large enough to carry all the gods across the sea. Once it hits land again, and all the gods are no longer on board, it will shrink back down.’

He gently put the ship back, closed the chest, and handed it to Loki.

‘I thought we agreed on three?’ Loki said.

Ivaldi took the spear from his son. ‘This is the final treasure. This is called Gungnir. If it is thrown, it will never miss its target.’

He gave the spear to Loki.

‘They are all excellent crafts,’ Loki said. ‘I have no doubt Odin will be impressed with them. Thank you, and I bid you farewell.’

Before he left the smithies, he stopped. That was all too easy, he thought. Ivaldi was more than willing to just give the treasures to him. Maybe, all dwarves are as generous.

He left the treasures on the ground and headed into another workshop.

A dwarf with a thick black moustache and bushy eyebrows sat drinking a cup of ale.

‘I don’t suppose you’re one of these master dwarven metalsmiths I hear so much about?’

The dwarf put down his cup and squinted at Loki. ‘Maybe.’

‘I come on behalf of the mighty Odin. He seeks treasures made by the dwarves. Perhaps, you’d like the honour of showing him some samples of your work.’

The dwarf shook his head. ‘I’m good.’

Loki stroked his chin. This wasn’t going how he thought it would. He would have to try something else.

‘I’ve just been to see Ivaldi and his sons. They told me that they are by far the best metalsmith’s in Nidavellir. What do you have to say to that?’

‘Good for them,’ the dwarf said.

Loki’s face turned red. ‘Well, doesn’t that make you want to prove them wrong?’

The dwarf took another swig of his ale. ‘Not really.’

‘Look!’ Loki said. ‘You’re not stupid. You know what I’m getting at. So, what will it take to get you to make me some of your treasures?’

‘Your head.’

‘My head? Why would you want my head?’

‘I don’t.’

Loki rubbed his temples. ‘What about if we have a wager? We will present six treasures to Odin. Three will be made by Ivaldi, and the other three will be made by you. If Odin prefers Ivaldi’s treasures, then I get to keep my head. If he prefers yours, you can have my head.’

The dwarf sighed and headed into the forge. ‘Sindri,’ he yelled. ‘We’ve got work to do.’

As soon as Brokk had gone, Loki transformed into a horsefly and flew into the forge.

‘So, what’s this all about, Brokk?’ Sindri asked.

‘Odin wants us to make him three treasures.’

‘Odin, you say? I know exactly what to make.’

Sindri went over to the furnace. ‘You pump the bellows. I’ll stand on the other side and shape the metal. Remember, the pumps need to be nice and steady. One mistake could risk ruining all of our hard work.’

Sindri went to the back of the furnace. ‘Ok. Start pumping.’

As soon as Brokk began pumping, Loki flew onto his hand. He bit down as hard as he could, but the dwarf carried on pumping.

‘That’s it!’ Sindri yelled.

Brock let go of the bellows and flicked his hand. Loki buzzed away.

Sindri pulled a sleeping baby boar out of the furnace and laid him on a table by the door. He had bright gold bristles. The boar’s chest gently moved up and down.

‘Is that—’

Sindri put a finger to his lips and nodded.

He went back to the furnace.

‘Pump!’ he yelled.

Brokk started pumping. Yet again, Loki flew towards Brokk. This time he landed on his neck. He bit down hard, but Brokk carried on pumping.

‘Stop!’ Sindri yelled.

Brokk stopped and slapped his neck. Loki narrowly avoided being squished by Brokk’s meaty hand.

Sindri pulled a golden arm ring out of the furnace. He placed it beside the boar and went to the furnace for a third and final time.

‘Ok, Brokk. I need you to pump the bellows.’

Brokk began to pump, and Loki once again flew over to him. He stung the dwarf right on his eyelid. Blood spouted from the wound. It dripped down his face. Brokk did his best to ignore it. But when it trickled into his mouth, he had no choice but to let go of the bellows.

He swatted Loki away with such force that it sent him hurtling into a wall.

‘What was that? You nearly ruined everything,’ Sindri shouted.

He pulled an iron hammer out of the furnace. ‘Luckily, it was almost finished before you stopped pumping. The only thing that’s wrong is that the handle is too short.’

‘Sorry, brother.’

Sindri noticed the bloodstains on Brokk’s face. ‘What’s done is done.’

He placed the hammer beside the arm ring and the boar.

‘I better go and take these to Loki. Will you join me, brother?’


‘Will you go with me to Asgard afterwards, then?’

‘My days of seeing the world are long behind me. All I want to do now is stay in my forge and focus on my work.’

Brokk put the three treasures into a chest and left the forge.

Loki was waiting in the workshop.

He grinned guiltily when he saw Brokk’s bloody face.

‘I have the three treasures. Should we go and see Odin so that he can decide whose are best?’

‘We shall,’ Loki said.

When they got to Asgard, the gods gathered.

Sif smiled at Loki.

Loki squirmed.

‘Today, I am told, we will see six treasures,’ Odin announced.

‘Three were made by Ivaldi. The other three were made by Brokk.’

Brokk cleared his throat. ‘Sorry to interrupt. It was my brother, Sindri, who made the treasures. I just pumped the bellows.’

Odin nodded and corrected himself. ‘The other three are made by Sindri. It is for me to decide which are better. Let us first see Ivaldi’s work.’

Loki strolled forward. He lay the spear on the ground.

‘This is Gungnir. An expertly crafted weapon that will no doubt strike fear in the hearts of your enemies. What’s more, if you throw it, it will never fail to hit its mark. This will be particularly useful for you, Odin, with you only having one eye.’

Odin scowled at Loki.

‘Moving on!’ Loki quickly pushed the spear to one side and placed the hair down.

‘This hair is finer than any you’ll find in all of the nine worlds. It is soft to the touch, and its brightness will never fade.’

Sif snatched the hair and put it on her head.

‘No need to thank me, Sif.’

Sif snarled at Loki.

‘Last but not least is this marvellous ship.’

He placed the small ship on the ground.

‘This is Skidbladnir. See the intricate craftsmanship that has gone into making this. You may be thinking it would make an excellent ornament. And you’d be right, but Skidbladnir is so much more than that. If you were to put it in seawater, the ship would grow to gigantic proportions. It would become a sprawling sea vessel that would carry you across the ocean. And what’s more, once you’ve reached your destination, it will shrink back down so you can carry it around in your pocket!’

Odin looked at the ship curiously. ‘Freyr, you are fond of sailing. I gift this treasure to you.’

Freyr came forward and collected the ship. ‘A fine gift. Thank you, Odin.’

‘And now, let us see Sindri’s work,’ Loki said. ‘Although it seems that it has a lot to live up to.’

Brokk stepped forward and elbowed Loki out of the way.

First, Brokk presented the boar. He had grown quite a lot in the few hours since it had left Sindri’s workshop. His golden bristles glistened even brighter in the Asgardian sun.

‘This is Gullinbursti. He will grow to be the greatest of all boars. And, when he runs, he will be faster than a horse.’

The boar’s eyes blinked open, and he stretched out.

‘Gullinbursti is a fine boar,’ Odin said. ‘I am sure he will be at home in the meadows of Vanaheim.’

The boar got up and walked towards Freyr.

‘Next is Draupnir.’ He held up the arm ring. ‘Every ninth night, the ring will drip eight more rings of equal beauty.’

Odin came forward and took the ring from Brokk. ‘Curious,’ he said. Then, he put it on his arm and stepped back.

Brokk placed a hammer on the ground. ‘Finally, we have Mjolnir. When the hammer is thrown, it will always return to its thrower.’

Thor’s eyes widened. He would often throw weapons in battle but never had the patience to find them afterwards. He rushed forward and grabbed Mjolnir. ‘I’ll take this one.’

‘There is one thing with the hammer, though. When we were making it, I made a mistake pumping the bellows. That’s why the handle’s short.’

Thor looked at the hammer. ‘Good thing I won’t be hitting anything with the handle.’

‘But it is short,’ Loki interrupted. ‘Let us keep that in mind.’ He turned to Odin. ‘Now, it is time to decide who wins our competition.’

Odin stroked his beard. ‘It is clear that both Ivaldi and Sindri are masters in their crafts. We have seen some fine treasures today. But I will have to say, the winner in Sindri, simply because of how much Mjolnir will aid us in our war against the giants.’

‘What!’ Loki said. ‘But—but.’

Brokk took out his axe. ‘Let’s get this over with, then.’

‘Get what over with?’ Odin asked.

‘Loki promised me his head if my brother and I won.’

‘Well, a deal’s a deal,’ Odin said, turning to Loki.

Loki sprang forward and ran as fast as he could. ‘That’s only if he can catch me first.’

‘Thor, can you help me, please?’ Brokk asked.

‘With pleasure,’ he said. He threw Mjolnir. The hammer soared through the air and hit Loki in the back. He collapsed to the floor, and Mjolnir returned to Thor.

‘I will fetch him,’ Sif said.

She raced forward. When she reached Loki, she slung him over her shoulder. ‘I’ll enjoy watching your head being separated from your neck,’ she told him.

Without knowing it, Sif had given Loki a brilliant idea.

Once she had brought him back, she threw him on the floor.

‘He’s all yours, now,’ she told Brokk.

‘Wait!’ Loki pleaded. ‘I said you could have my head, but I never said you could have my neck. If you can manage to take my head without damaging my neck, then, by all means, take it. But if you leave one mark on my neck, you will be breaking our agreement, and breaking an agreement with a god is never a good thing to do.’

Brokk thought for a second. He looked at Odin. Then, he threw his axe on the ground and sighed. ‘Nope. It’s not worth it,’ he said. ‘I’m going back to my workshop.’


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