Not so long ago, in a land not so very far away, Loki was running as fast as he could.
He was nearly out of breath and his side started to hurt, yet he didn't stop, he couldn't. That morning, he had the fine idea of chopping Thor's wife's hair clean off, leaving Thor furious and his wife in tears. As these things usually turn out, Loki now was in immediate risk of death by lightning, if he couldn't make this right by nightfall.
He ran as fast as his legs would carry him, until he arrived at a workshop, on the side of a black mountain. “Ivaldi & Sons, magic craft and metalworking” the sign at the entrance read. Loki, still panting, barged into the workshop and shouted at the top of his voice: “I need three treasures for the Gods of Asgard. Make them for me and you shall be repaid in endless glory and honor!” (i.e. exposure).
Ivaldi's sons, as talented as they were, were not yet well advertised across the nine realms. You see, in those times people or gods, rarely turned to the dwarves for their metalworking skills. They usually commissioned their works to the highly overpriced Elves who often failed, and seldom delivered on time. What ‘Ivaldi's Sons magic craft and Metalworking’ needed was a good, old fashioned influencer and Loki appeared to be the perfect candidate for the job.
Ivaldi's Sons got straight to work, fashioning a magnificent, golden head of hair for Thor's wife. They've then started to work on a great spear for Odin, a magical spear that would always hit it's target, no matter how badly you throw it. They fashioned the tip from a rare metal, and the shaft out of a branch of world tree itself. All the while, other brothers were busy building a huge ship, that would always have favourable wind, no matter where it turns.
When they were done, Ivaldi's Sons packed the gifts for Loki to take back to Asgard. The golden hair, Gungnir the spear, and as Loki watched in amazement, they folded up the ship Skithblatnir and wrapped everything in their branded leather bag. “Alright now, Loki son of Laufey, you do good by us lot, we're counting on your praises to the Gods and their guests”. Not realising that “counting on” and “Loki” are a strange combination to be put in a phrase, Ivaldi's Sons sent Loki off with the treasures.
Loki was thrilled with his success and so impressed by the Ivaldi's craftsmanship that he simply couldn't contain his praises. As he stopped for a few drinks at a small town on the way back to Asgard he exclaimed: “Look at these marvels, so finely crafted, so beautifully made, so skillfully constructed. No other Dwarves could fashion such beautiful items, only Ivaldi's Sons.”
-” only Ivaldi's boys eh?” A rough voice came from a distant corner of the inn. “Yes, Ivaldi's Sons Magic craft and Metalworking. You'll find them at the black mountain.” Loki replied to the dwarf who identified himself simply as Brokkr.
“So you're saying all the rest of us dwarves are no good at makin’ stuff, is that it?” Brokkr insisted. “Well, I'm not saying you're no good, I'm just saying Ivaldi's Sons are clearly the best, and I'm willing to bet on it!” - “Well then! Let us have a bet! I'll have my brother make 3 treasures better than yours and let the Gods be the judges. If Ivaldi's treasures are best, you can have my head, but if our treasures are better…” Brokkr came uncomfortably close to Loki's face “... If ours are better, then we'll have yours. The head I mean.”
“Very well, dwarf! You've got yourself a bet!” Loki and Brokkr shook hands and headed off to Brokkr’s forge. As they drew near, it started to dawn on Loki just how big of a mistake he's made. He hadn't realised that Brokkr was the brother of Eitri, yes, the famous Eitri that made the movie prop Storm Breaker for Marvel's Avengers. That very same Eitri was now seated on a bench outside the forge, fiddling with some bronze wire.
“Brother! We have some work on our hands! I've made a bet with this Loki character that we could make far better treasures than these amateurs at Ivaldi's.” Eitri stood up, wiped his hands on his apron and, without saying a single word, entered the forge. Brokkr and Loki followed him inside and Loki's jaw dropped as he looked around. The walls were laden with treasures and boxes of magic and creatures in jars. Eitri kindled the fire for the forge and said: “Brokkr, I need you to work the bellows as steadily as possible. This is not a commission for Midgarders. And you,” Eitri turned his dark eyes to Loki, “you, get out!”
At this point Loki started to feel a knot forming in his throat, a throat he now realized could very well be parted in half when this was over. As the brothers worked on the first gift, Loki did whatever he could to interfere with Brokkr's bellows. He threw tiny rocks at him, he poked him with a stick and lastly, he transformed himself into a fly and went and bit down on Brokkr's arm. Brokkr didn't budge. And as Loki was ready to do another fly-in Eitri emerged from the forge with a magnificent golden boar. He set him aside and instructed Brokkr to be very careful with the rhythm this time. Brokkr returned to work and Loki saw that Eitri was fashioning a beautiful golden ring. Loki the fly flew back outside and bit Brokkr on the neck as hard as he could, but Brokkr didn't seem to notice. Before long, Eitri set the finished ring on the bench as well.
Loki was getting nervous, this was his last chance to interfere with the brothers’ work and save his own head from being chopped off by these savages. Eitri and Brokkr were now working on an awesome magical hammer, and as Eitri struck it in the forge, bolts of lighting spat out of it, making some jars explode. Loki flew up to Brokkr's face, landed between his eyes and bit down as hard as he could with his little insect jaws. Blood splattered across Brokkr's eyes and the dwarf cried out in pain, dropping the bellows handle and stopping the air to the forge.
Eitri came running out: “what happened? Brokkr! We're ruined! They'll never judge our gifts as best now, what have you done?” Brokkr, still wiping the blood from his face growled something incomprehensible and walked away into the house.
Loki peeked into the forge and saw a magnificent hammer laying on the counter, but it's handle was unproportionally short. Loki smirked and turned to Eitri: “I'll be leaving then, if you could pack these up for me”. - “yes, I could, but I wouldn't. Be off now, son of Laufey. And never show your face here again!”
Loki gathered the gifts and headed back home to Asgard, where Odin, Thor and Freyr were waiting. “Behold! I've brought you the best the nine realms have to offer, from the greatest Dwarven masters.” “For you, Thor, I've brought a head of golden hair, to make things right by your wife. And this great hammer, Mjolnir, so you can strike things down even better than before. It also returns to your hand when you throw it and can shrink down to be worn on a chain.” Thor grabbed the stuff and quickly headed home to his wife, fitting the golden hair to her bald head.
“For you Freyr, the magical GoldenBristle, a boar you can ride and who always shines as the sun, and an amazing folding ship!” Loki handed a small, square bag to Freyr, instructing him not to open it indoors. “And for Odin, the great spear Gungnir that shall never miss it's mark and the ring Draupnir, which every ninth night, makes 8 copies of itself.”
Odin looked at Loki with his one good eye and asked: “so, to what do we owe these amazing gifts, Loki?”
“Well, it's just a bet I made with some friends, I said you'd be able to judge which treasures are greatest.” Suddenly, a flying hammer came whirling through the air of Odin's hall and quickly returned into Thor's outstretched hand as he was standing at the door with his wife. “I like this hammer. I like it a lot. You really outdid yourself this time Loki!” Loki's eye twitched. “But surely, you must be in awe of your wife's new and amazing golden hair…” - “don't you dare bringing that up! You should be grateful I didn't strike you down then and there!”
Loki turned to Freyr, who was now playfully rubbing GoldenBristle on the side. “surely you can appreciate the magnificent technology of the folding ship over this simple beast?!” Freyr looked at Loki rather disappointedly “I don't sail Loki, the ship is cool but this boar is truly what I needed!”
Odin started laughing as he saw Loki become ever more uncomfortable in his own skin. “I know of the bet, Loki, and the promise you made to Brokkr and Ivaldi's boys. You wanted to leverage us, the gods of Asgard, to make yourself look important…. Well..” Odin banged his new spear on the ground, making the entire hall tremble, “I think I'll deliver your head to Eitri myself”.
Loki turned to run but before he could make a move he felt Thor's heavy hand on his shoulder. Loki, darting his eyes between Odin's axe and Thor's face tried to frantically think of a way out of this, as two figures appeared in the doorway: Eitri and Brokkr, with a patch on the bridge of his nose.
Loki than had a brilliant idea, he mustered as much clam as he could and said to Odin: “well, you see, I did promise Brokkr my head, but I never said anything about removing it. In fact, separating my head from the body would damage my neck, which was never part of the agreement”.
Odin smiled, Impressed by Loki's ability to wiggle his way out of almost any situation (although self inflicted) turned to Brokkr and said: “I am sorry, but a contract is a contract. I can't let you remove Loki's head, although from now on, it shall be known that Eitri's creations are the greatest. Brokkr was furious and, with Thor still holding Loki down, the dwarf jumped on Loki and threaded his lips with a magical needle, sewing them shut. “That's what you get for lying and breaking oaths, you sneaky bastard!”
Odin, has had enough of this behaviour in his hall, and ordered the dwarves to leave at once. While Loki tried to untangle his mouth, Odin sat back on his throne, admiring his new weapon. And although the ring was nice, and although it did make multiple copies of itself, it was not quite as magnificent as his spear.
Of course Odin couldn't tell anyone, least of all Loki, but from that day onwards, Gungnir had become Odin's most prized possession, and it is said that Odin could frequently be heard saying of all well made things that they were “made like a Gungnir”.