In the highest branches of a fictional tree lives a whole bunch of gods, most of which had long and unpronounceable names, so we're only going to talk about a few of them. First there's Odin. He's the boss of all the rest of the gods. Then there's his brother Loki, who might be adopted. And if he's not, Odin wishes he was. Odin has a son named Thor. Loki also has children, but only one of them is human because he's a shape-shifter. We won't talk about them. They're weird.
Anyway, Thor marries this girl named Sif. Sif is beautiful. She's got really long hair, golden hair, and she's proud of her Really Long Golden Hair. So Loki, being the idiot he is, decides to cut off Sif's Really Long Golden Hair while she sleeps.
Sif wakes up, and Thor wakes up, and they are both Very Annoyed with Loki. Thor says to himself, "Happy wife, happy life," and goes to Loki for a good old-fashioned heart-to-knife chat. But Loki doesn't feel like dying, so he promises that he'll get Sif her Really Long Golden Hair back. In fact, he promises presents for Thor, and for Odin, and for the rest of the gods who have long and confusing names. So Loki goes off to the dwarves--because everyone knows that dwarves are the best craftsmen--and asks them to make stuff for him. The dwarves agree, and soon Loki has a shiny new spear for Odin. He also gets a boat with a long and unpronounceable name to give to a god with a slightly less long and unpronounceable name. The dwarves also make a magic wig for Sif, one that would grow just like her normal hair once she put it on.
Happily, Loki goes on his merry way, and he sees two more dwarves on his way home. "Hey," Loki says, "I bet y'all can't make presents better than these."
"Heck, it'll be easy," the dwarves say, "but what's in it for us?"
"If you prove to be the better smiths," says Loki, "you can have my head."
No one likes Loki, so the dwarves eagerly light up their forge. First they make a golden boar--a golden boar that, somehow, is alive and has magical powers--and, as usual, they give it a long and unpronounceable name and give it to a god with a slightly less long and unpronounceable name. Then, the dwarves make a magic ring that has mastered asexual reproduction and makes eight little ring babies every nine days. This ring is, of course, given a long an unpronounceable name and pledged to Odin, whose name is strangely short and easily pronounceable. Finally, the dwarves start making a hammer. Loki's getting nervous. He really doesn't want to lose his head, so he turns himself into a fly and bites one of the dwarves on the face. He stops plying the bellows at the forge for just a moment, but when the hammer comes out of the fire, its handle is stupidly short and sort of ugly.
Delighted, Loki takes his gifts to the gods and asks them to judge which set of dwarves made the best gifts. Sif really likes her new Really Long Golden Hair, and Odin likes his shiny spear and his magic asexually-reproducing ring, and the other gods like the boat and the boar with long and unpronounceable names. But Thor is really impressed with his hammer. In fact, the short handle is perfect because he can hide it in his tunic. So the dwarves start sharpening their swords--which, doubtless, have long and unpronounceable names--so they can decapitate Loki.
But with a wide grin, Loki says, "Guess what, guys! I never said anything about my neck, so I'm going to live anyway!"
The dwarves, understandably, were Very Annoyed, so they sewed Loki's mouth shut. Loki couldn't talk for several days, and everyone in the highest branches of the fictional tree was happy.
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.