In the highest branches of a fictional tree lives a whole bunch of gods, many of whom have long and hard-to-pronounce names. Two of them are the twin sons of Odin and Frigga. One of them is Balder, and the other one's name includes a letter that doesn't exist in English, so let's just call him Hodur.
The twins are as different as night and day. Balder is beautiful and innocent and as pure as the morning sunlight. Hodur, on the other hand, is dark-complexioned and blind. But still, they're both good boys, although Balder is obviously his parents' favorite. In fact, most of the gods who live in the fictional tree really like Balder.
One night, Balder has a bad dream and, like any good son does, he goes to his dad and talks to him about it. Odin realizes that Balder's dream is about the future--about Balder's own death, actually--so he sends one of the gods down to the lowest branches, where Loki's daughter Hella is in charge of everyone who didn't die in battle.
The messenger looks around and notices that all the dead people are busy. It looks like they're preparing for an important visitor. Finally, he finds Hella and asks, "What's up with that dream Balder had?"
The messenger goes back to the highest branches of the fictional tree and tells Odin that they're screwed. So Frigga, being the great mom she is, goes around and asks all the trees, sticks, sword, all that stuff, for their pledge to never hurt Balder. And all of those inanimate objects agree. So Balder is now effectively invincible, and everyone loves shooting him with arrows because they bounce right off him and everyone gets a good laugh out of the deal.
Now, most of the gods still really like Balder. But not Loki. He's jealous. So he disguises himself as an old lady and goes to a dinner party that Frigga's hosting.
"It's so cool that you got every inanimate object in the fictional tree to agree to never hurt Balder," he says.
Frigga smiles. "Oh, yes. All except for that little plant that grows under a specific tree. It's so little, it would never hurt him anyway."
"What's it called?"
Loki smiles, leaves the party early, and makes an arrow out of the mistletoe. Then, at the next party Frigga throws, Loki again goes disguised as an old lady. He goes to Hodur, the blind brother, and places a bow loaded with the special arrow in his hands. "Let's play a game," he says. "I'll help you aim so you can shoot your brother just like everyone else does."
So Hodur shoots Balder and kills him, much to the panic of everyone.
It doesn't take long before everyone realizes Loki is behind everything. So they punish him and, slowly, everyone in the highest branches of the fictional tree became happy again.
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.