Loki’s green eyes flashed with anger and with admiration, for he loved a good trick as much as he hated being fooled.
“I have persuaded him to return it to you, but he demands a price.”
“Fair enough,” said Thor. “What’s the price?”
“Freya’s hand in marriage.”
“He just wants her hand?” asked Thor hopefully. She had two hands, after all,…
Odin watched it with his one eye until it was lost on the horizon, and he wondered if he had done the right thing. He did not know. He had done as his dreams had told him, but dreams know more than they reveal, even to the wisest of the gods.
At this the gods all nodded and grunted and looked impressed. All of them except for Freya, and she looked angry. “You are fools,” she said. “Especially you, Loki, because you think yourself clever.”
So now you know: that is how the gods got their greatest treasures. It was Loki’s fault. Even Thor’s hammer was Loki’s fault. That was the thing about Loki. You resented him even when you were at your most grateful, and you were grateful to him even when you hated him the most.
If we win this contest, we get your head, Loki. There’s lots of things going on in that head of yours, and I have no doubt that Eitri could make a wonderful device out of it. A thinking machine, perhaps. Or an inkwell.
“He?” asked Sif.
Thor said nothing. He strapped on his belt of power, Megingjord, which doubled his enormous strength. “Loki,” he said. “Loki has done this.”
“Why do you say that?” said Sif, touching her bald head frantically, as if the fluttering touch of her fingers would make her hair return.
“Because,” said Thor, “when something goes wrong, the first thing I always think is, it is Loki’s fault. It saves a lot of time.”