What loftier fantasy could the Gods conceive than to build Asgard as their future fortress of doomed splendor? to erect Valhalla for the merriment of their divine banquets? It was a dream worth many mead-benches.
They hired the help of a Jötun (Giant, although Devourer is better translated) assisted only by his workhorse Skaðilföri in the labor. Loki the trickster had promised him Freya, lovely Goddess of beauty, as wifely wage; but only if he could construct the citadel within the time-span elapsed between spring and winter.
While spring transformed into summer, the gods looked anxiously upon the speed of the progress. Freya had no desire to share her bed with an ugly Giant with calloused hands, and threatened Loki with fierce retribution if he didn't find a way to get out of his oath.
Loki gave his word he'd break his word.
He noticed, sly that he was, the huge amount of labor the horse Skaðilföri was accomplishing, and devised a plan to change that.
Loki looked into a running stream nearby and sighed, considering the burden he was about to take upon himself. He winked at his shifting reflection in the stream, and metamorphosed into a sexy brown Mare.
The Mare gamboled about the green, with much kicking of hooves and making of mare-eyes at Skaðilföri with those extra-long and femmy equine lashes; horsey pheromones hung about the air in reeking clouds, betokening summer love and summoning the workhorse to playful cavorting.
To the dismay and curses of the Giant, Skaðilföri (all horny) galloped after Loki the sexy Mare, and was thereafter not seen again for months. Continuing his labor alone, he had no hope of meeting their time requirements.
Now, we all knew that Loki was of ambiguous sexuality, but this time he really lost himself in the role. In the nearby forested zones of Alfheim they did what horses did. Again, and again. And again.
Loki came to the point of forgetting he who he was, thinking himself a Mare locked in the cycle of Skaðilföri's perpetual rut.
But at long last he transformed himself back, with another wink in the river, and left his lover Skaðilföri pining and alone. Parting is such sweet sorrow.
The deadline was past, yet Asgard was still under construction. Loki came back, stomach already bulging with strange animal gestation. It should have felt like a victory, but the other Gods taunted him mercilessly and did nothing to ease him through this painful pregnancy.
The time between spring and winter elapsed again before the offspring was born. Don't ask about the mechanisms by which a male god gestates and gives birth to a horse: you don't want to know.
It was then, to Loki's screams, that a magnificent eight-legged steed saw the light, black as night and rearing for battle. Fully grown (ouch!)
The Gods rejoiced and named him Sleipnir.
"You see," groaned Loki, exhausted, "I kept my word."
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