The Tree at World's End

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“And just when I thought we were getting along so promisingly!” exclaimed the goat-eyed man who had taken her brother-in-law’s place in Fjiorn’s bed.

“What is so wrong? Why the sudden change of heart?”

Gunnel stared at him, unable to hide either her disbelief or her horror.

The goat-god shook his head.

“Well, I see that things have not turned out as you had hoped; but here, let me tell you what I’ll do; I’ll make you an offer that you cannot refuse.”

As he spoke, the goat-god tilted his head and smiled in a most disconcerting way.

“This is what I will do. I will go now, and leave Fjiorn’s body in your capable hands; but you, my dear little seductress, shall not have your way with him. Is that understood? Because if you even try to kiss him, you may quickly find yourself not with his, but with my tongue inside your mouth.”

To demonstrate his intention, and to her complete consternation, he opened his mouth and wiggled his tongue at her.

“Now, please understand, this is not a threat. Quite to the contrary. For if you find yourself irresistibly drawn to me, this is the surest path for you to find yourself in my willing arms, ready to fulfil whatever desires whet your appetite. Are we agreed?”

Gunnel, who by this point had backed up against the hut’s wall, nodded feebly.

One final smile from the goat-god and he lay back down in the bed, and soon his breathing fell into the rhythm of deep sleep.

It was quite a while before Åsa’s sister dared to look at the sleeper’s face.

When she did, she saw Fjiorn.

Only now her brother-in-law had become as unreachable as if he had been spirited away to the far side of the eastern seas.

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