The Tree at World's End

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Sixteen

Osku slept on a pelt on the floor.

Åsa undressed and laid herself down next to Fjiorn, though sleep was distant. She held him and prayed to Thor.

She prayed that he take her as well, so that they might at least be together.

Nothing happened.

So, she prayed to Stigr, imploring the seiðmenn for his help.
There was no response and eventually exhaustion claimed her and she fell into a deep dark well.

Stigr laughed.

Åsa yelled at him to stop, but he just kept on laughing. It was as though he was everywhere at once. His laughing mouth and scornful eyes populated the dark of her dreaming.

“You will not convince him with words alone,” said a soft but penetrating voice. “But you may do so with a deed. All you need to know is what the seiðmenn desires. So, gather the leaves of the henbane, and offer them to him. When he asks what you want in exchange for them, tell him that he must open the door to the shadowed path.”

Åsa peered into the dark, trying to make out the face of the mysterious speaker.

“If by chance you do see me, you will not be able to reach your Fjiorn, so desist and do as I bid you,” the voice cautioned.

She glimpsed Fjiorn then.

He was seated on the ground near the edge of a great wood. She reached for him, but her hand grasped only air.

“First get Stigr to open that door,” the voice repeated. Fjiorn’s form then seemed to retreat into the distance, and the world became shrouded by a thick, swirling fog.

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