The Tree at World's End

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Nineteen

“Are you sure about this?” Osku questioned.

“No,” replied Åsa. “I am sure of nothing.”

She was waiting for the moon to rise. It would not be long now, for Máni’s glow was already visible behind the distant trees and he would soon enough show his radiant silver face.

Osku remained quiet.

He realised the futility of trying to talk her out of this madness, for he had seen her determination and indeed respected it. And besides, the inspiration for this course of action had come to her in a dream. It was clear that Fjiorn’s wife was far more connected to the nine otherworlds than he would ever be.

She stood in the night like a goddess, her face lifted to the fey eastern glow, the unstoppered bottle in her left hand and her right hand poised between her breasts to feel the rhythm of her heart’s beating.

Suddenly the first lance of moonlight pierced the night.

“If I do not return, tell Fjiorn that I sought to help him,” she instructed, and drank the first mouthful of the sorcerer’s potion. She waited for the prescribed number of heartbeats before taking her second. She then raised her skin of water and drank from it until it was empty.

Osku watched her with a strange mixture of awe and envy until Åsa’s legs folded beneath her and she crumpled to the ground.

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