The Tree at World's End

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Twenty Four

Fjiorn walked the battlements of the temple-fortress.

The goat-god walked alongside him, silent for once.

Fjiorn felt strange.

He had just done the impossible, and it had felt more than natural. It had felt completely right.

And so, he walked on in a daze, half here and half nowhere.

A broad ledge separated the crenelated battlements from the dazzling wall of marble that seemed to be the core structure of the temple.

Narrow openings lined the wall, but these were too high for him to peer through. In any case, he wanted to do more than just look, he needed to be inside. There were doorways too, even though there had been none below. But they were all barred.

Fjiorn no longer considered these to be an obstacle so he did not bother to test them. He just walked, as he had below, occasionally running his fingertips against the cold marble surface.

A sound made him stop.

He strained to listen.

Faint, but growing louder, it sounded like a human voice.

Suddenly shaken from his stupor, Fjiorn looked up to see a white eagle swooping down towards him.

In a rush of wind and sound the screaming bird flew right past him, almost within reach. And as it passed, he caught a glimpse of Åsa’s face.

“Åsa!” he cried after her. “Åsa!”

But the eagle was quickly gone, far away from where he stood.

Far from him.

“Did you see that?” he asked the goat-god. “Did you see her?”

The goat-god tilted his head slightly and nodded.

“Did she see me? How do I call her back?”

The god shrugged.

Fjiorn felt like punching him, but restrained himself.
Åsa was looking for him.

He couldn’t even begin to imagine how she had found her way here. He had been chosen, but she had not.

Had she?
“Has she been chosen?” he asked the god.

“It looks like she has chosen herself,” the other replied.

Then it came to Fjiorn. If Åsa could do that, then so could he.

He immediately focussed, trying to recapture the resolve that had moved him instantaneously from the ground below all the way up here. But it eluded him.

“You don’t really believe you can do it, do you?” said the goat-god unhelpfully. “And that’s exactly why you can’t.”

Fjiorn stormed off towards the nearest door. The goat-god followed.

As soon as he found it, he faced it and tried to visualise himself on the other side.

“He is the chosen and can’t even breach a door, she is unchosen and yet shapeshifts and…”

But just then Fjiorn succeeded in visualising himself on the far side of the door, so he never heard the tail end of the goat-god’s rant.

“...flies off to look for him,” he said, somewhat vexed, to the empty spot where, just a moment earlier, Fjiorn had stood.

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