The Tree at World's End

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2.8

Einar continued to follow the three ancestors. He watched them carefully and did his best to glean something from their exchanges.

The unexpected question about the three winters had encouraged him. He really wanted to be useful.

And if he had answers to even a few of their questions, that made him useful.

He desperately wanted them to need him.

This felt terribly important to him.

He had not forgotten the task that the authorities had sent him here to fulfil, but had stopped thinking about it. It had become completely irrelevant and he no longer considered it his task.

The myths of his ancestors were walking the land; compared to that, the requests of the “authorities” paled into insignificance.

He studied the three as he followed them.

The new arrival seemed different from the other two. His clothing was lighter and finer, as though he was unaffected by the cold. His body was younger, lithe and strong. But there was an inexplicable sense of newness about him, like what you feel around newborn babies. Also, he noticed an awkwardness of movement and a halting gait, as if the man had to consider every movement before making it.

When the three referred to both the eclipse and the winter as signs that foretold Ragnarøkkr, the end of the worlds, he finally began to understand.

The notion chilled him to the marrow, especially since it came, as it did, from beings that were otherworldly and incorporeal.

Under any other circumstances he would have laughed his head off, but on this day the mythical had come to life. So, either he belonged in a straightjacket, or the old ways had taken over and were about to overrun everyone’s ideas about the nature of reality.

Einar tried to remember his college days, when he had studied the Poetic Edda, and the stories and sagas of his ancestors.

It was unfortunate that the three had a tendency to ignore his attempts at communication. Still, he kept up with them and, even though they mostly ignored him, they didn’t try to be rid of him.

The most troubling thing he had heard was a repeated mention of Loki.

Was the trickster god real?

And if so, what did that make of science and reason and logic?

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