The Tree at World's End

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They had walked in silence for a time.

Ahead was a great dome of smooth white stone that emerged seamlessly from the snow and dominated an expanse of clear space.

“There is something else that Loki wanted you to know,” Tanngrisnir announced.

“Are you really going to make us ask?” Fjiorn said.

Tanngrisnir cleared his throat.

“You should consider changing your names,” he said, avoiding their eyes.

”What? Why?” they both demanded simultaneously.

Tanngrisnir stopped.

Fjiorn and Åsa stopped also, but Einar, momentarily distracted by something behind him, walked right through Tanngrisnir.

“Can you ask him not to do that?” the former goat sighed.

“Ask him yourself!” Åsa snapped. “Answer the question. Why should we change our names?”

“Because you have to if you want to survive this.”

“How does changing our names help us survive? That’s ridiculous!” Fjiorn erupted.

Tanngrisnir sighed again.

“There is a prophecy that two humans will survive Ragnarøkkr, a woman and a man, Líf and Lífþrasir.”

Tanngrisnir glanced at Åsa.

“You’re to be Líf, meaning life and Fjiorn is to be Lífþrasir, meaning life’s lover.”

The couple stared at each other in disbelief.

“I could Líf with that,” Fjiorn said around a smile, while Åsa rolled her eyes. “But I’m pretty sure that’s not how prophecies work.”

“Why not? Unless you think you can change the names in the prophecy…”

He waited pointedly for their answer.

“That’s what I thought.”

A moment later he continued in a more even tone.

“Does it really matter that you know the why and the what of everything? Can’t you see that understanding makes no difference? You have a chance to live, take it! I certainly would, if I could!”

They all stopped short, including Einar who had become a little more mindful of his intangible companions.

“Tann,” Åsa spoke gently. “Why do you say that? Do you believe you may not survive?”

Tanngrisnir shrugged.

“I have to go,” he said instead, leaving his three companions to gaze at the empty spot where, a moment earlier, he had stood.

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