The Tree at World's End

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2.11

“He is using him, isn’t he,” Åsa said to her husband the moment Tanngrisnir disappeared.

“The next time he comes back I’m going to ask him why he keeps doing Loki’s bidding,” Fjiorn commented. “Anyway, I’m not even sure who he is anymore. Their clothes are different, their voices are different, but if they look identical, what’s to stop Loki from changing clothes and mimicking Tann’s voice?”

“I wouldn’t put it past him,” Åsa mused. “But I believe he really was your goat-god-man this time. Do you know what I think is the real reason Loki has shaped him in his own image?”

“I have some suspicions, but please, do tell.”

“The prophecy says that Loki will fight with Heimdallr at Ragnarøkkr, and that the two will end up killing each other. When Ragnarøkkr finally happens, what’s to stop Loki from sending Tann out in his stead. So, when he dies, everyone will believe that it was Loki who was killed. I think he intends to survive his own doom, and afterwards continue to deceive everyone in some other guise.”

Fjiorn nodded.

“My thinking exactly.”

“Anything we can do to stop him?”

“I don’t know,” Fjiorn admitted. “I’m not ready to give up yet. But most of all, we need to be careful that he does not deceive us.”

“There must be some way of turning his weapon against him, of deceiving the deceiver,” Åsa suggested deviously, a twist in the set of her lips.

Even as she spoke, a rising ruckus spun them around.

Something was coming at them from the sky. It had a single eye as bright as the sun and its noise was becoming deafening.

“May the gods help us if this is Midgard’s future,” Fjiorn shouted over the noise.

“I do not believe there will be any help coming from them,” Åsa

replied.

Fjiorn stared at her while the sky monster’s howl grew louder. A frozen wind blew down upon them.

Suddenly he nodded at his wife.

“You are completely right,” he said. But his words were swept away by the wind.

“What?” Åsa screamed.

Einar witnessed the interaction. He did not understand what was going on, but a sudden feeling clenched his gut.

He hesitated, and then yelled, “Take me with you!”

Fjiorn met his eyes, held them for a moment and then nodded.

He beckoned Einar closer.

“Hold out your hand,” Fjiorn yelled.

He had to repeat himself a number of times before Einar complied.

Fjiorn summoned the same energy he had felt when walking through the closed doors. When he felt it, he clasped the scholar’s hand.

Einar’s eyes widened and his mouth dropped open in surprise.

Fjiorn grinned at him and reached for Åsa.

Gripping both their hands, he closed his eyes.

The three vanished, leaving a momentary emptiness that was instantly filled with a flurry of snow.

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