Einar’s world vanished. Gone the preternatural darkness of the eclipse, gone the cold snow underfoot, and the clamorous din of the chopper.
He found himself in a world bathed in a golden hue, filled with birdsong and the delicious scent of spring.
He wanted to scream, but his mouth refused to function.
He took in a distant sea and a narrow band of sky. Overhead was a cloud of green. Leaves, he realised, only he could not understand what he was seeing, or what it meant.
“Come,” said Fjiorn, pulling him along.
Einar stumbled after him, despite a sudden attack of uncertainty.
What had he done? He had acted on impulse, without thinking. What of the life he had left behind?
He vaguely realised that the brown wall Fjiorn was pulling him towards was the trunk of a tree, one that easily exceeded the size of a city block. The ground beneath was knotted with roots, some as wide as roads, and separated by deep crevices.
He felt that he had woken up inside a dream.
“How did you do that?” asked Åsa.
Dazed, Fjiorn looked at his wife.
“I don’t know,” he confessed.
“And why did you bring him?”
“He asked me,” Fjiorn answered. “And I wanted to see if I could do it.”
Åsa took her husband’s face in her hands.
“You want to look for that well, don’t you.”
Einar had not understood a single word of their exchange.
He was thinking of Eirdis, and wondering if he could really live the rest of his life without her.
The answer was clearly no. He felt deeply unsettled even contemplating such a possibility. So why had he asked Fjiorn to bring him here … what had he done!?
Fjiorn had a different problem to solve. He was trying to figure out how to get down from the massive root they were standing upon without killing himself. He could not see the ground due to the curve of the wood, and had no way of gauging how long the drop was, but felt quite certain that he would not survive a fall.
So, he backtracked, and led them away from the trunk until the root grew narrow and descended to meet the ground. But soon the onset of darkness forced them to stop.
They sat down with their backs to the tentacle-like root, rested, and waited for the light to return.
It was here that Fjiorn realised something: he had not eaten, drunk, or slept since being struck by the lightning.
Neither had Åsa since she had joined him.
He knew that their bodies were elsewhere, likely back in their bed at home; somehow it had not occurred to him that lack of sleep was something he needed to worry about in this place; yet, for the first time since embarking on this mad journey, he became aware of a deep exhaustion.
So he huddled with Åsa and closed his eyes.
The darkness grew deep and enfolded them all.
The silence stilled their minds, and their awareness found refuge in the vast, peaceful emptiness, here, beneath the Yggdrasil.