The Tree at World's End

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2.17

“Oh my,” Eirdis said after she drank from the water of Mímir’s Well. “Oh my!” she repeated.

Einar grinned.

“Better than any explanation I could offer, eh?”

His wife turned to Líf and Lífþrasir.

“So, you two are … our ancestors?”

She knew the truth, but there was still a part of her that was questioning. After all, it was a heck of a lot to take in.

“I don’t feel like an ancestor,” Líf smiled. “And I certainly hope I don’t look like one.”
“And the world that we knew has ended?” she asked, now directing her question to her husband.

He nodded.

“Is ending, right now. Couldn’t have chosen a better time, eh?”

She nodded.

“And all the people, all eight billion of them, gone.”

Eirdis fell quiet.

“So sad,” she finally whispered.

“We are the beginning of a new world,” Einar encouraged. “We have a chance to do things differently. And remember, we’ve drunk from the tree.”

Eirdis looked at her husband and smiled, for she understood the truth of what he was saying.
Just then Tanngrisnir entered the lake’s chamber, leading a goat on a tether. A sizeable herd trailed nervously behind him.

“What’s this?” Lífþrasir asked. “Hey, they look like my goats!”

Tanngrisnir shrugged.

“This one is my brother,” he replied, indicating the tethered goat. “I thought I’d swing by your place and pick up the rest for company.”

He smiled mischievously.

“You don’t mind, do you?”

“Mind? No! Of course not, I’m happy to see them. And they will come in useful.”

Lífþrasir had been quietly wondering about what they would do for meat, milk, and wool. Tann had just solved that problem. And besides, he loved his goats.

“And you’re going to let them drink from the Mímir’s Well?” he asked.

“Where else?” asked the former goat. “This is the only fresh water on the island. And why not?”

“I don’t know,” Lífþrasir shrugged. “I’ve heard plenty of warnings about too much knowledge being a really bad thing.”

Einar laughed.

“Indeed, like not being able to plead ignorance!”

“Ah, let them drink,” Eirdis joined in.

Einar looked at his wife with a delighted smile. Since drinking the waters of the well, she too could understand and speak Norse as well as he.

“By the way,” Tanngrisnir cut in. “This is my brother, Tanngnióstr,”

They all looked down at the tethered goat lapping at the water’s edge.

“Very handsome,” Eirdis commented.

Líf studied the goat anxiously.

“Will he also be able to speak after drinking?” she asked.

“I hope not,” Tanngrisnir laughed. “Even as a goat he was always the chatterbox.”
“What shall we call him?” Lífþrasir asked. “We can’t call him Tann, obviously.”

“Easy,” said Líf with a sassy grin. “How about Tanng?”

“I’d rather you didn’t,” Tanng countered. “It’s far too close to Tann. But you can call me Gniós.”

“Now, there’s a nice easy name to get your mouth…” Líf started, and then stopped as she realised that the goat had actually spoken.

Tanngrisnir groaned.

A moment later Lífþrasir leapt to his feet and ran towards the goats lapping at the waters.

“Get them away from that well!” he yelled.

“Too late,” Tann proclaimed, and there was laughter in his voice.

Too late indeed, Lífþrasir realised. Now he’d never be able to kill or eat a goat again.


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