The Tree at World's End

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Six

For Fjiorn, none of his wife’s concerns mattered at all.

Like a ghost he wandered between worlds, his mind as silent as his tongue. He opened his eyes every now and then and marked Åsa’s presence, especially when she ministered to him or when she helped him to eat and drink.

He longed to reach out and touch her, or even speak to her; but he saw her only as one does when gazing through a fishing hole in the ice of a frozen lake: she was in another world, distant and unreachable.

Fjiorn’s journey took him through impossible planes.

Over lands of sand and barren stone where dark-skinned people lived under a fierce, relentless sun.

Over monstrous towns where vertical longhouses rose to rival the mountains themselves and brushed up against the clouds.

Over places where frightful noises filled the air, and creatures belching fire and smoke crossed the heavens and teemed across the land.

Fjiorn was aware that terror was less than a feather stroke away, and yet somehow these sights did not unman him; he remained impartial and unaffected.

The goat-god had not sought him out since the horrific slaughter in the feasting hall.

He seemed content to allow Fjiorn to wander unfettered through these nether realms, and Fjiorn had no doubt that he was being shown visions of Hel, the place where those who cannot enter Valhöll must go.

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