The Tree at World's End

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Eight

“Look.”

Fjiorn turned to where the goat-god pointed.

The god had reappeared earlier and had followed Fjiorn around like a shadow without saying a word.

Until now.

“That is where you must go if you are to be of any use to me.”

Though he searched where the goat-god indicated, Fjiorn could not make out any features in the land, just a distant haze.

“Are you sure you’re not Loki? I can’t see anything at all.”

The god gave a very goat-like laugh.

Fjiorn turned to look at him, and for just a fraction of a moment thought there was now something different about the god, that something in his appearance had changed.

“If you could see your destination,” the god replied, “you would not have been chosen.”

Fjiorn was going to ask about that, about who had chosen him and why, when an unsettling feeling crept into his awareness. Fjiorn looked around in sudden uncertainty.

“Something is wrong, I can feel … something is happening that shouldn’t be…”

The goat-god tilted his head to one side and peered at him with his strange eyes.

“Now, here’s a wonder! A man who cannot see where he’s going but ‘knows’ when something is amiss?”

“Do you know what it is?”

“Of course, but wouldn’t you rather work it out for yourself?”

The feeling was panic. Something to do with his wife.

“Where is Åsa?” he asked suddenly.

The goat-god looked at the sky and sighed.

“She is not the one in trouble.”

Fjiorn clenched his teeth together in restraint.

“Where is she?”

“She’s in Fyrka.”

“What?”

“Well, you knew that someone would have to go, and clearly you’re in no state to. Besides, you’re too busy doing my bidding…”

“You have to release me now!” Fjiorn shouted. “I’ll do your damn bidding when I come back, when she’s safe.”
The goat-god shook his head.

“Ah, but you have not been listening, Fjiorn. She’s not the one in danger. You are.”

“Me? What danger?”

“And, in any case you can’t go back, not in your current condition. You would be quite incapable of fending off her attentions…”

“Will you say something that I can understand?” Fjiorn shouted at the goat-god. “What are you talking about?”
“Your sister-in-law.”

“Gunnel?”

“The very one. Or do you have others that I know nothing of?”

Fjiorn felt panic close in on him like a pack of jackals.

“What is Gunnel up to?” he demanded.

When there was no answer, Fjiorn saw that he was once more alone.

Alone in a fog.

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