After Ragnarok

Chapter 02: A Long Way Down

Xulin ran his hand across the broken bough. The branch was still attached to the tree as it swung lightly in the breeze. He knelt down examining the stump of the great tree. It resembled a collection of vines more than a tree. Hundreds of tiny stems twisted around each other. Yari began to close the distance Xulin had created between them in the walk from the cliff-ring. "Wha-ow!" His foot slipped into a hole as he began to question Xulin. He braced his fall and reduced his movement to keep from spraining his ankle. He grumbled as he pushed himself into a kneeling position. Xulin continued his examination of the tree sidestepping around its circumference.

"Ah here it is." Yari heard Xulin call out from the far side of the tree.

"Thanks for help...ing..me...oh ....crap." Pulling his foot out from the hole, Yari's jaw dropped as he gazed down. "x-xxx-xxxx-uuulin...there's umm..no land below us." He saw clouds whisk by through the hole.

"This is the edge of the world Yari, the tip to which the root of Yggdrasil reaches Midgard. The world is thicker further west, but this is the thinnest point.....try to be careful." Xulin's arm reached out from around the tree. "Come here."

Yari scuttled away from the hole towards the tree. Circling the tree watching the ground for more weak points Yari was gripped on the shoulder by Xulin. "what?...burn marks?" The tree roots had several markings burnt into it.

"The runes. The second 8 of 3 sets. After the runes were discovered, they were used to protect sacred places. And cast many different spells." Xulin leaned in and traced his finger over each rune with speed and precision. As he finished tracing a run it began to glow. Completion of the 8 runes caused the vines to slowly changed color.

"Many of the evils ravaging the lands during the War caused many of the magicks to fail and become dormant." The two whirled about backing into the tree. A squirrel sat several feet away looking back and forth between them. "Nidhogg did a number on the roots. But hey, I keep telling him, don't kill the messenger! And oh, you might want to-" the ground began to rumble. "Nevermind!" The squirrel scampered past and into a gap in the roots, which had begun to move.

"Wha...what did you do Xulin...." worry rippled in Yari's questioning voice.

"Ask later!" Xulin grabbed his partners wrist and broke into a heavy run. The vines of Yggdrasil began to whip wildly as they came to life. With their renewed life they reached out towards the edge of the cliff ring. In moments they had buried their tips into it and broken down several of the scaffolds. "...Great" Xulin stopped as he felt the ground give out from under him. Sky. Earth. Sky. He tumbled for a minute until he felt the great roots of Yggdrasil stop his fall. He looked up as he gripped tightly to some of the vines. Up was relative because he was facing down the vines as Midgard lay up and behind him. "Yari!" His human companion slid down the vines toward Nifelheim.