|“|| Hang me, O hang me, and I'll be dead and gone,|
Hang me, O hang me, and I'll be dead and gone,
I wouldn't mind the hangin', it's bein' gone so long,
It's lyin' in the grave so long.
Shadow spends the first day hanging on the tree trying to find a way to relieve the pain and the tax on his body. He recites a mantra to himself as a distraction: "It's easy, there's a trick to it, you do it or you die."
He hears a chattering and at first thinks the noise is coming from him but it is a squirrel that he eventually dubs "Ratatosk." He falls asleep sporadically, dreaming of creatures like mammoths and spiders and a giant mouse who an elephant-headed man rides on. The elephant-headed man tells Shadow he should have invoked him before the start of his journey before performing a coin trick with the mouse (which has managed to shrink without changing size) and disappearing the mouse from his hands. Shadow tells the elephant-headed man that the mouse is in his trunk and the elephant-headed man tells him to not forget that. It rains and Shadow tries to drink the rain from the sky. As the storm grows, Shadow finds himself for the first time feeling truly alive.
The next day, the pain is spread all throughout from his flesh to his head to his hunger. A brown hawk lands on the tree before taking off again. Shadow experiences synesthesia from his pain, seeing colors. The squirrel comes to visit him again, chattering, "Ratatosk." Shadow's life passes before him and he laughs as he remembers the Wedding March at his and Laura's wedding was the Scooby-Doo theme-song. He imagines Laura conversing with him and she tells him that she is coming and he should sleep. Ratatosk continues his chattering and brings Shadow a walnut-shell with water for him to drink.
Shadow grows delirious and becomes part of the tree. When he is thirsty, he uses his roots to pull up the waters of time from an underground spring guarded by Urd. His arms and fingers are branches and twigs, reaching to the sky and he is joined with Ratatosk and the mad-eyed hawk on his branches.
People begin to walk in and out of his mind. A bearded man with a baseball cap passes him a glass of sour wine as they walk through a Spanish-style building and converse. The man asks Shadow about the vigil on the tree, saying it can be cleansing and purifying and that Shadow is giving up his mortal existence to become a god. The stranger warns that there is a cost to being a god, whether old or new.
The morning sun brings a moment of clarity to Shadow and he sees a young, mad, naked man in the tree with him. Shadow identifies him as Horus. Horus turns into a hawk to capture a rabbit and he brings it back to Shadow on the tree, offering it to him to eat. Shadow declines and Horus eats all of the rabbit, dropping the bones and fur to the ground below. Horus tells him the Old and New gods are getting ready to fight soon.
Laura comes to visit him in the moonlight. Shadow asks how she found him and she tells him that he is the closest thing she has to real life so she will always know where to find him. She offers to cut him down but he tells her to leave him because he is finally alive. He instructs her to go to the farmhouse and visit the Norns who will give her water. He asks her to stay the night and she stays until the moon sets. Shadow's heart stops and he enters darkness for a final time, lit by a single star.
- Yggdrasil is the mythological tree that connects the nine worlds of Norse cosmology.
- Ratatoskr is the squirrel who carries messages between the hawk at the top of Yggdrasil and the wyrm beneath its roots.
When Shadow first falls asleep, he dreams of creatures like mammoths and spiders and a giant mouse who an elephant-headed man rides on. The elephant-headed man tells Shadow he should have invoked him before the start of his journey before performing a coin trick with the mouse (which has managed to shrink without changing size) and disappearing the mouse from his hands. Shadow tells the elephant-headed man that the mouse is in his trunk and the elephant-headed man tells him to not forget that.
Coin tricks Edit
The elephant-headed man performs a coin trick with a mouse instead of a coin. He passes the mouse from hand-to-hand-to-hand-to-hand before opening all four of his hands and revealing the mouse has disappeared. Shadow sees the mouse's tail disappear up the elephant-headed man's trunk and is told to remember that it's in the trunk.