Ebba carried her prize herself. Jorun tore the fangs out of the bear’s mouth and offered one of them to me.
I took it, having a feeling it would be very rude to refuse, and tucked it into my belt. Maybe it would be useful for something. As a last resort surprise weapon, maybe.
Or just as a trophy. My arm still hurt, and we had a several hour trek back. I wasn’t flagging – Kanesha was a little – but I was distinctly grouchy and not talking to anyone by the time we saw an entrance to the dwarven halls. The warmth helped.
“Siglaugr needs a healer!” Ebba called.
One of the women came over to me. I let her lead me off to the infirmary. “Bear get you?”
“Bear’s dead, but yeah, she got me a good one,” I admitted.
“That’s you warrior types. Go out, get yourself hurt, get us to patch you up so you can do it all again.” She sounded more amused than angry, though.
I still had the fang in my belt. “Point, but some battles have to be fought.”
“Says the Aesir.”
“Like dwarves don’t fight.”
“We fight when we need to. We aren’t quarrelsome like giants, but you know that.”
I did. “But you could take on any enemy in these halls. If nothing else, I wouldn’t want to try and fight while crouching.”
She laughed ringingly as she examined the wound. “That would be a problem, yes.”
There might be advantages to being tall, but the dwarves knew how to leverage being short. Then I flinched. “Ow.”
“The ointment will speed healing, but it does sting.”
“So do a lot of healing ointments.”
“Even on Midgaard?”
I thought of rubbing alcohol and nodded. “Yeah. Yours are better, though.”
She laughed again. “Flattery.”
“I rather need you to be on my side,” I pointed out.
“Between this and the way your people heal, you’ll be fine in a couple of days. It did get you good, though.”
“Nearly swatted me off the cliff.”
“Sword hand, too.”
I nodded. “Dang smart bear. I was worried it would turn out to be a shapechanger.”
“And if it was?”
“It was still eating people.” Yeah, I’d have killed it anyway.
“At least you consider us people.”
I thought about that. “We’re all people. Just different kinds.”
“Like your dark mortal?”
“Some mortals come that color. It’s just protection against the sun.”
The dwarf nodded. “And they seldom come here.”
“They have their own gods.” I remembered Africa. “Ones that are very strange to us, but quite real.”
She finished wrapping my wound. “But that one is yours.”
“Yes.” And I felt quite proud of the fact, of being worthy of her love.