I have no idea how long I was in that state before fire abruptly exploded from within me. I stretched, and the bonds of starlight shattered, but I was still in the void.
That had been me and not me, I understood. Or rather, somebody or something had reached out and given me a temporary power boost. Odin? My father? Surtur?
I neither knew nor care, but I was still unarmed in some weird dimension, perhaps some corner of the Celtic Otherworld. I did hope it wasn’t Surtur.
Because if it was Odin he might also have told Lugh to leave me alone. If it was Surtur, then it would only be more evidence I intended to destroy the world.
I looked around, then started walking towards the only feature on the horizon I could see. A single dead tree.
As I got closer, I could identify it as an oak, but a dead one. The odd thought that what I needed was a druid came into my mind.
A Druid. Yeah.
Fire. I pushed it down, not wanting to set the only landmark I could see ablaze. At least the tree did not, as I had more than half expected, shrink away as I approached. I was reminded of the recent Mad Max movie.
The dead tree. The green place.
A dead place under stars.
A barren place.
All of those thoughts flowed through me and mingled with the obvious: Why hadn’t somebody come and got me yet?
The answer? Because something more than that was going on. Perhaps Lugh had actually untied me, deciding I couldn’t get out of here.
I felt not just at full strength but stronger. He had weakened me. That had been undone.
By somebody who had a reason to leave me here.
“Odin.” The thought settled me. This was exactly in his style. And it meant I was supposed to do something.
The soil was cracked. “I’m a fire person not a water person,” I grumbled. Water. Was that the answer?
I wasn’t a druid. I wasn’t a healer. I was fire and war, I wasn’t any of these other things. But as I stood facing the tree, I knew I needed to do something.
“Talk to me?” I asked it, or the ground, or the stars, or the air around me. Whichever I intended it for, nobody answered.
So, I reached out and put my hand on the dead, brittle bark.
I felt something stir under my palm.