I hoped the giantess wouldn’t get into any trouble for talking to me, for defying her boss. Surtur didn’t strike me as the forgiving type.
But now I understood why both he and Tyz’vel had wanted me to go to them willingly. They didn’t want to end up on the opposite side to my…father.
Neither did I. But being Chaos, he wouldn’t gainsay anything I actually wanted to do. Express disapproval, but I knew he wouldn’t stop me. If anyone tried to force me, though?
That might start Ragnarok with a different configuration of players. It would certainly, I thought wryly, be one way to get Loki and Odin on the same side. Not that I thought Odin cared about me as anything but the possible way to break the prophecy, but…
I trusted he cared that much. But did this mean I’d get to avoid being pushed into an Aesir marriage?
No. It would all depend on what needed to happen. My mother, at least, would definitely understand making that kind of sacrifice.
As if the thought of her was a summons, I felt the briefest sense of her presence, but I didn’t see her. One day, would I know tricks like that?
One day. Maybe in a few centuries. Or maybe now we’d been reunited, it was simply some bond between mother and daughter.
I had a dim memory, a memory of her laughter and a meadow beneath high mountains. A definite image, that.
And I knew what that image was of. But it faded in the reality, which was city buildings around me and school right ahead. Plain, simple, mundane reality. The place where I was and had to stay for now. Until we all worked out how to fix things.
Or until I’d learned everything I needed to know. Then I sensed fire and heat and a raging presence.
Surtur. Now was not the time. Instead of walking through the gates, I turned sideways along the fence, hoping to lead him away from the vulnerable students. I’d wreck my attendance record, but there was nothing to be done for it.
On the street corner, I waited. He was disguised, but he’d put on a disguise designed to intimidate…a huge, tattooed man. And he was flanked by two more of his kind.
I realized I wasn’t nearly as afraid of them as I should be. It was the knowledge that they would not hurt me, out of hope I might still join them, and could not abduct me without starting something they weren’t ready for.
“So. Are you trying to seduce my warriors?”
“Not as much as you’re trying to seduce me.” I knew now that the giantess was in trouble. Serious trouble.
“I suppose you’re rather fond of her.” A pause. “Come with me now and she won’t be hurt.”
“I won’t do that.” He was going to kill her if I didn’t, perhaps, but I understood a couple of things. And one of them was that you respected a warrior’s choice. Even if that choice led to their death.