I grabbed her hand and ran for the door. Everyone else was milling around. “Run! You don’t know it’s not a real fire!”
I wasn’t the only one trying to get people out of the dining hall. Food was being abandoned on plates; not that it was any good anyway. And I didn’t head for the halls. There was a direct fire exit. Not everyone was taking it, but I got myself and Kanesha through it.
“It’s a real fire,” I murmured as I let go of her. “Sorry about that.”
“You’re stronger,” she complained, massaging her hand. “Is it…”
“Yes. It’s him. He’s going to start going after the things that make me comfortable, the things that make me happy. And you’re going to be top on the list because…”
I still couldn’t say it. Couldn’t voice what had been building up within me.
“You need to leave. You need to disappear.”
“No. I’m not leaving you.”
I spun her to face me. “You’ll die if you don’t.”
“And? I trust the gods. I trust you. I trust Thruor.”
She reminded me in that moment what Thruor was. But she also reminded me that she was mortal and fragile.
“He’ll find some way to…”
Could Surtur touch her soul? Could I? No. I didn’t have the power yet. The experience. “Don’t trust me like that,” I continued. “I don’t know what I’m doing. Trust Thruor, maybe. Trust Odin. Trust Loki. But not me. I’d screw it up somehow.”
And that was when the explosion happened. I’d pulled her far enough away, but not everyone had. A fireball that ripped through the structure of the school. I didn’t scream. I couldn’t.
I had brought this down on them.
No. He had. Not responsible for my enemies. I repeated that to myself as a mantra. I wasn’t responsible for the actions of Surtur or anyone else.
But now it was time to leave. “If you won’t leave, then you’ll have to come with me so I can keep an eye on you. We need to get our stuff and go.”
She nodded, pale under the dark of her skin. I noticed she was shaking a little. I couldn’t blame her. Shaking was about par for the course.
In the chaos, nobody noticed us walk away, nobody noticed us slip through a hole somebody had cut in the fence, a short cut back towards the house.
We needed weapons. Food. A vehicle or vehicles. Motorbikes would be better. Heck, maybe Thruor could lend us a couple of steeds. Or at least one. Giving Kanesha that privilege might not be within the rules.
We needed all of that, which meant home. The news crews would be out soon. But if nobody saw us, we could have died in the fire.
We rounded the corner.
Home was a burned out shell.