I did not see the interior of the swan room right away. Surtur had a private dining room. Once in it, he released Kanesha.
She stumbled into a chair.
“If Kanesha leaves the spire, then she will die. Unless you thought of that.”
“This isn’t a negotiation,” I told him. I looked at Kanesha. “Has he touched you?”
“No,” she said, and I saw the truth of it in her eyes.
“I respect that much of her being yours. I understand your choice now.”
I couldn’t help but smile. I wondered what Kanesha had done to convince him she was worthy of the love of a goddess. I would ask her. Later. “Then perhaps you understand…that what you ask would be the starting of a war that would end in her death.”
“Ah, but if we wed, she will have my protection to add to yours. When we stand as masters of the Nine Realms.”
“You really think that line will work on me now, any more than it did before you showed you have no honor?”
Now he glared at me, eyes narrowing, leaning slightly on the table. “My people will die.”
“They will die faster if you do this. You think that having me will get you the apples, you think it might even ensure my father as an ally. What will your people do after you start a war and then leave them?”
“I would be leaving them with you.”
I shook my head. “Whatever my bloodlines, you would be better off with Helgr, who has experience leading men into battle. I don’t.”
“You have the bloodlines. We will win, we will rule the Nine Realms, and then I will do what I have to do.”
“If you start Ragnarok, you will not have to. I thought you intended your life to stand for thousands.”
“I had thought about that, but it will only happen again, and then you will face it.”
Kanesha rolled her eyes. “The two of you. Can’t you see the obvious?”
We both turned towards her, looked at her. Maybe she did have an insight. “Maybe it’s not obvious to us.”
“Siglaugr’s never going to agree to marry you, and she would gladly trade your life for that of thousands. So, forget that part.”
“You do not love her. That is obvious. I’m watching you and all I see in your eyes is wary respect. Let this go and worry about finding a better way to save your people.”
I paused, looked at her. “I want you dead,” I told Surtur. “But if you release her, I will help save your people. And there is a woman here who loves you.”
He shook his head. “Never.”
And I knew I had lost.