Moving through the countryside, we saw that things were not right. The next town was not as quiet, but definitely subdued. We made a circuit around it, eating food we had, bluntly, stolen from a farmer.
From one who had plenty, and we had taken as little as we could. The fyrhund was scavenging for himself.
I hated to steal, but I knew that we would be found. Unless, of course, Surtur was letting me come to him.
There was always that, always that risk. That this was all a trap.
She was bait as well as a bargaining chip – I knew that in my heart. I just hoped that he would not get to use her as such.
Except here I was, refusing to stay back, refusing to trust Thruor to save Kanesha. Walking right into the lion’s den.
Knowing it was a trap. And I was not exactly a badger. I shook my head. “This is foolish, but…”
“But honor gives you no choice.”
“He has none remaining,” I pointed out.
Jorun shook her braids. “Agreed. He should not need to force anyone to fight for him. He should be turning people away.”
She had a point there. I let out a breath. “So, we keep going.”
“And we assume he knows exactly where we are and hasn’t attacked us yet because we’re walking right into the trap.” Thruor said, grimly. “But then, that was always the plan.”
“We do need local help.” But he’d conscripted all of it.
“Which we will find better at the Capital.”
I took her point and kept moving. I glanced at Mike – but then I remembered he didn’t tire any faster than I did now.
There were things I wanted to ask. But did not.
Things I wanted to ask, specifically, for Kanesha’s sake. I knew, somehow, I would get no answer. Or if I did, I would not be able to tell her.
It could do nothing but set my own mind at ease. The protective pendant was in my pocket.
I had her sword.
I would use, though, only my own. And putting my own mind at ease? Him being there did that.
The familiar presence, if a little more quiet – and that only because we were, after all, sneaking around.
I still cared so much for him.