I did not stay out much longer. It might not be safe, even armed.
I could not be sure that, well. What if he tried to just snatch me or Kanesha from here? He might have issues – but he might also have people who were good enough at glamor to disguise themselves from the dwarves.
Back inside, I found my way to the kitchens and scrounged some food. I felt as if I could…
No, I did not feel as if I could be part of this culture. I just vaguely envied those that were. I was not and never would be one of them, but there was so much to admire, and I could not understand those myths which characterized dwarves as just smiths as if there was nothing more to them.
Oh, they were smiths alright, but they were other things too. Brewers. Musicians. People.
People who loved and lived. There were a couple of teenaged dwarves snogging in a back corner as I left. I ignored them, but it added to that feel.
People who loved and lived. And some of them would die. I was sure we would not be able to prevent a war.
We might be able to mitigate it and we could certainly use it as a distraction. But we could not stop it, not at this point.
The scavengers would already be on the move, and I could still hear the thud of the forges.
Armor. Sword. What more did I need? A horse, but I had one I could borrow.
I intended to appear as a warrior queen. I intended to show him I was not a damsel.
I intended the last thing he saw of me was that I had not, and would not, bow to him or to any.
Well, maybe to Odin, but somehow…he had never asked me to bow to him. He did not need to ask.
There might have been a time when Surtur had not needed to ask either. That time was in the past.
A ruler who needed to ask was no ruler. I would remember that too. The king of the dwarves did not need to ask.
Anyone who had to demand respect had not earned it. I felt I had earned some, although I would never expect anyone to bow to me.
Just respect me as a warrior. The two kids broke off and looked at me rather sheepishly. I could not resist grinning at them.
They were just kids, and they did not know what the future would bring and maybe they would be married some day, maybe not.
It did not matter. What mattered was giving them the time and the chance to make that decision.
What mattered was making sure they got to live.