I stayed below the ridge, leaving the horse on the other side, and watched them.
They could not fit more than a few through the portal. No doubt what we had seen was a scouting force. But this was an army, and I could feel…
…I could feel that the force of their will and intent was wearing on the barrier between the worlds.
In that moment I understood what Ragnarok was.
It was all of the barriers coming down.
Possibly all of them, possibly also the ones that protected Earth from Hell and from Heaven.
This could start it on its own. This could be it. I saw no sign of Surtur. I saw a woman who I suspected was the general.
I saw a lot of unhappy-looking troops. I could feel that, too.
And I knew the only thing that had saved us was their hesitation, their lack of belief in the one they followed. We were alive because Surtur had been foolish enough to use conscripts.
I forced myself to breathe. “Shame we don’t have a nice big distraction to drop in the middle of that lot,” I said aside to Thruor.
“You’re thinking a bomb?”
“I don’t want to kill conscripts.” I sighted down my hand at the general. “Shooting her, though…”
Thruor grinned. “None of us are top snipers.”
“A shame.” I let out a breath. “Can you feel it?”
“Yes. And if they invade, then the first barrier goes down and even if we stop it it’s going to be hard to get it back up.”
“But not impossible.”
“No. But it will take work on both sides, and Surtur does not plan that.”
“He plans destruction.”
“And is using you, now, as the excuse for it.”
I knew she was right. “I think we need to find a way to take her out. Put them in disarray. Buy us some time.”
But she was also right that none of us were snipers. I could not shoot at that range. We would have to get dangerously close.
We would have to compromise our primary mission. “Maybe somebody should go back and find a sniper.”
“We don’t have time,” came Ebba’s voice from my other side. “We have to move now.”
I knew she was right, but I wanted that woman dead. Not personal, I didn’t hate her.
War turned people into targets. Nothing more and nothing less.