Mike and Thruor were quickly looking for cover. Jorun walked over to me. “What’s with the tree?”
“It’s a symbol of something. It’s an ash.”
“Like the world tree.”
I nodded. “Exactly. The thing is, there was a dead ash in my vision. There’s a dead ash here.”
“Which symbolizes a threat to the world tree. Tells us nothing new.”
“But what if it’s the ash that I have to restore?”
It was a fire tree, a Muspelheim tree. I put my hand on the bark. “Symbolic, right?”
“It could not be that easy,” the dwarf said, peering up at me.
“No, obviously not. But it’s part of it.”
“If you do it, you will have made a choice.”
“I know, and if I avoid that choice I might get a second chance at Surtur if he kicks my butt.”
She shook her head. “Maybe not any more.”
I’d had the same thought myself. “Meaning it’s too late. Meaning I can’t cheat. This has to be real.”
“Lokisdottir,” she said, simply.
“Always at the crux of things, this family.” I smiled. “I understand some things now that I didn’t before.”
I nodded. “And I think I was taught stuff Odin doesn’t approve of. Which might or might not be wrong.”
“Odin approves of this.”
I grinned. “You worked it out too.”
“Of course I did. Or did you not notice that fire giant had a false eye.”
I laughed. “No, but trust a dwarf to pick up on that detail.”
“We offered him one. He refused to take it. Said it would…reduce the sacrifice.”
And what sacrifice did I need to make?
The king is the sacrifice. But it could not be that. “I know what I have to do. I think. But not yet.”
“Because of Surtur.”
“He needs to be here.”
But I was still doubting now that he would come.