And it boiled down to why it had to be here. Feeling a lot better for soup and rest, I stood with my hands on the tree.
“It is dead, right?” Thruor asked.
“As a dodo. But not permanently. Besides, I don’t think it’s the tree itself that matters.”
“It’s the land.”
“Right. And what I’m doing might, might just resonate with Surtur as me being willing to change my mind about being queen.”
She looked at me with serious blue eyes. I returned the gaze. “I might have no choice.”
The slightest of nods.
“We do what we have to do, right?” I wondered how often she hated her job, how often she wished she could choose differently.
No, she had chosen to be what she was. She was Thor’s daughter, she could be many things. She had chosen this.
I would choose it too, but she herself had told me it was not an option.
“We do.” A slight smile. Slightly sad.
“I can’t bluff him any more. I have to make this about the two of us.”
It was not my task to kill him.
It was also not my task to wed him. I hoped.
Even if I thought he actually might be willing to share.
No, but this would end now. And perhaps I would only be remembered as the one who stopped the cycle.
Or as a murder victim. Like my brothers.
Like my brothers who had never had the chance to become whatever they would have been. I was older.
I was not much older. I was a woman.
I was not sure I was ready to be a queen.
But I rested my hand on the wood and made a promise. One way or another, I would save this land.
And something started to shift, not a sudden shift, but a slow tectonic drift.
I felt it. Perhaps Thruor felt it.
Certainly Surtur felt it.
Now he knew what was up here.
Would he come back? “If he comes back, we do not attack him.”
Thruor nodded. “No. We do not. But anyone he brings with him.”
“We chase them off the mountain if possible.”
I was in charge. I was absolutely terrified.
I was very sad.