I don’t mean time seemed to stop. Or maybe I do. For me, time very definitely stopped as Bifrost opened.
What I saw in Surtur’s eyes mingled fear and hope in equal measure, and then?
Then he attacked me.
It was as if something else broke. This time I was not the one starting the fight.
It was the moment, I knew, in which he gave up on claiming me as his bride. We fought for the realm.
We fought because we had to, fought, then broke off, then fought again, and our fight drifted away from the gateway.
I did not know who had come through, but I sensed how vital this was. I had to win, but once more I could not.
Once more, neither of us could truly defeat the other.
Once more, we were evenly matched and evenly tired. Our blood mingled on the earth.
Fire flickered around us.
I knew we were being watched. Not my task to kill him, but I could not disengage. Whichever one of us disengaged first was likely to die.
I would not, could not let him kill me. The wind howled, or was it the wolf, the great wolf who now waited, on the very edge of chains that we might even now be sawing against, breaking, negating Tyr’s sacrifice.
I still did not know who was now on the mountain with me. I dimly saw Thruor holding Mike back.
Keeping him out of a fight in which he could not compete. Besides, the fire around us might have burned him, might even burn us.
I could actually, for the first time, feel the heat. Or what seemed like the first time, anyway.
But we could not… “We could do this all day.”
He laughed. “We could do this all year. You would have made such a worthy queen.”
And while we fought, it did feel that time stopped, as if this deadlock held off everything that was to come.
The stars brightened.
Fenrir howled, howled in frustration. He too was my brother, but they did not trust him. Perhaps if they had things would be different.
“Sorry, brother,” I murmured. I meant it. Surtur’s blade slashed into my arm in the moment of my guard being down.
I focused all of my attention, once more, on the fight.