Could do this all year. Had we, already? I had no sense of the passage of time, and then the wind swirled around us, formed a barrier for a moment.
I stepped back, caught my breath. But the second I stopped fighting… “I can’t do this,” I said to Thruor. “I can’t keep it up.”
I knew my father was here somewhere. I sensed him, but I did not see him. “I have to, but I can’t.”
I was tiring, I thought, faster than my opponent, and he was lunging towards me again, a blow I barely met with my blade.
I could have loved him. I knew in this moment that we could have loved each other, could have built something special, had he not had it so in his mind to start a war. Now I wondered what I could do.
Tried to think, even as so much of me was taken up in the fight. Then I jumped up, with my off hand I grasped a branch of the tree, and managed to pull myself up into it.
He couldn’t get to me. Would the rift start to grow again.
He laughed. “Am I a dog now and you a squirrel?”
I thought of Ratatosk. “Squirrels serve a definite purpose.”
But I was still smaller than he. I could be up here, he could not.
Time, freezing again.
My father watching. Was he here, was I sensing him because he was scrying from elsewhere? Either way, he wasn’t giving me any advice, neither was Odin. Nobody was.
Thruor wasn’t holding Mike back any more. The two dwarves were circling, but not attacking.
Not my task to kill him.
But did anyone else want it? What happened if I chose to do something I was not tasked with?
Did that break the cycle?
Would loving him have, after all? I thought not. “We both made our choices,” I added.
“I only want to rule in peace,” he lied.
“I am enough my father’s daughter to know that is not true. You were not made for peace.”
“And you were?”
I shook my head. “Not sure I was either. But I do not want to end the world. I do not want to bring destruction on everyone I care about.”
“I protect those I care about!”
I was not sure how long I could perch here, but I felt something, as if the tree was starting to stir.
What choice of ours had made it so? I wished I knew.