He repeated the shout. “Let me show you!”
And he did. I saw in the spread of his hand his men protecting a child from some kind of great flaming cat.
I saw them preparing for war.
I saw them, though, also helping build barns and houses. “I care about my people.”
“Then why do this!” I yelled from the tree. I felt kind of stupid.
“Because I want to keep caring about them.”
“I know.” Did I tell him there might be another way? No, because I knew he would not listen.
Or trust the dwarves to do it. They were hanging back, I knew, because I needed them. Mike, though, was in a ready stance. Thruor too.
Both were looking, I suspected, for a moment when he was not paying enough attention.
Thruor leapt forward, but she timed it poorly. He flung her back. She landed painfully against the mountain and did not immediately rise. Alive, I could tell that, but at best winded, at worst broken.
That gave Mike more pause. To his credit, he did not rush to her as I might have, but stayed ready.
“Your friends are loyal. I will let them live.”
I smiled. “You value loyalty, then.”
“I value honor.”
“You cast yours aside.”
“So I could win the war.”
“You’re losing. Look around you. Everyone is losing. The only one who wins this war is my brother.”
I could almost feel hot breath on my neck at that.
“He would listen to you.”
I laughed, “Why should he listen to anyone? He fulfills his purpose. You’re opening the gates early.”
And there would be something afterwards. Perhaps not something I would understand, perhaps not something I could experience, but something. Even if the worst happened it would not merely be eternal darkness.