I felt something shift. And the break was starting to get my breath back. But what shifted was something in the land.
The realm waited. I closed my hand around the blade of my sword, then held it above the tree.
“It’s my choice.”
And the blood dripped onto the bark even as I jumped down, landing on the far side of it from Surtur.
After all, I could not…no, I could not wait as I had planned, wait until all the fighting was over before accepting the part of my heritage that truly called to me.
I stood there. “I will not be your queen, Surtur. But I will not abandon this realm.”
“I never claimed otherwise.”
“I will end your life now and send you to your sister’s realm.”
“And I will still win.” I felt the fire flow through me, through my veins, as if replacing all of the blood I had lost to the battle. “I will still break the cycle.”
Had this been what they, what anyone, had expected me to do? I stood with my blade ready. “Hesitating? Not ready to dance again?”
His blade leapt forward as if of its own volition. “Always ready to dance.” There was some sadness in it now, though.
The tree was budding. The tree budded and leaves of fire exploded from it. Brightening the mountaintop, for it was still night, and had always been night and always would be night, and perhaps that meant it was too late.
Or perhaps it merely meant Sunna had the sense to stay out of the way until she knew it was too late for her.
A sensible goddess. I might have done the same thing, but I was as I was. Loki’s daughter.
But also born of the fire. Choosing the fire. Maybe I had a long time ago, but there had always been the opportunity to go back. Until now.
Thruor had struggled to her feet, but Mike was moving her away. She was clearly in no state to fight without healing.
“I wanted a different dance,” he said, sadly.
Whichever one of us died now it did not matter. One of us would. If it was truly not my task to kill him, then this was my task.
To fall here and now and break the cycle. Just like my brothers.
Was it always going to fall down to us?