Leaving the mountain felt like leaving a friend. Maybe I would get to come back here.
Maybe I would not.
I still felt the sense of fire within me. And the sense of wrongness in the capital that was for the dwarves to fix once we had the war dealt with. The barriers were thinning again.
Whatever they had done, it was temporary. I walked down the mountain. The horses were waiting, but I felt it was no longer my place.
I walked. And I wished the woman I loved could be at my side, but the choice I had made to bind myself to Muspelheim was also a goodbye.
Loki would make sure she was safe if I could not. She could not be here, not for any length of time. It was too dangerous.
It was too painful to lose her, but I had to stay on task. This was my realm now.
One way or another.
And perhaps it was noticed, because as I walked we were joined by others. Perhaps some recognized my father.
They were the “dregs” of the land, the children, the elderly, those who could not fight in Surtur’s war.
The stars shone brightly again, but I was no longer afraid of what they signified.
I was no longer afraid, even, of the end of the world – because I had done my best and made my choice and I could leave everything, now, to wyrd.
To wyrd, that is to say to chance and destiny both tied together, to that which was set and that which was in the roll of the dice.
Bones falling to the ground.
Dice were not made of bone any more. But the ones in my mind were, carved on the bones of the fallen.
The fallen who walked behind me.
I had the support of warriors, the strength of dwarves. “Kind of wish Angrboda could be here.”
Loki laughed. “She’s busy.”
“I’d imagine. And besides, she would melt.”
And I would freeze now if I went to Jotunheim. We would have to meet somewhere else, if we both lived.
“As long as she…”
“If we win this, she will live. If not…” There was sadness in him.
I remembered what the prophecy said he would do, had to do. I felt that sadness echoed in myself.
I was selfishly glad it was not my task to kill Surtur.
Truthfully, I did not want to. Not to wed him or work with him either, not after what he had done.
I simply did not want to…because this was all such a sad end for one who had ruled well for long.
But the people were still following me. They wanted to see what I could do.
They wanted to understand what was happening.
The fire trees were blooming.