The idea of splitting Surtur’s forces was very appealing. I glanced around. “Stop here. Where they can see us.”
I meant it for all those who had followed me. A pregnant woman nodded. She was very pregnant.
I hoped for a better future for her child. Or at least one akin to what they had had before all of this. A child should be born into something at least resembling peace. Something that had perhaps never been here.
Not true peace. But then, we did not want it. Giants quarreled for a reason – because full blown peace was boring. Many humans shared that trait.
Whatever I was right now, and I was still not sure except that I felt as if I was going to burn up any moment, except I knew I would not. A peculiar balance of fire. Or maybe not so peculiar. In any case, whatever I was right now, I still shared that trait. I still enjoyed a good fight.
I was not looking forward to round three with Surtur simply because I still had not fully recovered from round two. Otherwise?
No. I still would not be looking forward to it, because it seemed that we were being prevented from defeating each other, held in a stalemate.
Or, most likely, as if beating him, killing him, required some property or weapon I personally did not possess.
Loki was up to things I did not know about. We stood on the ridge, but I did see people start to move towards us. In twos, in threes, but not stopped or challenged.
Mutiny was the word for what was happening, an ugly word. Or perhaps it was that even uglier word: Coup.
Except that I was not using force to claim this realm, not using force to make it mine. Not truly a coup, then.
It might still become one. I shuddered more than a little bit at the thought. I did not want it.
Well, I wanted the fight. But I still did not want to fight conscripts. Only people with a real quarrel with me.
I thought, oddly, of Skadi’s history. The goddess of winter. Who was likely trying to protect Jotunheim right now with Angrboda.
Maybe. She might be in Asgard. I did not know, and I could not afford her more than that thought.
A woman walked up to me carrying a banner. “We are yours…” Then her lips quirked. “No offense, but we are rather not Surtur’s.”
I laughed. “None taken. You do not know me.”
“He is preparing a major attack, multi-pronged. If he gets…”
“He will thin the barriers further. I know.”
“We have already had strange monsters here.”
“That was an accident. They will not return.” I wished I could be more secure in my promises to her.
But her gaze was even. “What do you wish?”
“Just to secure this position.”
“Somebody could stab him in the back.”
“Somebody could,” I responded, evenly. I was past worrying about the honor of assassination. Against somebody who had tried to force a woman to wed him, it did not seem nearly as dishonorable.
“He is too good for most, though.”