Ascend / Page 53

Page 53

“And you think Loki will give that to you?” Finn asked, and most of the sarcasm had fallen away from his voice. He actually wanted to know if I thought Loki was good for me.

“Yes, he will,” I nodded.

“And how does your husband feel about all of this?” Finn asked.

“I don’t know exactly,” I said, purposely leaving out the part that I didn’t know how much Tove really knew about Loki and me. “But once everything is settled with the Vittra, Tove and I are getting our marriage annulled.”

“You’re leaving him for Loki?” Finn asked, and now he sounded astonished.

“No, actually,” I said. “Tove is leaving me. He wants to share his life with someone he actually loves, and that’s not me.”

His whole body slacked, and he stared off at the floor. Finn ran a hand through his hair, and I realized with some dismay that I would never again run my fingers through his hair. Whatever had happened between Finn and me, it was over. He was no longer mine.

“I’m sorry,” Finn said quietly.

“Pardon?” I asked, thinking I’d heard him wrong.

“You’re right, and I’m sorry.” He looked up at me, his eyes stormy. “I never fought for you. If anything, I fought to uphold a system that kept me from you. And… I am sorry for that.” He swallowed. “I will always regret that.”

“I’m sorry, too.” I bit my lip to keep tears from falling.

“But…” Finn sighed and looked away from me again. “At least he does love you.”

“What?” I asked.

“Loki.” He said his name bitterly and shook his head. “At first, I thought it was a trick, but I’ve been around him enough now and heard him talk about you.” Finn shifted his weight, seeming uncomfortable with the conversation. “And he does love you.”

He nodded his head, but I’m not sure why. He let out a shaky breath, and I think he was trying not to cry.

“So… I guess I can live with that.” He rubbed his forehead. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go down to finish getting ready to leave.”

“Finn,” I said, because I didn’t want to end things like that.

“We can talk more later, if you want to, but we have too much to do now.” He didn’t look at me when he said that. In fact, he didn’t look at me at all when he left.

I wanted to say more to him, but he was right. We had to leave.

23. Time

Throughout the long drive, we said hardly anything. I rode with Tove, Loki, Duncan, and Willa, and the fear was almost palpable. I had no idea if we were doing the right thing. I sounded so confident when I talked to them, but that was because this was the best I could come up with.

Before we left, I’d gone over the plan of attack with the heads of the teams. Loki thought it would be best to break up our army into several smaller teams that would sneak into different places in the Vittra palace.

Around two hundred trackers had joined our army, and most of the Trylle from Oslinna. Maybe two or three dozen Markises and Markisinnas had come along, including Marksinna Laurent. I promised myself to be nicer to her when we got back to Förening. If we got back.

A few mänks had even volunteered. I’d sent Rhys and Rhiannon away this morning, and I tried to send Matt away, but he refused to leave Förening. Matt had even wanted to fight with us, but I’d convinced him that he would only distract Willa and me, and he agreed to stay behind.

Willa would be leading her own team of twenty trackers and two Markises. They would be going in a side door off the kitchen, and Loki thought there would be hobgoblins in there getting a midnight snack. But Willa could blow around the pots and pans, and one of the Markises with her could control water, so maybe they could flood the place.

Finn and Thomas led two different teams, but they would be doing about the same things. They were coming up through the dungeon. Loki had escaped through a cellar off the back of the palace that opened up into the dungeon. It was actually interconnected to the whole palace, like a long maze beneath it, and through there, Finn, Thomas, and their teams would be able to sneak up and deflect a lot of hobgoblins.

Tove had volunteered for the most dangerous mission. He would go through the front doors, leading a team of fifty trackers. His objective was to make noise and alert the hobgoblins that he was there. That way, the other teams could sneak up behind hobgoblins while they were busy trying to focus on Tove and his team.

Duncan had wanted to be on Tove’s team, but I reassigned him to Willa’s team. So far, hers sounded about the safest. Not that any of this was really safe.

Loki’s job would be to get me in the palace to Oren, and then he would go help Tove fight. He wasn’t thrilled about the idea, but he knew that I had to this, and I had to do it on my own.

In the long history of Trylle, we had never attacked. No matter how provoked we might be. That might be the one thing Oren would never expect, and it might be enough of an advantage to stop him.

Loki knew the palace best, so he drove our SUV and led the rest of the Trylle. We had a caravan of Cadillacs that we drove to the Vittra palace.  When we got near the palace, he cut the headlights, and the cars behind us did the same. He parked at the bottom of the hill, as close to the palace as he felt comfortable.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Loki asked me quietly after we got out of the car.

“Yes,” I said. “Are you?”

“Not as much as I’d like,” he admitted.

“Just get me to Oren.”

I looked back behind me, at all the other Trylle getting out of their cars. Finn was already directing a few of them up the hill, telling them how to get inside. Loki had gone over detailed maps with the team leaders before we left, but we hadn’t enough time to show all the Trylle.

“Everybody knows what to do?” I asked and looked over at Willa, Tove, and Duncan.

“Yeah, we’ll be okay.” Willa reached out and squeezed my arm. “Just stay safe.”

“We got it,” Duncan said, flashing a nervous smile.

“Don’t be a hero,” I told him sternly. “Protect yourself.”

“Take care of her,” Tove said to Loki.

“I’ll do my best,” Loki said.

Most everyone else had started up the hill, so we had to split up. Loki and I were going in an entrance on the far side of the palace, away from them. We were going a different route, sneaking around the hobgoblins, so I could face the King.

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