If Tove was being brutally honest with herself, she was conflicted about staying behind.

She wanted to charge back north, to bloody Jormag’s nose as he so rightly deserved. There was vengeance she wanted to carve out of the dragon’s fucking hide. She wanted to keep the rest of her pack safe–what else had she picked up the druidic arts for?

And yet.

…she remembered when things started to break between her and Thorvald. It was when the Pact had made ready to head into Maguuma, and she had asked her mate to be by her side.

And he had…chosen not to be. Oh, it had been fine! She didn’t jokingly call his forge his mistress for nothing. And there had been no foretelling (not even by Rikvi) that the airships would go down, and she’d be injured and trapped in the jungle without her trusted partner.

But logic hadn’t entered into it, in the end: she had wanted him there. Needed him there. And she had been out there alone, and it wasn’t the first time, and it wasn’t the last, but it was the beginning of the end.

…and James needed her more than she needed vengeance. Oh, she could go and trust that Fiel would keep an eye on him, but that wouldn’t be fair to either of them. (FIel had his own burdens to bear. So did she, but they felt lighter.) And it felt wrong to charge off, even if it chafed her to remain behind. There were battles to be fought here, as well. Which would she regret more, in the end? Not fighting Jormag, or sacrificing what new and fragile thing lay between her and James for the sake of it? She knew the answer.

Perhaps, like her cousin Ingridr, her ambitions in life were a bit smaller and closer to home than might be sung in song.

…speaking of cousins. That’s what she’d returned to her little nook for–her desk. She sat down to write letters, calling in various cousins and mates-of-cousins and friends, seeing who she could pull in the bolster the flagging members of the Vanguard.

Some were involved in the Orders and might already be up there for all she knew, but others were not…

Author Ambrosine
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