“What the hell did you agree to?” Finn asked, breaking his icy stare with Loki to look at me.
“It doesn’t matter.” I shook my head. “We’ll stop them before it comes to that.”
“Wendy,” Finn sighed and shook his head, then turned back to Loki. “And you, Markis, I lost any respect I had for you.”
“She was going to go whether I went with her or not,” Loki said. “I thought it would be better if she didn’t go alone.”
“She shouldn’t have gone at all!” Finn yelled.
“Yes, I should have!” I shouted at him. “If I hadn’t, the Vittra would still be killing our people. I bought us more time, and I saved lives. That is my job, Finn! I did what I had to do, and I would do it again!”
“You didn’t have to do it like this,” Finn said.
“It doesn’t matter,” I said. “It’s done. Now I’ve had a very long morning, and I would just like to go home.”
“Come on, Wendy.” Willa put her arm around me.
“Duncan, would you mind riding with Loki?” Tove asked. “I’d like to talk to my wife.”
“Yeah, sure,” Duncan nodded.
Willa led me around the SUV, and I glanced back once over my shoulder at Loki. He was still standing in the road, and he was watching me walk away. Something in his eyes broke my heart, and I looked away from him.
I climbed into the SUV, and Willa got in the seat behind me. Finn stayed outside, and it looked like he wanted to say something to Loki, but Tove sent him to the car. When he climbed in back next to Willa, Finn was still seething and glared out the window.
Tove stayed outside a bit longer, talking to Loki, and I wished I could read lips.
“What were you thinking, Wendy?” Finn asked, barely restraining the anger in his voice.
“I did what was best for the kingdom,” I said simply. “Isn’t that what you always told me to do?”
“Not at your own peril,” Finn said. I looked in the rear view mirror so I could meet his eyes.
“You’ve told me over and over again that I shouldn’t make decisions because of you,” I said. “That I should think of the greater good of the kingdom. You were right, but this isn’t about me either.”
“I’m glad you’re safe,” Willa said, breaking the tension. “And I know that you’re badass and all that, but you don’t have to do this alone. You could’ve asked for help.”
“Everything turned out fine,” I said.
Outside the car window, I saw Loki nod and get in the driver’s side of the car. Tove walked back to the SUV and got in. Loki’s Cadillac sped off down the road, and Tove did a U-turn and drove behind him.
“You didn’t tell me,” Tove said at length.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “But I did what –”
“Don’t,” Tove cut me off. “This isn’t about what you did or why you did it or if it was the right thing to do.”
“What is this about then?” I asked.
“We’re married, Wendy,” Tove said. He glanced over at me. “Do you know why I asked you to marry me?”
“No,” I said, and I could feel Finn and Willa watching us from the backseat.
“Because we could be a team,” Tove said. “I thought you needed someone to support you and stand by your side, and I know I needed the same thing.”
“We are a team,” I said meekly.
“Then why did you go behind my back?” Tove asked.
“I didn’t think you would understand,” I said.
“When I have not understood?” Tove asked. “When have I not trusted you? When have I even tried to stop you from doing something?”
“You haven’t,” I admitted quietly. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be sorry,” Tove said. “Just don’t do it again. I want us to work. But to do that, you have to tell me what’s going on. You can’t risk your life or make major decisions about the kingdom without at least letting me know.”
“I’m sorry,” I repeated and stared down at my lap.
“Loki told me what you did,” Tove said, and I lifted my head.
“What you exchanged for the peace now,” Tove said. “He told me the plan, and it’s a good plan. But we have a lot of work cut out for us.”
“What?” Willa leaned forward between the seats. “What’s the plan?”
I didn’t say anything, because I didn’t want to talk anymore. I was exhausted, and I knew how much work we had ahead of us if we wanted to have a chance against the Vittra. But right now, all I wanted to do is sleep.
Thankfully, Loki had told Tove enough that he could explain it to Willa and Finn. I rested my head against the cold glass of the car window and listened to them talk about what we needed to do.
Some of the trackers had already made it back to Förening, and the rest would be there in the next few days. Thomas had already begun a boot camp for them.
Trackers had some combat training to help protect the changelings and other Trylle, but they weren’t soldiers. Thomas was charged with turning them into an army, but they were going up against an enemy they didn’t know how to defeat.
Thanks to the extended peace treaty, we were now free to go to Oslinna. When we got back to Förening, we could set up another a team and head out the next day. This time, Willa volunteered to go. I would go, whether anyone liked it or not, but I didn’t say that during the car ride. I didn’t have the strength to argue.
The hardest part would be convincing other Markis and Marksinna to join the fight. Loki had thought the only things stronger than the hobgoblins were our abilities, so the ones best equipped for a fight against them would be the higher Trylle.
Willa said that we shouldn’t tell the other Trylle what I had exchanged to get our new peace treaty. They would revolt if they thought I’d risked the kingdom. I would tell them that I had seen Oren and extended the treaty by offering to go with him voluntarily in six months.
The Trylle still wouldn’t like that, but they would feel much better if they only lost me. In the meantime, we would rally them for a fight against the Vittra and hope that it worked when it came time for war.
We all had a mission when we got back to Förening. Willa was to start working on the Markis and Marksinna. They all seemed to like her, and she might be able to convince some of them to fight with us. She’d also been working on her own abilities, and she could work on training those that had let their abilities atrophy.