She hit the ground hard, bouncing and skidding through the dirt. She hit a tree, which knocked the wind out of her, and came to a stop. Falthejn didn’t waste so much as a heartbeat. He threw his sword. Without waiting to see the result, he took Alfhilde’s axe and sent it tumbling along, too.
The ontling chief batted the sword away with one arm, and the axe with its other—and its eyes widened, as Hrothgar’s hatchet embedded itself up to the haft in its forehead. Falthejn straightened. He’d taken a few running steps and put his whole body into the throw. The chief let out a keening wail, staggering backward and falling to its knees. Its guards looked between themselves nervously. The chief fell onto its back, dead, and the other ontr wavered. Falthejn walked toward them, and they took a cautious step away. He picked up his sword, and they ran. Their bridges crashed to the ground. The diviner watched them go, then wiped off his sword and sheathed it. He turned to face the others. “Quickly,” he said.
“Why did you go?” Sif asked. They had walked in uncomfortable silence for half an hour, and if nobody else was going to ask the obvious questions, she would.
Falthejn was quiet for some time. He must have seen her next words coming, because he held up his hand before Sif was even sure she wanted to say them. “I will take my time,” he said, “and answer your question well.”
Sif looked between Alfhilde and Hrothgar. Alfhilde’s face sank into a frown, and Hrothgar managed an indifferent look. Sif shrugged to herself.
Five minutes passed before Falthejn spoke. His shoulders fell, and his head drooped forward. “I would like to say that the ontlig poison made me do something I would not have done, were I fully in control of my wits, but I cannot.” He stopped and turned to face them. “All I can say is that I am not the man I hoped I was. For that I am sorry. I would do it differently, if I could do it again.” He turned away and kept walking.