The Long Retreat No. 5

He retreated from the mouth of the alley, closed his eyes, and gathered his wit. The warp and weft of the world slackened and twisted, and suddenly he saw possibilities fanning out before him. Likely futures wound through the myriad like lightning in darkness, shifting as he bent his plan to yield to what he saw. He felt the fatigue creeping in at the edge of his perception, then saw the path he needed. Fine the timing was, but it would work. He let go his focus, and the weave snapped back with what seemed to be an audible twang.

He found himself breathing hard. He’d pushed well past his limit several other times, earlier in the day, and like now, he’d had no time for totems or rituals to ease his task. The others watched him, Sif fearful, Hrothgar reserved, Alfhilde almost eager. “Follow me closely,” Falthejn said. “Stop where I stop. When I tell you to stay, stay. When I tell you to run, run for the gate.” They nodded, and Falthejn peeked around the corner at the end of the alleyway. “Not yet,” he said, watching one of the sentries. “Now.”

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