The Long Retreat No. 14

A few minutes’ scramble down the hillside brought them to the cave. Hanging moss obscured the entrance. Alfhilde pushed it aside. “Do you have a torch?”

“Something better,” Falthejn said. He set his extra pack down, felt through his pockets, and came up with an intricately-carved piece of wood. Alfhilde thought she recognized the type. Confirming her suspicion, Falthejn spoke a few aelfish words at it, and it began to glow faintly. Some magiker were trained in the craft of little trinkets, imbued somehow with spells of various sorts. Once or twice, during the last campaign, she’d used them.

Falthejn edged past her, cupping his hand over the light to hide it. Its glow penetrated a mere few yards into the cave, revealing moss-covered rocks and the occasional patch of stone slick with water. The diviner looked over his shoulder. “How far in does it go?”

“Two dozen yards, about,” Hrothgar said. “I do not know of any other entrances.”

“It will do,” Falthejn judged. He took a step into the cavern. “Sif, could you bring my other pack?”


They settled in at the back of the cave, where the narrow passage opened into an oblong chamber. Falthejn let everyone else file in after him, then set the light in the center of the cavern. Sif set her pack down near him. Falthejn unstrapped the bedroll from its top and passed it to her. She took it carefully, as though it were of great value, and smiled.

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