The Long Retreat No. 18

Alfhilde volunteered, “We thought we might have one more day to prepare for the journey. Hrothgar left the walls…” She thought a moment. “Last night, wasn’t it? He left to trade for food. By the time he made it back, everyone else was long gone, and I had to kill an ontling minutes before we left.” She smiled thinly. “If they bled red, he might have been concerned.”

“My wife is a formidable woman.” Hrothgar gave her a grave look, and until she snorted at him, Falthejn missed the warmth in it. Hrothgar and Alfhilde shared a smile. Happy to be alive, Falthejn thought. He looked at Sif, who was pretending—badly—to be asleep. He let her be. Her day had been a hard one, and the rest would do her good.

“I’m turning in,” he announced. “We need not worry about a watch. I will know should anyone find us.”

Alfhilde and Hrothgar nodded their goodnights, and Jakob cooed at him. Falthejn smiled briefly, then rolled over, found the least uncomfortable arrangement of limbs and bedroll on the cavern floor, and closed his eyes. In moments, he was asleep.

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