The Long Retreat No. 34

The sun, high overhead, made its trek down toward the horizon. As it did, they came across a few felled trees, left by the side of the road. Saws and grapples laid beside them.

“These men left in a hurry,” Hrothgar said, kneeling. “They kept their axes.”

Falthejn pressed his lips together. The ominous feeling flitting around the back of his head settled in deeper. “We should not tarry.” He thought back to the journey down, two weeks and an eternity ago. “Nor should we leave the road for the logging camp. Hrothgar Hrafnssen, do you know the land here well? Where might we set up camp out of sight?”

Hrothgar frowned to himself, thinking. Falthejn gave him a few moments. A sudden chill swept past him, and a deeper sense of foreboding. “We should move,” he said.” No diviner ignored feelings like that. “If you see a place as we are walking, say so.” He didn’t wait for an answer, continuing down the road with a hand on the hilt of his sword. Sif followed, rubbing at her arms, and Alfhilde and Hrothgar fell in a few steps back.

Alfhilde watched her husband’s face. His brow furrowed with more than just recollection. Pushed aside again, she guessed. Corralling Jakob’s flailing arms with one of her own, she laid a hand on Hrothgar’s shoulder. He looked to her, and she gave him a sympathetic look—I’m on your side, she hoped it said.

His expression lost some of its dour character, and he tried a smile that turned out halfhearted, before turning back to his own thoughts.

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