The Long Retreat No. 37

“Try the fruit and the nuts,” Falthejn advised. He inspected his handiwork. The length of stick almost hummed with power. He sheathed his knife. “Do you think you could cut the top of this away for me?”

“I used to watch a woodcarver work,” Sif said uncertainly. “He let me try a few times.”

“It doesn’t need to be a very good job. Just be careful not to touch the carvings.” Falthejn presented her with the knife and the stick, and she set to work, quickly gaining confidence.

While she worked, Falthejn rummaged in the pockets on the side of his pack. He produced a few small cloth bags, a neatly folded square of fabric, and a flint and steel. He unfolded the fabric and struck sparks from the steel onto it speculatively. A goodly quantity failed even to singe it, and he nodded to himself.

“What are you doing now?” Sif asked.

“Preparing. Magic takes focus. When magiker are in training, our masters teach us tricks to bring our minds to bear.” He stood, taking his sheathed sword in hand. “I’ll be back soon.”

The plant life of the south was not a topic Falthejn knew at all well. He’d only been to this part of the world a handful of times before. Tundra creeper would have been best, but didn’t grow for another thousand miles north. Starseed or bruisevine would do well.

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