The Long Retreat No. 51

Two magiker had fought here. The ground was frozen in the middle of a ripple: at a jordsmagiker’s direction, it had flowed like water. Geometric sections of rock protruded from the dirt, dotting the battlefield where the magiker had used it for attack or defense. Scorch marks in jagged patterns showed where a blittesmagiker had called down lightning. One such scorch mark led to the epicenter of the disrupted ground, and there laid the corpse of a man, looking oddly peaceful. Falthejn and Alfhilde approached.

“Do you know him?” asked Alfhilde.

“I should think not,” said Falthejn. “Look closely. This is an aelf.”

Alfhilde leaned over the body, saw the upswept ears, and spat. “Good riddance, then.” She nudged the aelf’s arm with her foot. “Why is he here?”

“We’ve long known the aelfr have hidden holds in these parts,” said Falthejn.

“I have never seen them,” Hrothgar replied. He and Sif stood a few yards back. Sif leaned forward and stood on her tiptoes, trying to see around Falthejn without getting any closer.

“Aelfish illusionists are talented, much more so than our own.” Falthejn shook his head at Sif, then turned back to the body. “Only a few hundred aelfr remain east of the mountains, so far as I know. They keep to themselves, and we cannot spare the magiker to hunt them down as they deserve. I cannot imagine why one might have shown himself.”

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