The Long Retreat No. 61

Sif only half-heard Falthejn’s reply. Poisoned? Her mind whirled. Without him, they weren’t safe, and, not to put too fine a point on it, she had no future. The tone of the conversation changed, and she picked up the thread of it again.

“… about Sif,” Alfhilde said. “I saw you stop and your face go magical. You pushed her to it.”

“It was that or her life,” Falthejn replied. “And your son’s.”

Alfhilde punched him in the arm, hard. He winced. “You leave Jakob out of it,” she said. “That is our responsibility, not yours. What I do not want to see is a young girl played for your own purposes.”

Falthejn blinked and spluttered, “My own purposes? Do you think I do this out of selfishness? Sif lost everything, and never had much to begin with. I want only to give her a place to belong.”

“Is that so?” Alfhilde said. “I have seen the way magiker live. You would wish that on her?”

“She seems to like the thought of it,” Falthejn countered. “Beyond that, what choice does she have?”

Alfhilde huffed. “We will see about that.” Forcing a smile Sif could have spotted from a league away, she turned. “That’s all,” she said to Sif.

Sweetly, Sif smiled back, and returned to Falthejn’s side. A few yards behind them, Alfhilde fell into step with Hrothgar. Sif turned her smile on Falthejn. “What did you talk about?” she asked innocently.

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