The Long Retreat No. 65

“Harsh words for a man you think so highly of,” Hrothgar said.

Alfhilde seethed inside, but kept her lid on, though her words came out fast and clipped. “Highly? I think nothing beyond that he is our best hope of living to the next week.”

“If we had been on our own—”

Alfhilde cut her husband off. “—we would have been dead before we left the city.”

“And still your hero gets us into trouble—puts our lives, and the life of our son, at risk, time and again.”

“Bring Jakob’s life into it, will you?” Alfhilde burst. “If you had stayed with our son at the campsite, perhaps the diviner would not be dying, and perhaps he would not have pushed the girl to make a choice she should not have made.”

“You have the gall to blame me?” Hrothgar replied. Alfhilde could see the anger burning in him, brighter every second. This was not the direction she had intended to take the conversation, but here they were. Hrothgar added, “I was worried for you—”

“You are not a fighter!” Alfhilde said. “This is what I do—or what I did. I am able to take care of myself, especially fighting back to back with a diviner, one of the greatest warriors in the world. The only thing you do by joining me in battle is give me one more thing to worry about.”

“You would rather have him on your side than me, then?” Hrothgar rejoined. The volcanic anger Alfhilde had seen turned icy.

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