The Long Retreat No. 77

At the very top of the bend, just before the headland, an arch of stone crossed the river. If Alfhilde squinted, she could just make out human figures crossing it. “When did they build that?”

Hrothgar frowned, thought for a moment, and said, “Just now.”

“How do you figure?”

“The diviner told us where to go—to go here, to the ford. If he had known of a bridge, he would have led us to it,” Hrothgar replied.

Sif stood and said, “He told me that the army had other magiker, besides diviners. Maybe one of them knows how to make a bridge.”

Alfhilde shrugged. Sif supposed it wasn’t important, given the situation. “Well,” she said, “Our men did too good a job clearing the far bank. Nowhere to to lodge a rope for a crossing.” She looked upriver again. “We’ll have to go on foot. We’ll wave at the fort as we go by. They’ll never hear us over this din,” she continued, the river’s roar underlining her point, “but if fate is on our side, they’ll see us.”

Hrothgar’s customary frown deepened as he surveyed the intervening terrain. “Will we make it in time?”

Alfhilde turned her gaze on Sif. “Can you make a bridge? Are you able to, I mean to say. If you can, don’t.”

Meekly, Sif held up her hands. “I wouldn’t even know where to start.”

Alfhilde nodded. “As I expected. We walk—and we had better get moving now.”

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