The Long Retreat No. 81

A pair of ontr followed it, dragging a third between them. As he had thought: the ontling being dragged was one of the ones Sif had killed the night before, going by its mangled appearance and the shining bits of armor still locked around its limbs. The two ontr dragging it dropped it at the feet of the largest one. It stirred, not quite as dead as Falthejn had thought.

The largest ontling spoke in a loud voice, and though Falthejn understood none of it, the gist of the speech was clear: “So-and-so has failed us. He will pay with his life.”

The ontlig warleader raised his hands, and Falthejn felt the energy flow past as the ontling began to chant. The weave of the world twisted, then snapped back. A bolt of lightning appeared from overhead, followed immediately by a deafening thunderclap.

Falthejn blinked until his sight came back, and worked his jaw against the ringing in his hears. Before the ontlig warleader, there remained only a smoking crater—and the warleader was looking straight at Falthejn. The diviner froze. Ducking behind the tree, moving while the beast’s eye was on him, would be even worse. After a few long heartbeats, the ontling looked away for a moment, and Falthejn leaned back into his hiding place. Drums beat in the camp, along with the shouts of leaders rousing their troops.

Falthejn cursed to himself. Well, he had wanted to lead them off…

Focusing on his next few seconds, he ran out along a sturdy-seeming branch, jumped, and landed on another, connected to a different tree. He wobbled for a moment, found his balance, and grinned. That was a good trick. He moved toward his new tree’s trunk, then winced as the gashes in his side throbbed. Nothing for it, he thought, and took a running start down another branch toward the next tree in line.

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