They returned to the Akademi der Luftsmagiker without further incident, though they jumped at every shadow. Or, at any rate, Einar and Lilja did. Sif wasn’t about to try to jump given the battering she’d taken.
When they arrived, Einar rolled the page with the shining hand into a tube and slipped it into his sleeve. “We’ll talk soon,” he said, bidding them good night.
Sif didn’t strictly need the help, but Lilja nevertheless stayed by her side until she had managed the staircase and was safely in her room. Sif gingerly sat on the bed.
Lilja hovered in her doorway. “I don’t like this.”
Sif smiled. “We’re alive,” she replied. “Tomorrow, we’ll tell someone what we saw. That’ll be the end of it.”
“I hope you’re right. Good night, Sif. Feel better.” Lilja pulled the door closed and was gone.
Sif sat in bed for some minutes after she left. Eventually, she came to a decision. Rummaging in her trunk, she found a quill and a sheet of paper. She pulled her chair up to her desk and slowly, laboriously began to write:
I hope you’re well. We hear next to nothing about the war. I’m settling in well at the Akademi. When you’re in den Holm, you’ll have to meet my friends. Hrothgar, Alfhilde, and Jakob have built a house, and I visit every Halfdanstag. They send their greetings, and told me to invite you to dinner the next time you’re here.
Sif paused, set her pen down, and flexed her fingers. The quality of her handwriting was improving, but it still hurt to do very much of it in one sitting. Unfortunately, she had a lot left to write. She took up the pen and put to paper a description of the night’s events, including every detail she could call to mind.
She set the pen down again, squeezed her hand, and added a coda.
I would appreciate your advice. I don’t know what these magiker were doing under the sign of the shining hand, but I don’t like it, and neither do my friends. We’ve told our master here, Herre Leifsson, but I trust you more than I trust him. Should we be worried? Are we in danger? I look forward to hearing from you, and I hope we see each other soon.
Sif signed the letter, let it dry for a few moments, then folded it and slipped it under her pillow. She would send it in the morning.