Sif swallowed. That was bad news. Outwardly, though, she smiled. The elder magiker could have walked by without saying anything. Sif appreciated the effort to make her feel better, and she hadn’t missed Annike’s switch to the informal voice just now. “Thank you, Annike Sigvardsdottir. That makes me feel much better.”
“Of course. It’s our duty to help those who need it,” Annike replied. “Enjoy your book, Sif Hrothgarsdottir, and I do hope you find your way back to sleep soon. I’m told Herre Leifsson has something special in store for you tomorrow.”
Sif kept the smile on her face. “I look forward to it. Good night, Kvinna.”
Annike returned Sif’s smile and dipped her head in farewell.
Sif returned to her book. Something was bothering her, and she couldn’t put her finger on it. She tried to read, but the words stacked up on themselves as she turned the problem over in her mind.
It came to her suddenly. What was Annike Sigvardsdottir doing wandering the halls of the Akademi at this hour? Dispensing advice to students seemed somehow beneath her station. Sif had never seen her during the day. Come to think of it, the only one of the Seven Sif ever saw in the halls of the Akademi was Baltasar Rasmussen. Why now?
She came up with a few answers. Annike Sigvardsdottir was just a night owl. She felt a tugging through the weave and let it carry her along—Herre Leifsson talked about that all the time. She was fighting the Shining Hand, and knew to warn Sif of their tactics. She was part of the Shining Hand, and aimed to scare Sif away.
Sif had no evidence one way or another, but her dream still weighed heavily on her mind. Her thoughts whirled, a storm building on itself. Had it been Annike Sigvardsdottir speaking to her then? No, the woman in her dream had a high voice with a creak, and Annike spoke in a lower register.
Nor could she say for sure that the Shining Hand was something to worry about, though she doubted her suspicions were misplaced. Her mind jumped to the letter under her pillow. Falthejn would know what to do, and help her know who to trust. Tomorrow, too, she could ask Baltasar Rasmussen about Annike Sigvardsdottir’s habits.
She could do no more tonight. She glanced at her candle, and was surprised to find it had burned halfway down. Lost in thought, she had lost track of time. Her eyelids finally began to feel heavy, and it felt to her as though a weight had been lifted from her shoulders. She snuffed the candle, took her book, and returned to her room.
Soon after, she slept.