There was a knock at her door. She slipped a bookmark between the pages, reverentially folded the book closed, and padded over to the door. She pulled it slightly ajar and peered through the crack.
Lilja stood in the corridor. “Dinner?”
It was deep into the evening, and the great hall had emptied somewhat as the diners returned to their rooms, or to their business elsewhere. Half of the remaining magiker clustered around the tafl boards. The other half clustered around a cask of ale at the end of the sideboard.
There were tables aplenty. Sif and Lilja opted for one nearer the hearth. The deepening twilight brought with it a deepening chill, and in the same way that the hall of the eldesmagiker was always catching fire, the hall of the luftsenmagiker was always a little drafty.
Lilja flagged down a servant, who brought two bowls of stew and a loaf of light, airy bread. As ever, she steered the conversation, chatting about this and that. She and Einar had gone on a nice walk around the High Quarter in the late afternoon. She had questions about the reading for tomorrow’s class. She wondered if Sif would give her some pointers on the poles, since she clearly had some catching up to do.
As ever, Sif followed along. She suspected Lilja was dying to ask how the chat with Herre Leifsson had gone, and that she was avoiding the topic because she knew it had Sif worried. Sif appreciated the thoughtfulness. It was nice to be distracted.
It also couldn’t last forever. As they were just finishing their meal, Sif said, “Herre Leifsson wants to talk to me again later tonight.”
Lilja jumped on the opportunity. “What did he say?”
“Not very much.” Sif’s forehead creased. “There’s been a Shining Hand before. He said not to do the thing with your hand— that one.”
Lilja closed her palm guiltily.
“Apparently, people still remember the last one, and they still don’t like it. He said he’d tell me more later. Does Einar still have the poster?”
“I think so.” Lilja pointed over Sif’s shoulder. “I think he’s about to win. We can ask him.”
“He won’t make many friends, playing how he’s playing,” Sif observed. “Let’s go watch.”