The Continuing Adventures of Sif No. 46

“Good,” Leifsson said. “You may go. Not you, Sif Hrothgarsdottir. I have other business to discuss with you, while you’re here.”

Lilja stood, smiled tentatively at Sif, and turned to walk away. Einar, too, rose, dipping his head to Leifsson with an ill-concealed look of suspicion on his face. “You’ll keep us up to date?” he said. Sif wasn’t sure if he was talking to Leifsson or to her.

Leifsson answered. “I will.”

Einar didn’t seem reassured, but nodded to Sif and followed Lilja away from the table.

Leifsson watched them go, then turned his gaze back to Sif. She shifted in her chair. “You aren’t planning to leave it alone, are you?” he said.

“What makes you say that?” It was worth a try, anyway.

Leifsson shook his head. “You’ll have to try harder than that. As your master here, I ordered you to leave this alone, and you aren’t going to. Yes or no?”

Well, maybe honesty would work, Sif thought. “I’m not going to leave it alone.”

Leifsson half-smiled. “As I expected.”

Silence descended. Sif shifted again. She liked to think she was difficult to get to, but evidence was piling up against the idea. Eventually, she hazarded, “Am I in trouble?”

“No,” Leifsson said. Honesty for honesty, Sif thought. “If you were a student on the traditional path, maybe, but a luftsmagiker ought to be independent, and you don’t have very much time to learn that lesson.” He tilted his head to one side and gave her a close look. “Although it doesn’t appear you need very much prompting.”

“I have a good reason,” said Sif. “I think it’s important that I keep at it.”

“Is it your diviner friend?” Leifsson said. Sif didn’t reply. Leifsson nodded. “Be careful putting too much trust in him.”

“He’s a good man,” Sif interrupted, a little more loudly than she had intended. One or two pairs of eyes turned to their table, then turned away again.

“He may very well be,” Leifsson said, leaning forward and speaking more quietly. “Even the rare diviner who is a good person usually has an ulterior motive. Do you think of yourself as a good person?”

Sif blinked, then nodded.

“If you could end the war, let’s say, by sacrificing one of your friends, would you?”

Of course not, Sif thought, but then she thought a moment longer.

Leifsson interrupted her brief reverie. “Exactly. That’s the choice before a f├Âraningsmagiker every time he sees the future.”

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