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The Long Retreat No. 63

Falthejn shrugged. “Before we knew the dangers of magic, we had only the Twelve’s warning that its unsanctioned use meant death, and their wrath if we tolerated it. Now that we know the truth, your choices are a great deal less bad.” He looked aside for a moment, lost in thought, then turned back to Sif. “You’ve seen danger, now—tasted the life we magiker live. What do you say?”

Sif pressed her lips together, glancing over her shoulder. Alfhilde and Hrothgar were talking—quietly, but heatedly. She looked away. “I don’t know yet. Can I have some time to think?”

“Yes,” Falthejn said, “but I will have to know by the time we reach the fort.”

Sif nodded and dropped back a pace, brows knit together, her mind racing. Two roads stretched out ahead of her—well, only one of them was sure. She could go with Falthejn, become a magiker, and be somebody—change the world for the better, just like he did. Or, maybe, she could go with Alfhilde and Hrothgar. They were kind to her, and they offered something she’d never truly known: a place to belong. Would they want her, though? She was a thief and worse, and she suspected she would be a handful. What would they say if she asked?

For once, nobody noticed her troubled expression. Alone with her thoughts, she walked on.

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The Long Retreat No. 63


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