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Nessilka had been in any number of battles, and she couldn’t remember the first ten minutes of any of them.
She had a theory that if you could remember the first ten minutes, you’d never, ever charge at anybody again, so parts of your brain blotted them out.
The problem was that she couldn’t imagine why her brain would want her to continue charging at people, and this then led her to the theory that parts of her brain worked for the Goblin High Command, which she didn’t like at all.
Regardless, it was ten minutes into the battle, and she couldn’t remember what had just happened. There’d been a lot of yelling. Everyone yelled. No matter what species you were, elf, human, goblin, orc, random bystander, you yelled. There had been a lot of hitting things. Her shield was bent in four or five places, and her arms ached dreadfully.
Algol went by at high speed, shield raised, with Mishkin and Mushkin practically stepping on his heels. Mishkin had gotten a sword from somewhere, and was waving it dangerously close to Algol’s kidneys.
She had no idea how the battle was going, but she didn’t seem to be dead, so from her perspective, everything was really going rather well.
Unfortunately, Sergeant Nessilka had just seen a problem.
The problem stood on a little rise, just enough to lift him out of the battle proper. He looked human, and he wasn’t wearing armor, or carrying any weapons.
He was doing something with his hands, and there was a blueness in the air around him—not really a blue light, per se, but the world around him was turning shades of blue, like something behind a pane of cobalt glass. That wasn’t right. That was magic, that was.
A bolt of blueness streaked out from his open mouth, and hit a knot of goblins, who fell down.
Aw, hell, Nessilka thought. It’s a wizard...
This is the sort of dry, realistic humor that the author does quite famously through her paintings and children's books. Reminisant of Terry Pratchett's sort of 'real fantasy' characters, where unicorns are ungrateful, goblins just want a nice spot to sit and complain in, and wizards are very very frightening to everyone around them. I hope to see more from T. Kingfisher in the future.
Hell of a good way to spend a few hours
A stunningly entertaining and cleverly written novella. The author is a gift unto humanity--check it out!