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THIRTY-THREE TALES OF WAR XXVII: THE BARD

KANDRISEV, 2A213-2A230

Civil war rages in the black-blooded nation of Kandrisev. Its citizens grow restless. They demand their voices be heard. These are their stories laid out in thirty-three tales of war.



THE Bard smiled at her fellow traveller and his young son. They stood on the road to Shkolle: her going, them coming. He gave her a small handful of onepieces and bid her play a cheerful song for his son’s nameday. Her fingers rasped across the goatskin stretched over her drum.


Bless you, young-ling

Today you were named

May your night be

filled with games.

Though you’ve grown old-er

Still you are young

Cher-ish your time and have your fun

Bless you, young-ling

May you grow up strong

May your years be

warm and long.


The man clapped as he approached, grabbing the Bard’s hand as if to offer another coin but yanked her sharply inward. Unbalanced, she yelped, heart thundering like the hooves of spooked deer. She dropped her drum and scuffled with the man. Somehow, her back ended up against his chest and his hand squeezed against her throat.


“Pogi,” the man commanded.


The Bard shrieked and kicked while the little boy ruffled through her cape and pockets. Her coinpurse lifted off her belt. The man whirled her away hard enough for her to strike her chin on the muddy ground. Scrambling up, blurry-eyed, she watched him lift Pogi onto his shoulders and snatch up her drum. Blood rushed past her ears. “Stop,” she yelled, stumbling after him. A searing pain in her side kept her from getting very far. She fell to her knees. Blood black as night dripped onto the ground beneath her. Sobbing, the Bard held a hand to her bleeding stomach. She never felt the knife go in.



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