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Taniel removed a snuff box from his belt pouch and tapped a line of black powder out on the back of his hand. He snorted it in one breath and felt the world warp and twist beneath his feet, coming into focus clearer than it had been before. The shapes of the city buildings sprang into sharp relief as the powder trance washed over him, the rain brightening as if he'd shone a lantern on it, and the shadow became a girl.
They'd called us the Hellhounds of Surnam, the Butchers of Bursa, and a hundred other epithets to make children wail and heroes grow faint. We'd fought Prince Zhar's finest to a draw at Second Aktar and ended the line of the old kings at Kurqand. Depending on who you asked, we were the best soldiers in the world, or beasts in human form.
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