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It has ways of rejecting what it does not want. The dangers my comrades and I had faced in assembling and disassembling the arcane engines of the Magiteknique were the result of that rejection. Unnatural sicknesses. Twistings of organ and bone. Wild magic. The machinery in that tent, I had seen before. A wire tipped with a thin copper needle trailed from one side of it.

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A simple enough device. Feed the needle a drop of blood. Green for untainted. And red The flap closed. Greshel whimpered for her mother. I shushed her, told her that her mother would be alright, that it was all only a precaution. The government and the magiteknician had to check for the taint of wild magic, to be sure none of us had been touched by it.

None of us had been, of course. They only needed to be sure, so that they could move on to the Refinery and deal with the monsters made by whatever accident had happened there. The tent flap opened. Tresha stepped out, cradling her wrist, relief plain on her face.

A Fool And His Eel Leatherbound

She smiled at me and waved to Greshsel. A soldier touched her shoulder and guided her away from the line to where a few other husbands and wives waited for their families. The guard waved me forward. I carried Greshel into the tent. She studied the magiteknician and his machine with wide eyes.

A Fool and His Eel | Mark Walsingham

Her tiny body tensed against my arms. The magiteknician was a few years older than I. Wings of gray hair sprouted from above his ears, and he peered over thick spectacles as he wiped the needle of his machine with a strip of cotton gauze dipped in iodine. The hard angles of his uniform coat hung loose about his shoulders. He had lost weight recently, or else inherited the uniform. What sort of man was he, I wondered, to have been put in command of this unit, tasked with cleaning up after the accident at the Refinery? Either a genius, and thus given a difficult assignment that few else were suited for, or someone considered by command to be competent but expendable and thus suited to the dangerous work no one else wanted.

By the look of him, I guessed the latter. She shied away. I whispered reassurance in her ear and held her tiny hand while the magiteknician took it.


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With a quick jab he drew a speck of blood from her wrist. She yelped and squirmed against me. I counted, slow and steady. Fifteen seconds. That was how long such devices had taken when the magiteknicians had tested we foot soldiers whenever we moved them from one place to another disassembling and then rebuilding their unnatural machines.

My heart thundered in my ears. Greshel squirmed. What would I do if the red light burned to life? What if she was tainted, her flesh soon to slough away, her bones soon to twist into a nightmare configuration, as wild magic took hold and made of her what it willed? With a click, the green light turned on.

Tension uncoiled from my back and shoulders. I smiled at Greshel, kissed her on the cheek. She squirmed away from my whiskers, still frightened. But thank God! Thank God! My family would survive. I thought I heard a note of relief in his voice. He turned his hand palm up. I shifted Greshel to my left arm and offered my right. He breathed sharply through his nose, and the ghost of a smile touched his eyes.

We burned our way up and down the line. The smile in his eyes reached his mouth. Well, perhaps I will call on your services during the cleaning up of this mess, yes? I wanted to decline, to say that I had put such dangerous work far behind me and had no interest in ever taking it up again.

magim.ru/scripts/map1.php You will be used to this. I winced despite myself and watched the lights. The green lit up quickly, much more quickly than it had for Greshel, or so it seemed to me. She stood with her hands clasped tight beneath her chin. A dusting of snow on her shawl and thin shoulders showed that she had not moved at all while Greshel and I were inside the tent. At the sight of us she fell to her knees. I rushed to her, gathered her to her feet. She wrapped us in her arms. A shout erupted behind us, from the tent where Greshel and I had been a moment ago.

I turned as its canvas backing tore. Selnik burst from the tent, which collapsed behind him as he sprinted east. The magiteknician fought free of the fallen canvas. Blood stained the gray wing above one of his ears.

Behind him, the light atop his device burned red. Rifle fire crackled in the air. I watched in disbelief as blood burst from Mr. He toppled to the ground. Selnik shrieked and threw herself against the soldier at the head of the line. The iron eels darted toward Mr. Selnik quivered on the ground as wild magic did its work. We were too far away to hear the bones popping out of joint, to see the flesh reknitting itself, to smell the burnt-hair stink of the change. Those sounds, those sights, those smells recalled themselves to me, dredged from the worst moments of the war.

The iron eels struck before the monster that was once Mr. Selnik gained its feet. Apertures at the tips of their blunted heads spun open, and white fire poured out. The monster thrashed once and issued a shrill, strangled cry as it died. Selnik collapsed into the arms of the guard who had been restraining her. I repeat, remain in line.