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Out on the Molten Front, Blood Guard Gromtar Redfang fixed his subordinate with a condescending glare over his mug of coffee.  “Let me get this straight: her mother is here.  Duskflame’s mother.  And you’re bothering me for this?”

The troll shifted nervously, standing in the door of his commanding officer’s tent.   “Yah, well, sir, ya see—”

The orc snorted.  “Sergeant Jin’dan.  Do I look like Matron Battlewail to you?”

Jin’dan blinked, confused.  “Sir?”

Gromtar sighed heavily, standing and placing his hands flat on his desk.  “Jin’dan, maybe you haven’t noticed, but there’s a war going on.  I’m not running a bloody daycare for scouts!  You go back out there and you tell Duskflame’s mother—”

A sound came from off in the distance that wasn’t quite a boom, and a woman’s voice cheerfully called out, “Eight!”

Jin’dan glanced back and rubbed his neck nervously.  “Sir, I really t’ink you should go out dere… she said she was goin’ t’count t’ten….”

To ten!”  Gromtar barked with laughter.  “Or what, the old biddy will spank me?!”

Before the nervous Sergeant Jin’dan could answer he was nearly bowled over by a grunt running past him screaming into the tent.  “Fire!” howled the grunt.  “Demons!  Murder!  Blood!  AAAAAAH!”

Gromtar stepped around his desk, grabbed the shrieking grunt by one arm, and punched him across the face.  The grunt stopped screaming, and started coughing and shaking instead, and Gromtar seized him by both shoulders.  “Get a grip, soldier.  What’s going on?”

“Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine,” sang the lilting female voice again, closer.

“The witch,” the grunt sobbed.  “The warlock, the sorceress.  Sh—she set Sergeant Jin’dan’s tent on fire—”  Jin’dan, having found his feet again, glanced out the tent flap and frowned in dismay “—and then she — she — sir, she looked at me, and — and—”

“Nine and a haaaaalf….”

Gromtar growled and practically threw the grunt into a chair.  “Enough,” he snarled, and Jin’dan hopped back to get out of his way as the Blood Guard stormed out of his tent.  “Fucking elves!  We’ll see what this one has to say for herself…!”

* * * * *

“So he commended me for bravery, and then he sent me home,” Kuvasei pouted, turning her teacup in her hands.  “I don’t even know how he found out about my age.  I was so careful!

Sitting beside his mistress’ chair, Kreelum lifted his head and snorted softly, and Astoreth reached down with her free hand to stroke his quills.  “It is a mystery,” she agreed, serenely sipping her tea.

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