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“He was simply a coward. This was not a condemnation; she genuinely appreciated it about him. The truly craven were, in her eyes, nothing to despise; she had spent much of her life hiding with them, cowering in the dank, dark corners of root cellars, hiding up high in the branches of trees, or cringing below the putrid edges of half-full latrines, listening as pillaging troops and blood-lusting rioters tore apart their homes and villages. She remembered looking into the cowards quiet, knowing eyes as they huddled together, listening to the gunshots and the screams and then the receding din of the marching boots mixed with the clatter of looted spoils, all followed finally by the perfect silence of death. Cloaked there in that petrified darkness, crammed shoulder to shoulder with the breath of their fear on her neck, she learned that coward was often only another name for survivor.”

– Toby Barlow, Babayaga


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