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    The floorboards of the cottage creaked as Ljufvina shifted her stance. She stood alone at the table in the area used for cooking, working by firelight from the hearth, mixing ingredients carefully in an iron pot. Ljufvina was a daudha-gydhja, a death-priestess, what her mentor, Valka, told her a foreigner from the South had once called an “Angel of Death.” Ljufvina comforted the dying, said the prayers, performed the funeral rites. All of her life, she had felt called to this holy profession. Others might think it was morbid, but Ljufvina was proud to serve the dead a...

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