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Robin McKinley — The Hero and the Crown (1984)

Maur’s ugly black skull had been hung high on the wall of the great hall, whose ceilings were three stories tall. It had been placed there by some other direction, for she had had nothing to do with it, nor would have wanted it there had she been asked. Even in the great hall it was huge; she looked at it, and it she could see clearly, and it leered at her. I am the shape of their fear, it said, for you dared to slay me.

I am the shape of their fear, the thing said.

But I am lame and crippled from our meeting, she replied; I am human like them, for I was sorely wounded.

The thing laughed; the laugh came as a ripple of heavy silence that muffled the uncertain conversation in the hall; but only Aerin heard.

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