I know what the objections will be to this story. No need to read other reviews. There will be complaints about the lack of romance, the lack of sex and the length.
If I read those reviews, I will react badly. So. It's quite simple.
This is how a short story is meant to be written. THIS. Every movement, every detail furthers the action, the characterization, the central themes. Every word is there for a reason. Every scene is necessary.
We're given glimpses and hints of world building, through the action, through the surroundings, but the details are so integral that you know there's a complete world behind this story, not simply a few Scrabble-word, fantasy realm names and such sprinkled around. There's a system of magic. There are rules. You FEEL them.
I often despise first person and loathe present tense even more. They distract me. Pull me out of the story. Here. Oh, here...it makes the story raw and immediate and painful. We discover the back story and the answers as the character does and it's awful and painful and flipping terrible things have happened. There's violence, but not long-drawn out gore fests. There's sex, but off screen because it's not important to go into detail.
It was short. Yes. It was intense. I took maybe an hour and a half to read this and won't be able to forget it. Perhaps ever.
The author's name intrigued me. It's one of my own favorite character's names, after all. But I'll be looking for longer work from this author. Write more, Tal. Write epics. Because I want to see what you do when you give yourself room to roam.