The Second War

Even before the Farstrider turned towards her, his mouth a line of regret, before Tyrric gave a ragged cry and dashed forward, Mirium knew. Mirium knew, and suddenly her world would never be the same.

The funeral had seemed hurried to Evelos. He knew the reason: the war was still ongoing, and the Farstriders still weren’t sure if they had caught every last roving band of orcs that dared to push this far into Eversong. Still, it rankled in him. His father deserved better than this.

But maybe it wasn’t the orcs, or rather, not just them. A falsetto note of grief came from the sidelines, where Evelos’ uncle was still voicing his sorrows from the bottom of his cups. He had drunken deeply, so much Mirium had tried to convince him not to attend. Evelos had convinced her out of that, pointing out Keelath’s death was just as much a dagger through Tyrric’s heart as any of theirs’, but she had snapped him into silence. Her sudden anger still shocked him.

Evelos had been to funerals before, of course. He was trained as a priest, and overseeing the passing of the dead was one of his duties. Usually, though, he stood next to the casket rather than in the crowd. He hoped he could at least maintain the same solemnity that he would keep when he was the one saying the eulogies rather than listening to them. Instead he just felt empty and transparent, as if a pitying gaze would spear him as well as any sword.

He shifted minutely and listened to Tyrric howl. Mother was beside him, but she was deathly silent. His father’s death had taken something out of her, Evelos thought. They had been a long-standing couple, even by the standard of elves. He imagined it had to be like losing an arm or leg. He started shivering at the thought and found he couldn’t stop.

The priesthood began to sing as the casket was finally closed and hoisted onto the shoulders of the knights who would bear Keelath to his final resting place. Tyrric brokenly tried to sing along, but cut off midway with an outbreak of cursing. Evelos winced, but no one said anything of it. On Evelos’ other side, Mirium hummed in time with the priesthood, in the chillingly pure tones that only she could manage, as a once-troubadour. No tears trailed across her cheeks–another surprise to Evelos–and the look in her eyes was fierce, dire. It was almost as if she fought a battle against her own grief instead of the Horde.

Evelos did nothing. Nothing would have gotten around the knot in his throat if he tried. The grief of the night before loomed up and threatened to swallow him whole again. He closed his eyes and listened to the singing, imagining the notes to be birds’ wings that lifted him into the Light, where all was good and kind. He wondered if it was cowardice to wish such sensations would wash out his feelings, or a true faith in the Light. He decided it didn’t matter, as a trickle of tears finally made it past his lashes.

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