A Proper Burial

Y’reen gathered his children; his two daughters, Roon and Afaya, and his youngest, Cratio, not yet himself a man. “I want a proper burial,” he told them. “Like our ancestors.”

Afaya bit her lower lip and turned to her sister. She followed Roon like illness follows the elderly, still to this day.

“Of course,” said Roon. “It’s your right.”

Afaya’s mouth fell open now, but she spoke not a word.

“Swear it,” Y’reen demanded. “Fire and smoke is not our way, and neither is the sea.”

“Of course,” said Roon again, too easily. “But be practical, father. We still have so much to do before the rain comes, and you’re looking stronger each day. We have work to do.” She stood and walked out of the house. Afaya rubbed her father’s hand and followed her sister without her voice singing a single note.

Y’reen sighed. “To Roon I am already buried,” he said. “She’d feed me to the ocean alive if she could carry me to the coast, and Afaya would not stand in her way.” Cratio just sat by the bed quietly, his silence all the affirmation Y’reen needed. “My son, you have always been kind. Be kind now to your father. Fetch a cart and two strong beasts. Bring a chest of dried meat and a water barrel.”

“I will do as you ask, but where are we to go?” Cratio’s voice was sweet and earnest. A father could have no better son.

“Take me to the Seznian Valley where the old kings sleep. I wish to see my grandfather’s grandfathers.”

“It’s forbidden!” Cratio looked over his shoulder as if someone might hear.

Y’reen croaked out his version of a laugh. “What will they do? Kill me? I am already slain to my own daughters. The new kings are kings only of blood, and blood does not make kingdoms grow. Take me now to Seznia. Let your father know peace.”

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