Torshael and Tayne's Story: Between Missions

Chapter Three


Though Haiiro had never been to a funeral before, the one for Torshael's father seemed like a good one, to him. It was respectful and solemn, but not too sad-- thankfully, for anything more sad would probably have sent poor Vaillal Peregrin from her occasional sniffles to all-out sobs, and she'd been crying enough lately.

It began with the funeral party meeting the vigil at dawn to help carry the heavy, marble coffin and its beautifully rendered cap. They thankfully only had to get it a few streets down to the larger, more elaborate temple where the actual funeral was to be held, as only one of them had any power over air, and she could only lessen the coffin's weight so much. Even though there were at least ten of them helping to carry the massive thing, it was hard enough work to keep them all warm in the crisp air of early morning.

The funeral itself was longer than Haiiro had expected, though Torshael had told him the usual order of things. It began with the procession of the sarcophagus up the center isle to its place at the front of the room, the brief musical piece and following hymn of the dead. There was the welcome and official eulogy, a small variety of individuals giving speeches about the deceased, and the blessing and hymn for the living. There was a time of quiet as those who wished could file past the coffin itself for private farewells. The High One himself took part in the end, transporting the sarcophagus in an instant to its place in the cemetery-- saving the funeral party having to carry it to the very edge of the City-- and it ended finally with the recessional of the funeral party and then the rest of the attendees. There was a smaller gathering grave-side for a final benediction and farewell of closest friends and family, then the wake at one of the main halls scattered throughout the City with anyone who wanted to come.

It sounded simple enough, but Haiiro hadn't really anticipated the huge number of supernals-- and their variety of bonds, who were almost entirely humans or elves, the main two intelligent species in the realm aside from supernals and infernals-- who wound up attending, or the number of people who wanted to speak and say their last farewells. Tashel had apparently been very popular with even distant branches of his family, and with various family friends in and out of the City. Torshael was one of the speakers, the obligatory representative as not only the closest living relative willing and able to speak-- Tayne had firmly turned down the opportunity, Vienel didn't like public speaking, and poor Vaillal couldn't get enough coherent words out-- and the new unofficial head of the Peregrin family. He was one of the more brief speakers, given he actually had a prepared speech rather than a series of reminiscences or emotional experiences, but he really wasn't bad, either: he had a way with words that Haiiro envied a little, sometimes.

Others who came up and spoke, as well. There was Idel Cirelli, who had shared the vigil with them as Tashel's oldest and closest friend and who, despite his apparent anger over the whole situation, was remarkably eloquent on how loyal and loving a friend Tashel was. A white and brown supernal who called Tashel father, as well, was brief, gruff, and trying very hard not to be emotional in front of everyone gathered. A white supernal with his copious mane done up in hundreds of long, slender braids came up and regaled the gathering with tales of Tashel in school, just over a hundred years ago. A particularly small gray and blue supernal said in a small voice how he had helped mentor her through her own training not ten years ago. The list of speakers was long; Torshael and Tayne, who had done most of the organizing, had been loathe to turn anyone away who sincerely wanted to share what they had known of their father, especially since they had only seen him for a small portion of his life.

Listening to various supernals talk about Tashel Peregrin, Haiiro rather wished he'd known him. He sounded like the kind of person anyone would be glad to count as a friend. Haiiro would have liked to have seen him with Torshael, Tayne, and Vienel, or even working, as several supernals described having done with him. He would have liked to meet his bond, who only a few of the speakers also mentioned-- but that was to be expected, as Torshael had told him that a separate funeral would be held the next day for Jonas himself, so his death was not entirely eclipsed by Tashel's and both could be remembered separately by the people closest to them. Already he knew he liked Vaillal's bond Analil, even though she was grieving for Jonas just as Vaillal did for Tashel, albeit with rather less hysterics. It would have been nice to have another supernal-bonded around who knew what it was like to live in the City without having been raised there....

With all the people who wanted to speak, and then all the people who wanted to make use of the time of quiet to make their own farewells to the empty sarcophagus in lieu of an actual body, the funeral took all morning. It wasn't silent-- such a huge group could never be entirely silent, after all, and there were some low-voiced conversations being held, though not many-- but it was certainly quiet. Haiiro was a little embarrassed when he caught himself nodding off more than once during the latter, especially since his own sleepiness was only compounded by-- and compounding, in turn-- Torshael's, and Torshael needed to be awake even more than he did. He didn't even have listening to people's thoughts to keep him awake; he'd been ruthlessly limiting when he did that, ever since he left Kynn, and at a funeral was certainly not the time to be hearing people's private thoughts!

But he'd been up all night with Torshael, so he needed something to help him stay awake. He had to make do with watching and regular listening, watching the supernals making their slow way to and from the sarcophagus and listening to pawfalls and the soft music in the background. It gave him a chance to practice remembering what colors went with what element, and guessing what powers went with what combinations. Every now and then Torshael, who had picked up on what he was doing, would offer some tidbit of information about whoever he was looking at, or a hint as to what abilities a supernal had, probably to help keep himself awake.

Both of them had been so engrossed in the "game" that neither noticed Tayne leaving their row on the temple floor until he was halfway up to the coffin itself. Haiiro even "guessed" the ability a split second before he realized that he didn't need to guess; he knew, because it was Tayne. He blinked, watching him stop before the stone carving of his father for a long moment, then caught a hint of concern across his bond with Torshael.


::I'm just a little worried about Tayne, that's all,:: Torshael replied to the sense of questioning. ::He always got along with Father best, but I've hardly seen him crack since we found out. He's just been as calm as usual.::

Haiiro considered a moment, then directed Torshael wordlessly to a memory of Tayne being teasing, something he hadn't done since they'd arrived. ::True, he hasn't exactly been light-hearted, either. I expect he'll be all right, I just expected a little more out of him, that's all.::

Giving his bond's ear a reassuring nuzzle, Haiiro tried to convey that he thought Tayne would be all right. He just needed some time. Not everyone could be as openly emotive as Vaillal, after all. Apparently he did well enough, for Torshael sighed very softly and nodded as Tayne turned and made his way slowly back to where they sat. Realizing guiltily that they hadn't really talked about how Torshael felt, this whole time, Haiiro sent a tendril of concern back across the bond, though this time attached to the white of Torshael in his mind. Torshael smiled a bit and turned to nuzzle him, back. ::I'm all right. I'll be better when all of this is over.... I'll miss him, but he's earned his rest, and I'll see him again someday.::

A little relieved, sensing complete truth, Haiiro settled back again to watching. The flow seemed to be slowing, and Haiiro was running out of new color combinations to guess at. The officious-looking, solid gray supernal-- Spirit element, Haiiro had long since reminded himself in regards to him, a fitting color for someone acting as a priest over a funeral-- was coming back up to the side of the sarcophagus, from which point he'd delivered the welcome and initiated the singing. Haiiro perked up a bit; maybe it was almost done.

As the last of the family and friends found their seats again, the sarcophagus itself began to glow faintly. Haiiro noticed immediately, already looking in that direction, but it took the gathered supernals and bonds a moment to fall completely silent. It was a heavy, waiting silence, and the glow intensified slowly but surely. It was like watching Torshael summon for a Purification, only the light wasn't-- quite-- white. Paying close attention, Haiiro saw beams of pale green, violet, blue, red-- every color imaginable, melded into the white.

Then it was too bright to look at, and as soon as he looked away to shield his eyes with a shaggy fall of forelock, there was a sound like-- but not quite like-- the pure toll of a giant, solemn bell, and the light vanished. Along with the sarcophagus. Haiiro blinked, seeing spots a moment, belatedly remembering that this was the High One's part of the service, transporting the sarcophagus into place in the cemetery.

And now they got to leave, and at least move around for a while as they walked to the cemetery. The funeral party, including Haiiro and the brothers, left first, filing out two by two down the center isle and out, down the stairs to the street. The rest fell in behind them as they passed. Haiiro felt like his hooves on the stone steps were far too loud, and kept his eyes down against the curious looks from the crowd they passed. No one had paid him any attention on the way in, but without the coffin to detract from his oddness, he was fair game, now.

::Haiiro,:: Torshael sent gently, ::why don't you meet us at home? I know you don't want to be stared at and questioned at the wake this afternoon....::

Haiiro shook his head. His place was with Torshael.

::Your place is wherever you want it to be, Haiiro,:: Torshael answered, somehow picking up what he actually meant from the vague emotions that accompanied his negation. ::Relatives will likely be stopping in on us all week, since they're in town. They can gawk at you in smaller numbers, then. Besides,:: he added hopefully, ::if you're not here, then maybe I'll have an excuse to go home early, as well. Then I won't have to play head-of-house while I'm half asleep for quite as long.::

Swallowing a whicker of amusement, Haiiro thought a moment, then answered with conditional agreement. He'd stay for the graveside benediction, then go back to Vaillal's to wait for the rest of the family. ::Fair enough,:: Torshael smiled over at him, and he started thinking up ways he could slip away or make an excuse to leave, in case someone stopped him.

The graveside ceremony with the Spirit-element priest was brief, and as it turned out, Haiiro didn't need any of his stealth or excuses. An amiable looking Favored-- not one from the funeral; he'd been in that temple long enough that he would have recognized her scent, and besides, he didn't think any of them were wearing rings like that on their horns-- approached him as the group started to disperse. "Haiiro'Hiwatari Taelaan?" she asked lightly.

"Yes?" he nodded.

She smiled warmly, pale blue eyes twinkling at him with some unexplained amusement. "The High One would like to welcome you to his City, and invites you to visit his court this afternoon."

Haiiro blinked at her blankly. "Ah. All right. Torshael?" His bond looked up from where he'd been in a discussion with one of his great-aunts or cousins or something. "I'll see you tonight, all right?" Torshael nodded and smiled, and the Favored led him away from the cemetery.

To meet the High One.


Chapter Four

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