Friend Emsa

Chapter 11 Part 5 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Harsin folded Ansella's arms over her chest. The Friends brought the shroud around her body; Harsin and the children took turns sewing it closed. Emsa gave Ansella's velvet-wrapped hair to Sedra, who accepted it with shaking hands. The Friends took up the body in its coffin again and returned to the main hall for the walk to the royal section of the catacombs.

A ramrod-straight, barrel-chested man in the dark Tremontine red uniform of a colonel of the Royal Cavalry waited in the hall; the uniform's markings were of the First Cavalry Battalion of the Whithorse Guard, and medals covered its front. Tradition banned weapons from the Hill, and his sword sheath hung empty at his side. The man held his black fur winter uniform hat under his arm. Gray threaded the black hair fringed round his head as well as his neatly trimmed beard, and his weather-lined face flashed a heavy grief before he snapped to attention.

Chapter 11 Part 4 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Emsa approached Harsin. In her hand was a knife, exquisitely sharp, knapped from slick black obsidian. Harsin took it from her and began cutting away the simple white dress on Ansella's body. "All this is fleeting, all this is lost, all this is unnecessary," said the King.

"All this is ending, all this is beginning, all this is needed," answered the rest, Friends and family in gentle chorus. Temmin did his best to follow along. He knew the words but they kept sticking in his throat.

"Life is fleeting, life is lost, life continues," said his father.

"Her life has ended, her life is beginning, all this is needed," came the response.

Chapter 11 Part 3 | Son in Sorrow | IHGK Book 2

Tremontine flags trimmed in black flew at half mast throughout the City, the dark red field and its three golden mountains limp on this cold, still day. Every bell, from the great War Bell in the Keep to the time-keeping carillons at the University tolled, echoing desolate against the City walls as the funeral procession passed through the streets. Harsin walked before it, dressed in severest black but for the Tremontine red sash beneath his coat; his head wore neither hat nor crown. Emsa, the high priestess of the Friends of Harla, and Harla's Embodiment Trudannis walked beside him, their black hoods lowered to show their stubbled heads.

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