The sound of the funerary violin was a sombre coquetry of death.
The single pitch split becoming two tones and held for nearly 4 minutes, then faded to silence.
Then the lone horn of Aurthrian sounded a long single tone.
The sound seemingly echoed throughout the Birch forest.
System stood as still as she was able to.
There were only forty three people encircled at the centre of the ceremony. Another one hundred and eighty six were in the outer circle some 220 meters outside of the inner circle.
The two Athra sarcophagi, at the centre of the ceremony floated half a metre above the woodland floor, which was in the centre clearing of the Tra’vein forest that was deep inland of the Island.
The black surface of the sarcophagi seemed to be devoid of light, perpetually resisting any reflection or edges. Only the red and gold Amarrian emblem and the House Baud emblem were visible across the top surfaces of them.
The sarcophagi looked as System’s heart and spirt felt; cold and dark, but in full control by the sigil’s of her house and society.
Then the House Cleric, and childhood friend of her father, stepped forward and spoke. His long dark robes neatly pleated and his hood drawn down around his neck so his silver hair and full stature was seen and known. He began solemnly,
“In the beginning all things were as one.
God parted them and breathed life into his creation.
Divided the parts and gave each its place.
And unto each, bestowed purpose.
The Amarr people came into the world and the world came into being.
Our illustrious ancestors freed their souls from the evils of the old world and created a new one.
The great Amarr Empire was founded to cultivate the spirit of man.
To do so the enemies of the outside had to be defeated.
And the enemies of the inside controlled.
The Lord gave our Emperor the power to harness the Good and punish the Evil.
Ever since, the Emperor has lived the lives of his subjects and breathed the air of authority.
The Wrath of God is Immense.
His Justice is Swift and Decisive.
His Tolerance is Limited.
Be Careful. – Pure Thought is the Instigator of Sin.
Be Watchful. – Free Thought is the Begetter of Disorder.
Be Respectful. – Uniform Thought is the Way of Life.
The Mercy of our Emperor is Limitless.
His Rule is Benign and Righteous.
His Love is Perpetual.”
Then there was silence.
System looked up, and slowly, as not to draw attention, began scanning the circle of people close to her, making mental notes of who was in attendance.
The usual close family and friends were there. Three of the people standing in the close circle had hoods cloaking their identity. They were likely very high in power politically and were as anonymous as possible for security reasons. They had, even though, been screened and cleared to the area by an Imperial security detachment that had been deployed by someone close to the top of the Amarrian government. The security team was not there necessarily to guard the Baud House, but all those in attendance. They did not want anything happening while such important people were here.
Other than the three cloaked visitors, System made mental note of the other forty individuals. Six she would have to visit at a more fitting time in the weeks and months to come as a responsibility of now being the new leader of the Baud House. Twenty two of them she would send a gift to thanking them for their attendance. The last twelve were close family that also lived on the Island. She would have to postpone visiting them until a later time.
Then Tru’nar the Cleric looked her way and said, “System, as eldest daughter to Aurthrian and Victoria Baud, and now Heir High Matriarch of the House Baud, it is now time for you to address the funerary.”
The formal title Heir High Matriarch had never been utter out loud in regards to System and it shocked her a bit to hear it uttered. A flood of memories filled her mind and she immediately tightened her lips and pushed the memories back.
She strode forward at an even pace until she was standing alongside the two sarcophagi.
The circle of people faded out of her perception as she reached out her hand and placed it lovingly on the cold black cylinder that contained her father. She ran her fingers across the House Baud emblem feeling the edge between the cylinder and the paint.
She froze, feeling like every muscle, all at once decided to stop responding to her mind. Then a solitary Hue-gatal bird cawed out from a nearby Birch tree drawing System back to the physical world around her.
“My father…” she began her voice cracking and faltering just slightly. She drew in a deep breath and started again. “My father, Aurthrain, … papa … da … was a man, an Amarrian that broke free from the constraints of society and forged a path of his own destiny. He was a loving father and husband, a tribute to our ancestors. The legacy of the Baud House will be felt for many generations, though that is not why he chose the path he did.”
She paused, looked down at the ground below her feet, and again everything faded and she was 8 years old again reaching up holding her dear pa’s hand on the shore in front of her childhood house. His hand was warm, inviting, strong…. yet soft.
She blinked and drew in another deep breath and receded from the memory.
“He loved his wife and partner of forty two years, my mother Victoria, like no love I have ever seen or heard of. He was a model to many, a safe haven for a few, and my first love.”
She stopped, a lump rising in her throat. ‘Not now… no, not now,’ she thought.
Then like a broken cask, tears began to stream down her cheeks.
“I… he… mumfth, “ her mouth seemed to stop working and her face become bright red off setting her blond white hair. She had told herself this would not happen. She had chosen not to display emotion to these people, most of whom did not deserve to be inside her defences. And now, here she was, crying like a little girl who had lost her beloved stuffed fedobear.
Then the horn again blew. A single low note bellowed out covering her sorrow. It went on for several minutes.
Unwavering and steady.
Mournful and solemn.
She was thankful for the distraction, but unhappy she could not continue with a few thoughts she had for her mother.
She strode back to her place in the circle.
Over the next 40 minutes many of the forty three stepped forward and each shared a story or two about her beloved Mum and Da.
Then the horn sounded a third time, long and rumbling, shaking the ground.
A space opened below the sarcophagi, the temporary sliding doors grinding to a halt. Then the two cylinders lowered gracefully into the ground. The doors then lifted and floated to the side of the area. Another small platform, with a 2 metres high pile of soil, then floated over and tilted pouring half of the soil into the grave site. Then two small pods the size of a Bathran melon floated over to Systems side.
She reach down and pick them up, one in each hand. She solemnly and slowly walked over to the half-filled grave and dropped in both pods. Each one settled over the top of where each cylinder was buried.
The pods would grow over the next few months, their roots going down into the buried sarcophagi, its sapling nourished by her parents, and in the years to come would grow into another pair of Birch trees here in the forest of their ancestors.
The platform tilted and the rest of the soil filled the hole completely, then it floated away to the side.
One last horn sounded for about twenty seconds, then immediately followed by nine short blasts, in sets of three cadence, of the Amarr percussion cannons that were stationed just outside the forest.
The funerary was over.
The attendees slowly walk away from the fresh grave, toward where the secondary service was to be held. System would not be attending that service. Her duties now complete, she was free to proceed as she wished.
She stood silently at her parent’s grave until all had left.
Then allowing her full emotion to ebb and flow; sorrow, regret, loneliness; feeling, thinking, remembering, she began to cry.
The tears and sobs were so healing to her damaged soul. She had held back for the last three days and now with abandon she allowed them to reign freely unrestricted.
This was the final purging confessional of emotion, she was now ash in God’s hands, ready to rise and become his holy flame of purification.
She was now free to hunt.