Warning: this story takes place during the Icebrood Saga episode “No Quarters”. It is also somewhat linked to another journal story: “Clearing Bones from Heaven.”
The plan was simple: there’s a lot of dead charr, they’re good folks that deserve a proper burial. The two of them were going to find a neat place and bury some of them: they didn’t have time for everyone, but it felt better to honor some of them than none. They got to work quickly, packing up a cart and filing it with as many bodies as would fit.
The two charrs found a good spot for the bodies: it was away from the main road and would, hopefully, not draw too much attention. After they had gathered the bodies, they both realized the gravedigger had forgotten the shovels to dig the body. So said gravedigger proposed to channel his magic to create a big hole. It really was that simple, really: easier for the veteran, he assured. Nothing bad would happen, he promised.
There really wasn’t time for a back and forth for some shovel they should have brought first, so the gravedigger got to work: he’d channel his powers under the pile of bodies so it would lower itself into the earth, as if it was in quicksands. The first few minutes of preparation went quietly, and Marek, the veteran, made the mistake to think that it would remain quiet, that Kynkra would not immediately begin to talk about literally everything he was thinking of at the moment. Marek was skilled in the art of tuning the other charr out: eventually, however, the gravedigger caught his attention with a few words.
« You know, we didn’t have shovels where i lived either. It was mostly sand. When it wasn’t sand, it was rock, so shovels wouldn’t help either way. »
« You didn’t bury your dead? »
« Na. Folks down south didn’t bury them if they were near the Awakened. Couldn’t risk your grandma coming back to shank the kids. So they often asked me to burn the bodies. Not a lot of wood to start a fire, and i could do one easily with the added bonus that the body would – »
« Quiet. »
They both go silent. The veteran is listening to…something. He’s sure he heard something. After a few minutes of silence, he lowers his head again to look at the gravedigger.
« The body vanishes almost completely, yeah. I’ve fought Flame Legion.»
« Here, it’s horror. But Elona? They welcomed me with arms wide open. Didn’t know much about the horrible fire monsters that eat babies and whatnot. »
The gravedigger grunts as he manipulates more energy, sand swirling into the ground like a sinkhole. However, he suddenly stops and winces, reaching for his leg instinctively, as if he’s been stabbed or shot.
« You alright? »
« Last fight put some pressure on the leg. Guess it’s not as healed as i mentioned. »
« Kynkra. »
« I’m not…it’s a long process, okay? It’s healing, I promise! It’s just…i guess it might have been the bad kind of getting-run-over-by-a-tank, not the one you get on vacation. We haven’t fought anything in a while! I’ve been using the vegetation’s lifeforce to keep me going. »
« You’re putting us both at risk by being stubborn. »
« I’m putting more at risk by not being stubborn! If i went to the medic, she’d say i can’t fight, and i wouldn’t have been there to help, which would have made things much worse…maybe. »
« And if you don’t, we’re gonna bury another corpse! How much more pressure until that leg snaps again? You said it yourself, you need lifeforce to heal, and draining plants won’t… »
The old charr clicks. The hole. The ritual. The bodies.
« Wait. »
« Yeah. »
« You didn’t -forget- the shovels. »
« Nope. You said it yourself, old man. We don’t need more corpses. But those ones are here: it’s not our fault they died. In fact, it’s our fault there isn’t a bigger pile. Now, this pile…i’m gonna use. I need to stay at the top and heal as fast as possible. I also needed to do it as far away from the United Legion camps as not to get…you know, yelled at. That was the full plan: the dead won’t be a lot of lifeforce, but it’s gonna be much more than trees.. So, sorry for lying about “honoring the dead”. We’re good, right? »
Marek stares for a moment, then replies with a very slow grunt.
« Right. Is this still a burial? »
« Kinda. I’ve put em in a big hole. I’ll fill it with earth after I’m done, uuh…sucking them? »
« That’s an absolutely abhorrent use of the verb sucking. »
« Getting my fill? Oozin’ my leg? Slurpin’ and munchin’? »
« One more like that and you’re joining the pile. »
« I’d deserve it. I’ll fill the hole once I’m done…draining them? »
« That’s…better, considering the alternatives. »
« Once i’m done here, i’ll skip the gathering and move on to the simple burning. Gathering bodies takes a long time, doesn’t it? It’s easier to just burn them where you find ‘em to make sure they don’t rot. Or get eaten by other charrs. Seriously, some of these guys are -eating each other-, now that’s fucked up. You know, it reminds me of- »
Kynkra does notice his guardian isn’t paying attention anymore: something else caught the old bugger’s eyes. But he keeps talking for a long, long time. The silence would be worse for the both of them, he thinks.
So he keeps talking.