Gardens of Death

J.L. Weinmeister

We cross back over the canyon and head north, following the river to the town of Taj. As we hike, we discuss the story I told you about Trisa and the elvirian monarchy. As you can tell, the monarchy hasn’t been temporary. The elvira were unable to convince the mellowmira to surrender, so the war has continued for seven hundred years.

The mellowmira are unwilling to give into starvation, and the elvira are unwilling to surrender their ancestral homeland. Both points are valid, and a solution that makes both parties happy seems non-existent, though many monarchs have tried to find one.

Taj is near the northern edge of a temperate forest. We’ve been in deserts and grasslands for so long that you’re happy to have a canopy of green between you and the sun, though its rays feel better each day as we rapidly approach winter.

When we reach Taj, you notice a large group of people gathered in a beautiful garden full of flowers, fruit trees, and other blooming plants. While you don’t understand what they’re saying, it sounds like they’re singing or reciting poetry. Let me enlighten you on some elvirian customs.

* * * * *

Rian was an elvirian soldier from Taj who fought bravely against the mellowmira. He went into battle confident he would make a difference for his people. Unfortunately for Rian, he was outmatched by a mellowmiran opponent, and he died on the battlefield.

His body was brought to Taj and handed over to the keeper of the dead. His family looked upon his face one final time before he was laid on a pyre and burned to ash.

The keeper of the dead collected the ashes and placed them in a ceramic vessel until Rian’s friends and family were ready to let him go.

Today was that day.

The friends and family entered the garden wearing all white. They sang and recited poetry, honoring Rian’s life, interests, and brave deeds in the war. Then his parents opened the ceramic vessel and spread his ashes in the burial garden, watching the breeze carry their son to every corner.

Rian’s body would mix with the ashes of his ancestors in the garden’s soil, and his soul would reincarnate somewhere in the universe, so he could live once more.

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