The pyres for Fodafa and Nianatara burned brilliantly, their combined heat threatening to set the buildings nearest them alight. It’s for that very reason that such ceremonies are reserved for the nobility of the Nanten. The risk of burning the whole jungle down isn’t one they’ve overlooked.

Hembila and Timber were the ones to set the blaze. They each carried a torch in one hand and a pot filled with oil in the other. A token of the deceased had been placed in the oil. Something representing their life to be poured out upon the wood and burned.

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It was simple enough for a funeral, but powerful. Hembila and Timber stood before the fires until they grew so hot their clothing began to steam. They backed towards us slowly, never taking their eyes from the flames. They stood watch until the last embers cooled this morning. The weight upon their shoulders shifted, though the effect was different for each. Neither has much left of their eyebrows, the proper sign, I’m told, that the ceremony was carried out correctly.

Hembila seems lighter for it. His grief remains but there is closure now. Preparations for the coronation ceremony have begun and, as soon as they have cleared out the throne room, we should see him crowned king within the week.

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The burden on Timber’s shoulders, however, increased. She remained silent all day until we took an evening meal, paltry as it was. It was then that she told me she didn’t want to come to Nianatara’s end. “I want to protect my people,” she said. “I don’t want pride to keep me from it. To keep them from me.”

I coaxed her into a long practice session after our meals had settled. She gave me the first smile I have seen in a while and I think she left a little more relaxed for the exertion. We’ll have to see if we can’t get Dionus to teach us some of his tricks with knives before long. That should keep all of our minds occupied for a few hours.

I hate knives.

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