Chapter 9 - Funeral for a Friend

By the time Viselys, Ornrik and Saris arrived at the chapel it was standing room only – and they were not late, by any means. It seemed as though the whole town had come out for this memorial service. They eased around behind the backmost pew as Viselys noticed Malfus back by the far corner. Malfus gave Viselys a head-back nod and the three moved to stand near their comrade.

“What’s with the huge turnout?” Saris asked in a voice a little louder than the customary reverent whisper, “Are they giving something away free or something?”

Malfus replied with a lopsided grin, “Nah, they’ve come to honor the fallen hero.”

“Hero?” Viselys chuckled, until he realized that Malfus was serious. “Hey, he was my friend, and I’m going to miss him, but ‘hero’? What did he do that was so huge that it would garner this kind of turnout? I mean, since we arrived … that the town would know about?”

Malfus shook his head, “It’s not what he did, it’s who he WAS. What he represents to them.” When Viselys, Saris and even Ornirk met him with puzzled looks, he continued, “That battle the other day really freaked everyone out. If you lot hadn’t shown up when you did, who knows how many would have been killed or how much property would have been taken or destroyed. Still, it would seem that was just the tip of the iceberg, and the people are afraid. They need heroes right now, and a fallen hero is a very powerful symbol. These people – these fearful people – came to honor that symbol.”

Just then, one of the acolytes (none of the four could remember his name) came and tapped Ornrik on the shoulder, “Pardon me, sir, but Shepherd Catherly sent me to inquire if you would be willing to assist in the service this evening.”

Ornrik appeared startled, while his friends looked at him expectantly. He seemed agitated, and a bit worried, but he composed himself, “I … well, that is … what I mean to say is… um, sure. Yes of course I will.” He followed the acolyte to the front and then into the sacristy.

“I’m going to have to leave you, too, mates,” Malfus added. “Miranda and I put a piece of music together that they want us to play towards the end.”

Just then, the tone of the room changed as all eyes shifted to the front. The four acolytes had emerged onto the altar and moved to their appropriate vantages. Somewhere above them, a stringed instrument began to play a reverent “call to order” tune, and Malfus must have decided he should head up to the choir loft.

Although it was hard to see from the back, Viselys and Saris could tell that the chaplain had taken his place on the dais as a hush fell. “Friends, thank you all for coming out this evening. I don’t think we have seen such a gathering under this roof since the dedication ceremony of this colony. In fact, not even then, as our community has grown since then. I only wish that it could be for a happier occasion. Nonetheless, we are here to honor a fallen hero; Adameus Shadowboren.” He looked sideways to Ornrik who nodded, apparently to confirm he had said the name correctly.

Catherly continued, “The truth is, I did not know Adameus, hardly at all. However, the man I knew was brave. He considered others more valuable than himself and he gave his life as a testimony to that fact.”

From somewhere near the front of the chapel, a female sob could be heard, just loudly enough to not go unnoticed by Saris and Viselys.

As if in response, Catherly said, “Yes, we are saddened by the loss of a heroic man like Adameus Shadowboren, but in our sorrow, we should also find strength. As our departed friend exemplified….” It was about at this point that Viselys and Saris tuned out. From here, it was no longer about Adameus, but a morale booster with the rogues death as the backdrop.

Just as the two adventurers were about to get fidgety, the dynamic of the service changed as Catherly ceded the spotlight to Ornrik who went through the motions of a Darven funeral rite, albeit abridged, since there was no body to prepare. “From stone were we all forged,” he said in a projecting voice, “and to stone we shall return. Adameus has already preceded us in that journey, piercing the Veil of Fire though which the living cannot travel, his immortal spark returned to the Heavenly Forge from which it was wrought, to be used again as Moradin sees fit, or to be quenched and allowed to rest, his duties complete. In farewell we say, in the ancient tongue … repeat after me,” and he led them in Dwarven prayer, “…by Moradin’s Hammer, 'ai-menu."

Catherly stepped forward again and announced, “At this time we would ordinarily ask a member of the deceased’s family to say a few words about their loved one …. um, but …” he looked to Ornrik for a suggestion on where to go from there.

And Ornrik picked up the proverbial hammer and forged ahead, “…but Viselys Mortaum was closer to him than anyone present, so, Viselys, if you would..?” He gestured and the congregation turned, leaving Viselys no option in all good form. He reluctantly moved to the front.

Though his face was solemn, his eyes burned into the dwarf as he approached, “He was NOT my brother,” he hissed through clenched teeth, facing away from the assembly.

The dwarf put his hand on Viselys’ back and leaned in speaking in a low voice, as though giving some direction, “Either your brother he was, or nay. Either way, this is your last opportunity to say goodbye to him. If you are confronted with evidence later that he was your brother, you’ll not have this moment to live over again. Come to that, has any member of your family ever fought by your side as long and as hard, risked so much, and inevitably paid as high a price?” With that, the dwarf stepped back and waited for Viselys to speak.

As he turned to face the waiting congregation, he was taken aback by the expressions that greeted him. He had expected a great deal of boredom, even some people sleeping, but every eye was raptly focused on him, many puffy from tears and in the front row was the hardest sight for Viselys to behold; Lavinia and Tara, embracing each other in sorrow and weeping openly. Lavinia maintained her dignity, but supported Tara who was inconsolable. He took a deep breath and spoke.

“When I first met Adameus, he introduced himself as Idae, which means The Shadow in elvish. Idae, Shadowboren, however you look at it, he came from darkness. I don’t know too much about his history before I met him, but I know he had already experienced more pain and suffering than many men twice his age. He wasn’t physically strong, he wasn’t schooled in the mystic arts, and there was nothing exceptional about him that should have made him an adventurer or a hero. Nonetheless, he fought by my side many times with more bravery than I have seen from some so-called noble knights

“Clergyman Catherly said of Adameus Shadowboren that he considered others more valuable than himself. This is so true, and I don’t think he even knew how true when he said it. You see, before he died, he gave Ornrik a piece of parchment, upon which he had scribed a note, inked with his own blood to serve as his last words. Those words were very personal, so I won’t disclose it verbatim, but he knew that if he survived, it meant that another would perish. His note indicated that he preferred not to survive at such a cost.”

With that, a great howl erupted from Tarra and it was all Lavinia could do to keep a hold of her. Captain Amella, whose eyes were a bit red as well, came to them, either to quite the girl or lead her out. The display was too much for Viselys and a tear fell down his cheek.

Still, he continued, “I’ve never known anyone like Adameus Shadowboren, and I suspect I never will again. And, yet, I hope one day to BE someone like him.”

As if by some queue of which Viselys was unaware, a lute strummed out a mournful note and Miranda Rivers’ elven voice sang out:

My life goes on in endless song
Above earths lamentations,
I hear the real, though far-off hymn,
That hails a new creation.

Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear its music ringing,
It sounds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?

While though the tempest loudly roars,
I hear the truth, it liveth.
And though the darkness round me close,
Songs in the night it giveth.

No storm can shake my inmost calm,
While to that rock I’m clinging.
Since love is lord of heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?

When tyrants tremble in their fear
And hear their death knell ringing,
When friends rejoice both far and near
How can I keep from singing?

In prison cell and dungeon vile
Our thoughts to them are winging,
When friends by shame are undefiled
How can I keep from singing?

Whether it was the words of the song, or the melancholy melody and tone, Viselys did not know, but either way, it was too much for Lavinia and she to began to lose her composure. Together, she, Tara and Amella briskly left the chapel.

The music continued beyond the words of the song, and suddenly Lord Mathalay Meravanci began to stand and clear his throat. Before he could speak, Catherly cut him of, “This solemn event will not be a political platform.” His tone was so vehement, it was clear that there was no wiggle room.

However, as Mathalay sat back down, his nephew, Avner, stood, “Yeah, he was … he was okay.” Then he stood there in silence for a minute, thinking. He opened his mouth a couple times but stopped. Finally, he repeated, in a sadder voice, “yeah, he was okay,” and he sat back down.

A handful of others stood to offer brief testimonies and memories, such as they had, about the deceased, until a minor scuffle near the back resulted in Gidrick Tablbot breaking free from his father, who was trying to restrain the boy. He ran up the middle row of the chapel, something clenched tightly in his fist, and tears streaking his face. His forward velocity outmatched his stride and he fell headlong near the front rows. The object he held clattered to the floor revealing it to be a silver coin. Ornrik helped the boy to his feet and Viselys recovered the coin for him. His hands were abased and his knees were bleeding, but he wouldn’t stand still and be aided. He turned to the crowd, again clutching the coin tightly and cried, nearly shouting, “Adameus was my friend!” His voice and sentiment was heartbreaking enough, but through sobs the child continued with great difficulty, “… and I MISS him!”

Gwenlian came forward to take her son away and Catherly dismissed the congregation who filed out of the chapel in silence.

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