Exclusive Excerpt from Twin Mages
by G.E. Mayberry
The following day, the Elder Jordan and a small group of villagers gathered the surviving Mana Hunters and departed with them deep into the wilderness. The elder and his retinue returned solemn faced. They would not speak to what became of the Mana Hunters. The village moved on.
The villagers came together and started repairing all they had lost. I had never seen such orderly cooperation before, not outside the military anyways. The loss of life was almost too much for the sheltered villagers to consider. There were a great many funerals over the next few days, over twenty people were killed in the raid.
To ensure that nobody had to endure an empty funeral hall, Elder Jordan arranged it so that no two funerals were held at the same time. Not everybody accepted the offer, some had private funerals.
Lettie and Alyson opted to bury their parents together behind the farmhouse. They couldn’t stand to be around anyone else. I allowed them their privacy upon their return home. I stayed in the village while they went to bury their parents. There wasn’t much of anything left. The fields were barren and the farmhouse was nothing but a hollowed out wreck.
“Maybe you should stay out here, Lettie,” Alyson suggested, staring up at the burned building with hollow eyes. “You shouldn’t have to see them like that.”
Lettie placed her hand on her sister’s arm. Alyson looked over at her and saw the same hollow eyed look reflected back at her. “We have to do this,” Lettie responded. “Together.”
Alyson nodded. They stroke together into the farmhouse. The blackened living room was unrecognizable as they room they had grown up in. The smell of charcoal overwhelmed their senses and they struggled to look around, the memories they had lost bringing tears to their eyes.
They didn’t see them at first, the fire-blackened bones blending in with the dark wood floor.
The fire had burned so hot there was nothing left of Jepol and Yasmin. Lettie broke down crying when she finally recognized what she was seeing. She dropped to the floor, the weakened boards crumbling at her touch.
Alyson knelt down with her sister and held her tight as they both cried, the full scope of what they had lost finally hitting them. Only then did they realize this was real. They were never going to see their parents again. Together they wept.
After some time Alyson and Lettie collected themselves.
“We have to bury them here, in the yard,” said Lettie. “It’s what they would have wanted. Do you remember the story of how they met?”
“Dad had come to work on Grandpa’s farm. She was doing the breakfast dishes when he arrived,” said Alyson.
“He thought she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen,” continued Lettie. “They hit it off right away. He saved up for years to buy this farm, all for her. There is no better place for them to spend eternity.”
“I agree,” declared Alyson. “I’ll get something to move them with.”
Alyson walked outside. Once on open ground, she incanted ” Earth Geo Form Slab.” A flat piece of earth formed in front of her and she carried it inside.
Together, she and Lettie carefully placed their parents’ charred bones on the slab and they carried it outside. Lettie pointed to a tree at the edge of the woods and they set the slab down beneath it.
“I can’t remember the prayer,” said Alyson.
“I remember it,” said Lettie, her voice measured. She spoke with a careful purpose as the words of the Goddess’ Prayer came forth. “From the Goddess you came, to the Goddess you now return. Your earthly body no entombed, your loved ones mourn. May we know a measure of the Goddess’ tranquility in this our hour of despair. Your reward has been earned, in this life and the next. You shall not be forgotten.”
“You shall not be forgotten,” Alyson echoed, her voice cracking from the strain. ” Earth Geo Open,” she incanted, opening a perfect grave in the shadow of the tree. ” Earth Geo Control,” she continued, lifting her parents and placing them gently into their grave, nestling neatly into the bottom. Here, she hesitated.
Lettie took Alyson’s hand in hers and gave it a squeeze, her cheeks were stained with tears as she looked to Alyson.
With a sense of finality, Alyson spoke the final incantation, ” Earth Geo… Close.”
With their parents now buried, the two sisters knelt there in silent prayer, their grief on full display for one another.