I really should just call it twelve… regardless, here is the latest installment of the weekly adventures everyone favourite Nordan exile, Ragnar Grimfang!
Blade Breaker 1.1 (start)
Blade Breaker 1.11 (last week)
A whore’s funeral is a truly melancholy event. I say this having attended more than my share in my days in Myrrhn. Not even the flash of lightning from a lovely evening storm could cut through the grim.
Sapphire was popular and admired, in life; a woman whose charms and skills attracted a powerful clientele consisting of many of the city’s elite. In death, she was just another harlot, mostly forgotten by those who had share her bed. Those who attended were friends, co-workers, and a few stalwarts. Madame Glorianna was the only person of obvious import at the event.
I wondered if Bjorn, Sapphire’s Nordan lover, would have attended. I decided he would have. Among my people the appearance of propriety is less important than paying respects to those who share our lives: we do not readily discard those bonds, even after death. I suppose I would know, having been drawn from the grave for a second birth by my own obligations.
Funerals in Myrrhn almost always take place after the body has been cremated. The ceremony is performed by the functionaries of whatever God or Gods the deceased followed, in this case a priest of Kamesin Green-Eyes an ascendant God from Sirutira. Sapphire was not of Sirutiran descent, so I found it strange that she would follow an insular God, part trickster, part warrior, that is rarely heard of outside the horse-plains. Perhaps one of her friends had called the priest in as a favour. It could also be a clue to the dead woman’s personality. I filed the fact away for later use.
The sacrament that sealed the religious part of the funeral mass, was Kamesin’s bite, modeled after the act of eating some forgotten God’s heart, that started ol’ Green Eyes on the path to ascension. Slivers of raw horse-heart, fresh and bloody, were passed out to the funeral goers. Most declined. Madame Glorianna and her bodyguard, Crimson Wind, took a piece and so did I. My Gods would not mind.
The Priest then took out his sword, one of those wondrous Kiyari blades, and waved it over the ashes, making some sort of symbol. My Sirutiran is not very good, but I could make out that he was speaking of death, rebirth, and something about trampling the enemies of the great tribe. I’m not perfectly certain on the last, but it sounds Sirutiran — they are a touchy lot.
When the time came I wolfed the meat down. I had to work to not seem too enthusiastic: it was a funeral after all, not lunch.
Too her credit madame Glorianna did not make a sour face as she ate the little piece of heart. The Sword-Bride, Crimson Wind seemed to savour her piece. Perhaps she was an adherent to the sect, being from Sirutira herself.
The priest then took Sapphire’s ashes and placed them on a mesh nest atop a tall iron pole, which he set in the ground. Most Myrrhnese prefer to have their ashes sunk into the surrounding oceans, kept by family, or even worked into colourful fireworks. The Sirutirans, who also practice cremation, prefer to let the wind claim them, bit by bit. It is a poetic tradition, as long you don’t mind breathing ashes now and then. In the North our traditions are varied, but for those Clans that practice cremation, they prefer to build tall pyres so that the smoke carries the ashes of the deceased to the Hall of Heroes. That much wood in Myrrhn would cost a fortune. The Shadow Wolves prefer to leave our dead in sacred spots the forest, to feed the wolves.
After that a few words were said. Beautiful women, looking somber, said nice things about their dead sister. Madame Glorianna made a nice speech about how she saw Sapphire as the daughter that she’d always wanted, emphasizing the importance of family, and making a few assurances about safety and vengeance. No one who seemed to be a relative came forward to speak. I wasn’t really surprised, people often run away to Myrrhn, trying to get away and start anew in the grand old city.
Part of me was secretly hoping that the assassin that murdered Sapphire would be at the funeral. After looking around I had to concede that the killer was either as master of disguise, or had learned to curb his temper.
“Any news Ragnar?” aske Madame Glorianna, approaching me as the crowd began to thin. Crimson Wind stood behind her mistress, watchful.
“Sapphire’s killer was a member of the guild, without doubt, ” I said. “He purchased the paralyzing agent from Gregor the Grey. The Boy was Bjorn, son of Harald Magnison, a member of our sea wolf Clan. Harald is looking for revenge. Gregor knows more than he is willing to say, but nothing I can’t find out with a visit to the black tower. Also there is a minor contract on my head. Some aspiring killers tried to send me back to the grave today.”
“Is it related?” asked Madame Glorianna.
“I’m not certain,” I responded, shrugging. “While I do have a problem making friends, it seems convenient that a nuisance like this would occur now.”
“Perhaps the Guild is trying to warn you off?” said Glorianna.
“I think if the person that killed Sapphire knew or cared that I was after him, he would take a more personal hand in my death,” I said. “The same goes for the Guild. If a man like myself crosses them, I suspect they would send a sterner warning.”
“I shall have my contacts look into it, then,” said Glorianna.
“I would be happy for the help,” I said. “I will also need to interview some of the girls that were here today, preferably somewhere away from curious eyes.”