“Dallyah, I have something to tell you,” she blurted out. Dally looked at her quizzically, and she took a deep breath before continuing. “First, I know I’ve said this before, but I hope you know that Titan, Deathclaw and myself knew nothing of Gustav’s plan to murder your parents.”
“If we did, well, we probably would have died with them. I don’t know if Gustav knew this or not, but for whatever reason he sent us to dispose of their bodies.” Celia paused to measure Dally’s reaction, which was minimal, before continuing. “I found out right before that happened that it was a band of Gustav’s goons, or more like Slender and his gang, that murdered my parents. My brothers are still missing to this day. I have no idea where they are or if they are even alive. I haven’t taken revenge on Slender yet just in case I find them. They deserve to be in on that too. But, I’m getting off topic.
“When we found the King and Queen…they had been stripped of everything but their underclothes and wedding rings. Deathclaw hid the rings…I asked him to, so no one else would steal them. I asked him to bring them to you when this is over.”
“Oh Celia…” Dallyah breathed, tears welling in her eyes.
Celia put up her hand. “Trust me, it was the very least I could do. As is this. Follow me.” She led Dally to the dilapidated barn. The barn was warded, and it took Celia a good minute to cast the spell to allow them to pass. Inside, the structure was pristine. The wooden beams had been covered with metal to prevent deterioration. In the center of the barn was a small gazebo. Celia went to the center of it and pulled up a trap door. She grabbed a torch from one of the pillars, lit it, and motioned for Dally to follow her. Dally hesitated, then followed Celia down the circular flight of stairs below. By the time she got to the bottom Celia had lit four torches on the wall.
Dally looked around in amazement. “It’s a crypt!”
The room was about twelve meters square with walls made of white stone. The floor was crimson brick in the center and dirt along the walls. Ornate sconces lined the walls. Directly in front of them against the far wall were four graves, which were spaced out to take up half of the wall. The graves were not marked, but each had a stone in the middle, ornately decorated in beige, blue and brown.
“I buried my parents here. I built this room myself. It helped me grieve, some at least. I left two graves unfilled, in case I found my brothers. The two to our right are my parents. The other two are where we buried yours.”
Dally was speechless. She looked at Celia, hoping her eyes conveyed a fraction of the gratitude she felt. Celia could not tell if Dally was angry or not, so she looked away.
“Celia,” Dally began, “I honestly can’t put into words what I’m feeling right now. I never allowed myself to think about what happened to them…after…what you did for them goes beyond loyalty. This is the perfect spot for them. I can never thank you enough for this.”
Celia shrugged. “As I said, it was the very least I could do. I’m just glad you’re not angry. I was very prepared for you to be angry.”
Dally laughed. “No, my friend, I am not angry. This will be the perfect place for Katsuo as well.”
Celia smiled. “I hope the Guardians agree.”
They made their way back up to the barn and found shovels. Kazane and Kamaitachi arrived and were shown the spot Celia had in mind for their uncle. They overwhelmingly approved, so the four of them set to preparing for the funeral. Kazane and Celia went to the crypt to dig the grave. Dallyah and Kamaitachi gathered large sticks and branches for the pyre. Ronin guarded them all, along with Katsuo’s remains.
At dusk, they lit the pyre. Kazane sang a song in a language that Dally and Celia did not understand, but the meaning was very clear. At the end, Ronin joined her by howling. Another dragon’s voice joined as well.
“Zenko,” Dally whispered through her tears.
Once the fire burned out, they carefully filled the urn Kamaitachi had brought with the ashes and buried it in the crypt. As the others turned to leave, Dally knelt between her parents.
“The last thing you said to me was, ‘Make us proud’. I hope I have done that. I know Obsi has, because I’m very proud of her. I love you both very much and I miss you.” She put out the torches as she made her way back up to the barn. She found her companions outside with Ronin.
“I asked Ronin to come back to the temple with me, but I do not know what his answer is,” Kamaitachi said while scratching Ronin’s chin.
Dally smiled. “He said yes.”
“Good! Then let us head back there. The two of you can spend the night with us. I have something I need to talk to you about in the morning.”
“Oh?” Dally said as they climbed onto Ronin’s back.
Kazane laughed. “Yes, my sister is quite the trickster at times. I believe it comes from occasionally being around Zenko.”
“What did you trick us about?” Celia asked through clenched teeth.
Kamaitachi waved her hand. “No, no, no, nothing bad! I just know it was not your little talk with Celia and her counterparts that drove the Blackbloods out of the mountains.”
Dally shrugged. “I didn’t really think so. It was too quick.”
Kazane nodded. “Yes, but one of them ran into one of Goda’s men in a tavern. He told the man who the Blackbloods were, and Goda had his men drive them out.”
“Who is Goda?” Celia demanded, somewhat confused.
“That is what we will discuss in the morning,” Kamaitachi replied. “For now, Ronin, take us home.”