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Chapter 46

      Jeremy stood next to the container in which Gral's body lay.  It was a cryo unit, to prevent the body from deteriorating, until it was time for the ceremony. The container was etched with signs of Gral's name sake, the Hunter - a stylized animal with an arrow in it.

      The room was kept dark, in case the deep one sent one of its minion to steal it. Jeremy held a light, knowing that if one of them should appear it would be his duty to defend Gral's body. Outside the light were banners, with names, the names of anyone who had been affected by Gral's life. It had started with everyone on the ship, and, as news of his death spread, others had contacted them, to have their names added. Except for the path to the door, the entire room was filled with those banners.

      Outside the door, two guards stood. The room was never without guards, to keep enemies from taking the body. The Gods had warned that anyone who stood for them, who helped advanced their plan would make enemies, and those enemies might come looking for revenge.

      Jeremy looked at the container. He'd been here, in this hastily converted cargo bay, every day since he'd been able to pull himself out of his room. He'd been here trying to say something, but he never could. Now this was the last time he'd be alone with his Heart. They had docked and the main station orbiting Kelser, and they were waiting for Gral's family to arrive to take him.

      "I'm angry Gral," He stated. "I'm angry you died, I'm angry that you wont get to see Samilor grow up. I'm angry they took you from me. I'm angry I couldn't save you."

      He thought he might cry, but he was cried out. Even the anger he felt was just a low fire. He didn't know if he'd have the energy to go through what was coming.

      "I know I'll be saying goodbye to you groundside, but I wanted to tell you what you meant to me, Gral. You didn't just save my life, you saved my spirit. I know I didn't always make your life easy, but ultimately, you were always there for me. I will miss you, but you asked me to go on, so I will. I'm not sure how I'll do that, and I know Toom isn't sure he can support me like you've done. Maybe you call find a way to tell him I don't need him to do that. Just having him in my life is helping, and I know he misses you as much as I do."

      He put a hand on the container. "I'll see you groundside. Your parents should be here soon to take you."

      He stepped out, momentarily blinded.

      "Pa?" someone said.

      Jeremy turned to the voice. "Rudyum!" he went to him and hugged him tightly. "What are you doing here?"

      "I wanted to make sure you were okay."

      "You didn't have to wait out here, you could have come in."

      "I know, but the guards said you liked being alone with him."

      Jeremy nodded. "Do you want to see him?"

      "No. I'll say goodbye to dad one we're on Kelser."

      "How did you get here so fast? We only docked a few hours ago."

      "Tamirik contacted me as soon as you docked, and I jumped on the first shuttle heading here. How is she? I didn't get a chance to talk to her."

      "She's taking his death hard, but her mates are supporting her. How about you, I know you'll say goodbye later, but how are you handling this?"

      "I'm sad he died, that he isn't with you, but as much as I loved him, we were never . . . close."

      "It's okay. You know he loved you too."

      Rudyum nodded and wiped his eyes dry.

      "Why don't we go wait for your grandparents, they should be here soon."

      * * * * *

      They all stood outside, in the center of the orchard. Marseforderiven stood before the pyre on which his son lay. The wood was only symbolic now. The body wouldn't be burnt, it was going to be disintegrated by the unit resting under Gral's body.

      "Thuruksamian made our bodies from the rocks and the soil," he began, looking over those assemble, Gral's immediate family. "He took the air, and gave us breath. He put fire in us, so that we would know passion, and he added water, so that we could express sorrow. He gave us only one command - Live. And my son lived. From a young age, as he ran through these trees, and hurt himself falling out of them. When he threw himself in his studies at the Academy, As he fought to earn his command, and as he defended us. He lived. He rejoiced in what he had, in what he accomplished. And he was fortunate enough to find his Heart. Thuruksamian gave life to my son, and today we will be returning the components back to Him.

      "We are here to say goodbye to him. Even though his spirit is already with the Gods, through his body, he will hear us, one last time."

      Marsef motioned for Jeremy to take his place, and once he was standing before Gral's body, he forced himself to look at it. It was the first time he'd seen it, the container had been opaque, and it was damaged. Unlike humans, who prettied up a body, before it was seen, kelsirian left it in the condition it was at death, so that people could see how valiantly death had been fought. Gral's death hadn't been pretty, part of his face was caved it, and fur had been scraped off an arm, and the other had a bone piercing the flesh. He looked up, and forced himself to remember that those injuries were because Gral had been saving lives.

      "Gral saved my life. Everyone here knows how we met, and what he saved me from, more than once. Before him I didn't know I could live, that I could be happy. And through him I met you, who added to my happiness. Gral said we'd always be together, and while I'm angry he died, I know he didn't break his promise. I have his Heart, I just have to be patient until he come back to claim it."

      Jeremy stepped down, so someone else could say their goodbyes. Toom held him tightly, and Roumalger hugged them both. Jeremy tried to listen to what the others said, but he found that all he could do, was remember his Heart and the life he lived with him.

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