Not Yet Alone
L. Merc Chasman


It was an ordinary state funeral, the city streets thronging with mourners, soldiers in dress uniform escorting the pallbearers. But at the cemetery, even when the late knight’s son stepped forward to place the first handful of dirt in the grave, two stood apart from family, friends, and others who had come to pay their respects. A young woman and an elf, from the look of them, both pale against their black clothes.

“We’re the only ones left, aren’t we.” The woman’s voice was weary, her eyes dry. There would be time enough to shed tears later, all that she could ever need.

Her companion nodded. “So we are. It was bound to happen in time.”

“Why did you stay? Why did you come at all? When you knew you’d see everyone you hold dear buried?”

He did not take his eyes off the slowly filling grave, his expression unreadable. “Why did you stay?”

“I… How could I leave? I was captain, I had my oath. And I thought… maybe I could pass it on. When peace came, briefly, it looked like… But the child was stillborn, and then…” grief constricted her throat, choking back the name of her late husband. “And Zexen is my home. Everyone, everything I ever loved… Was here.”

“Then it’s as you say, milady. Zexen is my home, too. The warm stone walls and cobbled streets, the crashing waves, the wide stretches of prairie – they call to my heart the way the deep woods never did. Besides, I too have an oath.” The elf looked at her then, and she saw the loyalty in his gaze, and, horribly, the faint lines of age around his eyes. “And I intend to keep it, for as long as I live.”

She could only nod with wordless gratitude.