The city was woken by the sounding of mourning bells. After years of infirmity and poor health, the king of the Grazian Empire was dead. Massive bell towers in the palace shook with dower thunder. The sound pulsed the sad news to the furthest reaches of Grazia’s urban sprawl. Though it had been expected for some time, a dark mood fell upon the city. Though I take no pleasure in it, people in mourning ask few questions. The passing of a king made it all the easier to move undetected in my observations.
I had made myself into one of Sarrin Seabreaker’s estate guards that day. I managed to convince the quartermaster to attach me to the family’s palanquin for the procession down to the palace. We waited in the courtyard for over an hour, the front door to the mansion flung open. It remained a dark and unchanging maw, an unnerving image. I will always think of it when considering Grazian grief. When at last Sarrin led his family from within, he was withered and pale. Though he still stood tall and monstrously large, his brother’s passing had drained him of anima. He wept silently for everyone to see. His tears rolled off his cheeks to stain the grey tunic he wore. No words were exchanged as the family took their place in the palanquin.
Patient Sail was more stoic than his father, but clearly disturbed. I’ve no reason to believe the boy was close with his regal uncle, but who is not rocked when faced with the grief of a parent. How inconsolable they seem and helpless you are left to feel in the wake of their need. It was painted across the boy’s face, his gaze immobile from his father’s despondency.
The procession moved through silent streets. Haunted faces looked down at the grey and black parade as it passed. The markets were quiet and the houses of trade were closed. Few dared the streets, uncertain of what would come next without their king. Though I had at first sensed hope, almost anticipation, rising with Ignatius’ ascendency it was now lost in sadness. For generations, the Seabreaker kings had brought prosperity to the people of their empire. But it seemed all that coin could only purchase a sense of loss.
Black cloths draped down from the towers of the palace as we arrived. Ignatius and his mother stood waiting the arrival Sarrin’s family. Behind them, an ancient man in thick furs stood leaning on a staff of tempered steel. It was this man who came forward, shambling against his staff as he crossed to meet the palanquin. Sarrin Seabreaker rolled himself out into the courtyard, his gaze fixing on the aged man. The square was silent save the tap of the staff against the stone.
The fur-clad man reached Sarrin, and offering a sad smile, placed a hand on his arm, “He’s been called back to the mountain, Sarrin.”
“Thanks be to Cansod.” Sarrin replied weakly.