Alone Among the Graves

by awitelintsta

A solitary figure crouched near the ground, her hand outstretched, pressing it against the cool earth. She was silent in her reverie. She had never been the religious type, and even in the presence of the spirits of her entire clan, she offered no prayer or rites in their memory. Still, though she did not cry to the gods, her mourning was apparent.

The graves on this small hillside were marked only by haste, being shallow and featureless, and Damhnait could scarcely remember whom had been buried where, even though it had only been a fistful of seasons between then and now. She lifted her gaze from the ground and stood erect, revealing a tall, muscular woman. Any softness that might have once existed had long disappeared from every part of her but her eyes, betraying the pain of loss that even she herself denied at times. It did no good to dwell on the past, but she found herself perennially returning here again, as if it would bring a resolution.

Before, she had never once questioned the gods, never cared for any truth beyond the clang of steel and the cries of battle. Her clan had been in a blood feud since before her own birth, and weapons her best friends since childhood. She was not particularly talented beyond the mean, unlike her twin brother Kernach, whom she had sparred against and lost often. He had grown into a powerful young man, who had later been chosen to lead their clan. She remembered the last time she had seen him fondly as she slowly walked from the field covered in graves to his, the one she had set apart, near the entrance to a cave in which the remnants of the clan had once sought refuge during the worst winter storm she could recall.

She missed Kernach terribly, and as she approached the site she was filled with rage, unsheathing her sword and plunging it desperately into the earth beside the grave in anger. None of it made any more sense now than before. No answers had come since the clan's death. When she had spoken of it to the few travelers and hunting parties she had encountered during the years, she had always been met with suspicion, first for being a Cimmerian without a clan, and even more so for the subject matter. Her homeland was not a place to speak about such mysteries, and her fixation on their death was considered weakness of character.

Damhnait retrieved her sword from the ground and sheathed it again, ashamed of her outburst though no-one was there to witness. She looked out to the south, as she was near the Aquilonian border. Even though she had stayed nearby for years, she had never crossed it - not out of fear, but out of disinterest. But a time had come where she knew that there was nothing left for her in the frozen tundras of her birth but death and madness. It was time to move on.

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