The Cryst magicked the Aurochs and Woodlanders small enough to make it through the Passage. Those who were already small had to be carried by others across the gap. Some of the Aurochs were injured but patched up enough to get inside where they could be cared for. It was then time to make a plan for how to care for the dead still waiting for us. Before any asking of questions, before any planning, we ate together.
I sat with Aurie, Madeleine, and Nana - not quite sure where to begin our conversation, glad for the quiet of chewing and swallowing. Madeleine had a few scratches but nothing major. She looked like a cub when she was magicked down like that, but certainly acted like the full-grown bear she was. I was so happy to see Aurie and Madeleine, although more overjoyed to see Aurie, more guilty to see Madeleine. But since both were alive, I guess something went right when Aurie left me in the village. I was full of questions about where she’d gone and what she did, and I hoped we’d have time to talk.
The Cryst were busy feeding us, tending to the wounded, and doing whatever it was the Cryst did. I didn’t see Citrina or Ruby to thank them for following their intuition - so many more could have been lost. Citrina and Ruby were not known as seers, yet they had a sense that something was wrong, which left me with the question as to why the true seers did not feel anything out of the ordinary. Pua was known among the Daughters for being quite accurate about such things, yet she didn’t know the Aurochs were close. There were others Daughters and Cryst too, who could sense such things - why didn’t we have warning?
Fed and tended, we faced the task of gathering our dead.
“What’s done for people and animals that die here?” I asked, “I mean what happens to the bodies?”
“For the Daughters, our beliefs hold that our bodies are mere shells left behind, so they are burned and the bones and ashes collected for altars,” Nana replied, “and I believe it is much the same for the Cryst.”
“My understanding is that for the Woodland...