The Funeral Of Jalian Triarchus

THE FUNERAL OF JALIAN TRIARCHUS:

Written by a player:

The day began no differently than most. Maybe if I were a haruspex I'd have foreseen what was to come in the entrails of a goat, but as a constable recruit and amateur scholar, I had no foreknowledge to speak of. My dreams the night before had been troubled, true, but that's the case almost every night. Looking back, I should have asked Astri about sleep potions. Oh well.

It all began when Astri announced, thinking aloud the way one does, that a funeral ceremony for Jalian Triarchus was to take place at the Temple of Ereal. I thought about the young man I'd seen murdered; he was younger than I was, and I felt sorry he was dead over something he probably had no part in. I'm only moderately devout, as a rule, but I headed for the Temple anyway. I'd said a prayer and made a little donation for Hiserian's soul after he was killed, and it didn't seem right not to do right by the kid Hiserian had slain, too.

As it happened I was almost the first one there. I felt a little awkward. Astri asked me if I'd known the deceased, and I explained that no, I'd only seen him die. Venta was there, the retainer of the boy's father, Governor Calastor Triarchus of Rock Valley. Her bodyguard fellow was there too. They seemed uneasy, but that was natural enough. The poor dead boy was laid out on a litter, and he was starting to stink a little, but they'd covered him with roses so it wasn't too bad. There were a bunch of professional mourners, but no sign of any family or friends of the late Jalian.

Other citizens I recognized began arriving, beginning with Godo. A lot of people didn't seem to know where the Temple was. Sad, really. You can excuse the foreigners (and they're everywhere) but anybody born in the city ought to know where the Temple is, whether they're devout or not. Anyway, Godo volunteered to lead folks to the Temple and pretty soon a decent group was gathered.

We all went in procession to the pyres outside the gates of the city. A pretty poor funeral procession, I thought, for a patrician kid… just some strangers and paid wailers. Damov whispered to me that he thought they probably had a private ceremony off somewhere else for the family… but this was the kid's body we were going to burn. It didn't add up.

At the pyres Astri said the usual devotions to the aspects of Ereal, and she invited us to speak about the departed. Venta looked very nervous but gave a little homily that might have been for anyone, it was that bland and generalized. Godo said a kind thing about Jalian being the only person to honor him for anything. We tossed our flowers on the corpse and it was ignited, rendering Jalian Triarchus to Ereal. If it WAS Jalian Triarchus, that is.

My mind was racing with suspicion. Venta and her guy left as soon as the corpse was burned, her with a final admonition about finding out why Jalian was killed. I almost knew why Hiserian had done it, but I didn't know why Jalian was the target. Maybe, I thought, Venta had exactly the opposite information I did. What if she knew why Jalian was chosen, but not why Hiserian did it?

Dumond was there. Yeah, I know he's a gangster, but I respect him. You have to respect a guy like that. He was there mainly because he wanted to talk to Astri about some old shrine in his turf, about getting it cleaned up and operational again. He cares about his people, and he's smart. I wondered what he made of this business with Venta, and the significant absence of any friends or family of the deceased. I knew he wasn't going to confide anything to me, though, so there wasn't much I could do.

We headed back to the Temple for the funerary feast. It was decent but not lavish. Venta and company did not attend. Damov was playing logic games with an acolyte, drawing her into contradicting herself. It's amusing to watch, most of the time, but I was worried, that nagging kind of worry you just can't get out of your head. Toward the end of the feast I asked Astri if she'd had any contact with the Triarchus family aside from Venta. She said yes, and that puzzled me. Then she explained she'd received a missive from the Governor. Well, a constable recruit isn't supposed to enforce laws but a private citizen can investigate anything, and Venta *had* said she wanted the matter investigated. I asked Astri if I could have the letter the Governor had sent her as evidence. She agreed readily enough, asked my name, and I thanked her and went on my way.

I haven't got the letter yet, but… I wonder if I'll learn anything. I wonder if I dare share what I know with anyone. Some things are just sacred, whether you're devout or not.

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