Souls of Smoke (From the Archives)

“Today, we remember our leader,” Hectaius said, standing at the head of the small mound of pebbles which marked all that remained of Right-Leader Ingnat.

The rest of the group, only four of them now, raised their tin mugs of whiskey to the sky. Geegi looked haggared, her face laced with cut marks from the Bervu jungle that had claimed Ingnat’s life, Keloriar looked even more weathered than his leathered skin made out and Jessi stared ahead with a fifty yard stare. They all processed death in different ways. They all processed failure in different ways.

 Hectaius was the one abstaining from the alcohol on this occasion, he would be lighting the wooden stake that sat in the middle of the pebbles, releasing Ingnat’s spirit into the afterlife.

“We remember someone who fought by our sides, who died by our sides. Who believed in what she followed, who believed in us to make it happen. We’ve all followed her to this god-forsaken planet, we’ve found the Shard of Yelesium, and now we’re going to get this shard back to her Holiness before another rebellion quashes her empire!”

“Here, here,” the group rang out, downing their whiskey in one.

“We remember someone who died protecting her squad, and who believed in each and every one of us,” Hectaius said, forcing himself to keep his emotion out of his voice. He was the leader now, he had to lead, like Ingnat had once done, to make sure they completed the mission.

He took his light and held it against the wood, watching the flame lick up the wood. It took quickly, the sap sucking up the flame and crackling into life. Hectaius stepped back, nodding sombrely as the smoke rose up to the sky, taking with it Ingnat’s spirit with it.

“Goodbye, Evalie,” he whispered into the sky. He wished things had ended differently, for all of them. That Ingnat would have returned to her family a hero.

Now, they would only return her nametag, and the memories that were locked within it.

This flashfiction was first posted in 2018

Featured Image by Alice Hampson on Unsplash

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