Up from the Graveyard

Jeraeden watched the Walls of the World for a week before he gave up. The people of the Graveyard explored the Gray Islands, flitting from place to place, learning to make the reedships of the people there. The sun burned so many of his people!

Jeraeden manufactured a skiff for himself and set out to the east, following the Wall. Here a constant shower of fine mist and rainbows kept him company. The fall of the water reminded him of the sound of the Graveyard, but the lack of the thudding of hulls against each other deafened him.

He found more islands, sandbars, gulls, and fish. Few of the islands were inhabited. Who wanted to live beside the Edge? Only the desperate, simple, and insane.

Days stretched. His people fell far behind. He didn’t need to talk at all. He relaxed into the quiet. The sun rose. The sun set. The novelty of the light never failed to fill him with awe.

Two weeks later he discovered a long, thin island a mile from the Wall. A few stunted trees grew on the patch of land. More reeds. Two people stood in their shade. Jeraeden turned to speak to these lonely few.

When he saw who they were, he barked a laugh.

Matt and Talon ran into the surf toward him, waving their arms. Talon darted into the water, Matt lagging behind. When Talon saw who approached, he tried to stop and fell face-first onto the waves. Matt slowed.

Jeraeden beached the reedship and stepped onto the white sand. He raised an eyebrow.

Matt crossed his arms. “So. You made it.”

The tall man nodded.

Talon wrinkled his nose. “OK. So, did you kill Alathea?”

Jeraeden’s head lowered, his smile evaporating. He closed his eyes.

“You made her jump?” the young thief pressed.

Jeraeden’s slight nod answered him.

A silence stretched between the three men.

Matt burst into laughter. Talon jumped. Jeraeden twitched. Matt’s raucous outburst bent him double.

He reached over to grab Talon’s shoulder. “Don’t you see?” He wheezed between outbursts. “Alathea was right! We burned the Graveyard. It was enough to lift the rest of the ships, since Silent and Creepy’s here. And it was enough to lift us up, too! All the water started going back up and sucked us up with it, right?”

Talon nodded, his brow creased. “Sure…?”

“And if her God was powerful enough to lift the rest of us, don’t you think he’d protect her?”

“He always did before,” Talon answered.

“And if the lift was strong enough to bring us back to the light…” Matt motioned.

Jeraeden’s smile cracked his grief. “It was enough to bring her back.”

Matt’s enthusiastic nod answered. “It’s just a question of where she came back.”

Jeraeden smiled. “Then let’s find her. Come on, we’ll have to build more reedships for you two. And when we find her…” Jeraeden paused. “When we find her, I’m going to have to ask her forgiveness. I should have trusted her. And maybe. Maybe her God.”

Matt’s laugh filled the sky and bounced off the Wall. Talon soon joined in.

Tomorrow their search began.

Thus concludes The Graveyard at the Bottom of the World.


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