The funeral took place just before sunset had truly began, each member of the group arriving either in the company of others or on their own. Tyler, Kera, Brooke, Bear, and Summer were the first to arrive, followed shortly by Matt, Josh, and Sarah. Jimmy had been laid out in the clothes he’d been wearing, his eyes closed with one coin for each eye in the old tradition that Tyler had favored for so long. He’d lived too long and seen too many things to not believe in such customs. He’d be damned if anything prevented Jimmy from reaching the final clearing he so richly deserved.
Tyler had elected Tamara to speak the eulogy of their fallen friend, a surprise that had gripped each individual within the group. Tamara had not refused, understanding more than a little as to why Tyler would pick her to speak of the young man. She had after all been rescued in a manner by Jimmy when they’d first met and she had been the first among the current group to be taken in by Jimmy and the old man, Gene, months ago. When told of the old man Tyler had smiled as he had remembered the young man that Gene had once been, how eager he’d been to rid the world of the Darkfall. Never once had he forgotten a face or a name of those who had stood with him and his three students at the end of the war, nor had he forgotten how many of them had met their end. Tyler could remember with a hint of sadness the day that Gene had lost his sight, he’d been there in fact.
The old man had lived far longer than any human had a right to, he’d been almost thirty when Tyler had last seen him, a young man in his prime. He had to have been nearly one hundred and ten years old when he’d finally passed away. To hear that the man had acted as though he were still in his midlife hadn’t astonished Tyler, he’d known many that had found their lives extended by forces they would not understand even if such were explained to them. Tyler had deigned to explain such a thing only a few people in his life, though each one had thankfully kept his trust by not speaking to the masses.
Chosen, by dint of the power they were given, stood outside of time, untouched by the physical effects it was so adept at creating. A Chosen had often been selected in the past to serve for as long as they were needed and no longer, though there had been few cases where the power given had not been relinquished and had been passed on through blood. In such cases the power given to the Chosen was eventually diluted and faded out after much time, though it never truly disappeared. Instead it would adapt, change and grow into something far different than it had began as,
One constant of the power given to Chosen was that it affected those around them as well, granting a longevity that had been mostly unheard of in the world that had come before now. Tyler wondered if Jimmy would have benefited from the company he kept had he survived the first and most important stage of the Joining. He couldn’t help but feel a bit guilty as he looked down upon the still form of the young man, wondering so many things that it was a miracle that his head didn’t ache from the strain.
It wasn’t your fault. Kera stood next to him, her head towering above Tyler as she fixed him with her silvery gaze. Jimmy was meant to go ahead of us Tyler, that’s all. Like everyone else he’s already waiting for us in the clearing. I’ll bet he’s found Gene by now and the two of them are waiting for us all. Tyler nodded as she spoke, smiling as her words brought at least a little comfort to his heart. So much had been lost since their lives had been changed those few centuries ago, so much had been sacrificed for the cause they had come to embrace.
He hadn’t wanted life to become this way. All he’d wanted was to graduate high school, go on to live his life in whatever way he saw fit and be a good man as his parents had taught him. Tyler and Kera had planned only so far ahead, deciding to allow life in for a spell and see where it took them. Neither of them had worried about their future, they’d known deep in their hearts that no matter what they would always be together and the world would still be there. That still held true, though the world they had imagined would be there was far different than the world they’d known.
As the rest of their group began to arrive the sun continued to dip towards the horizon, the shadows around them lengthening to the right as they gathered together. The heavy, clomping steps that shook the ground beneath them announced Matt’s arrival, his iron form shining from within with the purple light that had come to represent his being. Brooke looked down to Tyler from where she stood across the bier, her golden eyes, changed after the Joining, sorrowful as she then looked to Jimmy.
Waiting for a short amount of time to make sure that everyone was there Tyler motioned for Tamara to come forward, noting the silence that reigned over the group as they stood assembled. Each person here had known Jimmy at least a bit and each person here, even those of the Baryn’alt, had come to enjoy his company. Tyler found it heartening at least to have seen even James Kordell, the sarcastic ass that he was, spend a few moments now and then with Jimmy, helping the dim-witted young man to understand a certain fighting stance or even helping Jimmy with matters that didn’t concern fighting. As Tamara made her way forward Tyler allowed his gaze to pass over the entire group, resting for only a second on each person before moving on. What he saw as Tamara reached the bier caused him to smile solemnly before he motioned for Jayden to come forth as well.
There was not a disinterested look among the group, each person seeming as though they’d been wounded themselves as Tyler felt an outpouring of emotion from each heart that beat within the group. He felt a rush of pride for those who now stood together, finding that like the many he’d fought with before, the feeling of belonging to something so grand was a heady experience, an honor that not many ever realized.
As Jayden made her way forward she beckoned for Michele to come with her, a gentle smile on her face as the leader of the Living Flame parted from the demonic Chosen to go with her order’s creator. Tyler couldn’t help but cock one eyebrow at Andrew, who merely shrugged as Tyler grinned. There were other pairings that he couldn’t help but notice before allowing his gaze to trail back to Jimmy’s form. Bella and Matteo stood together, as did Kenyan and Alexis. Summer remained as always near Tyler’s side, though he could see that Josh and Sarah, and Brooke and Bear stood together as well. Jamie and Alex and the rest of the guardians stood not far away from Tyler and Kera, though the entire group remained close as though afraid to move much farther.
Taking his gaze from the group back to the bier Tyler saw as Tamara looked at him as though awaiting permission to start. He couldn’t quite believe the difference in the woman after the past few months. She had come from being a sarcastic, standoffish witch to a young woman that realized she still had much to learn and was willing to do what it took. Tamara had changed a great deal and for the better, something she no doubt realized as she offered him a small smile. Tyler returned the gesture, motioning with one hand for her to go on. Jayden and Michele stood next to the dark-haired beauty, awaiting their time as well.
“When I met Jimmy it wasn’t far from where we were standing and I, well, hadn’t exactly had the best luck when it came to life. Jimmy found me when I was down, quite literally, and helped me to reach the store where he and Gene had settled. After that I kind of knew that he wasn’t all there in the head, but that didn’t matter. Jimmy always woke me up in the morning with a big smile and a warm meal. I thank Gene now for having taught Jimmy how to do these things, but I thank Jimmy for doing them. He was the kindest soul on this island and the most deserving of a better place.”
Tamara’s voice cracked just a bit as Jayden laid her hand gently upon the woman’s shoulder, seeking to offer her strength as Tamara sniffed into her closed fist. “You don’t find a man like Jimmy very often, someone who always wakes up with a smile on his face for no better reason than because he feels safe with those around him. Jimmy knew he had friends in each one of us. I know we didn’t always admit to it but I know from Jimmy that each of us found in him a gentle soul that wanted nothing more than friendship. The world would benefit from more people like Jimmy. I’m glad to have known him and we’re all better for having had him in our lives for even a short time.” Tamara sounded as though she were trying to hold back a sob as she stepped away, returning to the comforting arms of Korvin as he accepted her into his embrace.
Tyler felt another stab of guilt as he saw the two embrace, wondering once more what would happen once the final promise had been kept. He knew that Korvin and Matteo must have already questioned themselves concerning this matter, though neither of them had come to him or any of the other Chosen thus far. Eventually it might become an issue, though for now Tyler was content to let the moment play out as it would. As the group watched Jayden stood by Michele as the leader of the Living Flame called upon her innate ability to control fire, the very tips of her hair seeming to dance as the power coursed through her, resulting in a spark that blossomed from the palm of her right hand, which she then laid gently upon the wooden bier next to Jimmy, offering the young man one last smile before stepping away, keeping her right palm raised as though offering Jimmy the small bloom of fire that still resided upon her palm. As she concentrated the fire grew hotter, burning almost blue as the rest of the bier suddenly caught, the billows of smoke that resulted causing a few within the group that stood too close to back away a step or two.
There is no pain, no strife we’ve not shared.
No rest for the warriors whose blades still lay bared.
Wandering the dark lands, seeking for true,
Warriors that mayhap once knew…
Tyler closed his eyes as he listened to the heavenly voice ring out across the blacktop, knowing instinctively whose voice this was as he allowed himself to be caught up in the resonant tones. Brooke stood upon her clawed feet with her eyes closed and her head lowered in respect, though there was no doubt that each and every person could hear her voice as she lent her words to the passage of their young friend. It was an honor that had been bestowed upon each one of those that had died within the early years of the Darkfall, Brooke’s own contribution to the life of those that had fought so valiantly and had lived so passionately. It was what Jimmy deserved and yet Tyler still felt as though this weren’t enough.
As though to echo this sentiment, each member of the group, the beasts excluded, suddenly drew forth their weapons, the ringing of steel and the crackling of energy filling the silence between them as Tyler led the way, the bluish-white flames of his staff burning bright and true as it appeared in his right hand on a whim. It was an old practice, a tradition of sort, a sendoff of a fellow warrior, raising salute to guide them into the next life, and it was one more honor that Jimmy Spoons deserved.
Lowering his head in respect to the fallen Tyler could only hope that the rest of them survived until the final battle. The group that fought alongside him now was far different than those he had enjoyed in the many years past, but they were as noble and as fierce as any he’d ever had the honor to fight amongst. In their company he felt that the final promise would be kept without fail, that nothing, not even the most furious minions of the Dark, could possibly stop them. The time for dreaming had ended, it was time to wake.