Kieren watched her funeral from a distant hill, face hidden under a heavy black cowl. Far below, the train of mourners passed the wooden bier. A body, her body, lay on top of the tinder, covered by an opaque shroud.
She felt sick.
Following the procession, her husband entered the courtyard, wearing the golden mantle of the King of Men. He stood, still and silent like a statue. Their son stopped beside him, head bowed. His long blond hair blocked his face from Kieren’s sight. He reached out, rubbing his little sister’s back as she sobbed into her father’s chest.
Kieren’s heart lurched, aching that she couldn’t reach out to them.
She tore eyes away and addressed the old man at her side. “This is not right, Talfryn. I don’t care what the Morraugh have told you. This is cruel.”
His stained grey robes flapped in the early spring breeze. “This is the only way, my queen. If you wish to protect your husband and children, you must leave Cuhulaiin.”
“But to make them think I have died? Staging my own funeral? How, in the Morraugh’s name, will that help anyone? They are suffering because of me.” She wrapped her arms around her waist. “I wish you’d kept the knowledge of the vision to yourself, Talfryn. No good can come of this.”
“The Prince and Princess will be safe.”
“But at what cost?”