Funeral for a Squished Spider
Dec. 8, 2017, 8:30 p.m.
Arx - Ward of the Compact - Shrine of the Queen of Endings
Comments and Log
Leona shrugs. "I have no idea, but I'm staying because I have no idea. And I try to come to the ceremonies here." She looks to Aleksei and groans softly. "No. Forget I said anything. There are none. This isn't the figurine you're looking for."
1 Grayson Guardsmen arrives, following Roxana.
Magpie returns, brushing at his shirt and waving away a few lingering flies. He crosses over to the front row of pews, sitting down with a heavy sigh as it's time to get somber. His blue eyes wander upward towards the ceiling, eying the spiders that are crawling to and fro.
The Shrine of the Queen of Endings is lit in all its candle and lamp-glow glory, a somber and serious place for the most part, but for the plain 'no squishing' sign and, well, the other signs of human occupation within its hallowed walls. As promised, a wine bar does exist for the purposes of this funeral: it is set up in one corner along the red-lit light of the alcoves, with a couple of disciples -- both borrowed from other Faiths because Aureth doesn't actually have that many Harlequins yet -- on hand to provide bar service for the numerous bottles of red, rose and white that Aureth has caused to be accumulated for the occasion.
The Archlector himself, shooing his friends and family away from the front of the chapel, stands with every appearance of gravity before the altar, on which rests a tiny, tiny coffin.
Yes, it is really a tiny, tiny coffin.
"Good evening, all," Aureth says with every sign of measured good cheer. "Thank you for coming to join us for a somewhat unusual funeral. I take the very fact of your entrance into the Shrine of the Queen of Endings tonight that you are blessed with either an extremely open mind and giving heart, or with a heightened sense of the ridiculous. Please, if you'd like a drink, take one. It may help. We are gathered here today to mourn the passing of a spider, the lowliest and most short-lived of the servants of Death. I will be speaking, and then I'm going to ask my friend Gregory there to take the coffin around to each of you so that you may see the departed, and we're going to be wide open for questions. Wide, wide open."
Nightshade, a tiny black kitten, 3 Rubino and Zaffria guards, Ariadne, Penelope arrive, following Dafne.
Fajra arrives, following Lianne.
Vladimir arrives, following Hana.
"I'm gonna get one," Aleksei tells Leona, his voice lowering before he peels off to the wine bar to grab up a glass and then take a seat in the pews. He finds a seat near the front, lips twitching with banked humor. He takes a gulp of wine and manages to not laugh. Out loud.
Aleksei has joined the pews nearest the front.
Princess Roxana Grayson arrives quietly, slipping in so that she does not risk disrupting the proceedings. She is dressed in all black, surely chosen to express her profound loss and mourning on behalf of...the dead spider. Her expression is completely solemn, as if it were a relative's funeral she was attending. No hint of a smirk, or a giggle behind a hand, or anything of the sort. When Aureth begins speaking she focuses on him intently, likely deeply moved by his eloquent words. Or something.
Darrow folds his hands over his chest, entering the shrine. He's somberly dressed enough to match, but one wouldn't exactly classify the dour man as having a giving heart or any sense of the ridiculous at all. That being said, funerals seems to be one of the few things the Knight of Sorrow seems to be good at.
Alaries also taking one of those glasses of wine, pouring a generous cup as she moves to a pew near the back of the grouping, brows raised at the laying out of the procession of the tiny, tiny... tiny casket.
Magpie just sits quietly in the front, a faint smile of appreciation on his face as he watches the Archlector begin the service. He folds his hands in his lap, quiet and attentive.
Lianne, darkly dressed and bright-eyed as ever, slips in with the gathering crowd, a curious look cast about those in attendance. That smile grows faintly, perhaps a touch strangely, marked with surprise, to spy Darrow, a nod offered in the knight's direction before another nod or two goes to those situated nearer to the front. Not that she moves to join them. The marquessa settles down in the pews all the way in the back nice and quietly, the wine bar skipped for the time being.
Lianne has joined the pews nearest the back.
Magpie has joined the pews nearest the front.
Dafne arrives, clutching in one hand a handkerchief embroidered with spiders in black thread. The duchess disciple accepts a glass of wine, and remains in sombre silence for the dear departed, handkerchief pressed to her ruby red lips.
Hana has joined the pews nearest the back.
Leona mutters darkly to Aleksei, "You'd best be talking about a glass of wine," and then she moves over to get a glass of wine herself, Aureth shooing her away as well. She takes her glass and drinks it down, and then lets them refill it before she moves to take her own seat near Hana in the back, nodding at the familiar woman.
Leona has joined the pews nearest the back.
Hana slips into the temple almost a little late, taking up a seat silently near the back to try to avoid disrupting anything. She offers a smile to the marquessa who's also chosen this seat, and to the Lord Commander as well, though the young smith's attention quickly shifts to the incredibly tiny casket.
Darrow has joined the pews nearest the back.
Though Roxana tries to very subtly glance around the room and take in the faces she sees without appearing distracted from this clearly significant event, Dafne is first to catch her eyes. Then and only then the tiniest hint of a smile appears on her features and she walks over to the woman, though slowly and casually. Once close enough to speak in a voice only slightly louder than a whisper, she says to Dafne "What a lovey handkerchief. I wish I'd thought to bring something similar. May I stand here with you as we mourn the dear departed insect together?" A pause and a hint of a frown on the Princess' lips. "Oh wait, spiders aren't insects are they? Something else. I hope that his soul is not insulted by my error."
"So," Aureth says, scuffing back over the glittery stone of the central aisle to reach his altar, "this spider's life was always going to be short. It was cut a little shorter by a human boot. And ordinarily, /ordinarily/, Death recognizes that lives aren't going to be long. A human life is short, from the moment she sets us in our bodies to the moment she gathers our souls again at the end. Sometimes, we kill each other. Sometimes, disasters kill us. Shit happens. Life happens. Death gets that. Of course she does. All things must end so that they may begin anew."
While he is talking, Disciple Gregory paces up to the altar, scoops up the tiny coffin, and then begins to walk among the pews, giving everyone amongst the puzzled parishioners a glimpse of what is clearly too small for everyone to see from far away.
Magpie grimaces at the mention of the human boot, lowering his head briefly in deference.. guilt? Something. When he looks up again, Gregory is coming by with the tiny coffin. The man leans forward to peer into it and whispers something softly, then leans back again.
Lianne shares a smile for Hana when she moves to sit nearby, though she, too, is caught up in the peculiar proceedings, the majority of her attention upon the Archlector as he speaks to Death and how she came to reclaim this tiny life a little bit earlier than anticipated. When the disciple begins showing around the itsy bitsy deceased, her focus strays to the gathered mourners as they each take their peek and pay their respects, even if she's mostly only able to see the backs of bowed heads from here.
Dafne may (or maybe not) dart a quick glance under appropriately lowered eyelashes to her lovingly-made 'No Squishing' sign. Well, signs can only do so much. "I believe they are arachnids," she tells Roxana in a low whisper. A pause, and she allows, generously, "But I am sure the poor soul and Death herself will both forgive the error."
Darrow seems to agree with most of Aureth's statements, bobbing his head soberly to each glum mention of the myriad ways tragedy might strike. As the tiny coffin is passed by, he peeks in. He seems...bemused to see a spider there, and looks back and forth between the coffin bearing the squished spider, and the altar. His eyes narrow slightly.
Tucking his thumbs into the line of his belt, Aureth sets his weight backwards on his heels and asks, as Gregory circulates, "Does anyone know why Death uses spiders for Her servants?"
Leona leans forward to view the tiny spider corpse, raising her glass as though to toast the small creature, and then settling back in that seat to the back of the shrine, listening to Aureth speak. "Because they spin," Leona comments, though who knows if it's loudly enough to reach the front of the clas...er... shrine.
Roxana nods slightly, and follows Duchess Dafne's lead in lowering sooty lashes. She may sneak a glance at the "No Squishing" sign also, but very subtly. "I can only pray that it is so, and will offer devotions to Death herself in order to express my remorse." Her lashes raise again only to focus golden-green eyes on Aureth, and though she appears to be thinking, no answer is offered up. It's like a test she did not remember to study for.
Aleksei pauses at Aureth's question, and then he glances about the room. "I actually don't know," he admits in a stage whisper. He's the worst priest.
Magpie just shrugs to Aureth, "Because the bats are all gone?" He asks.
"Because they spin." Aureth does not /entirely/ fingerguns at Leona, but he does tip his hand in her direction and smile. "Death weaves our souls from her own self, from her own blood, spinning life from the Dream and working it into new weaves. Each time a soul begins its path, it begins a new chapter on the tapestry of that soul's history ... and as the spiders spin their webs, so Death spins our stories, and the Wheel spins on." He paces in the front of the class, er, stage, er, chapel, his pale gaze roving his audience with the faintest of smiles still lingering on his mouth. "Yet the kinship doesn't end there. Spiders ... are ... creepy. Aren't they? We look at them, and we see in them something that our animal brain, the part of us that doesn't think like a human, the part of us beneath the level of the soul and higher thought, it goes, urgh." He folds his arms over his chest. "We're afraid of them. We avoid them. The average person sees a spider and doesn't think, aw, little Death helper! The average person sees a spider and either runs away or lifts their boot." (Magpie's also not wrong but it doesn't fit Aureth's sermon so he just skates on by.)
"And eventually," says Dafne with a soft sigh and a flutter of her handkerchief, "that thread must be cut."
Hana has left the pews nearest the back.
Vladimir have been dismissed.
Alarie peers in when the tiny coffin is brought her way, a look from the coffin to Aureth then back against as she settles in for the lesson attached to eulogy. "Tell them they can come to shop, I have a job or two for them."
"She's also a little odd," Aleksei says with a little smile and every evidence of affection in his voice.
Aureth's smile pulls a little wider, and he says, "They answer to someone a little more highly ranked than me," with the slide of his fingertips down the finely woven silken weave of his long, tailored tunic. "We forgot Death, and we fear our own mortality. It's hard to look at someone who stands at the end of our lives, and not equate her with that end. Even her name, Death, brings fear to our hearts. On a level beneath consciousness, even when we rationally know that she made us, that she loves us, that she asks nothing but we respect the sacredness of our souls and of her Wheel, it's easy to be afraid. And yeah, there's that too. With the weaving and the extinct bats and the skulls and the wine and all that, it's easy to be unsettled."
As Gregory brings the tiny coffin back to him, Aureth takes it in his hands and drops to his knees at the front of the chapel, before all and sundry. He perches there for a moment, on his knees, eyebrows swept high. "This spider never did anyone any harm," he says. "She wove her webs, and killed pests and lived on their blood, and maybe one day might have spun a sac for her eggs to have a few hundred little daughters of her own. But when we look at her or her sisters, we're afraid."
Gregory, having committed that part of his duty, now walks up to the chandelier, reaching up to light a long taper from its candles.
Magpie watches quietly, brows lifting as Aureth drops to his knees to continue his sermon. He leans over to murmur something to Aleksei softly, then falls silent again.
Dafne bows her head in all due solemnity as the tiny coffin returns to the front, face half-hidden behind her handkerchief. She murmurs something that sounds like "Poor spider," at Aureth's invocation of a humble spider life, although there is a trace of confusion at his earlier mention of how easy it is to be unsettled by Death. Dafne likes unsettling things, after all.
Roxana has been called a chatterbox before, and much of the time the descriptor is utterly deserved. Yet she too remains quiet, offering the whole of her attention to Aureth as he speaks and only tearing it away when others do as well. Eagerly taking it all in, trying to learn and understand. Duchess Dafne's handkerchief is mesmerizing of course, but she tries not to stare and to pay attention.
"Death doesn't choose your end, any more than She chose the end of this, the smallest of her servants." Aureth puts the coffin on the floor and takes the taper from Gregory as he brings it to him. "Death loves you all, for She spun you from her own self, and gave you this life to explore, and learn, and grow; and when you come to Her embrace again, it will not be Her doing ... but She will welcome you."
"Little spider, crushed by forces beyond your control, you have returned to your mistress, and I offer this blessing to you, that as She loves us, I love Her, and so I love and bless Her servants. All things must end, so that they may begin anew." Aureth sets the taper to the tiny wooden coffin and waits for the flame to catch. Luckily, he is doing this on a stone floor in front of a stone altar surrounded by stone, so the likelihood of extreme fire hazard is low.
Magpie can't help but quickly lean forward so he can better see the coffin put to flame, riveted by the spectacle. He does glance over to Aleksei though and nod in solemn agreement to something the man just said to him. When he looks forward again he murmurs, "You live on in legend, little spider. You live on." The man flicks at a fly that lands on his sleeve.
While the coffin burns to ashes in front of him, Aureth sits back on his knees and looks to his audience. He blows out the taper. "So!" he says, gesturing with it as smoke trails from its tip. "Does anyone have any questions? About Death, the doctrine, spiders ... you know, anything, really. Hair regimen."
Roxana Grayson lifts her hand tentatively, not quite raising it like a schoolchild but indicating that she may indeed have a question.
"Yes, my lady?" Aureth asks, and then corrects himself when his disciple makes a flappy hand gesture at him from over to the side, "Highness?"
For all of Dafne's sorrow at the spider's untimely death, she cannot help but mutter, sotto voce, "I did mean to send my lady's maid over for hair care tips."
Since the service portion seems to be more or less done -- the spider coffin now in ashes -- Magpie pushes to stand up, slipping past Aleksei to exit the pew on the far side of the room. He goes over to the wine selection and pours himself a glass, blue eyes roaming amongst the attendees as he sips.
"Forgive my ignorance please. I have studied religion as we all do in the Compact but have learned only small bits of the deities once 'lost'." Roxana begins. "I have heard that the discovery of the Queen of Endings and Her place among the Pantheon has led us to hold new understandings of death. Reincarnaton for example. Can you explain this to me somewhat. I have heard the word before of course and know it is a common belief in places far from Arvum. What I wish to know is what the Faith teaches us on it now, and the role that the Queen of Endings plays in that understanding. Thank you." Her head dips respectfully once she has concluded with her question.
Lianne, all the way in the back, appends her own curiosity to Roxana's inquiry, wondering, "And do spiders get another turn upon the wheel?"
Madeleine has been quietly observing the entire time. Certainly. The nearby Lianne gets a curious huh. "What a curious question," she muses.
Hana has joined the pews nearest the back.
When the small wooden coffin has burned away and all that is left is a charcoalish little mess on the floor, Aureth stands again. The aeterna he wears shows no signs of any smudge or ash. "Much of what we forgot when we forgot Death was the Wheel of souls and the theory of reincarnation," he says, "and you can find out more if you'd like to take a copy of the doctrine from the basket, but the short version is, one lifetime is not necessarily all there is. Death begins your life, at the beginning, and then takes you up at the end, and decides what to do with your soul from there -- whether she is going to place it in a new life immediately, or leave you to wait in the Shining Lands until you are needed, or pass you on to a final rest. Souls who perform particularly great service to the world or to the Pantheon are the most likely to be called again, and there are a number of people walking about living their second life, or their fifth, or their hundredth, because their stories were not complete, and Death wished to give them more or thought they would be needed."
Hana frowns just a bit at her father's words, for some reason. But she says nothing, continuing to listen to his sermon.
Leona looks over at Hana as she frowns, but she just smiles slightly at the other woman.
Dafne offers, lowering her handkerchief, "The Doctrine is the definitive tome, but you may also find this useful, as an introduction. It was written for children, but explains Death in a very simple and beautiful way." She places a book on a nearby pew, because of course she carries creepy children's books around with her.
Dafne drops Queen and Mother: A Children's Tale.
Roxana listens and nods. "Ah, thank you." A hint of pink rises on her cheeks, a blush gentle enough to resemble pale watercolor. "My apologies, I ought have picked up a copy of the doctrine and read it before asking a question I would have seen answered there." She continues. "That is a very eloquent and appreciated explanation. I have learned a great deal just from this simple memorial service for a dead bug...er, arachnid rather." To Dafne she smiles, taking the book offered. "I will read it through thoroughly. Thank you so much."
"Don't feel bad, your highness. The archlector *loves* talking about Death and answering questions." Magpie chimes in, throwing Roxana a brief, charming smile. Then he drinks down more of the wine.
Roxana picks up Queen and Mother: A Children's Tale.
"Wonder if I've lived before," the Archlector of Mangata muses to herself. Maddie reaches up and toys with a shortened stand of her hair as she listens to the strains of conversation.
"I really do," Aureth says. "Hey, get me a glass, will you?" He lifts his chin at Magpie and grins crookedly at him. "So, anybody else?" he asks, widening his eyes as he sweeps the chapel with a glance.
Roxana is overheard praising Aureth for: Knowledgeable and Eloquent!
Roxana is overheard praising Dafne for: Wise and generous!
Magpie is overheard praising Aureth for: Best funeral for a spider, Eight thumbs up!
1 Grayson Guardsmen leaves, following Roxana.
Alarie is overheard praising Aureth.
Jessamine, the innocuous shop girl leaves, following Alarie.
Magpie snorts at Aureth's request, but moves to fill a second glass and carries it over to the Archlector of Death. He passes it off, then goes back to the drink table to lurk.
Aureth beams, having pressed his cousin into service, and takes a long swallow. "Well," he says after drinking, "if nobody else has questions, please-- feel free to mingle and enjoy the wine," and wanders towards the pews so that he can claim a seat, apparently finished with his performative section of the evening.
Aleksei has left the pews nearest the front.
Keso, a street urchin have been dismissed.
Peanut, an oversized mastiff have been dismissed.
Madeleine raises her voice clearly, the smoky sounds carrying easily in the shrine. "Actually, Archlector," Madeleine asks, "how does one know if they've lived before, or if they are a new soul?"
Hana offers Leona a smile in answer to her own, though perhaps a bit less brilliantly cheery than her usual.
With the official officiation of the funeral called in favor of what might be a wake, Lianne slips away from the pews to go take advantage of the wine bar, selecting one of the whites on offer. There's a glance back toward Madeleine at the question posed to Aureth, evidence that she means to listen to any provided answer, but she edges nearer to Magpie to murmur something to her fellow mourner.
Lianne has left the pews nearest the back.
"Prayer," Aureth says, cheerfully. He toasts his wine in the air. "Many old souls have visions or dreams about it. There are those blessed with gifts of the Queen who can just see it, and the Nox'Alfar actually have a hard time differentiating between which life they're talking to, from time to time. Personally, I found out that I was a new soul when Death told me so."
Aleksei's lips twitch into a faint smile at Madeleine's question and he stands from his pew to wander back over to the wine bar; his own glass is dangerously empty. He draws up into Lianne and Magpie's proximity, and then he pauses, blinking at something in Lianne's appearance. He murmurs something in a lower voice.
As Lianne selects the white, Magpie carries on with his new drink duty and snags a glass for the lady, sliding it over to her and reaching for the bottle. "I can pour that for you." He offers. "It'll give me something to do before I nod off." He jokes lightly, but lowers his voice as Aureth gets into answering the next question. Oh, he'll fill Aleksei's too, why not??
Madeleine says, "Fascinating thank you," as she goes to grab a drink. She pauses to make a gesture of blessing over the Wine. "Bless this drink so it may refresh and nourish us. Thank you Mangata.""
Lianne murmurs a soft word of gratitude to Magpie as he pours for her, though her expression seems to have sunk into something pensive. As Aleksei approaches, at whatever he whispers, she shakes her head no, lips pressing thing. Her verdant attention slips toward the Archlector at the front of the shrine briefly, taking note of his answer, but most of her focus is on the Archlector nearer to her and the kind soul pouring drinks. Nevermind that she hasn't partaken of hers. It looks awfully good in her hand.
Leona stands, putting a comforting hand on Hana's shoulder. She pauses long enough to catch Aureth's attention and bow slightly, and then she's headed out of the shrine, a peculiar little smile on her face.
Leona has left the pews nearest the back.
4 King's Own Guardsmen, Narses leave, following Leona.
"Hey, kid," Aureth says to Hana, tipping his glass in her direction. Since the socializing part has supposedly begun, he is no longer pitching his voice to carry, but honestly he's never /quiet/. Stretching out his legs to their full extent, he tries to look approachable and mostly pulls off looking lazy.
"Hey, dad," Hana replies to Aureth, her smile returning as she makes her way over to him. "You gave a good sermon."
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