The Ashes of House Auloro by Jasmine Auloro | World Anvil

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Sat 7th Apr 2018 12:01

The Ashes of House Auloro

by Jasmine Auloro

In the aftermath of the battle, the only sounds were wails and sobs. The few survivors worked in grim silence to gather the dead, if they were not incapacitated with audible grief. Former villagers were laid out in orderly rows, identifiable pieces placed with their source. Blankets, flowers, candles and mementos were used to provide former friends and family some measure of dignity and respect. Former foes were gathered into piles, usually with the aid of pitchforks and other farming tools if possible in order to avoid touching befouled flesh. Burning brands from the remainder of the wall were used to light kindling stuffed into these piles in attempts to burn the bodies of the ghouls and zombies. A miasma hovered over the village, and those working the piles covered their faces with cloth to try and keep the sickening stench from their nostrils.
Tyrwin and Dunric walked about hesitantly, offering aid and comfort where they thought it would be received. Jasmine, however, eschewed what would normally be her role, and she struck her allies as wanting their platitudes less than even the village that had considered bargaining with their assailants. She sat alone with the corpse of her brother Jafar, holding his hand and occasionally stroking at his face.
She'd gathered his bowels from where the ghoul had splayed them and placed them within urns nearby. She'd tended his wounds and covered his body in a rudimentary way. She'd lit candles at the points of the compass and begun a vigil over his body, but she felt none of the cold comfort she'd previously felt in Neros's teachings. Now she simply felt cold. Numb. She kept playing the nights events over in her head, wondering what she could or should have done differently. She'd let her rage at her mother blind her, and she'd ignored all other threats in her zealous attempt to finally mete out justice.
And now her brother was dead. Felled by one of her mother's abominations. Jasmine had to force herself to look at the still, cold, unmoving face of her brother's corpse to actually believe it. She'd been angry at her mother, she knew her mother had done terrible things, but Jasmine had never truly felt any fear when facing her. Fear of failure, perhaps, but not fear of death. Jasmine never truly entertained the idea the woman that had killed her husband would fall so far as to actually kill her own children as well. She'd kept Jasmine alive through intervening years and a thousand minor rebellions. She'd used her magic to wrack Jasmine with pain, to weaken her or prevent Jasmine from stopping her machinations. She'd taunted her and abused her and tormented her in many ways, but Jasmine never believed that her own mother would ever actually take the life of her offspring. And yet her brother, the last good scion of House Auloro, lay dead.
Her father, her brother, her uncle, her cousin Tekhet. Now Roshana, Kaspaer, and Gulshan were in custody. The village wanted their blood. Her brothers' friends wanted their blood. Jasmine's word was all that held their death at bay, and Jasmine would have wondered how long even that would suffice except she could barely muster the energy to care about their fate. She still had one brother, a few cousins abroad somewhere, but for all intents and purposes she was now all that remained of House Auloro, or would be once her mother and siblings paid for their crimes.
And pay they would. The closest thing Jasmine could think to a plan would be to march them all the way south to Baradrad, to hand them over to the council of Noble Houses and let whatever justice Baradrad decreed be meted out. In the process she would ask but one favor: to have the name of House Auloro cleared, even if it were only posthumously. She would be the last. She could restore honor to her father but the House was fallen, and she was alone in the world. She had barely fit in with her brother's friends. She weathered their jokes and stares with trained aplomb, but in her heart Jasmine knew they feared or disliked her. She would not stay with the mercenaries of Seward's Estate.
She thought of allowing Artemesia to simply end the entire affair. But Gulshan... Gulshan had an opportunity long ego to stop Jasmine's escape, and had let her go. That would mean little to the nobles of Baradrad, it would barely register for Jafar's friends, but Jasmine could not be the one to levy the sword on her sister.
So she sat here, stroking the cold flesh of the last person to truly love and understand her, the last person that had been true to their father's teachings, the only other person in the world that cared to seek justice in his name. He'd paid for it with his life, and Jasmine could do nothing for him but seek vengeance.
The "grand" army of Ghal Pelor would arrive in a day or two, and they would then march on Beldon. They would either eradicate the infestation and liberate the Hand of Zharkhaddos, or they would all perish and the world would face a new Plague of Undeath. Jasmine's grip tightened on Jafar's hand. She would go with them. It was Neros's will that the Hand of Zharkhaddos never again threaten mortals. Perhaps this was the destiny or grim fate for which he had always prepared her. Whether this foul specter was a product of Krutilix or other foul magics, he threatened to scour the entire world under. The only justice left for her family was to stop this and send him to his Final Rest. She would do so, or she would die in the attempt and join her father and Jafar waited in Neros's realm.
This did not leave the seven days typical of her faith. Other measures would need to be taken. Jasmine set about gathering the materials she would need. A table from one of the houses whose family would never return. Dead branches and kindling from about the shattered town. Cords of firewood from outside an inn that may never see guests again. Tyrwin broke the silence at one point to ask if she needed help. One glance in his direction and he had turned and walked away with no mor words. When it was done Jafar lay in his funerary robes atop a pyre. Jasmine bathed and tended his body as best she could through eyes blurring with tears. She anointed him with oil and placed what flowers and herbs she had left within his robes. She laid a kiss upon his forehead, channeling as much divine energy as she could muster into his body to ward off any corruption, and she prayed more fervently than she had in her entire life that Neros would see the light of his pyre, and come guide her brother's soul to his Final Rest. She lit the pyre, retreated beyond the circle of candles, and watched as the last scion of Auloro was consumed.
The light of the fire danced within the tears flowing freely down her face. Once she stopped holding them back she began to feel consumed herself. The tears pressaged weary, body wracking sobs until she fell to her knees, and Jasmine's wails of agony began to eclipse even those of the last survivors of Beacon Hill.

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