Song of the Embalmer in Shadowfire | World Anvil

Song of the Embalmer

Clavine hummed as she worked. It focussed her attention as she sliced through the outer layers of the torso. The blood had long been drained, but there was still some fluids trapped within which slowly dripped into the gutters that ran from the plinth the body lay upon.   This body had travelled far to get here, and she was impressed at how well the Gatherers had preserved it.   It was one of goblins from the Lands of Twilight. Those forsaken places so far from the blessed fires of the Holy Caldera. This was no matter. Bodies were bodies, and the City needed them to function.   This one was a special request though. Lord Mallius himself was the buyer, so Clavine knew she had to take special care. Like many of the Lords, Mallius was intrigued by these people who lived their lives in shadow. The Lords collected them as their Bodyservants as signs of prestige. This one wasn't as prized as the newcomers who called themselves Protectors, but it would still be a talking point in Mallius' court nonetheless.   While she hummed, Clavine user her instruments to draw out the innards from the body and to cleanse the cavity left behind. She worked in time with the music as she lathered and shaved what was left of the hair from its already mostly bald scalp, and then with fine scissors trimmed the white bristles of its beard. She scrubbed its skin clean with scented soaps so the body would be pristine when handed on to the Morphologists.   Her humming turned into a breathy vocal as she followed the cadence that she had learnt during her apprenticeship, the same song that the Embalmers of the Usokufa had been singing for thousands of years.   She motioned as she sang. Her own apprentices joined in with their harmonies as they stepped in to lift and rotate the body so that lay face down.   They moved away, continuing to sing, as she took over the melody once more.   But she faltered when she saw the goblin's back and the markings on it. Just for a moment, she sang the notes slightly flat and fumbled the rhythm. She noticed one of her apprentices begin to waver, and she glared at him as she re-asserted her voice over the song.   That was close, but she hid her shock well. she needed to keep that from her Apprentices. Her voice strong again, she went back to work cleansing the body with the scented soap. All the while trying to make sense of what she was seeing beneath the suds as she washed the goblin's back.   To the unfamiliar eye, the goblin's skin was covered in normal Firetouched markings. Not as pronounced as those from the deserts of course, but even those in the Lands of Twilight had them. That wasn't unusual. These though had been cleverly augmented. There were signs of purposeful scarring and even some ink tattoos that had been made to look like firetouched marks. But she knew the difference and Clavine had seen these patterns before, or at least something like it.   They had been carved on one of the collected artefacts which were on display in Lord Mallius' own appartments. She had seen them when she and the other Emblamers had attended him there. Just fragments of ancient technologies that had been dug up from the beneath the Shatterbright he had said. Curiosities from the time before the Incursion. They had moved on quickly and she had thought nothing more of it. It was not her place to question.   But here they were again. And this time on the back of a dead goblin brought in from the other side of the world.   "Is there something amiss Sister?"   The voice behind her broke the silence. Horrified, Clavine realised she had stopped singing while lost in her thoughts. Gasping, she whirled around to the speaker.   it was Mallius himself come to visit the Mortuary, and he had found his senior Embalmer lacking.

Cover image: by Midjourney


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