In the Karaband

The an-Ruuda spent six hundred years fighting to free themselves from their undead masters. Sunlight was often their only weapon, so it’s not surprising they burn their fallen: they believe the souls of the righteous rise up from the flames to shine down and keep us safe.

The farmers of the Regimental Kingdoms, on the other hand, bury their dead to thank the earth for its bounty. As flesh becomes soil, then barley, then flesh again, so too, they believe, does the world make new spirits out of old.

The pirates of Bantang Ini and Bantang Barra believe we’re reborn as ourselves, living our lives over and over again until we get them right. That’s why they say “Im awa pfa ta” when anything goes wrong: it means, “Oh no, not this again.” And I met a tiger from Thind who said that dead is dead and all the rest is monkey foolishness. He asked me to ring a bell to remember a friend of his, though, so perhaps tigers can be foolish too.

But in the Karaband, where I was born, we believe that when people die they get to tell the tale of their life one last time. It doesn’t matter if the story is a quiet one or filled with great deeds and poetry. All that matters is whether the person telling it enjoys hearing it again.

All of which is to say that I’m truly sorry about poisoning you, but I really do need that amulet. We have a few minutes until the paralysis runs its course, though, and I’ve had a lot of practice listening in situations like these. I know it can be hard to begin, so repeat after me: once upon a time…