Arnon knelt and carefully lifted the body of his daughter in his arms and cradled her against his chest. Rising slowly, he stepped into the fading sunshine and made his way around the cottage to the back where he had dropped his shovel the morning of the attack.
He navigated his way through the trees until he came to a small clearing. With exaggerated care and gentleness, he laid his daughter's body in the ferns. He returned for his wife and son, carrying them separately to the clearing. He laid Janna between the children, fighting hot tears at the sight of her mangled body. She had been so beautiful in life, and now--
He brushed a strand of hair from her bloodied face. That it should come to this...that she and the children should be buried unshaven and unclothed in proper funeral vestments, without having received the Final Kiss from a priest. Surely the Lady would welcome them to Her Embrace, despite the lack of attention to proper funeral rites. At least the children would not be alone. Janna would be forever with them, watching over them in death as she had in life.
Arnon reached for the shovel. His vision misted over as he stabbed it into the soft earth. There was a pressure in his throat and chest that would be repressed no longer. Harsh, wrenching sobs escaped from his lips as he dug. Tears blinded him to his task, but he refused to pause in his work. Each stab of the shovel was a satisfying thrust of his sword into the bowels of those who had murdered his family.
Spent from his exertions, Arnon finally halted his brutal attack of the earth. The grave he dug was knee-deep, and would have to suffice. It was a meager resting place, but he hadn't the luxury to dig a proper grave. Glancing up at the expanse of sky the clearing afforded, he noted that sunset was near. Setting aside his shovel, he carefully laid Janna's body in the grave. He positioned Parah and Jan on either side of her.
"Someday," he whispered. Someday he would be reunited with Janna and the children, and their bodies would no longer bear the abuses of this life. The Book of Wisdom and Prophecies spoke of a place so peaceful and fair, Love itself came to life in its midst.
Only last night, as he'd waited in line for his food, Arnon had overheard one of his neighbors reciting the passage about that fair and peaceful place. The words had stayed in the back of his mind. Were he to be honest with himself, he would have to admit that he wasn't certain of anything right now, but at the moment, this hope was all he had.
He wanted to say more--needed to say more--but the path from his heart to his tongue was rough and tangled. Taking up his shovel, he completed his task.