Kinfire Chronicles Story Editor Cathy Bock tells a sweet story of the Atios rituals of remembrance and thanks.
The battle had been brutal. The journey back to Din’Lux was long and quiet, with the Seekers stopping every now and then to re-bandage their wounds. Feyn walked with a limp, but when Khor offered to carry him the rest of the way, he just waved them off.
“I’m fine,” he said with a pained smile.
When they finally passed through the city gates, it was dusk and they were met with a sea of lit candles. They were everywhere. Cascades of them lining the steps and surrounding the elven statues. Every window was bright with flame.
“I forgot,” Asha said. “It’s today.”
The Seekers walked slowly past mourners who were lighting their own candles—one for every person lost to the Darkness.
Valora paused. “I can’t believe it’s been so long since the Starless Nights returned.”
“It feels like an eternity to me,” Roland said softly.
It was a grim walk back to the Seekers’ Guildhall. Khor lagged behind, wishing for some way to cheer all of them up. For Khor, this anniversary held no sadness. They had no one to grieve and could not even recall their life before the return of the Darkness. But they wanted to understand. And to help.
- - - - - - -
A short while later, an invitation arrived at the door to each Seeker’s room. "You have been cordially invited to join Khor in the dining hall in one hour. Please dress for the occasion and come hungry."
The table had been covered with a crimson cloth and dishes of every type: vegetables, meats, pies. Khor seemed pleased at their shocked faces as they sat down. “Khor…how did you do this?”
They looked back toward the kitchens where three sweat-soaked chefs stood in the doorway, patting their coin-filled pockets.
“I had a little help,” Khor admitted. They waved to the chefs before sitting with the rest of them.
“Today is a sad day for all of you," Khor said. "But…forgive me for saying this, it can also be a happy day. If we choose it.”
The Seekers looked around, unsure what Khor was getting at.
“When the Darkness struck, much was lost that will never be returned. But there was also much gained that day. A war that had raged for so long was brought to an end. Relationships were forged that might never have come to be. I do think there's a lot to be thankful for."
Valora finally understood. She smiled and looked around at the rest of them. “Though I curse the day the Darkness stole so much from us, without it, I would not have found the Seekers’ Guild, my new family.”
She looked to Roland, who cleared his throat. “Here, here. Much was lost. But I am indeed grateful for the end of the war. So much death and destruction. We may not have found true peace yet, but the small bit of unity we have found brings me hope.”
Naz raised a glass. “My family will always be missed. But I am thankful for a chance to make a difference. To help this city. To have something worth fighting for.”
“I feel,” Asha said, “like I have the most to be thankful for.” She was staring down at her plate but finally forced her eyes to meet each of the other Seekers. “Before you, I was alone. I had no family, no place.”
“You always tell us it was better that way.” Feyn laughed.
Asha shook her head. “It’s not true. Ziva knows you all annoy me to my wit's end. But…I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Feyn stood and lifted his glass. “Not to ruin the mood or anything, but myself? I'm thankful for Khor’s fine taste in ale." He tossed back his drink. "Cheers everyone!"
They all raised their glasses, every last one of them smiling. The candles seemed to burn brighter and a weight was lifted from the room.