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Chapter 7.

No, Fran says through the moogle's mouth. I cannot come, not even for this.

No more than that. Jote thinks she should not have asked. Had no answer come, she could have always believed it difference that kept this distance between them, not choice. Not uncaring.

It grieves Jote to see Mrjn in a shroud. Accidental: the Wood's garland, curled leaves clustered about collarbone and hollow curves. Deliberate: a bruised flower laid at Mjrn's feet. Honouring the literal dead is odd for viera. The Wood should welcome their mortal flesh home. Mjrn returned to rest here expecting forgiveness.

Even through the shroud, Jote can still smell the stink of hume. Sparse years of repentance would not erase that vein. Well then, the Wood had no welcome for Mjrn, Jote cannot convince the Wood otherwise, and Fran has time for eight words and time to die but no time for this.

The shroud is cool to touch. Jote moulds around it, does not weep, does not keen. No words for the unwelcomed and familiar. Fran had the right of it, all these years. The only bonds that can be trusted are those forged by hand and choice. Nature's cords come with edges, to cut themselves free.

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