Chapter 1

When dawn came, Darian was still sitting beside Calen's body, on the bed. He had not moved from his place on the bed once. He stared at the peaceful face that was once his love's, determined to remember every single line on his face, every dimple, every single eye lash. He did not want to forget him, was afraid of what it might signify if he did forget Calen's face.

Galen was his first love, when they were still young and foolish. And when Galen had been killed by Branfin, Darian had thought for five years that he would not find another one like him again. Galen had been so innocent. He never took notice of the world around him, even when it was bleeding. Instead, Galen had chosen to look at the brighter side of life, always.

Calen, he was different. So different in that when Darian met him, Calen had experienced one of the worst scenarios that a life could go badly wrong. And he had lived through it, somewhat intact. Intact enough to let him through the barrier that he had made to keep himself from getting hurt. Just like the one Darian had constructed for himself. And both of them had learned how it was to love another being again. To love and be loved back.

And now that the sun was rising, Darian thought sadly to himself, he was once again burying another of his loved ones. They always died. Why couldn't the gods let him have some happiness? Darian would have been quite happy had they left Calen alone. As it was, he was dead and there was nothing that Darian could do about it.

There was a knock at the door, followed by it being opened by Alric. He closed the door behind him, standing there, unmoving. "It is time," Alric told him softly. For a long while, Darian was silent. His hands kept on brushing Calen's hair away from his face. Finally, he sighed and stood up. Darian bent down and carried Calen's body in his arms once again, turning to face Alric.

The steward had a burial shroud folded and hanging onto his arm. He was waiting for Darian to make a move. When Darian began walking to him, Alric unfolded the shroud and gently covered Calen's body in it, opening the door once he was done. He stood aside to let Darian out.

Outside, Darian noted that just about everyone in the castle had turned out for the funeral. He was touched and yet sad at the same time. Sad because Calen never really realised how much the people in his castle had actually come to care for him. Touched because they had thought to come and pay their respects, however tedious Darian thought it was going to be.

It did not help though, when he had to bury his love. There was already a grave for him. Somehow, Alric had known exactly where Darian had wanted Calen's body to be buried in. At the foot of the fountain, where Calen had always like to fall asleep at. Darian got on his knees and laid his body gently down into the earth, wrapping the shroud securely around the body.

It was done then. Darian stood up and the servants awaiting the task to bury him immediately began their task. The took up the loose dirt they had dug out from the night before and returned it to where they had dug it out from. Only this time, the were burying his love forever. Darian stood there and watched silently as they did it. Only when they were done, did he leave the gardens to go back to his room, all the while, not once saying a single word.

The people of the castle watched him with concern. It was like a half of him had gone with Calen. There was no life in him now. As if he was living only because they needed him to. Until he got an heir, which would not be happening anytime soon, was their way of thinking. They knew that he preferred men and they had come to terms with that.

Darian took a deep breath. He had to piece himself together again. He needed to be strong for his people, no matter what had happened. They needed him to take care of their welfare. Without him, they would be kicked out of this place, their homes and jobs given to another person as a new lord would take over the castle since Darian had no heir. STay, he told himself, and see it through, even if he had to live for over a hundred years to do it. Darian snorted cynically to himself. While he was at it, why didn't he get a child as well? And then all the worry would be over. He would be able to leave.

But Darian did not want that. If he was to have an heir, he did not want that heir growing up to think that his father left because Darian had hated him. He would have a child -if any- only with the one he loved. And that was not possible. So, he would stay alive as long as was humanly possible, and then be on his way. It may take years, but eventually, Darian told himself, he would be able to join Calen again, in the Dead Realm of the Death God, Parlan.