It’s hardly fair to Thomdal. He was a gentle soul and everyone in the village liked him while he lived. But I was willing to bet good money that the only one listening to the eulogy was Priest Bayer and that was only because he was giving it.
Every eye was fixed on the open casket at the front of the chapel–to look elsewhere would be to cast suspicion. The soldiers lounging at the back of the chapel watched the funeral proceedings casually. They seemed mercifully unaware that the boiling tension in the room was not grief.
Priest Bayer finished and it took the congregation a half beat too long to realize he’d extended the Last Goodbye invitation. Hurriedly, the first row stood and filed up to pay their last respects to Thomdal. I watched the soldiers out of the corner of my eye as the rest of the congregation took their turns as if nothing were amiss. The soldiers were only here because they were told to watch us, and we were all here. They had no reason to suspect what was really going on. At least, that’s what we told ourselves. Each congregant filed past Thomdal’s coffin, their faces carefully masking what else was in the coffin–that tucked against good Thomdal’s corpse was a golden bow the height of man. The Kingmaker of Achen was no ordinary bow–and the youth crouched at the foot of the casket was no ordinary child. If the soldiers found our village hiding either, we would all be ash on the wind by sundown.