Chapter 42

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IT was the funeral.

Lily had gotten dressed in her soberest gown with the help of Elize. Adrian came to take her to the funeral. Lily didn't mind the pain when she walked.

Everyone around glanced at her sympathetically. So many people were going to his funeral—even those who didn't know him. He'd died a martyr, in their eyes.

She gripped on to Adrian's arm tighter as he helped her limp through the trees, to the cemetery.

Venix's grave was filled—figures clustered around it. Adrian handed Lily an unlit candle and a white lily.

"Come," he whispered.

Venix's grave was a mass of white lilies, covering the soft soil in white petals. The crowd parted for her to go through. Venix had had a lot of friends.

Lily saw Ada, and Iressa, standing there as she knelt beside an already-kneeling figure to her left.

Vena.

The girl didn't look as if she was taking anything in. Her green eyes were dull, unseeing. Her fingers rested at the edge of his grave gently, cradling a lily. There were no tears.

There was a couple behind her—Venix's parents. The twins resembled them vaguely. They were crying freely, clutching onto each other.

Lily looked away and placed a flower on his grave, her chest tightening. She accepted Adrian's hand to pull her up, leaving Vena kneeling beside her twin's grave.

Everyone stepped back. Lily watched Iressa take Vena's hand and walk her away. Vena didn't protest. Didn't do anything but look at the soil beneath which Venix's body lied.

Lily lit her candle and placed it in the line—a shorter line that there had been during the funerals after the attack, but significant.

Arlo stepped forward, Arianna at his side. "These candles will remain until the wind blows them out, like Venix's life, which was extinguished just yesterday. It was his destiny. But one day, we will all meet again."

Arlo cleared his throat, glancing at the ground, before allowing Arianna to lead him away.

Most of the crowd retreated, but Lily stayed. So did Adrian, Ada, Iressa, Arlo and Arianna. Vena and her family. Edra Karnem. Talin. Gorno. So did Colonel Ulima and Bruto.

She watched as Vena sat beside his grave again, shutting her eyes, seeming to not hear her parents' sobs beside her. Ada and Iressa crept to her side and sat beside her. Arlo and Arianna hung back, their faces sorrowful, with Edra, Talin and Gorno. The Colonel and Bruto stood far, but they were there.

Lily took Adrian's hand and walked forward, sitting opposite Vena, on the other side of Venix's grave.

She looked at the faces in front of her. Ada's and Iressa's were tear-stained, but Vena's wasn't.

She glanced down at the grave, the grave that now held only a shell of the man Venix used to be.

It was like a blow to the chest, looking down at his grave. Knowing that Venix would never again laugh with them, joke with them. He'd never again curse the Colonel.

She let the tears slip out as she shook pressing her hand to the mass of flowers over Venix's body. She couldn't form words, couldn't say anything.

Venix was dead.

She tried to muffle her sobs, squeezing Adrian's hand. She could see him crying, Ada walking to his other side. He pulled his sister into an embrace, both of them curling into each other.

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