by Trevor Hopkins

At this point, I have to tell you about Trinity's funeral. Frankly, I would much rather not, as the thoughts and recollections it brings back - even after all these years - are almost too painful to bear. But these memoirs would be incomplete without some small account of that day.

One cool morning, I found myself following a line of professional bearers carrying a heavy stone coffin and leading a small band of black-garbed mourners along a meandering trail through the graveyard. The graveyard itself was in a quiet area of my home cavern, notable for vertical expanses of polished rock separated by terraces and shallow ramps wide enough for three or four Goblins to walk abreast. Few Goblins ever went there, and those that did always had solemn faces and sombre attire.

The funeral party zigzagged up the face of the cavern until we reached a point where a hole in the rock wall had been carefully carved and decorated. A human would have thought it a strange construction. It was high and wide enough to admit the bulky coffin, but just a couple of inches deep. The slab which would later cover the burial spot, carved with Trinity's name and an assortment of dates, stood at an angle against a frame a convenient distance to one side.

The coffin was lowered carefully onto a trestle positioned adjacent to the shallow depression. The heavy and well-fitting lid was draped with a remembrance flag, a mark of respect used when Goblins died honourably before their time. One by one, the official mourners approached, bowing their heads and, more often than not, depositing not flowers but paper tokens of remembrance on the coffin lid.

The official mourners were few. Nether had turned up, not even pretending to be a drunk any more, and wearing a finely-made black suit of a cloth and cut to which I could not even aspire. My brother was accompanied by a couple of large Goblins, dressed in well-fitting dark suits with that telltale extra space under the armpits, and professionally anonymous faces that had "government service" written all over them. Whether they were minders or bodyguards was hard to tell. Perhaps both.

Most unusually, there were a couple of humans present. Both Rosie and Gumshoe had agreed to return to the Lower Realms for this event, and I had arranged the services of a tourist agency to provide a guide to help them to and from the surface world. I wasn't going to trust myself with this delicate task, not today. The tall people stood at the back, arm-in-arm with each other, saying little and weeping much.

When it came to my turn, I stepped forward but could not think of anything to say. I just stood mute for several minutes until Rosie took pity on me. She took the black-edged paper token from my unresisting fingers and placed it on the carved lid next to her own. Then she led me by the elbow and gently guided me away. Harriett Luncardy and a small contingent from the 14th Precinct stood at a respectful distance. I recognised the taciturn old Sergeant flanking the Captain. The coppers had not been invited to the funeral but had turned up anyway as a mark of respect. Policemen are always respectful of bravery and courage in the face of danger, perhaps because they face much the same thing on a daily basis.

Goblin services are mercifully short. The few ancient words that are traditionally used under these circumstances are almost untranslatable into English, so are best thought of as a variant on the "dust to dust, ashes to ashes" theme. The professional leading the funeral completed the burial by deploying a small and simple charm which made the edges of the grave sparkle. Smoothly, the stone coffin slid into the solid rock. When the magic faded, a few seconds later, Trinity was gone, the rock face encasing the deceased for all eternity. It had become a mausoleum for my sister, entombed forever next to the markers for her mother and father, and mine.

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