Chapter 21

Nightfall was never quite as dark when the Last City celebrated the Festival of the Lost. Lanterns cast a pastel mosaic over the people; glowing candles illuminated their offerings for the dead.

A lone Hunter wandered among the memorials and stopped to look at each one. Sometimes flowers, sometimes food. Sometimes well-loved trinkets or handwritten notes of remembrance and love. Photos, children's drawings.

He watched an Eliksni mother place a delicate scrap of eggcloth, then suddenly knelt beside her. He felt the wax of the lavender-hued candle already in his hand, the wick clean and bright. He moved to light it, to place it among the offerings. And then—

He stopped.

The Hunter's expression was gentle and warm as he held the candle out to the Eliksni mother.

"For your little one," he simply said. She hesitated, then thanked him in her language.

He abruptly left and continued on through the Tower, wandering past the Bazaar, into the Courtyard. Until, finally, he looked up and realized… he was standing in the one place he hated to be.