The night is crisp, it still being early in the year. There is only a light dusting of snow and the night’s dew has already gone to frost by the time the undead of central Ohio gather. It is the 20th of April, a new moon. Mother Oak believes that the absence of the moon is an auspicious time for such things, as the moon is a reflection of the sun and the sun hates your kind. She wishes to see the girl’s soul pass in as much peace as possible.
Felix seems to be taking the death of the girl personally since it was his child who dealt the killing blow, and he has tended to her body personally, stitching up her woulds, washing her skin, and dressing her in a stark white dress, a color he thinks befitting the death of someone already dead.
When people arrive at the pig farm there’s a funeral pyre built and Gwinnith is already laying upon it, her dress cascading down around her lifeless body and surrounded by flowers: white carnations for remembrances, geranium for comfort, and rhododendron to mark her as one to beware of even in death.
Malcolm looks sad, but he seems to be deferring to Maria for the time being, still shamed from his rebuff from the city as a whole. Maris addresses the crowd. “It is good of you all to come. For some of you, here has never been death in this life. You have been reborn to immortality and you may have believed that this immortality was true. But the sad truth is that even we have our limits, and this poor girl found hers. I will not shy away from what this means. Her death is my fault. Mine and all of ours, as sure as it was Royal’s. His hand landed the blow, but it was our decisions that brought his blows upon her and our decisions that brought this about. each choice was a link in the chain and thought this may not have been our intent, I see my place in it. I see what I might have done differently and the next time I will. I hop that each of you have learned something as I have learned something.” She pauses to glance over at the small fire being tended by William and Elizabeth. He stands closer to it than she.
“Those of us who came here from elsewhere have perhaps seem death for our kind, though rarely this close. I had heard it behind closed doors before now. I had seen it’s aftereffects, but it was all done very distantly. I find that I have no taste for it now that I have seen it up close, and I hope not to develop any. I knew this girl hardly at all, though she seemed sweet and well meaning. She may, as we have rumored, have been evil. She may have been wicked. Then again, she may have been no more than she claimed. And now we will never know. That, I feel, is a shame, but one that can not be undone. ALl that is left now is to speak and finish it, letting her soul free to be with God.”
She pauses to give people a chance to speak (or remain silent if they have nothing to say that is appropriate at a funeral.)
Malcolm speaks when it is his turn. “I do feel a great sorrow for what came to the girl. She was so kind to me and so desperate in her desire to please, and it was my own weakness which caused this. I will not bore you with lies of my great morality nor my closeness to God, but I hope that you all understand that this is not what I wished for a creature that was so soft and kind to me. I deeply regret her death, of that you can be sure.”
Madame Oak, in her time, walks to the pyre and speaks a series of chanted words in a strange tongue. She pays her hands upon the wood below the girl and lowers her head for a bit. “Her spirit lingers, of that I am sure, children. It lingers in fear and confusion, these things I sense all around her. We should be done with this soon.”
When all words have been spoken, William takes a stick from the fire and draws the flame over to the pyre. It is clear that the core of this pyre has been infused with some manner of accelerant, because the flames begin to grow quickly, driving William back to his child. the gathered vampires each feel the flare of the fire as it drives them to move backwards. Some do take those steps back, which others manage to hold their ground.
As the flames reach the top of the Pyre Gwinnith’s ignites, and the flames burn away her white dress and her hair first, but her body takes the fire quickly and begins to smolder and then turn to ash very quickly.
And as it does, there is a scream. A terrible, pained, throaty scream. And it comes from the pyre. Her eyes open at the last moment and a terribly cry carries forth from her mouth, locked open in pain and confusion. The assembled faces watch on in frozen shock for only a bare few seconds as the flames consume her body utterly, turning it to ash in a matter of seconds, all the while a terrible pained wail carrying on the night winds. When the ash consumed her completely and her body’s shape collapses in on itself, the echo of her wail can be heard for several seconds as it bounces around the countryside into the black night.
There is general confusion after this, some saying that the girl clearly wasn’t dead when she was put on the pyre. Felix states that she certainly was, and that he examined her and performed the post-mortem himself. It is suggested that maybe her cry was simply the death of her demonic powers: that it was to do with her being a witch. In the end, nobody is certain what really happened, but there is a general sense of unease with the evening. Only Madam Oak is silent, and she watched everything, her eyes wide and unblinking since the cry began. When it is time to retreat from the place, she leaves slowly, lowering her face from the area and avoiding conversation as much as possible, clearly eager to get away from what she has seen.