He could see her no longer, though he knew she was there. She lay on a simple flat rock, in a robe of Carvin's with sleeves too short. Her hands lay together, fingers intertwined. Her scalp was bare. Some wisps of hair had grown during the journey back, and Galen had scoured them from her with a gentle caress, knowing she would want it that way. She had lived for the Code, and she had died for it.
Around her the mages stood like phantoms in the thin mist, their faces lit irregularly by the flames. The roar drowned out any sound, but Galen could see that a few, like Carvin, shook with tears. Most of them looked more afraid than anything else.
Elric stood beside Galen, as he had at the deaths of Galen's parents. Though they did not touch, Galen felt Elric's presence like a wall of strength and necessity beside him. With Elric beside him, Galen would stand tall; Galen would continue.
There were no naked slave men, no shower of red poppies from the sky. But those were Burell's wishes, and Burell had received no funeral. Burell's body had been taken by Elizar.
Galen tried to lose himself in the hypnotizing movement of the flames, to think of nothing, to be nothing. When his parents had died, there had been two fires, side by side. Galen had always thought there should have been one, that they should have been burned together, their bodies joining at last as they crumbled to ash.
The flames billowed high, filled with new energy as they reached the tech in Isabelle's body. The brilliant fire curled downward, swirled in tight eddies around where her body must lay.
He could walk into those flames, climb onto the rock and lay beside her. They could be joined in fire. Yet he knew that what lay on that rock was not Isabelle. There was no way to join with her now.