Epilogue: The Graves
Sleet dashes against the weatherbeaten sides of the castle, battering relentlessly into tiny chinks in the stones. The pennants are encrusted with ice, stark bright colors against the gray edifice, a hanging, frozen tongue for each pair of windows that are the castle’s dark, empty eyes.
The wind screams.
In the lee of the castle walls, the would-be conquering army fires cannons in salute. The noise rings off the stone wall and echoes outward, flying across the freshly dug graves, where it is quickly swallowed by the storm. The army fires again.
The ghost watches from its hovering position atop the wall. It drifts back and forth, its once massive and powerful frame now just a pearly flicker in the sleet. Its dim, burning eyes are fixed on the wrapped bodies being borne toward the graves. It can do nothing but stare, drift and stare, as the bodies of its family - wife, brother, son - are laid in the fresh earth. It can do nothing but gape as the cannons continue to fire. The clarity it once held is now replaced by distant confusion. How did it all go so wrong? The ghost only wanted vengeance. One life for one life. But they lie in the earth, murderer and avenger alike, side by side in a row of fresh graves while an outsider walks the bloodstained halls and sits on the throne that the ghost and its family died defending from each other.
The first handful of earth is thrown on the son’s grave, followed by shovelfuls of it, rocky and frozen. The wind screams again and the ghost screams with it, racing in circles above the wall, wailing its grief to the people who do not hear and who never look up.
The army finishes burying the bodies, then hastens for the protection of the walls, their solemnity already forgotten. The iron gates slam shut and they are gone.
The ghost is left alone, drifting among the graves, wailing in bafflement and grief. Its incomprehensible screams begin to form words: why, why, why… before its cries are lost to the wind.