TITLE: "A Requiem for Jen"

A Vignette by Kathy Evans

CATEGORY: Tragedy

RATING: K

SUMMARY: Everybody dies. You knew this would happen one day.

DISCLAIMER: The Dark Crystal and all characters belong to The Jim Henson Company and Universal Pictures, and are used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended, and no profit is being made from their use.

The death scene was re-written by Andreas Adamus, and translated from German by Kathy Evans.

When Thurma, the fire-girl, came to visit Jen and Kira in their castle, she unwittingly released the dreaded Garthim once again upon the planet of Thra, placing the now-thriving Gelfling population in great danger. These were the descendants of Jen and Kira - their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren, and even great-great-great-grandchildren - thousands of Gelflings. They now all occupied a village just outside the castle, and they had been governed for hundreds of years by their direct ancestors, Queen Kira and her husband, King Jen. The rulers had been forcibly evicted from the castle by the re-emergent Skekses. Jen and Kira had summoned the elders of the village and encouraged the gelflings to either flee for their lives into the countryside or stay and find a way to fight the Garthim. Most of the women with children fled, but many of the males had stayed behind to fight. The Gelflings used their ingenuity to trap or disable several Garthim, which bought more time for the families to escape.

Jen and Kira were in the village helping everyone to evacuate, when Kira noticed a toddler gelfling who seemed to be lost. His parents were nowhere to be seen. She scooped him up in his arms and ran in the direction the other escapees took. Immediately, she found herself face-to-face with a Garthim soldier, blocking her way. She cried out, and tried to change directions, but it gave chase. Jen immediately saw her need and ran to intercept; he knew he needed to get between Kira and the Garthim. Jen drew his sword from its scabbard. It was something he'd made for himself since becoming king, and its only purpose was for self-defense, and defense of his wife and queen. Jen flew in between the two. Kira turned to see him, shouting, "JEN! NO!"

Jen angrily drew back his sword and thrust it deep into the Garthim's face, a weak spot between the armor. The Garthim jolted suddenly, then expired, but not before grasping Jen in the grip of one of its huge pincers, crushing his abdomen. Jen yelled in agony. The Garthim released Jen from its grip and collapsed to the ground. Jen slid out of the Garthim's claw and flopped lifelessly to the ground. Blood pooled around him. He was bleeding internally, very badly. Kira set the toddler down and rushed over to Jen's side. "Oh, god, Jen, please, NO!"

"Kiraaaaa…." Jen said weakly. Tears were streaming down Kira's cheeks. "Jen, please don't leave me!"

"I love you so much, Kira," Jen gasped.

"I love you too, Jen," she sobbed.

Refusing the pain, Jen opened his eyes and looked at Kira, who was keeping his head on her lap.

"Remember the morning we awoke together?" he tried to speak without coughing and for a moment Kira wanted him to be quiet, to avoid pain or death, but she could feel his life flowing fast out of his body, and no one could stop it now. ":Remember that morning?" he asked again.

"How could I ever forget?" Kira answered.

"So it is now," he said, "and I am not afraid."

Kira sighed and her eyes filled with tears.

"All three suns together could never, ever shine so bright..." he whispered, "...as you did in my heart. You have always been the warming sun of my life." His words touched Kira deep inside, and she brought her face close to his, when his voice went quiet, "...and...and I will still love you even beyond my death."

At that moment he gave her the most lovely look she ever got from his deep blue eyes, and then he shut them forever, while his lips formed a last satisfied smile. Then he took his last breath, which warmed Kira's cheeks, and then he died.

Kira waved her head widely and cried out in suffering. It was a cry that had never been heard in the past, nor in the future in the Valley of the Gelflings. All her children were wounded deep in their hearts. Together, they suffered in silence, mourning...Jen's death.

It had only been one day since the problem with Thurma's people had been resolved and the threat from the Garthim and Skekses had been eliminated; they hadn't had a chance to bury Jen since then. Now his body lay in state, in an open coffin, in a large clearing in the forest. Every single gelfling alive had returned to pay their last respects to the Savior of the World, the Chosen One who healed the crystal and rebuilt the gelfling race. Jen had been very old, and his destiny had already been fulfilled. Now it was time for him to join his ancestors, and rest in peace. There was no reason for him to be resurrected as Kira had been so long ago. Thousands of gelflings surrounded the coffin on all sides, and Jen's beloved Kira stood in the center of it all, before the coffin. Jen's hands were folded against his chest, and he looked peacefully asleep.

"Jen, my dearest Jen," said Kira, her eyes still wet with mourning, "You have always been my rock. We have had a long and happy life together. Look at all the children you have given me. Our race is safe now. They will never have to worry about the Skekses or Garthim again. You fulfilled the prophecy and healed our world. Your destiny is complete. Soon, I will join you, and then we will be together again. Until then, my love…." and she reached over to kiss his still lips. She then placed a bouquet of the most beautiful flowers she could find in the forest on his chest. With tears running down her cheeks, she genuflected to him. "Goodbye, Jen. I will miss you." Then she stood up and slowly backed away, allowing the attendants to close the casket and slowly lower him into the grave, then they began heaping dirt upon his coffin. They placed a memorial stone at the head of his grave, which said:

KING JEN

SAVIOR OF THRA

BELOVED HUSBAND AND FATHER

As the gathering was dispersing, a middle-aged female gelfling approached Kira and spoke gently to her. "Mother, are you all right?"

Kira placed a hand on her arm as they walked side-by-side. "I'll be all right, sweetie," she said. "I'm just going to miss him so much. We've been together so long, it's like a part of me died with him."

"I know, I'm going to miss Father, too," her daughter said. "He died bravely, with honor. There's no better way to go."

"Yes, your father was very brave."

"But remember, Mother, you gave your life for him, once, too. That also took great courage. He was just returning the favor."

"You're right, Kirana…oh, what's this?" Surprised, Kira looked around to see 17 middle-aged gelflings, the elders of the village, suddenly surrounding them. They were all the original children of Jen and Kira, the first generation to come from them. "Mother, we have come to pay our respects to you and Father." They all came up to her to hug her and reassure her, and to let her know that she was no longer alone, but their well-loved mother and queen. Then they all stood in a circle and joined hands in a massive dreamfasting, sharing all their warm memories of their father. Kira wanted them to see again how she first met Jen - sinking in the swamp, and being "rescued" by a Nebrie. How he had been so cute and helpless. She shared the adventure she had with him in the following two days, and how he had fulfilled his destiny and healed the crystal. They shared all their childhood memories of Jen, how he had been such a good father to them, teaching them to read and write and do math, playing with them and gently correcting them when they strayed. How he had been a good king, working alongside Kira to improve the lives of the peoples living on Thra. How his devotion and bravery led to his untimely yet honorable passing.

All of them proceeded to the village temple, where one of the elders performed a religious ceremony to ask the Creator to usher Jen into the next world. Kira smiled, knowing that one day, she would see him again. She seemed to hear him in her heart - I will always be with you. She knew now that she could live out the remainder of her life in peace, and that generations upon generations of new gelfling would continue to take care of themselves just fine, even, one day, without her. Eventually, they will get a new queen, she thought to herself, and that's how it should be. One day, my reign will be at an end. But I'm ready for it. Kira approached her firstborn son, a tall male named Jardin. Out of her cloak she pulled a two-pronged pipe. It was the same one that Jen faithfully played so long ago. "Your father wanted you to have this," she said. "He was an excellent pipe player, and I know that you are the musical expert in the family."

He took the pipe, and said, "Falyu vam, Mama". She smiled at his use of Pod language. She sighed. He looked so much like his father. He then placed the pipe to his lips, and began to play a haunting tune, a dirge just for Jen. The music brought memories back for Kira - memories of floating on a river in a little boat. She closed her eyes and opened her mouth, joining in accompaniment in the Lydian mode. Despite her age, her voice still sounded like that of an angel, and the whole crowd was mesmerized. When the dirge was concluded, there wasn't a dry eye in the temple. The service concluded, and the gelflings dispersed back to the village to continue on with life. Jen wouldn't have wanted them to grieve too long. Death was a natural part of life, and it would happen to everyone sooner or later. In the meantime, there'd be a lot of living to do! Kira would never forget that.

THE END