Soo, I think that the fourth book ended rather abruptly. And so I decided to write the funeral. I always hated the idea of Ardeo being left in the trash, and I'm pretty sure that Leetu rescued him.

Disclaimer: I own nothing. They all belong to Donita K. Paul.

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The wind whipped around the small group gathered around the tree, and the hole dug beneath it. The large castle at their backs did nothing to block the wind, since it was blowing from the other direction.

The tree was an old, gnarled thing. But still, it looked as if it was treated with great respect by those gathered around it. A little doneel girl with a mournful face leaned up against it, with her arm wrapped around it.

The hole under the tree looked like a grave, except for it's size. It was very small. But why would so many people have gathered for the burial of such a small thing?

Almost all of the seven high races were represented in the group, as well as many dragons. There even appeared to be a meech.

The people of most note seemed to be the minor dragons, perched in the tree and on the heads and shoulders of an o'rant couple, the o'rant couple, and another o'rant, who seemed to be in charge. He was very ordinary looking, except for his clothes, which marked him as some high-up important official. Also, in his face was a strange look of kindness. Only strange because it was not something one would have seen anywhere else. His face also held humility and love. The type of person one could readily trust.

He presided over the ceremony, which did look a lot like a funeral. A grayish lump was placed lovingly in the ground, amid the sad cries of the minor dragons surrounding it. Eventually it was over, and everyone slowly made his or her way back into the castle. All but the three o'rants and the minor dragons.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Kale stood by Ardeo's grave after it was all over and everyone had gone back inside. She could hear the sad chirping of the minor dragons, and sense Bardon still at her side, but they seemed to be the only ones left.

She thought of everything that she had done wrong in those last hectic days. She tried to find something she could have done to make it all have turned out right. No matter where she went, though, she hit a dead end.

Bardon wrapped his arm around her shoulders. She was thankful for his comfort, but lately she had just felt that she needed to be alone. She had pulled away from everyone, and wouldn't let them in her mind.

Then she felt a warm hand on her other shoulder. She turned to see Paladin standing there. He had not gone in, either.

She leaned against him and buried her head in his shoulder.

"Kale," he said gently. "It wasn't your fault. It was Wulder's will that Ardeo come to Him. There was nothing you could have done to change it, except to stray from what Wulder wanted you to do. And you know Ardeo would have preferred to give his life for you while you were following the path Wulder put in front of you, rather than watch you fail in what was most important."

"But Paladin, I did leave Wulder's path. You know that." Her voice was muffled, but he heard her all the same.

"Kale, you took the globe after Ardeo died. That had nothing to do with it. He was doing what his job was, and you did yours. You'll never forget him, but you can't spend the rest of your life mourning for him like you've been doing for the past several days. There are people around you who love you, too, and need you back."

The truth of what she had been doing hit Kale, and suddenly she felt horrible for being too consumed in her grief and blocking everyone else out. Paladin was right. They did need her. But more importantly, she needed them.

She turned and looked at Bardon, who still stood behind her, compassion on his face. She reached out a hand to him, and he took it.

"I'm so sorry," she said. And suddenly his presence rushed back into her mind. She could feel his sorrow over Ardeo, but also his love and forgiveness towards her.

Bardon smiled comfortingly at her, and squeezed her hand.

Paladin patted her back. "And, tut-tut, Kale, don't worry. Ardeo and Fenworth will keep each other company up there, with Wulder."

Kale laughed a little at that, and looked at the old tree under which they had buried Ardeo. The "tut-tut" was Fenworth's, and somehow it just didn't fit Paladin.

Paladin smiled, too, and then turned to go inside with the others.

"I'm sorry Bardon," Kale said again to her husband.

"It's alright, Kale," he said, hugging her. "I understand."

They stood like that for a while, until Kale finally pulled away. "We can go in now, I need to see everyone else. Paladin was right. Fenworth and Ardeo will look after each other."

"And Wulder," Bardon reminded her, taking her hand again.

"Yes," Kale said. "And Wulder." And with one last look at the grave, she turned back to her parent's castle. And with Bardon next to her and the dragons all around, she walked back inside.


The end. Review?