After Life
By: Manna


…-…-…

She believed that the dead returned to the soil, and that after life, there was only death.

He believed that the dead sat on the judgment seat, and that the good went to heaven while the evil went to hell.

It was the one thing that neither one of them could agree on.

…-…-…

They argued about it once, only once, but it had been a heated argument with flared tempers and loud accusations, and before either of them knew it, both of them were saying things they regretted. He was afraid to lose her, and she didn't understand why.

…-…-…

"Nothing?" he asked. "Nothing at all? You just lie there, cold and dead in the earth for all of eternity? Seeing nothing? Feeling nothing?"

"When you're dead you have no reason to feel or see or think," replied Lyn firmly.

…-…-…

They couldn't have children. He didn't know if it was his fault, and she didn't know if it was hers. She blamed herself, but he refused to let her.

The one time she had gotten pregnant had ended up with her almost dead. The baby hadn't made it. They never got a second chance.

…-…-…

"We'll see her again, someday," he said. It was the only comforting thing he could think of to say as he turned away from the grave.

He hadn't expected her to be offended by his words, by what he believed.

He had forgotten that her beliefs were so different from his own.

Holding his child hadn't been the joyful experience he had hoped for. Instead, he held on as long as he could before lowering her into the ground to cover her with dirt. It was the hardest thing he'd ever had to do. All he'd wanted was to ease his own mind, and hers, even if just the smallest bit. They'd both wanted the baby so badly.

They argued their side until they were both red in the face from hurt and anger and other things, but neither of them would budge, and they finally agreed to never broach the topic again. It just wasn't worth the heartache.

That evening, he sat by the grave and wondered what kind of horrible death it was that Lyndis believed in. Nothingness. Their daughter hadn't even had the chance to see her parents' faces, and Lyn believed that she would never see anything, never feel anything, never touch…anything. How could she believe something so terrible, so cruel?

He refused to believe that death was a lack of existence, and that his daughter, whom he had held, and touched, but had never known, was now nothing more than food for the worms.

…-…-…

Their remote location kept them out of the majority of the fighting when Bern declared war by attacking the people and the plains of Sacae.

Kent began to wonder again about death, and what would happen if he lost her. He'd always believed in there being a heaven and a hell, but what if what you believed in was what you got?

He couldn't bear to think of Lyn simply ceasing to exist while he went on to heaven.

…-…-…

The war ended, and life went on as usual. They traveled with the seasons, they laughed and talked and sometimes met new faces.

He realized that he'd lived on the plains longer than he had lived in Caelin.

"Now do you see why I wanted to return so badly?" she asked him when he told her.

"Yes," he answered, but he didn't understand why she would want to become a part of it in death.

Wouldn't it be better, he thought, to look down on it from above?

…-…-…

He knew he could not sway her mind, and so he did not try. But it hurt him to think that there was a possibility that they would be separated in death. He didn't know much of religion, but the good went to heaven and the bad to hell. Where did non-believers fall?

He tried to explain his concerns and why they mattered, but his words were met with laughter.

…-…-…

"You're taking things too seriously," she said. "What will happen will happen."

Maybe so, he thought, but he'd been with her longer than he'd been without her, and though death did not scare him, what came after it did—not for himself, but for her.

He'd given up everything—his family, his homeland, everything he'd ever known—to be with her. He couldn't lose her now.

…-…-…

He dreamed that he was the sky looking down at the earth, and he felt such longing that he woke in the middle of the night trembling. When he told Lyn about his dream, she smiled at him.

"I never told you the story about Father Sky and Mother Earth, did I?" she asked.

And when she finished her tale, he said, "To be forever stationary, separated by naught but air…would be a curse. I would rather cease to exist than suffer in such a way for all eternity."

…-…-…

She had given him all of the instructions for the rituals that she wanted performed to ensure that she found peace and eternal rest for her spirit, and he had agreed to do them, but as she lay dying, he prayed to the quiet air that they would not be separated in death.

"God," he said, "I would rather cease to exist than feel and think and see for an eternity without her."

Her eyes fluttered and she smiled at him weakly. He could not read what was in her eyes, and she did not put her thoughts into words.

…-…-…

When she died, he did everything she'd asked of him.

In the evenings, he often sat by her grave and wondered if she could see him sitting there. If she could feel his fingers entwined in the long grass that grew over her grave as if the blades were her fingers. If she thought of him.

He wasn't sure if he would ever know. Or if it even mattered if she could see or think or feel anything.

But he did it anyway, just in case.


…-…-…

Author Notes:

Man oh man. This story. First, I apologize for the massive amount of scene breaks, the non-linear timeline, the copout ending, and so on. (I'm very out of practice writing serious things.) This was for the "Starry, Starry Night" theme over at FE Contest on Livejournal. Please note that I went with the Josh Groban version (a lot more emotional) and not the Don McLean version!

Second: For years I've meant to write about some of the big differences (cultural, religious, etc) between Kent and Lyndis. A lot of people have a romanticized view of Sacaens and what their rituals and beliefs might be. Which is fine. But I always have viewed them in a slightly different light, and also contrary to a rather common belief, people don't change their opinions easily. I.e., Kent marrying Lyndis doesn't mean he has to change all of his views and beliefs. He is not a sheep. He is his own individual self, just as Lyn is. (And she shouldn't become a sheep, either.)

That said, I think the afterlife is a big point for disagreement even in today's society, so I felt it'd be one easier to approach with Kent and Lyndis. I also felt it would make more sense. (YMMV on that last point.)

Third: The reason I ended the story the way I did is because I had absolutely no intention of making either of their beliefs right (or wrong). When it comes to the afterlife, none of us know for certain. Everyone believes something different, and it isn't fair of me to push one belief over another.

I daresay that none of us will know for certain until we are dead. And in this story, Kent is left wondering, just as we are when someone we care about dies, especially when that someone has very different views on what happens after life.