There is an empty tomb filled with light. Pale stone, almost white, encompasses nothing because no one is inside.
Not far from the Eternals’ Palace, stands the Tomb of the Faithful, a monument and memorial to the fallen soldiers who still serve Loraine and the Burned who serve their Eternal Mother. It is a simple memorial, just a white tomb, a mausoleum, with light streaming from the cracked door. There stands a plaque and a salt colored statue of Loraine surrounded by faithful soldiers.
People from across the country come to honor and thank those still serving, still watching. They leave flowers, red and yellow and orange, on the creamy stone. They light candles that flicker in the breeze and shimmer in the night like a thousand tiny, fallen stars. They sing songs. They wipe tears away. They stand in reverent silence. Some leave pictures of their Burned loved ones, although that is illegal. Don’t let them catch you leaving a picture, because you won’t ever return if they do.
Soldiers salute the tomb and stand gravely with far off looks in their eyes. Old men nod to the tomb like they are greeting an old friend, a fellow soldier, and shuffle home. Women mumble prayers of thanks while tears stream down their chilled faces. If they hurry, they can make it into the warmth before the tears freeze on their faces. But not too quickly, they must be seen with tears on their faces first. Little children proclaim to beaming parents that they hope to be brave enough one day to serve and watch for it is an honor. Their parents agree.
Sometimes a watcher passes by, and someone in the crowd’s eyes will light up shimmering gold. The people surrounding will gasp and point—a watcher has come to bless the faithful. They will smile and touch the watched with hesitant yet yearning hands, say, thank you, blessed, forever free. The watched will feel honored to be chosen.
On Re-Incarnate Day, the tomb is nearly covered with flowers. Soldiers pass by in parades. Wreaths are laid. And Loraine herself comes and runs her hands over the cold stone. She is always dressed simply in a white robe and a cloak. The clothes of the humble, the pious. She looks up into the sky, one hand on the stone, one hand clutching a cloak around her, smiles, and shuts her eyes as the tears fall. It is an intimate moment, choreographed and seen by a country.
But what no one sees are the Watchers themselves.
They pass by, invisible to the naked eye, yet bright as light and soft as a breeze. Most pass by this empty tomb, not knowing that it is for them. But one knows. She stops and stares. There is no wind, although she has no form to feel it if there was, but her hair and dress lift around her like underwater plants. She raises a hand, a finger, in rude gesture, not to the tomb, but to the crowd and their fear, patriotic shows, and silence.
But they don’t see her. If they could see her, truly they would not see a ghost.