With war threatening to break out, we decided to pay a visit to someone directly connected to coming events...
Good day Lady Cuirinia, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Could you please introduce yourself?
My name is Bebi Cuirinia and I have the immense honour of being the royal embalmer.
Where do you perform your duties?
In Yrkanis of course! Where do you think? A whole floor of the great greenhouse is dedicated to caring for the dead.
Excuse our ignorance but... what exactly does your job involve?
I prepare for their final journey those whose seed has incurably withered.
Er... in other words?
Well, there are two stages to our work. When a person whose sap has dried up is brought to us, our first task is to make them presentable for those who loved them. The body is also treated so that it doesn't start to rot in the days to come. Many people appreciate being able to have a last look at their loved one so that the image of their beauty may be forever engraved in their hearts. There are rooms under the fountain set aside especially for that purpose. Once the living have been able to say a final farewell to their late relative, we treat the body in order to extract its essence.
I don't really like to discuss technique, but if you insist... The deceased is placed for several days in a funerary cocoon prepared through the genetic manipulation of several plants. The sap of the homin is then gradually collected in a pouch in the cocoon. The length of the process varies depending on the size of the body. When the cocoon reopens, there's nothing left but the sap, the homin having been entirely reduced to their essence.
It's an extremely delicate operation to carry out successfully. The cocoon requires around-the-clock care and surveillance to make sure it doesn't open too early.
What do you do with the sap that you collect?
You don't know? The sap is given back to the family of course.
What do the families do with the sap?
The families collect the sap of their ancestors to incorporate into their houses. It's a way of carrying on their memory. In the old lands, very old families could live within walls which were themselves "inhabited" by dozens of their ancestors! Unfortunately, with the great exodus all those houses were lost. That was a significant trauma for we Matis. In losing our homes, we also lost our memories.
The Matis must never want to move home then!
It's often heartbreaking for a Matis to move house. To ease the sorrow, it's traditional when moving to bleed the roots of the old home in order to pass some of the ancestral sap onto the new home.
And Royal remains, are they integrated into the king's palace?
Not exactly. Actually, the sap of the Royal ancestors runs through the tree supporting the throne room. That way, the current sovereign continues to be guided by the light and wisdom of the kings who preceded him.
I had the immense honour of being able to take care of our dear departed Yasson whose sap is with his son and whose soul is in the company of Jena.
So all the Matis that die will always be a part of Yrkanis...
Hmm, no. You seem to be unaware of this, but the technique is reserved exclusively for a deserving elite. The others are simply buried in a cemetery. Embalming is a hereditary privilege which the king grants only to those families whose members have won renown for the greater glory of the Matis, the most famous example being that of the Di Tylini family.
Is it an old profession then?
Certainly. My profession is extremely old because, unfortunately, birth is always followed by death. While it's true that the techniques and the rites have evolved and been refined over time, it's also true that there have been homins taking care of the dead since Jena first gave light to Atys. And for as long as there are those living, there will be embalmers to take care of them once their seed has died.
And what about resurrection ?
Aaah, finally, an interesting question. To tell you the truth, I can't say anything for sure, I don't know the secrets of the Karavan or the Kami. But my own, personal theory is that if the seed somehow plays a part in the resurrection of a homin, that doesn't keep it from being altered. When the grain is spoiled, unfortunately there's nothing more that can be done for the homin. As for resurrection... no doubt followers of the Karavan will be able to tell you more than I can, but from what I understand, Jena and the Kami are the only judges of who will or won't be resuscitated. Who's to say that the fight to which you succumb won't be your last? What makes you think that the divine power which protects you now will protect you always and forever?
Don't look at me like that, I've no answers for you. I've only got one bit of advice: make sure you don't find yourself in my hands too soon.