The storm had come and stayed and stayed and when it had finally gone it left so much changed. To Mkali Moto Kipande Njia’yawzai’s young eyes, each new downed tree, flooded lowland, and reshaped hill was an adventure that called, no that demanded, to be explored. The eleven child, appearing no more than eleven or twelve human years of age, seemed only to know how to laugh and run as she carved a curving path from her parents’ small, sturdy home. Trailing far behind, the child’s mother walked slowly, her long white hair hanging still in the quiet, her steps somehow regal, her face calm but for an occasional smile at the antics of her offspring, as she too surveyed the damage the swirling winds had done during the long dark day and even longer and darker night.

The two proceeded as such for some time with few words spoken between mother and child, excepting when Mkali Moto Kipande would come running back with some curiosity in hand, eager to show it off and win some small amount of rebuke or praise from her parent.

Then came the odd stillness.

“Where have you gone, my child?” U’tulivu Nyeupe-nywele Malaika Njia’yawazi, called to the surrounding woods when the sounds of her little one’s quickly moving feet and awed giggles did not soon resume.

“Mother, it is awful…” came her child’s reply so very soft and sad.

For the first time in their morning outing, U’tulivu Nyeupe-nywele Malaika picked up her pace. Her slow, regal walk gave way to a speedier movement still far too elegant to be termed a mere run or dash. The worried mother soon slowed once more as she caught sight of her grief stricken child kneeling and crying on the now smooth, washed out slope of what had been a notable hillside the day before. Beyond Mkali Moto Kipande’s crouched form, bones and still decomposing flesh half emerged from the soft soaked soil.

U’tulivu Nyeupe-nywele’s right hand moved to cover her mouth as her child turned and looked up to her, teary eyes glistening with fear and despair.

“It is Ddaear,” Mkali Moto Kipande informed her mother before she brought her own hand, shaking with grief, up to her face forming a miniature mirror image of her mother.

U’tulivu Nyeupe-nywele knew the name well, better even than her daughter, though the gnomish boy had been one of her child’s closest friends. U’tulivu Nyeupe-nywele Malaika had counseled the Dodohyd’iaeron family to allow her to attempt to heal their sickened eldest son, but very little could be done to dissuade gnomes of their traditions once their minds had been made. Ddaear had passed not two months before and both elven mother and daughter had attended his burial just weeks earlier.

“Do you remember, my only and dearest child, what you asked me the day he was laid to his final rest?” U’tulivu Nyeupe-nywele questioned gently as she moved closer.

The tiniest shake of her daughter’s head was the only reply she received.

“You asked why we buried our departed. This is why,” the mother told her daughter. “Because the body rots once the soul has moved on. We respect the life that was but place the body out of sight so we can remember our friends as they were, not as their empty shells become.”

For a long while Mkali Moto Kipande sat and considered her mother’s words. Eventually her gaze returned to the remains of her friend only to be soon turned away once more by her mother’s gentle hand.

“I miss him,” she told her mother.

“I know. But it is not right for us to look upon him as he now is. Instead, we shall take a trip to the Dodohyd’iaerons and inform them of what has happened.”

Now, daughter and mother journeyed side by side, small fingers gripping tight to offered hand, in saddened silence.