The skull of this creature did not reflect light. In all other respects, though, it was indistinguishable from the rest of the bones the boy's grandfather had possessed, those of animals he had skinned and mounted and studied time and again. He had been driven by some obsession that convinced his family and mentees he was possessed by curious, although not particularly malevolent, spirits. Occasionally, his grandfather would wipe the blood of the animals onto the walls of the room, and it never seemed to fade; even now there remained red handprints and lines in long patterns that made the boy uneasy.

"Your grandfather asked me to make sure you took something to remember him by." The strong man stood at the doorway to prevent any unexpected mourners from interrupting. The room made him uneasy but he was able to hide his discomfort from the boy. "He was quite fond of you."

The boy returned the lightless skull to its place among the brilliant white bones on his grandfather's shelf. "You were with my grandfather when I was too small to walk, Rayth."


"Do you think his soul was possessed?"

"I know not."

"My mother told me not to believe the rumors, but I could never be sure whom to believe."

"He never spoke of it, and I never asked."

"He would speak of the world before time began, sometimes as if he were there." The boy placed his right hand in one of the red prints where his grandfather had once put his own. "His stories would give me nightmares, but I couldn't help listening." The boy frowned when he saw how much smaller his handprint was than the prints on the wall. "One day I should like to live here and study my grandfather's bones."

"Have you made a decision, Phoenix?"

"May I decide tomorrow?"

"I will make sure no one else takes their remembrance before you."

"Thank you, Rayth."

That night, Phoenix dreamed that his grandfather visited him. The old man's body was gray like stone, and his face was black. He stood in the corner of the room, silent, until morning came and Phoenix awoke. He knew what remembrance to take.

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