Ah, I love me some aro/ace representation! Howard manages it both overtly and unobtrusively in this story. The tale itself is that of an old man and his daughter, who have escaped a life of drudgery in the laundries to serve a fifteen year spell as keepers of one of the seven beacons, always watching another beacon to see if it is lit, signalling that war has come to their people. They are three months away from the end of their term when the drums of war are heard, and the Jubilee Beacon is lit, forcing them to discharge the duties that have been laid upon them.
These duties turned out to be far more gruesome than I would have imagined, and I confess I don’t quite understand why the final sacrifice was necessary; surely there could have been another way. It’s always a bit dissatisfying when drama appears to happen only for the purposes of plot; I would have liked a bit more world-building to make the ending feel necessary or inevitable, rather than merely shocking.