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The Twenty-Sixth of Tal, Sixteen Seventy-Four

Oh how my body aches this morning and uncle is still drunk from the festivities that went on near to dawn. It is a Pagri tradition to return to ones bed just before the sun has crested. Something about how they’ve killed the conjured fire spirit and that the sun would embody it, some how rekindling the god-spirit into life. I really don’t know, nor do I care to listen to dogma and neolithic superstitions. The Pagri sound just like the followers of The Shining Lord, they believe that the sun is the Lord of Light.

The festival was fine once the Pagri had finished with their damned rituals. Honestly they were inconveniencing me to begin with you would think they would put aside the ritual and get to killing me quickly. I would have preferred that. I was escorted from my home, my great house with its walls and army of servant. The litter I was placed in was an ornately carved affair, almost fit for a god. It is normally about half an hour to walk to town, it took an hour while in the veiled sedan chair. I almost don’t know if I should take that as an insult or a compliment. Any attempt to speak with the Pagri chairmen were met with stony silence, If I was to go to my death I would wish to know at least in part the sacrifice I was made.

My people were a sea of masks and feathers. Dressed garish and gaily, I could scarce recognize them. When I went to disembark from the litter I was signaled to stop as uncle stepped beside me. At first I did not recognize him, like the greater portion of the population his features hidden behind a mask. The mask was a caricature of an eagle, a plate of beaten gold with a razor-sharp beak hid his face so that only his green eyes could be seen, the plate was wreathed with feathers that cascaded down and hid his short brown hair.

I must say that it was a shock when he grabbed me around the waist and handed me down to his valet. Recognition had yet to set in and I nearly slapped him for the familiarity of the gesture. Why he didn’t take me by the hand I do not know, I can only assume that it was a power play of sorts or to assert his dominion and ownership of my person. Hundreds of flowers had to die for the soft blanket of flowers I was set on, thousands more for the path that lead to the ocean.

Songs and cries erupted from the crowd, nattering on in the harsh Pagri tongue. Dozens of small wooden boats — scarcely larger than my outstretched hand — dotted the crystalline waters, fire burning in their oaken hearts. The blind priest took me by the hand and led me into the waves. To my dismay the garb they had adorned me in became quite transparent once wet. People shouted for silence, it’s surprising how unorganized this tribe is first the fire and now a chaotic tussle for silence.

A group joined us, I assume they were priest as well. From what I understand the Pagri have a bit of a caste system and while one can move a bit between the castes only the priest caste is impermeable. Young men and women garbed nearly identical to me, the sole difference was the long veil that hid their features. A wooden bowl piled high with burning coals was thrust into my hands. I now understand that it symbolized the fire spirit they had woken, this fire being the same flame that they had used to kindle that winter ritual.

The veiled initiates began a slow somber dance as the sound of drums and pipes filled the air. Dressed in his rough robes and soaked to the skin the blind priest was joined by an old gnarled woman. They began a litany in their grating language, how they didn’t stumble over the words is beyond me, their rough and discordant chanting became a song.

The silver flicker of a knife in the dying light and a strong hand grasped my shoulder. When I attempted to scream a wet amber stained hand was clamped over my mouth. The blade bit into my flesh an inch beneath my mark, I do hope that it wont scar. It would be an annoyance to explain this story time and again. The flames sputtered as drops of my blood fell from the knife onto the hot coals.

While I stood there attempting to decipher this ritualized act my eyes fell upon him. The man from the Temple of The Starry Heavens, the man who had laid hands upon me and had left me bruised. His final day. He appeared drugged as he stood there between two police officers In chest high water; A severe looking woman with greying brown hair and a stout man who smiled as he watched the ceremony.

Boisterous hands gripped me at the shoulders and around the waist and I was pulled beneath the rippling waters. I was so shocked when I was dragged beneath that I didn’t fight. I swallowed a lungful of cold sea water before instinct kicked in and I began to twist and struggle against those rapacious hands. What I now know was that they were attempting to help me right myself.

My lungs burned and my eyes stung but I saw what happened next. One of the white veiled dancers approached the trio and the man smiled stupidly at him. A flash of silver saw the knife still glistening with my blood ripple across the mans throat. A horrifying spray of gore covered the male dancer, dying the veil an ugly russet colour.

The spirits have their sacrifice, will it be enough? Will that death bring the paradoxical slumber and waking?