“Come, Harold Forbes de’Cainia sol Gregory Forbes an Sarah Forbes. I sense you hold honour for your kin, which is only proper. Let us pray to our ancestors for their help; only with their blessings will we succeed.” Miriel didn’t wait for his answer, and instead shoved a bucket of what looked like chum into his arms, giving him a steely glare when he blanched and held it away from his face.
“It is the Strix way, Harold Forbes de’Cainia, to invoke the spirits of our warrior kin to bless our battles; I thank you for your assistance. Let us begin.” She gracefully removed her clothing, laying them to the floor around her in a crude likeness of the symbol of TsiJairi; to those unfamiliar with the written glyphs of the Strix, it looked like a scalene triangle.
Feeling more than Harold’s eyes on her, Miriel quickly dismissed the surprised looks as ignorance of lesser races at her nakedness and dipped reverent fingers into the bucket; she delicately began to anoint her arms, stomach, breasts, neck, and face with the blood of the many birds and fish she and the great eagle killed while flying above the harbour.
“Bless our journey, Saamurn de’Jairi sol Haalo na Feris, so we may find our way,” she intoned as she worked, painting blood at each corresponding part of her body. “Bless our intent, Haalo de’Jairi sol Voren na Sischa, so we know it is without evil. Bless our weapons, Voren de’Jairi sol Pyrion na Xilis, so we may strike true. Bless our hearts, Ponin de’Jairi sol Davurn na Vhriolis, so we have no fear. Bless our hands, Vhriolis de’Jairi sol Paalo na Fischa, so that our claws stay sharp. Bless our eyes, Paalo de’Jairi sol Hyronin na Xiriel, so we do not lose sight of our target.
She looked at Harold, who was looking at her with both confusion and that odd look the male – and some female – non-Strix gave her when she prepared herself in this manner. She dismissed the odd behaviour and continued. “Bless our thoughts, Xiriel de’Jairi sol Baanin na Xischa, so our mind remain clear. Bless our feet, Xischa de’Jairi sol Vaamurn na Xhris, so our steps are sure. Bless our knees, Vaamurn de’Jairi Hyparen na Kiris, so we know when to yield.”
Miriel turned her back to Harold, looking at him over her shoulder. “Bless our backs Hyparen de’Jairi sol Rovrion na Sescha, so we may bear our burdens with strength.” She glanced down at the bucket and then back to Harold. When he did not move, she narrowed her eyes at him. “Mark my back, Harold Forbes de’Cainia, from my neck to the end of my spine; then follow my lead.” She turned to look across the harbour and eventually felt trembling fingers moving down her back, leaving sticky wetness in their wake.
Satisfied that Harold was doing his job, she continued. “Bless our shoulders, Rovrion de’Jairi sol Pelurn na Phariel, so we may support our brethren should they fall. Bless our wings, Phariel de’Jairi sol Saarion na Xollis, so we may fly with the winds of the world behind us.”
She turned to face Harold again, who almost dropped the bucket of bloody remains. She dipped her fingers in again but this time she shook them in the air in front of her. “Bless the North Winds Xollis de’Jairi sol Saanin na Piris, so its cold keeps us sharp. Bless the South Winds, Saanin de’Jairi sol Hyo na Siranan, so its warmth invigorates our senses. Bless the West Winds, Hyo de’Jairi sol Romaru na Hinan, so its bravery sees us through the unknown. Bless the East Winds, Romaru de’Jairi sol Vaache na Hysirion, so its loyalty strengthens our resolve.”
Miriel dipped her hands in the blood now, feeling excited as she invoked the last two of her ancestors. The blood flowed from her fingertips to the ship’s deck in a circular path around her, the blood both pooling where it touched the deck or soaking in when it landed on her clothing. “Bless the Sun and Moon, Hysirion de’Jairi sol Jairen na Tsiriel, so their light shows us our path. Bless our line, Jairen O Cursed One, so that we may live this day and lead our brethren back to the Stars from whence we came.”
She smiled to herself, eyes closing in bliss as she arched her back and stretched arms to the sky, once again ignoring those around her – until she heard the Dwarf bellowing something about blood staining the ship. That was when she opened her eyes, looked around with a mischievous smirk, and turned to Harold.
“My people normally bathe in the sacred waterfall of Jessiel’s Sacrifice after such a ceremony but that is too far away to fly; I will have to use something more commonplace. Harold Forbes de’Cainia, I ask that you show me such a place…personally.” Without caring of the inevitable yelling at the Dwarf’s leisure Liriel gave him a wicked smile and held out a bloody hand…