Henri had removed his guns and other weapons except for the knife he’d need for the ceremony this morning, but was having a little more trouble than anticipated finding an alter. It was only 9 am but he had been searching for three hours and had become lost in the maze of passages and canals. But he did finally find a church in the area known as the Waterways…the only problem was that it was completely empty. There were no pews, no candles, no symbols of any kind, and no altar.
Henri was dismayed, and was going to turn and walk out, when the voice stopped him. “Put the blood on the wall, underneath the center window.”
The words had not been in English of course, but Henri understood it all the same and he stopped, confused and unsure what this proposal could possibly accomplish. “Doesn’t it have to be an altar?”
“Yes, but it doesn’t have to be an altar like you are thinking.” It explained. “The building itself will suffice as the alter you need.”
Of course, Henri realized as he approached the wall and went to one knee and bowed his head and began the prayer in French, then he switched to German and after that English.
‘I humbly beg all deities and spirits, powerful and minor, benevolent and cruel, seen and unseen, to hear my mortal plea. I am to meet with the last Sinclaire in a meeting of honor and of peace to settle a blood feud between our two families. I beg that you watch over our meeting, according to the old agreements of honor and peace, so that we may resolve this issue, in marriage or death. Should someone present at that meeting, or should they become present, or involved in this conflict on either side, break that honor or peace by harming or detaining anyone else present, then I humbly ask that you bring onto them a punishment ten times worse than the crime committed, until the sun once again rises over this city a second time, even should the one that does this harm or detaining be one of your own favored.’
He repeated this prayer in Latin, Gaelic, Kobold, and Greek. And then he took out the knife he’d prepared and cut his left hand and placed the hand on the stone slab and let it drip. For a moment nothing happened, but then the voice told him that his plea had been accepted, by a few. In a way it felt like they too were in his mind now, though not as strongly as the first.
He continued on his way, wandering aimlessly, when he came to a graveyard. He didn’t need the voice to tell him that this place too would suffice. It was filled with crosses to mark the dead, but he’d already used that symbol and he was trying to speak to all deities and spirits, and it would not do to single out one. He searched the graveyard until he came to a different symbol, a pentacle in the ground marking a grave. He knelt before it, repeated the prayer in the same seven languages, and then made a cut behind his left ear and bled upon the grave and let the blood on the knife drip onto the pentacle.
The voice told him that once again the sacrifice was being accepted, and now in his mind he could feel the presence of other things which he had in a way invited in to watch this drama unfold. The living might condemn what he did, and could not understand his intentions, but the dead and those beyond them had no such boundaries. His own blood and name gave him no choice.
He wandered around, eventually going back the way he came until he saw a stone of some kind with a hole in the center. He didn’t know if it was an altar or not, and the voices told him no, but he still asked a nearby woman what it was. She said that it wasn’t, and that she doubted if there were any altars in Babbage at all. Henri became slightly distressed and asked how there couldn’t be any churches at all in a city, and then she pointed him to a rather large building behind him.
How he had missed this church he was not sure, but he went inside, no one seemed to be around but his new friends said there were a few men in the area and that he should keep his voice down a little. They would see to it that it was said loud enough and joined him as he knelt at the altar, this time an actual one, and said the prayer seven times and in the seven different languages again though he did it quietly, and he opened his clothes, and cut his chest just above the hidden steel cuirass that had been his grandpere’s when he had been a musketeer before they were disbanded. He had come to this place knowing that Sinclaire may have hired assassins and toughs who might try to stick a knife in his back and he was ready for them. While his grandpere had actually died a musketeer, it had been to the feud Henri’s great grandpere had started. Henri put the blood on the altar and the hammer, and he may have heard someone gasp when he did that last part, but if so they went running out for someone else. For a long time he didn’t feel any change in his head, and he heard nothing from them…was this place refusing his blood offer? But finally he was told that this alter would suffice and he felt more in his head than ever before. It was starting to give him a slight headache, but he laughed it off as he left the church undisturbed. He hoped they hadn’t heard, he wanted the marriage part to be a secret for Sinclaire. He needed to see the look of shock and potentially horror upon her face when he suddenly knelt before her and asked for her hand.
He continued to wander the city, it was quite hot out with all his layers of clothing and armor, but he didn’t really notice. He finally found a gentleman in dark glasses outside of a Dr. Berithos’s establishment who was ready to assist him. He asked him where to find an alter or church, and after a moment of thought he said the only other church that he had not been to yet was a temple to the Elder gods that had just reopened. He led me to the establishment and Henri repeated the prayer, and this time cut his leg and put the blood into a chalice that looked like it was used to such things. He don’t know what he’d let in this time, but Henri had stopped keeping track at this point. The only voice that mattered was the first, it was closer to him than the others.
He wandered the city then in vain, wondering what he would do now, when that voice spoke to him again, “There are other altars, Fool.” It said without affection. “In the wild, nature is it’s own altar. A library for those who worship knowledge and it’s pursuit. A bar to those who worship inebriation and those who preside over it.”
Laughing at how silly he had been, Henri began to think about what he could use next and nature seemed the way to go. There was almost none to find in Babbage so he wandered till he found the north wall again, and stood atop it and saw what he needed: A pond next to a tree, and the tree itself looked perfect for his intent. He went down and said the prayer, removed his shoe and cut the top of his foot, and placed the blood on it. There wasn’t much here, but the others saying it with him helped gather the attention he needed from farther away.
The biggest problem he had however is that he did not want to use the library for his next stop. That Builder place had already seemed like it was a place of learning, and he had suddenly gotten another idea, possibly from one of the voices in his head, it was hard to tell now since everything was jumbling together in his head.
He stopped in front of the theater quite happy all the same. It was here that Shakespeare had said it best, he was just a player that was strutting upon this stage until he was heard from no more. The stage would be appropriate. He performed the ritual and removed his hat and cut the top of his skull.
Then he simply waited for hours, talking with the new friends in his head.
One of them, a rather mischievous sounding one, asked him if he never wondered if they were real at all, if he wasn’t actually just crazy and there were no spirits listening, that he was truly just talking to himself. He laughed and told it that it didn’t matter since it’s not like it would change anything really, since he’d still hear them in his head.
A few minutes before 5 he went into the Bucket. The man with long black hair was already there, and without waiting or asking permission, which the man strongly advised against, he took a bottle of wine, poured it on the bar and then began the prayer. He’d hardly ask the man to leave, but he hoped he didn’t ruin the surprise about the marriage part. He finished and took out the knife and cut into his arm and let it bleed onto the bar counter.
As his blood mingled with the wine on the bar, he felt a rush of some kind from what he had just invited inside of himself, what he had fed with his blood. He had said the prayer 7 times in 7 different languages, at 7 very different altars, using 7 different symbols, and cutting 7 different parts of his body and then used his blood to seal it. His blood was what made it more than just empty words of course, and even one of them may have been enough, but seven was best. Once accepted the deal was binding to the spirits who had fed off his spilt blood and once he and Sinclaire were in the same room and introduced that would be the beginning of the meeting and everyone would be bound to this agreement, whether they knew it or not. He wondered vaguely if anyone who would be here intended to hurt one another in the next day or two and would be upset to learn this. But that seemed unlikely.
The man had been quite surprised by his display, as well as his intention to actually seek a peaceful resolution. As he had told the horseman and even this man the other night, he was quite aware that the whole thing was ridiculous. Something their great grandpere’s had started, but that they had no choice but to continue. If they didn’t they would be driven mad with rage and hate and be lost to it forever. Henri sometimes wondered if he would really change all that much.
Sinclaire entered, and was introduced by the horseman he’d met the other night. Just looking at her made his blood boil, but he was able to contain it for the moment. With the introductions the meeting had begun of course, but the owner of the bar seemed to think that just because it was his establishment that he got to say otherwise. Henri thought that amusing, and told him to ask the black haired man why he was not intimidated by him. The man did mention the prayer, but conveniently left out the punishment and the part about the blood, and said that he’d simply prayed for no interference. Obviously the man must hate the owner of the establishment, several of the people in his head now certainly seemed to. That made Henri laugh.
The owner of the bar hadn’t been happy about the fact he’d performed a ritual in his establishment, and insisted that he leave and threatened to kill him, but by then Sinclaire had already been introduced and Metier was only amused at the thought of the man killing him. At least one of the voices in his head dearly hoped that he would, and was influencing Henri to goad him into it, not that he wouldn’t have goaded him anyways without the assistance. As he stepped out the door his raven gave him a warning and he stood his ground as the curiass was pushed slightly. The first voice told him that it was a knife at his back, to which Metier just goaded the owner to kill him, but the owner instead shut the door behind him that he had already walked out of. In a way that was disappointing.
The meeting resumed outside and there he had to reveal why this could only end in death or marriage. He’d read the letter, signed in blood by his own great grandpere and the Sinclaires had been signed the same way. His had said, he told her, that his family would continue to kill the Sinclaires until every man and woman who bore that blood and name were dead or until all the Metiers themselves were dead instead, and hers was the same only with the last names substituted. He left out only one detail, that the children must be legitimate, but he’d already told the horseman that so it seemed unimportant to bring it up again, and they both were legitimate so it did them no good, anymore than having been born a hermaphrodite did them now since neither was. Still, if she took a new name, they wouldn’t be driven to kill each other anymore.
He noted she was more in control of her hatred than he himself, but the evidence that it was going to win over her eventually was evident. She kept forgetting that it was not he that killed her fiance and as long as a Metier lived she’d always think of the one alive as the killer, it was something she couldn’t help. It was a shame that he hadn’t been the one to go after her, her father had gotten his own dad to send the eldest son after her, and unlike Henri he’d never seen the letter nor would he have agreed to just wait to see her wed that Tim fellow and take his last name. Henri was a bit more willing, but the more he thought about it, the more he realized that his blood might not allow him to allow her. The first voice was desperately protesting it.
‘YOU must marry her! If it isn’t you, and she doesn’t take your name, then it won’t be revenge! Your brother killed her husband, this is the best, the sweetest revenge on the entire family you can have!’, it ranted continuously. There was at least one that was almost as loud as it now in his head, but they weren’t saying anything about this situation. In any occasion, perhaps she would marry and take a new name before he decided to listen to the voice and his blood after all, and he departed, ignoring the horses cries that he had a better idea. He’d told them that they’d heard his terms, and it went without saying that marrying would be the only absolute way to prevent bloodshed. The need for vengeance could well drive him to ensure he interrupted anything else, like signing a declaration legally changing her name. Oh well, he still had other things to do, and the voices in his head all wanted to have a say in his next action. As he listened to all their wonderful contributions he found himself laughing uncontrollably. This was the single greatest moment of his life. Real or imagined, he should have invited more friends in years ago!