In the time I have traveled with Daba, she has seen me perform the rituals of the One Truth many times. My prayers at sunrise, holy day celebrations, even the rituals of the dead. Although sometimes curious, often questioning the rites and the reasons for them, she has always born witness with respect and a solemness I appreciate. It seems strange to me, though, that I have not seen much by way of her religious practices. Perhaps religious is not the correct term, but neither would be arcane.
I have, often enough, observed her in the act of channeling her powers, creating thunderstorms from a clear day, fire bursting forth from her talons, even speaking with creatures of the air from miles distant. I have seen magi study their books, alchemists prepare their potions, and clerics of the order in their meditation and prayers to Gadar. Yet, with Daba, I see her only speak to Declan, meditating with him perched upon her shoulder. Does she pray to some unknown god? Perhaps Gadar in a form that the birdfolk know?
Yesterday was the first I had seen of any of Daba’s rituals. She was gracious enough to allow me to observe what she called “gettin’ the spells”. She laid out a book of wizard spells we had found in the Hardlow woods, in a circle of bones, from what may have been a bird or rat. Candles, lit and placed at specific points around the book, lit with an incantation to “y’all watchtower folk”. Then, she merely sat, waving her talons over the book and murmuring in a low voice, speaking a tongue I did not recognize.
After a time, she removed the book and replaced it with a small brazier covered by an iron grate, filled with burning sheep dung. A pot of water was placed over it, and allowed to boil, before acrid smelling herbs made what I can only imagine to be a most bitter tea. A cup was poured, the water removed, but the brazier remained.
What happened next, I must admit, shocked me. She took up the book, and with a jerk, tore out many pages. I later learned that the pages contained the necessary incantations and formulae for the casting of one of the wizard spells, but that wizard spells are quite complex, hence multiple pages. She held the pages above the brazier, chanting, as they caught flame. The pages burned rapidly, as if releasing some hidden power, and the ashes of the pages fell upon the grate.
Daba removed the grate, and carefully poured the ashes into the concoction she had created, stirring it with a long talon. Strangely, Daba did not drink the tea, but rather, Declan hopped from her shoulder and with a belabored sigh, began to drink. I must have been right about the taste, as Declan coughed and sputtered with each gulp. Yet, he continued to drink until the whole cup was drained.
Daba repeated this ritual many times throughout the day. I must admit, I was fascinated. Such a backward and barbaric practice, yet I can already tell that whatever she wished to accomplish, she did, at least mostly. There is a feel about her, a certain essence of power that was not there before. It is minor, no doubt, but there nonetheless. The more I learn of her, the more I respect her craft, whatever that craft may truly be.
Truth and Light