The Bone Fires, Part 2

Several trees in the nearby wood had been chopped down. They had been drying for a month now to be sure they would burn well. Not the sacred oaks, of course, but others whose branches would make up the bulk of the firewood.

There would be two large heaps of wood and brush that would eventually be made into one. Both piles were more than head high, and bones from the slaughtered cattle were added to the tops. Dried grasses were stuffed in multiple places around the bottom to make sure the fire got a good start when the burning pine knots were thrust in.

That was always the most exciting part to the boys, seeing the flames licking up the fuel and then consuming the wood with a roar.

Once the bone fire piles were made, they piled the remaining wood to either side, like wings to direct the animals to the center gap. It would help to force the cattle between the two fires for the purification ritual overseen by the chieftain's druid. He was not so much a religious figure as one who understood the Brehon laws maintaining an orderly society. Their druid for religious events had died in a freak accident a month before. A new one had not yet come to take his place.

The druids were not a religious group, but a social class. If you wanted to be a doctor, lawyer, musician, teacher, or even a religious person, you became a druid. They were the white collar workers of their day.

The sun was sinking down to its western resting place when the two friends were finally dismissed along with the others. They needed to hurry if they wanted to wash and change their clothes.

"You're late," Finmed, his sister, taunted him as he came in the door at home. She turned her back to him again and cracked open a nut, trying to divine some part of her future from its meat.

Adag leaned over her shoulder like he was studying the nut meat as well. Suddenly he made a noise of disgust.

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