My copy of Daughter of Witches is the revised version. Daughter of Witches is Patricia C. Wrede’s second story.
Bond servants in Chaldon were servants with only one right: a half-day off every three weeks. Their masters could, in all other respects, treat their bond servants as they would. Ranira, our main character, is one such bond servant. She was bonded for nine years because her parents had been judged and killed for being witches. When we meet her, she has two more years of her bond to serve. She is somewhere in her teens.
When strangers come to Lykken’s inn at Festival time, they ignore the danger they place themselves in. Being foreigners in Drinn at Mid-Winter festival is enough to get you arrested. Hosting foreigners is also enough to get you arrested and sentenced as bond servant. In fact, all of your employees and family are placed in bond service for not having reported your crime. Earlier in the story, Ranira unintentionally offended the priest that is her “arresting officer”. It turns out she offended The High Priest of Chaldon. Her sentence is his way of getting revenge.
“For three days more I will be seated in the place of honor in the Temple, next to the High Priest, while he teaches the people the new rites and leads them in the old ones. Then the High Priest himself will perform the wedding ceremony. And consummate it. Publicly,” she added as an afterthought. She stared resolutely at the door of the cell. She was determined to finish, to make them understand, so that they would leave her to whatever little peace and sanity she could find and cling to. “When he is finished, the god will take me. For two days, Chaldon will walk in my body and speak with my voice, and there will be nothing left of me at all. On the last day of the Festival, when both moons are full and Chaldon has accepted the other sacrifices, the nine High Masters will kill me as well.”
Through history human sacrifice is not uncommon: Aztec, Japan, Serbia, Hawaii, India and Rome are only some places where ritualized human killings were/are practiced. Religion seems to make human sacrifice acceptable to the general populace once propaganda becomes common belief. But I wonder if religion is the only area of sacrifice in human society. What about the squandering of young lives in the fights we have with each other to enforce our own points of view? Or the death penalty?
Anyways. Ranira is not too happy about her future fate. Nor are the strangers once they realize what is going to happen to Ranira. What is about to happen to them as well. Although their fate is probably not the privilege of sacrifice to the god Chaldon, they will likely end up as sacrifices to Drinn’s version of justice. Getting away would seem hopeless yet highly desirable for all of them. Ranira and the strangers now set off on what are narrow escapes, much use of magic and new friendships.