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Adjit peered from behind the leafy foliage at the shaman in the clearing. Sweat trickled down his nose; he silently brushed it away. Watching the death ritual was forbidden, and his discovery would do more than forestall the ritual--it would banish him from the tribe.
The clearing stood atop a steep hill. The trees, covered in child-sized leaves, guarded their inner circle. Both ensured the ritual’s privacy, as any approaching person would be noticed. The shaman stood with his legs splayed and his arms held wide as he ushered in the setting sun. His ritual garb—a dark leather loincloth—absorbed the sun’s rays. Black paint streaked across his face and torso, giving him the appearance of a skeleton. The shaman took beeswax from a small bag and plugged his ears. A man writhed before him, bound to a pole. The captive’s eyes gave away nothing as his arms strained against the ropes holding him.