In one of the dreams I recently had, I saw an interesting sequence, which has burned itself indelibly into my mind.
A woman - I presume, a protagonist - enters a circle prepared in a windowless chamber lined with packed soil. A circle has been laid out with salt. The woman is slender, blonde, young, and dressed in a light robe. Her eyes are cold, distant. Her lips are red; her face, pallid. She carries a steel knife. In the centre of the circle are ritual accoutrements; black candles, salt, water, a feather, incense burning in a brass pot.
Calmly, the woman sheds her robe, standing nude in front of the altar. Kneeling before it, she pours the water on the knife blade, the water pouring onto the packed earth beneath the altar. She then opens a cut on her left wrist with the knife, the stroke of the blade leaving a red, dripping trail that falls onto the dirt at her knees.
The inside of her arm bears a number of cuts. She has done this several times before.
I can't get this image out of my head. At some crucial point in my third novel, the sequel to The Silver Touch and The Gilded Saidara, this is likely to happen.
It is because of this dream that I began to research the topic of blood sacrifice in history. The topic inspired me to buy Arcania of Legend: Blood Magic by Mongoose Publishing, for the Legend roleplaying game, along with the blood sacrifice metamagic in Street Magic for Catalyst Games' Shadowrun roleplaying game. For pleasure, I have been reading Men Of Steel by Mr Michael Crumplin, FRCS, about battlefield surgery in the Napoleonic Wars, in those trial-and-error days before the advent of antisepsis and anaesthetics, where a patient was more liable to die from the surgery than from the initial wound.
In terms of my research, this has been a most enjoyable week - where "enjoyable" seems to be defined here as "drenched in blood up to the armpits."