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It was important work, gathering fuel for the Burning of the Ren, though only an outcast like the Scavenger could do it. The ceremony marked the turning of one year into the next, and ensured the light would come again to drive back winter’s darkness.
The good Queen had tried to change the ancient rite, to mark the year without the loss of one more soul from their war-torn land. But in the ten years since her decree, the disasters sweeping over them had only multiplied. Famine, flood, unearthly winds and the summer’s fires had torn at people’s goodness, and the refugees that sought the Queen’s peace had only taxed it more. When a Wizard suggested that only human sacrifice would appease the angry spirits, the people listened, and demanded a real Ren for the fire.