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Born in Blood

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Jägers are born in blood.

The oath is solemn, taken in the Cathedral once the Cathdral is built. Before that it is taken in the Castle chapel. Before that, before the Heterodynes grow shells of stone around their secrets, on the banks of the Dyne. Each applicant takes their turn to kneel, hands folded in a gesture that is older than the Christian adoption of it, in supplication to their Master. Each one recites the oath in turn, in front of the bright eyes of the Jägerkin, before taking their place among those ranks to watch the rest of the applicants.

The oath is solemn, dignified. The transformation is not.

This part still takes place on the banks of the Dyne, although the Jägerbrau is already made and could be given anywhere. But descending into that blue lit darkness, seeing the raw power and energy of what they are about to consume, has always been the tradition. The brau is in a goblet, the colour of swamp water, shining like sunlight, seeming to writhe within its container. It is not handed over by the Heterodyne. Every Jäger must reach out for it themselves.

(Some cannot. They falter here, in the blue light, seeing their fate in front of them. They are allowed to turn back. Their oaths already taken, they will forever be regarded as kin by the Jägers.)

When the brau hits the back of an applicant’s throat, burning and shocking them all at once, the ceremony is over.

They will scream. (It hurts, it hurts, it hurts.) If they stop breathing the Heterodyne will slice open their changing throat, force air into them. If their heart stops they will be shocked, electricity on top of the agony of already seizing muscles. If spikes start growing inward they will be cut out, bodies sliced open by deft hands. The Heterodyne will curse the contrariness of their changing bodies, shout and laugh and hum through the hard, bloody work.

Half-made Jägers, ears ringing with agony, will know that they are not fighting their way back to life alone.

(Some die there, the battle lost. For some the piercing agony never ends, they beg for release. The Heterodyne grants it.)

The Jägers that make it are born in blood. Bodies drenched in their own blood they open new eyes, to find the Heterodyne grinning down at them is coated in it too. More than one new-made monster has broken down crying, in pain and relief. More than one ruthless warlord has put an arm around them, ruffled their hair, whispered the only comfort Heterodynes have to give.

“You are mine. You will always be mine.”