Tamar looked at the stain as well, then at me. "You saved my life," she said.
"You would have had the opportunity to run, sooner or later."
She shook her head and gently pressed my sword-hand to the ground. "No," she said. "I played for time and tried to distract them from looking for anyone else, but no. I would have died there. If you're thinking that you shouldn't have killed him the way you did-"
"I was thinking that he could come seeking just revenge," I said. "He hadn't hurt me and I didn't have to do it. I was striking-I struck at-" Sophos. Not the bandit leader.
Her hand closed over mine. " I had the right to kill him."
"But I held the sword."
"Become my blood sister. Then you'll have avenged the dishonor of your sister." I looked sharply at Tamar and she dropped her eyes. "If you want to," she said. "I mean, you don't have to. I just thoughtuwell, I'm sorry."
I considered the possibility for a long moment. I had no sisters. No brothers, either. Blood sisterhood was one of the rites recognized by all three religions of the Danibeki. The members of the Sisterhood of Weavers were rumored to take oaths using knives that still bore stains from the blood of Penelope; the followers of Prometheus and Arachne used their own knives or swords, but they swore blood sisterhood in much the same way. And of course the wors.h.i.+ppers of the aerika took sibling oaths, sometimes-though it was rare among slaves. There were obligations that you had to blood kin, and it was bad enough that sometimes you couldn't keep those obligations to the blood kin you started out with.
Kyros wouldn't want me to do it...
But I wanted to.
And Kyros had called his aeriko away just as I'd needed it; I'd had to fight our way out. It's my right to do this if I want to. "We need to get all the blood off the sword first," I said. "I don't want any of his blood mingling with ours."
We had to use up a little of our water, wetting the edge of my tunic and cleaning off the sword. Then I cut the palm of my right hand and she cut hers, and we clasped hands, palm to palm. We actually both knew the words to the ritual, so we spoke together. "Water to water and blood to blood. Like rivers join, our blood is joined; sky to rain to river to sea, and you are my sister forevermore."
After sharing blood, we were supposed to give each other more mundane gifts, and we each rifled through our meager possessions, trying to come up with something. "I should've waited to give you the boots," I said. "Those would've made a great gift."
"They were a great gift."
I could have given her a waterskin but I didn't feel like they were mine to give or withhold anymore. So I plucked some of th
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