The fire in the elevator shaft roared. The raging heat made the drenching wet bag steam. Tate's lungs filled with heavy air. He choked. The first drops of blood hit his neck. He shifted his knees on the smooth tile floor, trying to find a modicum of comfort. But that was half the reason for the ritual: to remove an initiate from all comfort. Every raid clan had a unique way to bring on new members. This was the process for Lathropy.
Tate had found two members of Lathropy by pure chance. He hadn't had any desire to join them, indeed before he met those two he didn't care to have anything to do with any raid clan. What changed his mind was seeing how those two handled themselves. They'd walked up to a merchant, told him they were taking some of his goods, and did it. The merchant said nothing. People in the street dipped their faces, turned their eyes, did everything they could to act like the Lathropy raiders weren't there. It wasn't respect, but fear. Tate had never been respected or feared. On some level he knew respect was better, but he was okay with fear.
"Your blood now returns to you. What fills your veins, now stains your skin." The Lathropy lieutenant said. Tate and the others repeated the words. "Breathe deep. Feel the sting of heat, the stifling pain of steam." Again the rest repeated. The stream of blood being poured onto Tate's back moved to his neck, then his head. "Now blood and water mix. The two life waters. Heated by fire, the first light. Mingled with air, pull both into your lungs." The lieutenant said, alone now.
Tate choked. There was a weight to each breath, like he was trying to pull something heavy and was failing a little more with each inhale. He started to blink. Not that he could see anything, his head inside the bag. He began to lose his balance, he coughed. The lieutenant was still talking, but Tate couldn't hear the words. His head buzzed. He knew something had been mixed in the water. His stomach clenched, his head swam, he knew he would to fall. His hands, tied behind his back, would not catch him. His last thought before he lost balance was that his choice to become a raider might not have been his best idea.