Sacred - Short Story | Dark Fantasy | Sacrifice
She was born to be the Sacred Sacrifice for her people.
My dearest reader,
Thank you once again for being a part of Original Worlds.
The journey so far has been amazing, and I deeply appreciate you coming along. We’re just getting warmed up.
Today, I’ve brought you my story “Sacred.”
I was inspired for this one by reading material on the Mayan civilization, and some of the beliefs they had surrounding eclipses and sacrifices. What would it be like for one chosen to be a martyr for their people? Would they be adored? Reviled?
Would they hate the choice?
I hope you enjoy it. Stay tuned for much more coming next issue!
It remained on my tongue, ashen and warm, the sacred drink a nectar so sweet the gods, themselves, would weep for its touch.
And it was mine, given as was right, nothing more than a taste, perhaps, but enough.
More than enough.
My head still reels as the priests chant their words, the hours of time since the liquid touched my mouth a blur, lost in the maze of wonder and peace as I await the coming time.
I have been cleansed already, the beautiful women washing my body with the holy oils and herbs that only they know the mixtures of, and those, too, brought a strange peace to my mind as incense carried on the winds through the temple tinkled the instruments which hung from the rafters.
Smoke haze made it difficult to see much in front of me, but that did not matter. I enjoyed the touch of their fingers on my skin as the oils were rubbed into me, and even now, if I were to run my own hands along my torso, I would feel it remaining there, a soft shield against the breeze in my otherwise nakedness.
At one time, I might have been embarrassed about being uncovered, but it does not concern me now. Only the future, the coming moments in time where I am the focus of all of the power, all of the might of our people and the duty for which I have been chosen.
It is my entire purpose, the very reason I was born to begin with, my parents chosen because of their special bond with the gods and their holiness. They, too, had been set aside from birth, knowing their union, their joining would bring about this body and this life for the singular purpose I am aimed toward.
I have never known difficulty in my life, though I can recognize it in others when I see it. I would often be permitted to go out into the city which surrounded the temple. Indeed, encouraged to do so by the priests who oversaw my upbringing.
I have been graced by the eves of so many wonderful people, those who have lived their lives in the hope that I would be the one to help uplift them. I am their glory, they know, and they gifted me with anything I could desire, incapable of denying me anything I should wish.
I remember one small child, in particular, who was unable to walk, born imperfect in the legs which twisted beneath him. He looked so sad as he sat on his mat in front of the shop his parents ran, an advertisement, of sorts, you could say, his tiny voice calling out for people to come in and buy. Oh people would, as I saw; many dozens entered the shop that day. Perhaps they did it out of sympathy for the child, knowing if they were to purchase something from his parents, it would be a way of helping him, as well.
But when he saw me and recognized my glory, he did not ask me to come in and buy. No, all he wanted was for me to touch him. I could see it there in his eyes, the faith he had. It was, perhaps, one of the most beautiful things I have ever known.
I did touch him, laying my hand upon his dirty, greasy hair, tinged wet by the sweat in the hot sun that day, and said a few words, but my heart was owned by him, taken by his faith in that moment and my voice did not wish to work.
I moved on, the gaggle of priests behind me remarking at how much that child would remember this day for his life, but he would not be alone in that. I still carry that moment with me, even to this singular time when my purpose is to be fulfilled.
The gold and gems around me, embedded into the walls and carried by the priests who still chanted their incantations are not so fine as the heart of that small boy, his innocence as he prayed for his life to be better, knowing I could be that resolution… it humbled me in ways I cannot describe.
I remain silent as the men around me speak, their words rising to meet the gods in the sky above as they await the coming moment, the sign by which they will know the moment has come. The sun above was so bright when I took in the nectar, but a strange dimness has begun to obscure the clouds as I turn my eyes upward. It won’t be long now.
It is, perhaps, no magic that this day, of all days, should also be the day on which I was born eighteen years ago, carried into the world by the water that spilled from my mother and the blood I was coated in as I slid from her into the waiting arms of the priest attending her.
I never knew her, but they have spoken of her many times. Her beauty was unmatched in our realm, they say, and her heart was as unblemished as her body, and though the knife that ended her life was glittering and gold as it cut her throat, it could not equal the radiance with which she went to meet the gods, the smile on her face wide and perfect.
Her name is still spoken with reverence on the streets, the people whispering it among each other as a prayer, and I find it satisfying that it should be so.
She fulfilled her purpose, as will I, as do all things within the realm the gods have created. They set it all in motion, the stars above and the land below, each in its own order. Who are we to argue against it?
Who am I, of all people, to think anything is out of place?
All things in their time, and all things in their rightful order, the paths of our lives given to us from the moment of our birth. Sinners and exalted, abundance and depravity, all part of the unfathomable plan the gods have set in store for us. That was their duty, to give everything its beginning and end. Ours is to follow the pathway they want of us. As it is proscribed, so we must do.
I once asked Takana, the Highest, what he thought of the ones who sin, who have murdered or stolen from their fellows, unsure how they, too, were fulfilling their purposes.
“My child, they teach us.”
“What do you mean, master?” I asked, my young mind so confused.
“When a man kills another in anger, he has reminded us to be vigilant against rash decisions, to hold ourselves always in check, even when things look their worst. When a man steals bread, is he really a thief? Or is he merely trying to survive? Can we blame an animal for seeking out nourishment? No. We are reminded in those moments that we must do all we can to ensure there is no lack.”
“And if there isn’t enough?”
“Then,” he said, before turning away, “that is because the gods wish it that way.”
I nodded, understanding that all things were, in the end, in their hands, not ours, and we must do what we can with what we are given. We must ask nothing more. If it is for us to have, we will have. If we are fated to lack, then we lack.
All things were, as always, for the greater glory of the gods, to amplify them and bring them more into the hearts and minds of man, to signify by our witness that we are all within their hands.
Silence has fallen around me as the sky dims more, the words having been said, the cleansing complete. One of the priests takes a taper and lights the rest of the tallows around the circle, knowing the dark will soon be coming upon us.
The wind has grown, not enough to blow out the flames, but carrying on it the heady scent of the city below. The great mass of people has already started to gather, and from this great height, I can look down upon them and see them as, perhaps, the gods themselves do. They seem so small, so hard to discern as individuals, a great heartbeat of organisms moving as one as they, too, chant. I can almost hear them, but it is indistinct from the distance.
Is the boy there? I wonder if he, too, has become a part of the great throng or if he is one whose life has faded from his bones in the passage of time since I saw him last. Maybe he is there, somewhere in the morass, sitting on a mat drug to the place by his parents or a friend and is now looking up at me as I gaze down.
A throng of bodies brought together for a singular moment, just as I have been. They, too, were born to be here at this time, each working their lives through struggles and survival so they could add to the music of the mob, the choir of cacophony as they lend their voices to the praise of the gods and the time of glory for which I was born.
Tears flow from my cheeks and I wish I could wipe them away, but the hands holding my arms tightly remind me that it doesn’t matter. The water flowing to my cheeks is only a small part of what will soon be released and it can stay there as it is.
My heart swells, though, as the darkness looms, and I look into the sunlight above to see the circle of light there is dimming further. The moment is upon us.
Us. Yes, the great throng below, the priests around me and my own body are united in this singular purpose, and I can feel the love of them all as they gaze upon my naked body.
A gentle prod against my arm pushes me forward to the stone sitting in the center of the circle of flames, the jasmine and musky spices wafting into my nostrils fully as I take in a deep breath and smile.
They are gentle with me as six of the men around me lift me by my limbs and I float for a brief moment as they bring me back down to the top of the stone. Its smoothness surprises me as it touches the skin on my back and I shift myself slightly to become more comfortable against its heat, warmed by the sun as it waited for me.
The Highest is there beside me now, his wizened face smiling down upon me as his beard trailed playfully in the breeze. I smile back at him as he places a gentle hand on my shoulder.
My heart is thudding, skittering inside of me as I nervously await the moment to come. It is not fear, but anticipation, knowing in a few moments all things will change for me, for the priests around, for my people as a whole. All will be transformed, bettered by my birth, and I cannot wait until I can once again look down upon them all as they live their lives.
It happens quickly, the darkness slipping over the sky like a veil, the sun becoming a ring of glory unmatched by anything a jeweler could create.
I cannot take my eyes from it, that beautiful creation the gods have graced me with as my moment has come upon me, and I am grateful I am the one to bear it witness.
A singular moment of agony rips into my chest as my skittering heart is brought to a halt by the blade that slips between my ribs, and the darkness that was a moment before only in the sky flashes into my mind and I slip away.
My purpose has been fulfilled. The last gasp of my body is the power I need to meet the gods in their heavens.