A Time Ago or Ahead?
Prologue: The Sacrifice
The girl waited in the chamber. She had been taken from her village after being inspected. She was innocent having never known a man. She had been brought to this strange place. She was lethargic from the potions they had given her to drink. She hadn't eaten in almost a week though didn't feel hungry.
Today, the priests had carefully washed her fixing her hair with flowers. An hour ago, she was given another special drink by one of the priests. She drank it down as instructed. She now felt both light-headed and lethargic.
The priests came and walked her out to a reclining chair carried by four slaves. Her nude body was placed upon it with care and gentleness. She was carried to the altar. The slaves stopped and knelt. Two priests lifted her gently from the chair and placed her upon the altar. The high priest came to the altar. "Behold! She is our Messenger! She carries our prayers to Manuba! Praise her for her duty!" She could hear the pounding of the drums and felt their beat in her body. She lay back on the altar motionless as the high priest raised the knife and then plunged it into her young body. The razor sharp blade cut deeply and quickly. Her eyes bulged but she just barely made a whimper. The high priest then removed her beating heart. As it beat its last and she quietly died, he cried out, "Bear our prayers and petitions, Beautiful Messenger!"
As the people left the temple, her body with its blankly staring eyes was carefully and gently placed back on the reclining chair and conveyed inside the temple. Once inside and in a quiet, small room, the high priest completed his duty by carving choice parts from her body and giving them to other priests. The rest of her body was taken to another altar and burnt completely. The choice parts were cooked and constituted a special meal for the priests.
In this manner, Manuba was propitiated twice each year for as long as the people and the priests could remember.