Glurg mumbled his incantations as the guards brought the trembling girl up to the altar.
He with the two other senior priests held her in position. High Priest Plurger shouted and raised the sharp stone in the air. As so often happened, the girl jerked violently as she saw the stone descending to her chest. But Glurg and the two others were prepared and held her in position. The stone pierced her chest. Blood spurted.
All four priests said the incantations appropriate to their role. Then the priest Burg dragged the lifeless corpse to the stone chute and sent it down to be handled by acolytes below.
Glurg had been brought to the temple as a small boy and raised to be a priest. He memorized everything he was supposed to, said all the rites and incantations with sincerity and gravity, tracked the stars and recorded his observations on parchment. His care and devotion had been noted, and five years ago Plurger had selected him to replace one of the three senior priests who had died. Now Plurger was getting older.
Since he first arrived at the temple as a small boy he'd witnessed the virgin sacrifices. Every five days, three healthy, beautiful virgins on the cusp of womanhood were brought to the temple, each guaranteed to be at least 14 years of age. The High Priest stabbed each one in turn in the heart with a sharp stone. The Sun God demanded it.
As far as Glurg knew, girls weren't really even people. They never said anything coherent. Sometimes they were silent as their lives were offered to the gods, other times they whimpered or screamed. But they weren't really people, right? Not like men and boys. Since he had ascended to senior priest, he was aware just how hard they thrashed and also aware that all too often they soiled themselves as they prepared to meet the Sun God. Like animals.
He lived a sheltered life among the priests, never venturing outside, and in turn the public never came inside the temple complex.
One festival day as Plurger ascended the steps to the sacrificial altar, his wheezing was worse than usual. He stopped in the stone anteroom behind the altar to rest for a full minute before stepping out into view of the crowd. He dispatched the first girl with vigor, but then groaned and slouched back in the corner against the wall while Burg disposed of her body -- he was supposed to stand with dignity the entire time, of course. He pulled himself upright as the second victim was brought into position. He didn't raise the stone as high as before, and when he plunged it downward it didn't come down straight, so while he gave the girl a deep gash, it didn't puncture her chest and stab into her heart. She wailed. Would the Sun God be unhappy? Would their crops not grow? But Plurger raised his hands once more, to the full required height, and plunged downward once more. This time his aim was true, and the virgin's blood spurted as she gave her life to appease the Sun God. But Plurger gave a huge groan, dropped the stone, clutched his chest, and fell to the ground. The crowd murmured.
The two other senior priests knelt by his side in alarm and anxiety. Glurg saw blood gushing from Plurger's mouth and knew he was dead.
Glurg thought fast. He knew that when the High Priest died, the three senior priests met to select a new High Priest. It had happened when he was a young man, and that was when Plurger had been elevated to High Priest. But a High Priest had never died during the human sacrifice before. There was still one virgin to sacrifice. And here they were, the knot of priests around the altar, one down on the stone deck and two of the others crouched by him, their anxiety palpable. Only Glurg remained upright. What's worse, the hundreds of people murmured louder and shifted restlessly. The people must always see the priests as calm and in control. They must have confidence.
"Burg, Stlug", he hissed to the other two. "Leave him for now; drag him out of the way. Stand up and act like priests..."
He was acting like High Priest. Someone had to do it. The other two dragged the limp Plurger out of the way, then hurried back to the altar where the girl's corpse still bled.
"Now get rid of the sacrifice ... With dignity!" hissed Glurg.
The other two seemed relieved to be following orders, and soon resumed their calm, deliberate movements, their faces assuming once more the impassive expression priests always wore in public.
There was one girl left to sacrifice, and Glurg would have to be the one to plunge the stone into her heart! He hoped he would have the strength and skill to pierce her chest cleanly, without a chance to practice on animals first.
The guards delivered the last girl into the hands of Burg and Stlug, who guided her to the altar. He hoped the two of them could handle her if she thrashed.
Then the girl looked at him and gave a nervous smile. He looked away uneasily. He'd rarely seen a girl smile before. Then she spoke.
"Mr. Priest, sir, you know, I had a vision last night. I thought, you know, the reason we get sacrificed is so the Sun God will be pleased and make the crops grow and the flocks increase. But He came to me in my dream and said, 'This is a fertility rite. The priest must fertilize you before he sacrifices you.' So I thought I should, like, tell you, because we want to do what the Sun God says, right? I mean, we do want the rains to come on time, right?"
This girl talked just like a human being. Her voice was soft and sweet, and she had a pleasing face. He kept his eyes averted but couldn't help glancing at her. Stlurg and Burg seemed as uneasy as he did. First Plurger dying, and then this girl talking, making sense, making a proposal. This was all very unusual. Glurg weighed the sharp, heavy stone in his hand but did not raise it.
"And, you know, I mean I don't really mind dying and all, but it would seem too bad to get all cut up and bloody and croak if it wasn't really what the Sun God wanted, right? So maybe one of you could fertilize me first? And then kill me later? Besides, I've always kind of wondered what it would be like to get fertilized. Just once, before you kill me."
Fertilize? What did she mean by 'fertilize'? He certainly couldn't ask her -- High Priests knew everything! And while he had held countless girls while Plurger plunged the stone knife into their hearts, he'd never heard one talk like this before. If girls had gazed up into Plurger's face, he'd never noticed it. The idea of plunging the stone into this particular girl's chest and watching while the other two dragged her bloody, lifeless corpse to the chute made him a little sick to his stomach.
He needed to think of something, fast. Something dramatic, and fitting for the High Priest.
He dropped the stone, turned dramatically to the crowd, and raised both hands into the air. "The Sun God commands us to wait!" he intoned. He waited nervously for the crowd's reaction, but he could sense them all relaxing.
"Yessss!" hissed the girl. "Whew! That was close."
"Silence!" intoned Glurg in a low voice.
"Oops ... Sorry," she whispered.
"What do we do with her?" whispered Stlug. "Give her back to the guards?"
"No," said Glurg. "She comes back inside the temple with us."
"A girl, a sacrifice, inside the temple?" asked Stlug with astonishment. No one but priests and acolytes set foot inside the temple. Certainly no female!
Glurg held his ground. "This one is different!" he said. "Just into the anteroom, long enough for us to consider."
The other priests eyed him uneasily, but released the girl and straightened up.
"Follow me," said Glurg to the girl, who scrambled up from the stone with a big smile.
"Cool!" she said, grinning and bouncing on her feet.
"But act dignified, for the Sun God's sake!" he murmured to her.
"Oh, sorry," she said, and assumed the same solemn mask as the others.
Glurg led the way, the girl followed, and the two other priests came behind.
When they were in the private room behind the altar area, out of sight of everyone, Glurg turned to face the girl and the other priests.
"Leave us," he said solemnly to the other two. "This girl has had a vision. I must hear it from her before I decide what course is best."
"Um, are you sure?" asked Stlug.
"Do you question me?" That was a bold move, since he hadn't been elected as the next High Priest. But he was pretty sure they all shared the understanding that he was going to be next.
"See to the body of our departed High Priest," he said, and the two slunk away, looking back over their shoulders. "Lay him out in the courtyard."
"Sit!" said Glurg to the girl, pointing to a woven mat.
She did as asked. He sat down on the other mat, the two of them on adjoining sides of the low, square table.
"So, tell me this dream again."
"OK, sure, Mr. Priest." She repeated what she'd said before, but then elaborated. "He said he appreciated offering him virgins and all, but he's just not as horny as he used to be, and, well, um, he has trouble getting it up for a corpse, you know."
'Horny'? 'Get it up'? What did she mean? Was this village slang? He nodded gravely.
She paused. "So, since he isn't fertilizing the girls any more, he thought, um, someone else should do it. Like probably the High Priest! So if that's what Mr. God said to do, then we really ought to do it, don't you think?"
When Glurg didn't answer, she continued, "And for me, too, I hoped you could, you know, fertilize me first, so at least I'd know what it was like before you plunge that damned -- oops! -- plunge that blessed, sacred stone into my chest and offer my spirit to the Sun God."
This impertinent thing! She was just a girl! A sacrifice -- little better than an animal. Why was she talking like this? And why was she so -- interesting?
"So, um, are you willing to fertilize me? I mean, I'm not bad looking, right?" She batted his eyelashes at him.
He sat, impassive, then stalled. "And just how do you propose that I fertilize you?"
"Oh! Um, well, any way you like. I mean, I can lie down and do it that way, or you can do it from behind like the goats do. Or anything."
Glurg had no idea what she was talking about. But his penis was getting hard under his robes. Why on earth was it doing that? Years before, when he was turning from boy to man, he had learned that his penis got hard, and sometimes when he woke up in the morning there was this sticky stuff on it. But it had never gotten hard before when he was with another person.
He was running out of ways to hide his ignorance. "Show me," he said.
"Show you what?"
"How this fertilizing should be done. The Sun God wants you to show me."
"Huh? Don't you know what fertilizing is? You know, sex? Fucking? Making babies?"
Glurg still had no idea what she was talking about.
"I am a priest, and know priestly things," he said lamely.
"Oh!" she said, smiling. "You don't know about making babies? Whoa! I can't believe a fellow could make it to High Priest without knowing the facts of life." She pointed at him and giggled.
"Enough!" he said sternly, aware that his face was turning a little red.
Apparently remembering that she was trying to stay alive a little longer, she sobered quickly and said, "Very well, Mr. Right Honorable Most Blessed High Priest. We will do as the Sun God commands."
She thought a moment. "If there was someplace with a thicker mat that would be nice. Are there thicker mats downstairs?"
"No! I mean Yes, but not for you." Why was he feeling all tongue-tied? "It is heresy enough to have you inside the temple at all. You may not go further within."
Glurg waved his hand, encouraging the girl to continue, but she was staring off into space. "Show me," he finally said.
"You really don't know how a man fertilizes a woman?"
"I know things you can only dream of!" he said, trying to keep his dignity.
"OK, OK," she said, thoughtfully. "Well, you know, I really am a virgin. The Sacrifice Selection Committee got that part right. So I'm kinda going on what I've seen. Like peeking in on my mother and father sometimes. I hope the Sun God isn't too mad at me about that?"
"No, that is of no concern to the Sun God," said Glurg, happy to have the conversation touch on an area of his expertise.
"OK, well, I pull up my dress and pull down my underthing, and lie back, kind of like this," she said.
The girl did, and ... Glurg felt himself grow dizzy. She was a freak! Instead of a penis and sack of balls, there was ... nothing at all! A little hair, and some kind of little slit, or something. Did they cut the penis off these girls before they brought them to be sacrificed? He'd always wondered what 'virgin' meant. Did it mean with penis and balls cut off? He stared.
"Mr. Priest," she said, "I mean Mr. Holy High Priest. Haven't you ever seen a girl before? Down here?"
Glurg couldn't make himself shake his head. He just looked. He could tell she was trying not to laugh. While he'd held down countless struggling girls and then hauled their limp corpses to the stone chute, he'd never seen under their undergarments. That would have been the worst sort of sacrilege.
"There's a hole here," she said, pointing. "You pull your robe off, then come up here on top of me..."
As his robe opened, his erect penis, as engorged and hard as it had ever been, stood straight out.
"Whoa," she said, eying it, and gulped. Then he saw the girl hesitate and look thoughtful, then suddenly brighten. "In my dream, the Sun God said something else. He said that if the priest man had a wonderful, good feeling while he was fertilizing me, that would mean I was a special girl who shouldn't be sacrificed but allowed to go back to her family."
Occasionally a girl was sent away, though Glurg never knew why Plurger chose to do that. But Glurg's mind was reeling with unfamiliar feelings. There was something very familiar, very right about climbing onto this girl, about his penis being big and hard like this.
"Now you stick your big wiener right at my hole, and you push in."
He lowered himself onto this amazing, foreign, wonderful creature -- this girl -- their thighs actually touching. How weird! How disgusting! How absolutely wonderful and right! He lowered himself onto the girl, his stiff penis smushed off to the side.
"Oh," she said. "Down a little lower," said the girl. "Move your body down ... Now I'll take your meat and aim it, like this..." She felt fingers on his penis. "Now push..."
Glurg pushed. His penis tip pressed against hair, but there was a softness there too. He pressed again, and his tip compressed.
"Harder!" said the girl, "Push really hard!"
He did, and suddenly the hair and skin down between the girl's legs parted, and his penis tip was touching wetness. Could that be right?
He shifted a little to get a better angle, then pressed again.
He was dimly aware of the girl wincing and sucking in her breath, but mostly he was aware that his penis had somehow penetrated into the girl's body, and it was wet. The sensations going through his body were fantastic. As if of its own will, his body took up a rhythm, sliding his penis out a little, then shoving it in, out and in, out and in. Fantastic pleasure filling his head. And then suddenly a wave of pleasure seized him and he groaned. What the heck was that! He was dimly aware of his penis twitching. He was panting heavily, even though he hadn't done any work to speak of.
"There!" she said. "That's it. That's how it's done."
Glurg pulled up off the girl, his penis sliding out of her, then he sat beside her on the mat, chest still heaving.
She was smiling at him. "I always wondered what it would be like." She looked down between her legs, where Glurg saw a slit, now definitely wet -- wet with blood. "They say there's blood the first time," she said. "It actually hurt a bunch -- but a whole lot less than that wicked sharp stone would on my chest, I bet!"
Glurg just sat, looking at her. She didn't at all seem like the sort of creature that needed a stone shoved into her heart.
"And did you get that good feeling? The sign from the gods?"
That feeling! What was that feeling? It had been the most amazing pleasure he'd ever experienced.
"Oh, goody! That means I'm not supposed to get killed. I'm really happy!" And the girl scrambled to her knees and threw her arms around the High Priest, pressing her lips to his cheek and hair over and over. This was terribly impertinent of her! He was certainly glad no one was watching. It also felt very good.
"So, hmmm, do I go free?"
"No, not yet," he said. This girl's dream prophecy had been spectacularly accurate. How could she have known he would feel amazing pleasure of a totally new kind just as he fertilized her? And then there was how he felt about her. Surely there was something divine in this girl. Certainly there was no way he could plunge that stone into her chest.
But he still needed some way to fit this remarkable girl and the stunning events of the past hour into the rituals and customs of the temple. It would be hard, but at least he was the High Priest -- he hoped.
"Wait here," he said, rising, and fastening his robe again. His penis was soft and small now so as not to make an unsightly bulge.
But he turned to her. "Do you have ... a name?"
"A name? Of course I have a name, Mr. priest. I'm Ouiooee".
He'd never heard of a name like that. "Weeawee?"
"No, silly -- oops!" she said covering her mouth and giggling. "Almost, Mr. High Priest... 'Ouiooee'."
"Ouiooee," he said. Despite himself, he smiled at her for a second before turning away.
He walked down the steps to the senior priests' common room. As he expected, Stlug and Burg were waiting for him. They rose and looked at him expectantly.
"We have received a sign," he said. "The Sun God is telling us we need to change our ways."
"What? What did that ... that girl ... tell you?" asked Stlurg, spitting out the word.
"She showed me --" Glurg decided to approach the subject warily. "You know all about fertilization, of course," he said.
The two looked at him blankly.
"How babies are made?"
The two continued to stare. Good! They were as ignorant as he.
He decided this was the moment to solidify his claim. "Is it agreed, I am the new High Priest?"
The two nodded dumbly. Once it was agreed, his word was absolute. The life of anyone in the land was forfeit if he snapped his fingers -- and that included both of them.
"Then let us gather and announce it at once."
The gong was sounded and all the priests and acolytes gathered.
"As you see, the Sun God has called the holy High Priest Plurger back to him -- may he rest in peace." He motioned to where the great priest's corpse lay on a bier in the courtyard. An elaborate ritual was called for, but it could wait. "And the Sun God has chosen a new High Priest."