A young woman huddled against a massive fir tree, blinked once as a flashlight glared in her face. Her eyes shone dully with opium-induced dreams. Gentle hands guided her to her feet, giving her the respect and honor one about to be sacrificed to Satan deserved.
She offered no resistance, her dreams, her fantasies, and the master’s power of delusions, half-truths, and false promises keeping at bay the reality that would soon engulf her. Her long white robes, unstained and pure, trailed about her feet as she crossed into the pentagram and lifted her face to the high priestess.
“Daughter, are you ready?”
She nodded, unable to speak, a wistful smile lifting the corners of her mouth.
Chants rose on the night wind, guttural, dark, and demanding. The moans of the dead and damned joined the chorus as the master’s power flowed once again, unhindered. Two priests, their bloody animal skins long since discarded, lifted the girl to the cross. Silk cords, dripping with kerosene, bound her arms to the cross bar. Her feet hung free and limp.
“Master! Accept our sacrifice this night. Accept this willing, untouched girl. Accept her blood, her life as tribute to your power, your right to rule. Accept, O Master and grant us, your servants, the power that is yours to command.”
The high priestess finished her invocation and lowered her voice and arms. Her chants joined the others’ as she reached for the center candle, re-lit it with a word, and held its flame to the cross. Eager, hungry flames soared up the kerosene-soaked wood. The chants gathered volume and strength, effectively drowning out the girl’s agonized screams.