The ancient priest stood before the assembly and raised his hands high to start a ceremony in an ancient and weathered church lit with so many candles the soot of their burning over the years had darkened the ceiling.
“We have gathered here on this blessed day to create a sacred union,” the old man intoned to the large audience as they stared raptly at him. For the occassion they were their traditional garb. Some of the guests with suitable rank wore their silver robes. The most honored wore tall hats resembling the heads of large open-mouthed fish.
“Since the early time of the church, we’ve used this sacred union to revitalize our community and to show gratitude for our bountiful blessings.”
As the priest spoke six black robed figures stepped from the shadows behind him. Three on the left side and three on the right walked towards the congregation. The flowed around him as he began to recite a litany of names.
“The first to be brought to union was Judith. Through her our numbers grew. After Judith was Desmonna. Vera followed Demonna. Hannah followed Vera.”
The names continued. The old priest would read off 112 names before he was done. The dark robed acolytes stood quietly in front of him waiting for the list of names to be completed before stepping forward and opening a wooden trunk before them.
Inside the trunk a young woman looking no more than twenty years of age with dark hair, dressed in the whitest of white dresses lay bound. She struggled fruitlessly against the ropes holding her wrists tightly together. The fight had drained from her body from hours, days of captivity. Her eyes darted back and forth in a wild effort to adjust to the new light and surroundings. She weakly kicked her feet, but they too were tightly bound together.
“The congregation of our church gather once a generation to celebrate our past and prepare for our future.”
Many in the church strained to see the woman in the crate even though many had participated in this ritual in previous years.
“As we’ve done in the past and as we shall do in the future, we create a sacred union.”
The robed acolytes pulled back their hoods revealing the faces of six men, clean cut, in their thirties. Each of them progeny of the elders of the community, selected for this sacred honor because of their position in the community.
The priest lifted a curved knife from his podium and held to out in his palm to the nearest acolyte to him. The other five acolytes lifted the young woman from the crate and set her on a stone altar. She writhed in their hands in an effort to free herself of their touch.
“The bonds will be cut and the ritual shall begin.”
The acolyte took the knife by its handle and bent over the wooden crate, cutting the ropes around the young woman’s ankles. Her legs feebly kicked out at him. Even though she had been trapped in this wooden box for days, she still had the will to fight back. With another slice, the ropes around her hands fell free and she lashed out.
Her speed shocked the acolyte though he had been prepared for this. He had been told not to underestimate her strength. She had grabbed his wrist, sending the knife tumbling to the floor of the church. Her hand crushed his wrist and she dragged him to her. The other acolytes moved cautiously around her, deftly avoiding her frenzied kicks. They did nothing to stop her from biting into her captive’s neck.
Blood flowed freely from her mouth down her white gown.
The priest continued.
“Six become one. Our daughter Trina shall join the 177 matrons of Lilith on this night and shall lead us as the matrons have always done. We give to her our six strongest, our six most prosperous, our six most virile men to demonstrate our loyalty to her and our commitment to follow her leadership.”
Trina finished supping the blood from the fifth acolyte and turned to the sixth. His fear overcame him and he backed away. The gruesome death of the others weakened his resolve and commitment to the community and church. He backed away from the altar slowly. Trina’s hunger shone in her eyes and the blood of the others gave her new strength.
As the man turned to run, one of the elders wearing a fish head hat, the man’s very own father grabbed him and pushed him back towards Trina who had already closed the distance.
The final moments of the ritual filled the church with the anguish cries of the scion. A bell tolled telling the entire town they once again had a leader and good fortune would continue for another generation.