(Be sure to read Part One before you read any further.)
There was a time when a sacrifice to the god Nuak was a regular part of life for the Great Nuakta people. The regularity of these sacrifices depended on the moon. Modern science calls it the “supermoon”, when the moon is closest to the Earth. We call it “The Rise of Raku”, the brother of our god, Nuak.
Our religion has been called ‘violent and wildly barbaric’, but told a story that spoke to our people for generations. And it was this story that helped shaped our daily lives, and what was to come next. The gods Nuak and Raku were born in the sky. Nuak reached out his hands and grabbed the Sun and Earth. They were his birthright, his playthings, his place. What was left was the Moon. Raku reluctantly held onto it. But every so often, Raku would lean in, towards the Earth and Sun, in an attempt to steal them from his brother.
Rather than fight back against his brother, and destroy the Moon, Nuak wisely gave his people a ritual, a religious experience that would show Raku the order of things. When the Moon leans in, we worship our god, Nuak. The realization that Raku is not welcome here, that there is another in his place, repeals him back into the sky. For a time, until the next ‘supermoon’.
Stories such as these were once the conversations that filled our homes and echoed down the pathways of our villages, but no longer. What was normal for millennia was now outlawed. We had moved beyond what was normal now. Outside forces had declared we were set for assimilation or annihilation. So we prepared for the last ‘Rise of Raku’ and the fall of our god, Nuak.
I was selected as the young girl that would be sacrificed. It was to the great honour of my father, and deep sorrow of my mother. Out of the hundreds of girls that made up the Nuakta people, only thirteen were chosen to be examined by the priests.
It was a routine examination, if it had not been the last. For sure, we offered Nuak the most beautiful, the most perfect of our young girls. But this, as the last great sacrifice, the Great Nuakta people decided that the criteria for the sacrifice should be higher. A girl that did not know a lover, a girl with no broken bones, a girl with no scars or burns, a girl they determined was perfect in every way.
The poking and prodding was extensive. While I could rationalize and process why the priests examined every part of my body, what made my sick was the presence of the ‘modern people’. They had moved into our land. They had destroyed our sacred forests to put up their ‘homes’ and ‘labs’. They watched us with their ‘cameras’, even our physical examinations.
They said that this ‘epicentre of all the world’s evil’ should not be forgotten, but ‘examined and understood before we a forgotten people group.’ Our ‘outdated and irrelevant religious and spiritual practises’ suddenly fascinated them, but did not care how offensive their presence was to us. Or to the god Nuak.
When they said these things, there was a look in their eyes. As if what they said was true, but there was so much more to be said. Their truth was like muddied water, life giving but leaving a bad taste in the mouth. It poured out and seemed to corrupt everything. The elders and priests talked with them at great length, trying to figure out what would happen to the Great Nuakta people. I tried to avoid them when I could, said as little as I could get away with. They came offering a peace knife, only to stab us with it.
The ‘modern people’ seemed to understand how I felt about them and kept their distance. They would soon find out exactly how Nuak felt about all this. All of them, the whole ‘modern world.’
Yes, it is true that our sacrifice on the ‘Rise of Raku’ was to remind him of who is in charge of the Earth. It is also to equip the Divine Warrior of Nuak. But we didn’t tell the ‘modern people’ that.
The selection of the last great sacrifice was a lengthy process. Normally, it was a week long examination and dressing, according to a ‘calendar’. But this was not a normal event, and with the added criteria for the perfect sacrifice it took a full moon cycle, or a ‘month’.
The ‘modern people’ insisted on telling us all about their world and how things worked there. They taught us some of their language and ‘concepts’ that we would need to know for when we were assimilated into our new ‘culture’. They said it with so much disgust, as if they preferred that we didn’t assimilate. It was as if they were trying to incite a riot or a fight. Something so that they could be rid of us. It would be us that would be rid of them soon enough.
I didn’t want to be the Divine Warrior. I knew that theirs was a difficult path, and not just the walk towards their sacrifice. It would be bloody. It would be painful. It would be the end of everything that one had known. At the end of the sacrifice ritual, the world would be changed forever.
The selection process started to dwindle down the thirteen girls to four. When my name is called as one of the four, my mother screamed. My father teared up, but held his head high. To lose her only daughter, her only child that brought her joy was proving to be too much for her to bear. Her wailing could be heard for miles as the elder took her into the forests. Those cries for the sparing of my life would be the last things I would hear from my mother.
Then the last great sacrifice was chosen. It was me. But I would do more than die in a ceremony. I would rise. I would become the Divine Warrior, and this ‘modern people’ would know the god Nuak as never before.