It’s an honor. I can’t believe how lucky I was. They choose 32 others before they even thought of me. Not even 32 – they picked the 33 Sacrifices but somebody refused; I wasn’t told who, but technically that makes me 34. I can’t imagine why anyone would refuse, but they did, and now here I am; talk about being blessed. The old ritual hanged the Chosen by wrists and ankles, but lower is easier for the Sacrifices. Our legs are strong, especially the back two, but they aren’t very long. Between that and dipping our heads to aim, we often missed and ended up gouging off a leg, sometimes both legs, and the Chosen bled-out during the ceremony. After that happened enough times, they started sitting them directly on the ground. Most of them scream. Some cry. A few fight and run. Not the prince. He crossed his legs and steeled his back as if having 33 horns ran through him was the most natural thing in the world. His face was like stone except once when 17’s horn caught on something inside and wouldn’t go through. The prince’s face paled; blood pulsed from the wound in long spurts as 17 pulled the tusk back out. Warriors grabbed the prince’s arms and held him immobile while 17 impaled him a second time. What an incompetent buffoon — 17 didn’t even make it to the sacred circle before dying. That won’t happened to me. I’m not embarrassing myself like that; uh-uh; no-way. My parents are here somewhere; they promised they would be, but my vision is too blurry to pick out anybody in this crowd. It’s such a huge turnout. Wait, wait, I’m next. Okay. Deep breath. Deep breath. Here goes. For God, the Empire, and Eternity within the Holy Prince!
Based on the National Geographic photo that goes with this article: http://bit.ly/2yKnQ8A (Admittedly a flight of fancy)