To make their gift special, the boy whose blood was to pay for prosperity was anointed king for a day.
Ceremonies, feasts, and gifts made for a spectacular climax to a relatively short life. The dizzying experience and sense of duty were opiates that dulled the boy’s suppressed dread of the main event.
By nightfall, the boy was laying on an altar, stripped of the kingly robes and ceremonial ornaments of power. The real king had returned to take it all back. The boy’s tear filed eyes were staring up at the point of a dagger clutched in the hands of a high priest.
This last moment was the longest of his life. The …