The Gong Show
On Being a Xoriat Cult Sacrifice
by Sollein, faithful priestess and vassal of The Sovreign Host
As a preamble, I would like to state for the record that I fully reject any worship of, summoning/raising or trafficking with any manner of creature of a Demonic, Undead, Xoriat, Khyber, (et cetera) nature. Any accusations to contrary are ill informed rumors or slander.
I do not know how I came to be in the cult. My earliest memories are of it. I was one of a great number of children of a similar age, kept largely seperate from the rest of the cult and specially prepared for a very specific purpose. I have not devoted much thought to it, but I consider entirely plausible both the idea that we were purposely bred inside inside the cult by its members, or that we were acquired from outside the cult, being kidnapped from the surronding areas, purchased as slaves or the like. However, musing about how we got there never seemed particularly useful to us, but we all knew why we were there.
We were sacrifices, but we were not to be tied to some alter and passively slaughtered. No, we were in fact active participants. We were each to speak our lines in turn and as we did, the fatal cuts which we performed ourselves would complete the signs which had been burned into our bodies. As the last our life and blood flowed out into the sigil on the floor, when the bells had pealed and the flutes and drums had played, it was to appear.
I do not remember much else from that time beyond the preparation for the ritual, and this much I have tried to forget, but the lines I fear will never leave me. They never made any sense to me and almost did not seem a proper language — more base and broken sounds than actual words, but we were made to learn them. To know them. Day after day we read them and chanted them. For years it seemed, this was virtually our only activity. There were many of us at first, but the lines were slippery things not easily commited to memory. Those who did not show sufficient progress, one by one, were taken from our group without a word, never to be seen by us again. There could be no mistakes for the final recitation on that last day.
Whenever we would encounter one of the cultists who was not one of our handlers, they would simply ask us “Have you spoken the lines today?” It was merely a greeting because they knew that we had, else we would not still be among the prospective sacrifices.
I did learn the lines. Some days, when it is quiet and I am alone, though they are difficult and defy any sensible notion of language, the broken lines find their way to my lips. I swear, it would be better to cut out my tongue than to have to speak them again. However, this is my burden and by The Gods, I will bear it.
The other part we were to simultaneously play in the ritual was to compete the signs which had been branded onto us in an incomplete state as part of the preparation. The process killed several of us outright from infection, and those whose scars did not heal exactly as intended were to no longer be one of the prospective sacrifices. Often a slight variation in the thickness of a single scar was enough for that child to be rejected. These children did not share so quiet a fate as those who could not learn the lines.
Like the spoken lines, we also had to practice the carved lines we were to perform. At first it was in clay. Then it was livestock and other animals. Finally, it was the other children. Their screams, they told us, would help inure us to our own pain when we completed the signs which we bore.
This training seemed to work well enough for whatever it was worth. My memory of the actual ritual after the fighting broke out around me is hazy, but I remember the first of the other children were able to complete their parts before I knew anything was amiss. Also, I can see from my own body that I was able to complete the first of my signs and I am told from those who rescued me that I continued to perform my part unperturbed until I was mercifully knocked unconscious by the arcane feedback as the ritual was disturbed.
They did not explain to us much, so I am at a loss to provide much useful information other than what is already known about the cult. It wasn’t important for us to know anything about what it was they were doing or ultimately intended. They did teach us to read, both the common tongue and the language of the Khyber, but that was only so that we could study the ritual texts in order to properly perform our part at the appointed time. However, they frequently would mention an entity to which the ritual was relevant, and though I still remember the ritual, my lines and the signs which my flesh make it impossible to escape, I cannot remember its name. This name torments me, perpetually on the tip of my tongue, but forever beyond recall.
The one thing they did make a point to tell us is that it has a plan for this world.
A very special plan.