“But why must we murder our own people to appease the gods?” argued the young king.
“Do not question the traditions of our ancestors,” replied the high priest.
“On the shortest night
of the missing moon,
when bright Nergal rises
over the horizon,
the blade must fall.”
The two walked slowly toward the row of frightened victims as the familiar constellations moved in the night sky. The executioner waited for the king’s command…
It did not come.
The king whispered wonderingly, “Nergal has not appeared.” Then loudly, joyfully, “The gods have spoken—our people shall no longer be sacrificed!”