Saramok, the Goddess of the West Sound Marshes was angry. Spring had missed the last ferry from the Swan’s Quarter and no mosquito harvest was reaped. How were the people to know she was bitter? Her rage, so vital and yet undetectable in the ever changing winds, frightened the mice who came to play backgammon on the steps of the local food pantry. Because they were small, people paid little notice to mice addicted to a Byzantine board game. It was not until the eve of the eve of the last quarter moon that Saramok’s acrimony became clear to the entire village. In the night, teams of local fisher-dwarfs were dispatched along the shore of eastern sea. This annual festival, dating from ancient days, pitted humanity against the sea gods to see who might remove the most and mightiest creatures from our darkened waters. Through the nocturnal hours they waited and no fish were caught or creature came forth. The ocean waters of the east were barren. Saramok, Goddess of the Western Marshes, was angry.
What does one do when the sea offers nothing but a place in which to see your own reflection? The elders of the village gathered in a hastily formed council with the conveners of the festival. How does one fish with no fish and an angry goddess lurking the shores of the western sound? Outragoth the Elder spoke for many in the community, “An offering to the Goddess needs to be made.” Yes, this seemed obvious. “Outragoth,” asked Tourisatha, “what kind of offering do you propose? The mosquito offering was sparse, we have no grain, and the mice left once the meeting began.”
“Well, whose turn is it to die?” asked Wellmeanthsuggestionth. Yes, Wellmeanhtsuggestionth was proposing the idea of human sacrifice. Good ideas, had been sacrificed before on the altar of the God “Proggesor”. No one had ever made a human sacrifice to Saramok, the Goddess of the West Sound Marshes.
In days before recorded history, the prophets on the north end of the island proscribed many rules for the villagers living on the southern tip. Without the prophets of the northern kingdom, the southerners wouldn’t know where to live, how many ducks to rear in October, or what to sell the voyagers who journeyed to the island after the Summer Solstice. Despite their dependency on the northern prophets and having established a functioning society based on these rules, no one had ever covered, “What happens if Saramok the Western Sound Marsh Goddess becomes angry and the fish of the Eastern Ocean stop biting during the festival?” Now, some wanted to sacrifice a person to guarantee more fish. Was anyone opposed to this idea? Perhaps we could reason with Saramok?
“Does anyone know her tastes in food or if she even likes human flesh?” asked Youthor, one of younger members of the village. “We can’t assume she like people if we’ve never sent her a menu, so to speak. Isn’t a bit presumptuous to think that just because she’s a God she’ll be appeased by dead people?”
Youthor had a valid point. We might alienate Saramok even further by seeming rude and arrogant and immediately jumping to human sacrifice as our default choice. Surely, there had to be some other way to please a god than by killing something? It was a novel idea but people were having trouble holding on to the concept.
Suggestions were flying in from all over the place. “Has anyone thought of this,” asked Commonsensthia, “maybe the fish not biting on the Eastern Ocean side has nothing to do with what’s happening on the Western Marshes. Could it be that the fish simply aren’t biting because of how cold it’s been in the air, the water, and the fish are swimming somewhere else in the sea? Besides, I’m not sure there’s even a Goddess on the Western Marshes. I was over there all day yesterday. I caught plenty of fish.”
Outragoth raised his hand, “Well friends, I think we’ve volunteer. Congratulations Commonsensthia, you’re our first human sacrifice.”