The young girl’s eyes were squeezed shut and her slight figure trembled as she knelt on the ledge overhanging the Sacred Cenote, the stone well of sacrifice whose opaque waters had filled her dreams since the High Priest had spoken to her father. A heartbeat away the ledge ended in a sheer sixty-foot drop to the dim green surface of the water.
She opened her eyes just enough to see the priest towering over her. His headdress of sweeping bright-blue quetzal feathers stood out against the pale brilliance of the full moon. Chanting, he extended his right arm heavenward. She squinted at the semicircle of figures in the darkness around her. Where was her mother?