******* Part two of the Temple interview **********
Roman Times: Still, you must have a busy schedule having to personally carry out all sacrifices?
High Priestess: You have no idea. Things were bad enough for the high priestess when all she had to do was a few ritualistic chants and waving of the knife or sword before plunging it in. Now, thanks to visions seen by several seers about 150 years ago things are much more time consuming.
Roman Times: How so?
High Priestess: It seems the gods were no longer satisfied with the usual heart plunging or dismemberments and beheadings. They made it known they also desired the high priestess to cut out the heart and hold it up while still beating.
Roman Times: Wow! That must take time!
High Priestess: Correct. And Juno help me if the ritual knife involved is dull. You have no idea how many “do-overs” I have to perform. Of course we have plenty of virgins; it’s the extra time and scroll-work that gets me.
Roman Times: I can understand that. Wouldn’t do to have a half performed sacrifice.
High Priestess: Exactly. Then there are other newer requirements such as having to drink the blood of the sacrifices. Fortunately there are only a couple of gods who demand this extra step. You have no idea how fattening human blood can be. I make sure to use the thinner virgins for those. I also put them on special diets to improve the taste.
Roman Times: That makes sense. Another example of the scientific nature of what you do.
High Priestess: That’s a good observation. I’m glad to see some of you out there can think. Ever consider becoming a Seer?
Roman Times: I don’t think so. All I have are the usual, run of the mill slave beating dreams. I think the most prophetic dream I ever had was needing a gutter in which to pee and not being able to find one. [the high priestess laughed here].
High Priestess: Yes, that’s a common dream for us all. Of course, if I wet my bed, it simply gets cleaned up and the workers who do the cleaning beheaded. Then a couple of other girls have to clean that up and have to be strangled afterwards.
Roman Times: I see. Is that the usual sequence for such things?
High Priestess: Yes, my personal life must be kept secret to all but a few, and they have their tongues cut out when coming to the temple.
Roman Times: Makes sense. Naturally, you never wet your bed. That was just a “what-if.”
High Priestess: Right. [the high priestess winked at me here]
Roman Times: I understand the temple has undergone extensive renovations just recently?
High Priestess: Oh yes. Once the Senate understood what a massive job it was for just one person to the sacrifices, day in and day out, they ordered an enlargement with new altars.
Roman Times: Tell me about that.
High Priestess: Well, we used to do all our work off just one marble altar. Sort of a that’s-how-it’s-always-been-done thing. Now, I am as much of a traditionalist as the next high priestess, but there was nothing in the rules that said it had to be that way. So, I lobbied for additional funds and got them. They added to the sacrifice hall and installed several new offering stations. This was a great time saver. Now the high priestess can simply move from one station to the next to carry out a particular sacrifice. All the proper ritual knives are there, in the proper order ready to go. I can finish up a simple plunge-and-rip sacrifice, and move on to plunge-rip-and-hold-the-beating-heart sacrifice without missing a stroke or having to wait for the altar to be “reset.” By the time I have finished a dismemberment-and-beheading sacrifice, the first skinning-alive sacrifice is ready to go. In addition, each station is specially constructed to make the type sacrifices on it go as quickly as possible, including the cleanup. After I am through with the last station, the first is ready with the next girl.
Roman Times: That is efficient.
High Priestess: Yes. I don’t know how else it could reasonably be done, given the number of sacrifices which are required each day.
Roman Times: Let me turn to another topic which has gotten a lot of chisel these days … illegal immigrants.
High Priestess: Oh dear don’t get me started.
Roman Times: That bad?
High Priestess: Well, not for me personally. We always get the cream of the virgin crop as it were.
Roman Times: Of course.
High Priestess: But those illegal workers in the virgin trade have put a glut of cheap labor in the marketplace. Sacrifice Temples are springing up all over the place just to meet the demand for quickie appeasements.
Roman Times: And that’s bad I take it?
High Priestess: Oh yes. If people think the gods will be satisfied with blood offerings made at all hours of the day and night in the back room of some VII-XI, they are sadly mistaken. And the quality of those things. I have gotten reports of the virgins actually flinching before the knife is plunged in.
Roman Times: And that’s also bad?
High Priestess: You better believe it. It shows a last moment regret in being a sacrifice. I have even heard some virgins have had to be tied down to the table and gagged to keep the screaming down to a reasonable level.
Roman Times: That’s incredible.
High Priestess: It is. I have to wonder if they were volunteers at all. I would not put it past the black market virgin traders to throw a few unwilling girls into the mix. You never know what you’re getting when you deal with them. If one of my virgins did anything like that, Zeus would strike me and the whole temple down at once. I guess he lets it go in those places because they are only “playing” at sacrifice. Naturally, the ones who are slaughtered slowly and painfully tend to scream quite a bit, but I see that as just a bonus for the gods. Besides, I wear earplugs.
Roman Times: I wondered why the gods would allow such faux temples.
High Priestess: That’s my best guess anyway. Who knows why the gods do anything. Nor is our place to do so. We simply carry out their will as seen in visions.
Roman Times: That’s as it should be. So this glut of illegal workers has not affected you at all?
High Priestess: Not really. There are still plenty of wealthy and important families willing to give up a daughter or two to insure the prosperity of the rest of the family. At least they still have a sense of civic pride. The poor have no idea how much they owe the rich. All they do is complain every time they get whipped for not paying their taxes. Such ingratitude never ceases to amaze me.
Roman Times: I can understand that.
High Priestess: And our army has been doing so well with conquest and plundering that we seem to have a never ending supply of virgins from foreign royal families. That source is even better as we can sacrifice the whole lot of daughters.
Roman Times: How do you get them to be cooperative? They certainly don’t sign up for it?
High Priestess: No, but you would be amazed at how many are ready to die once we tell them their whole family and all their relatives have been put to the sword. Plus, we have an extensive training program. We treat all the virgins here with the utmost respect and provide them lavish accommodations with servants for their every need. There are daily lessons in obedience and acceptance. There is rarely the need for lashings or any punishments as have happened in the past. We prefer a more modern approach using psychological indoctrination. When their time comes they are ready.
Roman Times: Do you use drugs?
High Priestess: Never. Well, we do when we are testing with slaves sometimes. Although even there it can be easy enough for a slave to be fooled into believing she is a real sacrifice. With the actual sacrifices, we rely on persuasion and good care. Trust me, we have had centuries to perfect our methods and they are very effective. The gods want the offerings to be aware and willing. That’s what we want too.
Roman Times: How do the virgins arrive?
High Priestess: Mostly by foot, on their own or in the company of family. Some in cages. Some are even shipped in a large barrel, about 5 to a container. Instead of per-dozen as we usually count virgins, the term “barrels” of virgins has become popular. It’s really catching on as the “in” term. I even use it from time to time. I would say we need X-barrels virgin flow per day to satisfy our needs. Some say we could run out of foreign virgins someday. Maybe so, but few seem willing to increase the domestic supply with. I suppose when the price-per-barrel gets to a certain point, it might become economically feasible. Some have even proposed alternative virgin sources, such as “virgin farming.”
Roman Times: Virgin Farming? Don’t they take a long time to grow?
High Priestess: Yes they do. That’s the biggest hurdle to that scheme. I suppose if they can get enough for them, the expense for keeping them alive for that long might be worth it. Perhaps if they start with an 6 or 7 year old “sapling” they could make a go of it. Of course, so many willing illegal alien virgin sacrifice workers tends to bring down the price-per-dozen value of the girls, but quality always fetches a good price. And we always pay well.
Roman Times: You pay for virgins?
High Priestess: Not all. But some girls are so lovely we feel the gods would be especially pleased with them. So the government “condemns” them for the greater good and we get a “right of having our way” with them. Naturally, as with the cases in which the government condemns land for public use, the owner, if important enough, must be compensated. This practice has led to the selling of the most beautiful of the prospects by the families. In many cases, such a sale brings them up a whole class. Where quality is concerned the temple spares no expense.
Roman Times: I can see that just by looking around this room.
High Priestess: Thank you, I decorated it myself.
Roman Times: No? Really? It’s wonderful.
High Priestess: Isn’t it though? You don’t know how many private sacrifices I had to perform just to get a vision of the color scheme from the gods.
Roman Times: I can imagine. May I ask what got you interested in becoming a high priestess?
High Priestess: It’s kind of funny, really. It started when I was 13. My mother brought me to a high holy day to witness my first sacrifices. I hate to admit it now, but I was actually appalled back then.
Roman Times: That’s hard to believe given your duties.
High Priestess: I know. Still, I became instantly enamored with the costumes and fabulous gold and precious stone jewelry the high priestess got to wear. From then on I made it my goal to become the next high priestess. I started the next day killing the female servants. My dad was furious. Here was his little angel, covered in blood and trying to read entrails.
Roman Times: Ha ha, I can just picture that!
High Priestess: Wasn’t funny to my father. “Do you think slaves grow on fig trees?” he demanded in oh so proper tones. Fortunately mom knew what it was all about and got me some cheap or used slaves on the side for me to practice with. It wasn’t like I was wasting men or anything, these were just females, and you know how useless we really are. I often wonder why the men put up with us. I guess it’s all about the babies. They have to have those heirs, bless their hearts.
Roman Times: So you came from a well to do family?
High Priestess: Of course. All high priestesses do. I would parade around in my costumes and fake jewels one of our slaves made for me, being so deadly serious pretending to be high priestess. My dad could not help laughing when I gutted another slave and had my usual hard time removing her organs. Ah, I so loved my parents. They were very supportive. It was such a shame when I had to put them both to death, as was necessary for the high priestess to do upon accepting the office. They were wonderfully understanding though. I think mom even had tears in her eyes when I chanted the oath of office just before I ripped her from breastbone to groin. I know she was proud of her little “Bloodlust.”
Roman Times: I see it still makes you tear up even now.
High Priestess: Yes. We are not without feelings despite what the public thinks of us.
Roman Times: Is that where you got your name?
High Priestess: Yes, Octavia the Bloody just seemed to fit.
Roman Times: I believe that does it for me. Thank you for some of your valuable time.
High Priestess: It is my pleasure. I only hope the public can get a better understanding of our purpose when they read your scroll.
Roman Times: I feel sure they will. After this, I believe I will be looking at my daughters more carefully with an eye to possible sacrifice-hood.
High Priestess: Well, if they are anything like their mother, I’m sure they will make fine offerings. Besides, you know someone on the inside now. I can put in a good word for you if you like.
Roman Times: I would be honored.
High Priestess: Of course you would. All right then, I’ll have one of my mute servants show you out and have this room sanctified of your unholy presence with a couple of impaling sacrifices. Thank you for coming.