Torches burned around the village of the Dog tribe, so named because of the wild beasts prevalent in their region.
Four torches blazed in both in tribute and to illuminate their only god, Yekunga. Squarish in design, the abominable amalgamation of man and dog, stood five and a half cubits (2.5 metres) tall. Its shoulders supported the head of a dog, it’s brows permanently furrowed. The eyes always looked down on its followers with anger and contempt. Jagged teeth forever showed in the gaps of Yekunga’s curled lips. Bellow them, it had the form of a man, supporting a bowl meant for sacrifices in its upturned hands.
All the villagers looked on the priest, Sodnammoc, who demanded yet again for a sacrifice to a god who could never be sated. They stood in cowed silence as he delivered another tirade with such vehemence that it filled them with both fear and revulsion. None dared challenge him on the slightest issue, even their chieftain, Velhaf. He addressed the dog tribe in the authority of their god, and also the most formidable man with a tribesman’s axe.
Sodnammoc paced laterally between Yekunga and the villagers. Every now and then he stopped in the light of the torches to face them. On such a moonless night, it only made him more menacing. He wore clothing all made from dog pelts which had hunted himself. Quite a feat, as usually one who strayed too far from the village alone ended as a meal for the dogs.
His dog pelt boots left a track in the ground from his pacing. Atop his brow, he wore a cowl, skinned from a dog’s head and a skin loincloth. In a holster dangling from his belt, a Nusallean tribesman’s axe brushed his thigh. Every Nusallean male had one of them presented to them as a boy. Most were handed down through the generations; a multipurpose tool for chopping wood, hunting, throwing for sport, and on the rare occasion, duelling to the death. As a result, every Nusallean man became expert in its use. The axes were short hafted, hand bound in leather, double edged, and with spiked tips.
“… and so more of us have died from drought this summer!” said Sodnammoc.
“Only one from drought,” said Lekkel the tanner. “Morsen died from a snake bite.”
Sodnammoc glared in a such a way in the torchlight as to resemble Yekunga’s.
“Do you truly think the god of the dogs can kill by drought alone?”
Lekkel looked down, before Sodnammoc’s menacing gaze shifted to the gathered faces.
“There will be more deaths yet! Some of you have seen the dogs already; even by day! Yekunga is allowing them to move closer! It is for our sins that he has done this!”
“But we have sacrificed every year,” protested Belaizma, Velhaf’s wife. “Why can he still be angry?”
“It is for the sins you do in private.”
Sodnammoc took a step closer, bowing every head in his immediate vicinity.
“It is for every bit of malice you hold in your hearts.”
“Then what can we do?” asked Velhaf.
Sodnammoc regarded the chieftain.
“You know what must be done. We will sacrifice another to appease him.”
All gasped, leading to fearful murmurs.