THE Arena was filled to the brim at sunrise the next day. In the olden Jaiye city-state.
Every clan and every community of the entire Jaiye nation was present at the all-important assembly of people.
Except only the outpost community at Koje.
The Koje people were never to be invited to that kind of meeting. Nor were they even aware of the assembly; even though it was dubbed a general assembly.
The great ruler and warlord of the affluent Jaiye kingdom was present at the grand assembly.
King Obade was seated at the exalted stage on one of his seven Imperial Stoneseats. The royal seat was hewn out of a single mass of rock.
And every time imperial events were not holding at the Arena, the arena’s Stoneseat was always secured with a huge box made out of teakwood.
The governing chiefs of the kingdom sat on royal caneseats behind King Obade, and in long rows and columns.
Ragun the war chief was also present among the chiefs.
The evening before that day, Ragun had stormed out of the palace assembly amid the firsthand briefing about the new sacred order to be announced to the public today.
But now the elderly warrior had accepted that he shouldn’t have gotten so furious about what he never even waited long enough to hear of its conclusion.
Ragun only knew so far that the rare white horses which every clan always spent a fortune to donate for the yearly sacrifice would no longer be sufficient.
And the old man had thrown tantrums and stormed out of the royal assembly just the day before.
But now, he promised himself to stay as quiet as a lamb at the people’s assembly here. And to listen to the announcement from the chief priest all the way through.
‘Let horses and stallions be for play and for battles…’
Jakan’s voice boomed from the stage via the voice amplifying device, made out of the horn of a male buffalo.
The old priest announced a new sacred order regarding the all-important sacrifice made during Jaiye’s annual festival. The Festival of Earth Purity.
The announcement was a religious decree that was already endorsed by the crown. It was stipulated to be instituted in the kingdom from the moment the verdict would be passed.
Jakan the Chief Priest announced to the dignified people of the wealthy nation, that the white horses sacrificed every year could no longer be sufficient to cleanse the land.
He further explained, ‘And so, we as a people are required to do something much more than what we have been doing.
‘Yes, we are required to offer a sacrifice bigger than what we’ve been offering.’
Jakan’s words suddenly sparked a flame of fear and fury among his several many listeners.
A swelling air of murmurs rose and drifted across the rows of audience seated under the fading morning stars, in that grand arena.
Jaiye was a peculiar kingdom in which existed no paupers nor minions among its citizenry. If one would only choose to exclude Koje Outpost.
Jaiye was a prosperous realm, yes. One where the people were almost no less glorious and gracious than how the nobles themselves were.
It was a fortified territory, too. Where every son of the soil bore within his skull the mindset of a lord and a commander-in-chief.
So, Jaiye wouldn’t take the nonsense the chief priest was spewing out.
The angry murmurs of the assembly of people continued in a rumbling noise.
Amid the prolonged murmurs, pebbles of questions appeared to be hurled at the elderly priest.
An adult voice yelled at a distance. ‘If horses and stallions be only for play and battles, what then would man use for the yearly sacrifice?’
The feeble voice soon faded into the pool of noisy protests around.
Another younger voice rose above the clamour. ‘As if our horses aren’t enough demands already!’ the voice cried out and drew an uproar after it.
As the uproar subsided, an angry young scream sparked up some furious flames anew.
The little voice yelled. ‘What’s so dirty on our earth that just the blood of our precious white horses isn’t enough to cleanse every year, huh? Tell us, huh!’
Chief Ragun himself was as restless as the people where he sat on the noble stage.
But the other elderly man Jakan stood still amid the people’s impatient agitation.
White horses were always slaughtered in large numbers for the annual sacrifice.
Each year, every clan in the entirety of Jaiye kingdom was saddled with the burden of donating a white horse for sacrifice at the Festival of Earth Purity.
For the people of Jaiye, the ritual meant not just the sacrifices of horses’ regal blood… but also that of their own costly sweat.
For the natural white horse is a peculiar kind of horse, and is both rare and of great cost.
And just when the Jaiye nation were already bleeding their sweat, the chief priest was making a bigger demand.
Yet no one was patient to know exactly what that bigger sacrificial offering would be.
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