The priestesses waited for the goddess-queens at the top of the pyramid on the shortest day of the year. The fires in the temple complex burned and the stairs were slick with the blood of sacrifice. Every family had brought something to feed to the goddess-queens, to restore their energy for the coming year. For some, it had been animals raised on the fruit of the land. Others had brought slaves captured in battle. For some, though, the only sacrifice they had was that of family; old men and women too weak to work, children in the womb or just one mouth too many.
The blood soaked the pyramid steps and flowed in rivers to the queens chamber. As the sun set, the people gathered around the pyramid and waited. When the moon rose, the goddess-queens appeared on the top of the temple. Covered in blood, they glowed with the power of sacrifice. Past priestesses stepped out of the shadows, clothed in moonlight, and began chanting. The people joined in the chanting, repeating words that had long ceased to have meaning in their everyday language. On this day, at this time, they could feel the meaning in their bones.
There were three goddess-queens and they danced while the people changed, moving to the rhythm of the heartbeats that surrounded them. Their dance moved and flowed over the pyramid and down amongst the people. Those touched by the goddess-queens glowed with power. They would be lucky in the coming year and among those chosen later that night to receive gifts of meat, wine and flesh. The dance became faster and faster as the goddess-queens circled the top of the temple and their priestesses stood with arms spread, welcoming the coming sacrifice.
The chanting ended and they struck, all choosing among the women waiting, offering themselves for the lives of their people and the land that supported them. If their faith was strong, they would rise the next year as hand-maidens to the goddess-queens.
Drained of blood, the bodies were thrown down the pyramid steps to the basins of blood at the bottom, there to lie until the end of the night. As the last body came to a rest, the people cheered and the festival began. They would feast and sing through the night and greet the sun with games. The coming year was guaranteed and the goddess-queens would retire to the pyramid, sated by the blood of their people.
Once the holy days ended, the people would begin the preparations for the next ones. Enemy tribes were sought out and animals were fattened. The goddess-queens ensured life for the next year but it was the kings who would join in the battles and bring life to the land with their seed. The queens had made the land fertile, the kings would make it grow. Where the queens would allow a passive sacrifice, the kings were ready for the hunt.