Her arms are raw and specking blood; friction caused by the ropes used to hold her down. They wind up until her elbow, one wrong pull could yank her bones out of their sockets. Her arms are spread wide, feet pulled apart. She resembles a star, a fallen star, lying upon a stone circle, limbs tied to pillars. The red satin draped around her makes no difference, not enhancing anything but for her decency. Another square of fabric is pinned to the wall, among the hundreds of others. She is just another little girl used for the tradition. She is no different.
The rest of the people like me stand by their stations. Masked and solemn, they are too used to the tradition to be appalled. They know it is a requirement of the ancient prophecy, one girl each year. The same time, the same date. One girl, that's all it needs. Just one girl, and ten members of the order. Members who are too numbed by death to be afraid of it. Members willing to kill young girls. Members like me.
She tries to sit up, but the ropes hold her back. She whimpers and calls for her mother. We move closer towards her, saying our chants, holding our candles. It's my turn to hold the knife; my turn to complete the ritual. The four members beside the pillars start their work, they pull on the ropes.
The girl screams right on cue, her limbs stretch outwards, the gripping ropes pull them apart, breaking them, joint by joint. Each cracking sound is amplified, each bone dislocation is magnified. Her shrieks don't fade, they get louder. Her tears don't stop, they come faster.
Her arms and legs have finally broken apart from her body, this is where I come in. I raise the dagger above her, it doesn't matter anymore, her screams died out, the tears stopped flowing. Her eyes are still open, black pupils stare at me, asking me how I could commit myself to such an Order.
I hate her for making me question my devotion.