MolochPosted: December 20, 2012
In the City of (name blotted out), so it is said, the people worship the bronze bull god, Moloch the King. Moloch apparently demands heavy sacrifices and particularly likes children when petitioners come to him asking for big favors (although he will accept adults in a pinch). The usual method of offering to Moloch is to take the child to the temple and place it in the bronze hands of the furnace-like idol. The priests intone their prayers and pull on hidden chains, and, with a creak and a snap of iron gears and the clanging of brass gongs, the mechanical idol will open it’s mouth and the child will be tossed alive into the roaring furnace within. A large orchestra of brass and percussion instruments plays at ear-shattering volume during this performance in order to drown out the screams of the sacrificed (most older priests of Moloch are usually quite deaf; the loud volume of the orchestra is widely believed to be the cause). When the supply of sacrificeable children runs low or the cause to be addressed by the Bull King is less urgent or important, the still beating hearts of humans or animals removed with surgical expertise by priests can be substituted, although Moloch apparently gets quite petulant over these menu substitutions.
For less important requests, various animals, artworks, plants, food, or even gold or silver or jewels may be offered. Some valuables are not tossed into the fire directly but instead accepted by the priesthood and then (we promise) sacrificed in ceremonies open only to members of the priesthood. Somehow, the temples and rectories of Moloch are magnifently opulent places that rival even the palace of the King of M even though the tithes are quite reasonable — another Moloch miracle. There is some speculation that not every item offered in sacrifice makes it into the flames, but somehow Moloch seems to understand. Perhaps the Bull King feels that his priests should live like lords.
The children for sacrifice are usually selected by lottery… a lottery to which no family in the city other than the current royal family is immune. However, even in the City of (name blotted out), wealth has it’s priveledges. The wealthy and powerful are rumored to purchase ‘substitute’ children on the black market in order to protect their own progeny from Moloch’s sacrifice. Since Moloch usually demands the youngest member of a household, the ‘substitute’ is then sacrificed in his place and the child who has been spared will be provided with a new name and a forged certificate of birth. Rather than risk having to scurry about procuring sacrifice substitutions at the 11th hour (a stressful and difficult activity), the most powerful and wealthy routinely simply have a substitute child ‘on deck’ in case their house is chosen in Moloch’s lottery. The kidnapping of infants for sale on the black market and forgery are booming industries in (name blotted out) and it is suggested that if visitors plan on spending any time there, one should be sure not to be the youngest person in any family group.
Theologically speaking, there is no express prohibition in Moloch’s church from providing a substitute, although openly speaking of the fraud in public is considered impolite. The poor deal with this inequality the way that the poor deal with inequality everywhere: they moan and cry and shed impotent tears.
It is thought that the city of (name blotted out) is crazy for lotteries, since the succeeding ‘royal family’ is chosen at random from a dozen noble families upon each king’s death. When the king dies, ivory plaques bearing the seal of all twelve royal families are placed in a sacred bag made from bull’s hide. The high priest chooses one plaque at random and that family becomes the new ruling family, with the eldest male becoming king, the eldest female becoming queen, etc. Other positions are filled by members of the family as the new king sees fit. Unfortunately, this means there is very little continuity in the governance of the city except in the unlikely occurance that the same family is picked twice in a row (in which case the throne goes to the next eldest surviving male member of the family and other positions are usually retained from the previous administration). Some claim that all families once took part in the lottery but a cabal of the wealthy and powerful passed a series of laws limiting the drawing to the smaller number of families of means and station. Even speaking aloud the possibility that this might indeed be the case is considered a capital crime, and the speaker is likely to find himself tied down on the altar and his still beating heart dissapearing into the fiery god’s idol before he can say, “Ba’al Hammon.”