On the heights they bound her slender hands behind her back with soft, worn leather ties, to spill no blood before its proper time. They bore her to the beach in silence, no words to spare to soothe her screams, no comment for weak blows spent by soft, white hands and feet. Her struggles weakened as they walked, until they reached the rain-drenched sand and she saw who waited there.

"Father!" She clawed the arms that held her, and kicked out with sandaled feet until she tumbled to the sand. "Father, please!" Her hair had come unplaited, and one small leather sandal dangled loose. She tried to rise, legs wobbling like a newborn lamb's, and fell back to the ground. "Father, by—"

"Enough." He passed his shield to his page, and removed his four-plumed helm with care. Lightning illuminated the hooked, predatory lines of his face, and thunder followed, shaking the girl like a leaf. "Would you doom us all?"

"Father, by the Gods—" A bolt of lightning struck a ship at anchor, and the mast exploded outward. Men were shouting, dimly, over the sound of the rain and the waves. She sagged. "Please…"

"Gag her."

They pulled her to her feet, the downpour washing the caked sand from her cheeks. Her pleas turned to sobs as they slipped the cloth between her lips. They lifted her again, and dragged her squirming to the altar, her feet leaving snaking patterns in the sand as the earth drank down tears mingled with rain, small salt libations with the pledge of more to come.

She sobbed weakly as they lifted her above the altar, twisting, kicking, saffron robes catching the wind and billowing out over the sand. They bent her backwards as the priest intoned the prayer, and watched in silence as blood cut her last sob short, spilling over her tunic and the altar, staining the thirsting earth darker still beneath the gray-black sky. Her gaze cut through them, fixed upon her father, until her body slumped and her eyes went glassy.

The sky cleared. Slowly, at first, and then the clouds began to retreat. The pennants and banners stopped straining at their poles, and the child's robes fluttered gently on the altar. Horsehair plumes streamed gently from the helmet in her father's hands.

"The Gods are just," he offered with a smile, cloak rippling behind him like an eagle's wings in an easy, eastern wind. "We must set sail."

Author's Note: The above scene is my take on the sacrifice of Iphiginea in Greek mythology, Aeschylus' version in particular. Her father, Agamemnon, offended the goddess Artemis and sacrificed his youngest child to her in order to calm the resulting storm so he could sail for Troy.