"I don't know about no one...
Then he looks directly at Silver, and uses his claw to readjust his glasses
"It's hard to say exactly what is 'standard' Maarite practice. Who is being sacrificed by whom, and how, varies depending on local circumstance. Most sects that have sacrifices - usually not sentient - have the priest carry out the ritual, or a single individual. Maarites like to have everygriff participate. They are rather egalitarian in that way. I think you've noticed the wavy knives that they carry around. Those are Kris daggers, a ritual dagger that all Maarites are required to carry around, and that they use in the ritual. Of course because of the risk of being caught with them they really only carry them during rituals, but it's part of their identity.
The most common sacrifice is the collective sacrifice. Each cultist takes his dagger, comes forward, and stabs into the creature offered for sacrifice in succession, with the offered creature dying at the end of the ritual from blood loss, internal bleeding, or shock. There's a reason they do this, a pragmatic, psychological reason. If a priest does the killing, then a cultist may become revolted, or feel guilty, and back out, telling the authorities. Or there might be an infiltrator at the ritual. But with everygriff taking part in the killing, and the death being the direct cause of no single griffin - everygriff at once feels guilty for participating in the act, and place the blame on the other participants. In this way, they are all bound together by the sacrifice, having equally transgressed the laws of Griffin and the laws of Boreas.
You can also see that they like to keep their sacrifices alive as long as possible, even if they are injured. Now the rumor is that 'Maar likes as much suffering as possible,' but the simpler reason is that it's hard to make everyone participate in the sacrifice if the offering dies halfway through. The ones after the first half can feel absolved of the sin and crime, and may go tell authorities. The priests don't want that.
Another common practice is the initiation rite, where, to become a full member, an initiate must kill a sacrifice. This serves a similar purpose to the collective sacrifice, because any cultist who does it will know themselves to be damned and removed from society, bound eternally to Maar and his representatives. There is no going back, and the new initiate will be loyal thereafter. This method is less common, because it requires so many more sacrifices, which are hard to come by. It's also less common because its harder for most griffins to take the decisive step of killing another sentient creature. Most creatures are averse to that sort of act, at least at first. And if an initiate chooses not
to do the ritual after having progressed so far, it places both the initiate and the cultists in a very
awkward position. Still, becoming a priest generally requires such an initiation, and some congregations will have gradations of members, where a member must kill to advance.
Where the cultists do not have to worry about authorities, such as when they take control of a region, they become more hierarchical, with priests conducting the ritual. And where they are unable to find sentient creatures to sacrifice, they will use animals.
It's hard to say what was going on here, but it looks like some combination of the three. The two creatures standing prominently by the altars were likely initiatives. My guess is that the members were to come forward and each make a stab into the lungs, stomach, or livers of the offerings, and then the initiates would make the decisive stab into the heart. Or maybe the initiates alone would make the sacrifice, I cannot say. They too the effort to cut their victims open. That's probably not just to make it easier for inexperienced cultists and initiates see where the hearts are on unfamiliar creatures. They probably intended to remove the heart at some point, most likely by the priest.
This particular congregation of Maarites seemed to have a very
steady supply of untraceable victims. That is something that is rare."