Today I have a trio of drabbles that tell a dark story…
Vibrant green blades of grass peeped from the first melt of snow, stirring the world from hibernation. The scent of spring was in the air and the deep shackles of winter were thrust away once more. The village rejoiced until the time of the Selection Ceremony when a more solemn air descended. Spring was a time of rebirth, but also of duty.
Every youth of sixteen winters journeyed to the temple to be judged before the priests and five deemed worthy were taken to be prepared.
They would be the ones to honour the gods.
They would be the Chosen.
When the Water Falls
The water runs deep, the water runs cold. We pray at the river, our faith to behold.
So sang the priests as the procession trudged the well-worn path from the village to the tributary and the great waterfall. Quiet weeping settled under the intonations, as mothers bowed their heads in sorrow.
They knew their children would soon die, throats cut, blood drained into the water as skin and flesh were removed from the bodies.
The sacrifice given in trust, to the gods ever just.
We give over life, the harvest to glean. Until the flayed bones are washed ever clean.
The White Tree
Against the bluest sky, the lush foliage of the old tree turned to soak in the sunlight. In spring, its leaves unfurled in pale alabaster, the first sign of the coming yield of fruit. A plethora of sweet crimson berries that would weigh the branches, in stark contrast to its leaves; a colour fed by the river and the sacrifices, fed by the blood in the water.
In a few weeks, the villagers would gather and pick the crop, giving thanks to the gods for another bountiful gift of food, while the gods turned away their eyes, knowing the cost.