It was me.

I was chosen, and I was still reeling from the realization. Well, chosen is the pretty way to put it. I was unlucky enough to have my name drawn. Now I will be the next sacrifice. It’s normal, and always to be anticipated that you may be the next one, but it doesn’t lessen the fear that comes with it. It is said the potion they give you just before the ceremony makes you feel like you’re stepping into the most beautiful world, a world of joy, gorgeous colors, and pure fantastical happiness. 

I was being doted upon in preparation for the ceremony. I was laced up into a dress the color of moonlight, with draping sleeves and embroidered with dainty silver leaves. My hair was plaited into an intricate braid, with moon flowers carefully placed throughout by the Oracle with gloved hands. The remaining moon flowers were then crushed for the potion. My lips were painted a soft pink with a cheek color to match. I was brought sparkling drinks and fed ripe berries and petite cakes. These were not common delicacies for our village, and it would have been a nice feeling if I wasn’t about to die. 

Once the preparations were complete I was brought to the ceremony grounds, my death would take place at sunset, which was still a few hours off, but there was a large celebration before. Many open tents lined the grounds, countless twisted trees twinkling with fairy lights, and a large marble slab lay in the center of it all, cleaned and glistening, ready for fresh blood. 

At least I’ll be sent off belly full of delicious foods, and I’ll get to experience the potion. I thought to myself as the villagers began to gather for the festivities. Music began playing, a gentle harp followed by an angelic voice. Bubbling drinks were passed all around, they made my head feel light and my tongue loose. Suddenly one of my dearest friends, Rose, came running up to me.

“They wouldn’t let me be there for the preparations, I tried!” She exclaimed with her eyes wide and watery.

“That’s alright, thank you for trying,” I pulled her into a tight hug and held on for a few moments so she wouldn’t see the warm tears trickling down my face. I would miss Rose the most. 

She pulled back but kept my hands in hers. “Remember when we got lost in the woods?” She choked back her sadness as I nodded at her, “You said to me, don’t you worry Rose, we have each other, and we always will.” Her head drooped as she continued “What will I do now?” she asked. 

It took every fiber of my strength to not fall apart completely at her question. “You’ll still always have me,” I said straining a smile and pulled out the gift I had made for her. I carved a wooden fox, Rose loved foxes, and had our village smith dip it in molten gold. Being the sacrifice we’re allowed requests, and this was mine. I placed it into her warm hand, and through her tears, she beamed at me. When we were children we had found a baby fox once, it was wounded and together we had nursed it back to health until it could return to the wild. 

I left Rose clutching the golden fox, tears streaming down my face as I took my place for the rest of the ceremony. 

After the meal, which was roasted duck, candied berries, fluffy bread, and more bubbling liquid, the speeches commenced. My father gave a proud speech, about how his daughter was chosen for this glory to ensure the good fortune of the village, my mother just sobbed and had to be escorted away to calm her. It was honestly all a blur, I don’t remember much and I forced myself to numb all emotions. What choice did I have? 

Soon it was time, time for the drinking of the potion, the final dance, and the sacrifice. I was being escorted to the twisting archway of branches where I would drink the potion, fed to me by the Oracle, when suddenly the alarm bells rang, the bells of an intruder. 

There was slight panic, mostly alertness from the villagers as the bells continued to toll. One of the village guards finally shouted an update “It’s one man, alone!” then chatter erupted across the ceremony grounds. My thoughts were hazy, I kept to my spot as movement was all around me. After what felt like an eternity the stranger appeared, escorted by four village guards. He had a scraggly beard, long unkempt hair, and his clothes were worn. He must have been lost and wandered into our village without intention. 

I watched as he was taken to the bathhouse, then re-emerged clean-shaven, glistening in the setting sun with crisp white robes wrapped around his body. He was being lead towards where I was standing under the archway, and the Oracle was speaking to him. Something about arriving just in time for our festival, and how he would be a guest of honor. When he got closer I noticed the crown of moon flowers resting on his brow. It was then I realized what was happening, and I snapped out of my daze. Just as my thoughts formed, he was going to be the sacrifice, I was being led away. 

I remember being wrapped in a tight hug by my mother, she was clutching me like she would never let me go again. Rose ran up to both of us sobbing and grasped my hand. I watched in astonishment as the Oracle poured the potion into the strangers mouth. After a few moments, the stranger’s eyes glazed over, and a wide grin spread across his face. He was lifting his hands as if seeing them for the first time. He glanced around at his surroundings and touched the trees in wonder.

The Oracle led him to the center of the ceremony grounds, surrounded by lit trees, villagers brought him hunks of roast duck meat, and never let his glass of bubbling liquid go empty. They began to dance with him, and soon the music was growing louder and everyone in the village was dancing barefoot in the grass with the stranger. He danced as if his body was under a spell, his smile was wide but his eyes shone with new fear. He looked dizzy, but his feet wouldn’t stop dancing.

Should I intervene I couldn’t help thinking, I was supposed to be in his place. My mother and Rose each grabbed one of my hands and led me to dance. I didn’t want to, it didn’t feel right, but I obliged. The strangers eyes were darting, as if he was now seeing us all as fantastical monsters from a story. But we were monsters to him, weren’t we? Was he feeling the poison, did he know he was about to die? At least I had the luxury of knowing what was to come. 

A gorgeous woman with dark glistening hair led the stranger closer to the marble slab. The sun was setting. The stranger’s mouth began to foam slightly, and his face looked delirious. It was time. The Oracle crept from the other side of the slab to the stranger’s back and pulled out the ceremonial dagger. Marbled steel glistening, a hilt of intricate vines and embedded rubies, it was a beautiful weapon. The Oracle plunged it into his back. Red blood spread throughout the white robes, and as he fell the woman with the dark hair gently pushed him back until he was lying on the marble slab. His body convulsed as his blood seeped out, soaking into the white marble. 

Soon he was dead. The villagers cheered and continued on with the festivities. The stranger would remain there until his blood stopped flowing, and it was customary to dance in honor of the sacrifices life, so I danced. My body moved but my thoughts were elsewhere.

 Was it fair to have a stranger lose their life for mine?

What did you think of the story? What would you do if you were going to be sacrificed? Let us know in the comments below!

Thank you so much for reading!


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