Our town had never had a 'chosen one' before. Which made things all the stranger when we suddenly had two. Ninety years ago, the Great Dragon which had infested the Three Countries for as long as anyone could remember was finally sealed away by a group of elite, powerful Magicks from every corner of the world. The only problem with their masterful spell was that it had to be renewed every ten years. Thus, each decade, the military took someone away to prolong the seal. No one knew what happened to those people, or what was required of them, we only knew that they never came back.
Living in Greendale, a small farming community, I never thought that anything like that would happen to one of our own. But on the 90th anniversary of the Great Dragon’s defeat, the King’s Guard came to our patch of hills. They rounded up bewildered farmers and families. And they presented a glass bead filled with smoke. As they smashed the bead against the rock, some among the crowd cried out in pure terror. Some innocent children were oblivious, and laughed as the bead’s dark contents crept into the throng of citizens. The smoke slid past our legs like a serpent, granting us its mercy with every cold pass against our feet. I shivered as it touched me and moved on, thankful for my own life for a moment but instantly fearful for someone else’s in the next.
The smoke stopped, and everyone held their breath. The wind ceased its brushing of the leaves, and a cloud blocked us from the sun’s strength. It had chosen a girl. Her name was Lila. She was nineteen years old, and had just married a boy named Thatcher. And now she was gone. She seemed frozen to the spot as darkness swirled around her in spirals, like a black, unforgiving cage. She didn’t try to run until one of the soldiers reached towards her. They must have expected it, as more of them were ready for her on the other side of the square. The smoke left her behind. I had never seen a choosing ceremony before, but I expected the it to disappear and leave us with our grief. It was not so kind.
Where Lila once stood, the smoke swirled furiously, faster and faster until everyone had their attention on it. The soldiers seemed just as confused as we were, though they continued to detain Lila as she fought and screamed. The mass of black suddenly burst into the air and arched toward the center of the square. I couldn’t see what had happened at first, but then the townsfolk started to cower from where the smoke had landed, screaming and running. I didn’t see the demon until most of them had gone. There, as we watched, a man with glowing eyes began to swallow the smoke. His body was almost limp, his mouth being forced open by the rush of darkness into him. I recognized him as the young widower who ran the bakery. He seemed not himself, his eyes taken over by a gleaming yellow.
I hadn’t lived in Greendale for long. I was a traveller for most of my life, running from my parents since I knew how to walk. But when I came here, the people were quick to accept and trust me. They were good, and I had grown attached to them. I had found that the knowledge I’d gained could be useful to them, and often they came to me for advice. But with all that I had seen, I could never have imagined this.