The Dragon came when the world grew dark, and the stars drew out like hunters to end the hues of day. They left their Offerings to him underneath the Arbitrary Tower, on the beach where the river forked, and the pines bent as if weeping.
The Offering was always a girl child, no older than twenty; she was pretty, thoughtful, young and sad, the perfect sacrifice for a ravenous demi-god. That was the deal the Dragon had struck with the people of Village in the age when Village was young: one girl for one year’s peace. No more, no less.
A fair trade, it seemed to Coal, until the calling bones named Clisha.
(Read more at Trigger Warning Short Fiction)