Chosen

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Chosen

Post by Unit7 on Sat Apr 26, 2014 11:27 am

Sorry for any spelling errors or grammar issues. Oh and just ignore any odd words that have no business being there. I hoped I managed to track them all down, but you never know.

Chosen

The room was dark except for the single candle that flickered casting Selana’s shadow across the room in distorted shapes and sizes. Selana sat in front of her desk, her long straw blonde hair gently bouncing off her shoulders with each move of her head. The candle’s light reflected in her green eyes as she studied her face. She was beautiful, everyone had told her so.
Her mother believed that one day a lord or knight would pass through their village and when he laid eyes on Selana he would be struck by the Daughter’s touch and fall madly in love. Her mother had believed that right up until her name had been drawn and that she had been chosen.
She blinked back her tears and the future that would never happen. In truth no lord or knight was coming to this small remote village. Even if she had not been chosen, she would have ended up as a wife to some miner or lumberjack and give birth to a couple of rugrats. When she had been chosen even that future had become as unobtainable as the one where a knight swept her off her feet.

With a shaky hand Selana reached up towards a silver chain necklace with a small emerald that hung next to her mirror. Even in the dim light the gem seemed to sparkle with the light of a distant star. The emerald necklace had once been her mothers. It was perhaps the most valuable item her family had ever owned. When you were Chosen, you wore your finest dress and jewelry.
She caressed the emerald, drawing strength from its depths. In that moment she could feel her mother’s presence. She pulled her hair over her shoulder and then lifted the silver chain off the small hook and clasped it around her neck. The emerald swayed above her breast for a moment before coming to a halt.

Somewhere below her room she heard the sound of chairs scraping against the hard wood floors. She glanced around the room before her eyes settled on the small window. It was a small drop from the roof to the ground, surely she could escape.

The stairs outside her room creaked and she flinched. There was still time her mind whirled in a desperate race. Out the window, down the gravel road, and head south until she came to Crentin, it had been a few years since her mother had last taken her, but surely she could find her way around.

There was a knock on her door and another future was forever lost to Selana. She stood up and the chair fell over with a small clang.

“Are you all right Selana?” Her father asked through the wooden door.
There was a lump in Selana’s throat as she tried to answer, finally she managed “Yes father.” She tried to sound strong and brave like her mother would have been. But her voice had been but a whisper.

“Are you ready then?” Her father asked, his voice as cold and distant as the frozen tundra in the far north.

Selana shook her head, but when she realized he could not see she said, “Just one more moment… please.” She smoothed her white dress and then glanced at her reflection in the mirror. Her green eyes no longer seemed to sparkle and in fact seemed alien to her. No matter, she thought, I shall not need them for much longer.

She walked towards the door and as her hand closed around the door knob she glanced one last time at her only escape. She swallowed and then slowly opened the door. A small crowd had gathered in the hallway just outside of her bedroom.

Thomas the Blacksmith was in the back. His beard was as black as the coal’s in his forge. Next to him was Ellen looking as small and fragile compared to the giant of a man. A couple more she recognized but the rest she could not honestly say they were even from her village.
Her father was standing in front the crowed, his arms crossed and his eyes cold. No, he was not her father. He was the soldier that had once gone off to war when she was young. She had never forgotten the look in his eyes as he looked over his shoulder as he walked away. Complete emotional detachment.

“I’m ready,” Selana said and the gathered crowd seemed to nod in unison. One by one they all moved towards the side. Her father was the last to move out of her way. He handed her a small oil lantern with red stained glass. When her father lit the lamp the corridor turned a shade of blood red as her father moved out of her way.

Right foot, left foot. Selana repeated the mantra with each step, her eyes fixed straight ahead, not brave enough to look them in the eye. She walked down the stairs and out her front door. She stole a look back at the house, seeing her window. No looking back she thought numbly.
Selana took a deep breath of the fresh night air. She wished the stars were out tonight, but thick grey clouds had been over head since yesterday morning. She glanced around at the farm she had grown up on. The place where she had learned about life, death, sex, and the place she had dreamed of a world beyond the village.

As she left the farm and got on the dirt road that led to town she could see lanterns bobbling in the distance. Like the corridor back in the house, people from the village had gathered at the sides to watch the procession. She looked straight ahead.

How could they let this happen? Did they not realize that this was wrong? She wanted to scream at the onlookers, but like everyone in her village she had grown up with this. How many times had she been on the sidelines? When, if ever, did she disapprove? She blinked back more tears. She had seen the other girl’s faces, the looks of terror as they walked down. Some could not keep their composure and begged and cried every step of the way, often with a tip of a long sword in the back.

Had she done anything when they had been chosen? No, Selana thought numbly. She had been like them.

“Because it is the way of our ancestors.” Her mother had said when she asked about why they did this. “To please the gods in the year’s harvest. But you should never need to worry… ” Her mother absent mindedly reached up towards the green emerald necklace that adorned her neck.
Somewhere deep inside the reasoning felt hollow to Selana, but she never asked another question about the ceremony. Not until it was too late and even then the answers sounded like a child’s gibberish.
With each person Selana passed on the road her following grew in numbers. Each man, woman, and child would start to follow her to the center of the village. There they would gather in a circle and wait for the Beast. Then, there truly would be no turning back.

Soon everyone from the village was following her in perfect silence. She could hear their steps behind her, but she knew she could not look back. Her friends, family, and neighbors were behind her and yet they had so far done nothing to stop this madness. She was betrayed like all of those that came before her. Betrayed just like the way she had once betrayed those she had watched and followed. Someday, she could only hope, they would know this fate.

She blinked as a new light had appeared in the darkness; she could have sworn she had seen the last of the villagers join in the procession. She was still too far away before she would see the village lights.

One light turned into a few lights as she moved closer and she could hear voices. “No you moron!” There was a loud whack.

“Sorry m’lord,” another man whimpered.

“Rodrick that is enough, hitting the man won’t do any good.” A voice said with an edge in his voice. There was a loud stream of curses.

As she neared the lights she could see a wagon that had broken down on the side of the road. A few horses stamped their hooves down nervously. She looked around to see if the men were still here but there was no one in sight. She thought of calling out but her voice was gone, left back in her bedroom.

When she entered the village, a place she had been a thousand and one times, the place was as quiet and still as the grave. For the first time she felt unwelcomed here. Somewhere a wooden sign creaked, and for a moment Selana thought it was a voice whispering ‘out.’
Even the village itself knew that the ceremony was wrong, Selana thought and for a moment she wanted to laugh. As soon as the totem pole at the center of the village came into view the feeling fled as fast as a crow to a battlefield

The totem pole was twenty feet tall. It was a morbid piece of art. Every inch of the wooden totem was covered in the faces of the chosen. Most Chosen ended up being female but looking upon the totem she could easily see the faces of men.

As Selana stood before the Totem, she looked up at the very top to see the wooden carving of the Beast. Every so often a bard would travel to the remote village and some would retell the stories of virgin princesses that would be sacrificed to great beasts. There always seemed to be an evil beast lurking in the shadows in the fairy tales. But Selana was just a simple farm girl who had lost her virginity a couple of summers ago to some farm hand her father had hired.

“Tonight we gather to give our beloved Selana to the Mantaru.” A priest in a long black robe shouted towards the gathered crowed. Her father approached her with a length of rope. Selana looked about wondering what they were thinking.

“It’s an honor,” her father had said when he broke the news to her.
How? Was all Selana could think. How is it an honor to be torn apart by some unholy beast? Of course to her father, and even to Selana before that day, the beast was considered as holy as the gods themselves.

Selana slowly turned around and walked backwards until she bumped into the totem. She could feel the menacing glare of the wooden beast as it peered down at her. Her arms twitched as thoughts of running flew through her mind. But where would she go? She was circled.
As her father tied her up his cheek brushed up against her and she could feel his tears. She thought of saying something to comfort him but the thought was gone as he pulled on the rope to tighten its hold on her.

“I love you,” Her father whispered, his warm breath gave her goose bumps.

“Go to hell.’ Selana’s voice was hard. From the corner of her eye she could see him flinch but she just stared forward into the crowed. Her father nodded towards the priest and he continued his prayer to the Gods above and the Holy Beast.

“What is going on here?” A man shouted as he waded through the crowed.

“That is none of your business outsider,” Her father shouted.

“My name is Lord Erik and I demand to know why this woman is tied up!” Erik demanded, “Answer me damn it!” The crowd burst into a flurry of whispers but the Priest ignored it all and continued.

“Oh Mantaru please accept this gift we have provided you!” The priest shouted, “We ask only that you bless us with a bountiful harvest come fall! That our children grow up to be successful! That we should all know the warmth that love can bring! Oh Mantaru accept our gift!”

Erik looked around until his eyes locked onto Selana’s and an understanding washed over him. He unsheathed his sword and dashed towards her but was intercepted by Thomas the blacksmith. The blacksmith grabbed the man by the throat and lifted him off the ground.

“This does not concern you outsider.” Thomas tightened his grip on Erik, whose face was contorted in pain.

A roar filled the night air. The Mantaru had been summoned. Thomas dropped Erik as the Mantaru filled the night with its horrible call. The entire assembly had grown as silent as a grave. The ground began to shake and everyone in front of her slowly began to depart to allow the Mantaru to walk right up to her.

The first thing she saw of the Mantaru was its eyes. A deep dark shade of red that seemed to burn like molten lava. Next she noticed the claws that were sharpened to a razor’s edge. The beast’s skin was black and from the looks of it looked as if it were well worn leather. The beasts head was surprisingly small for its body size and yet the teeth, two neat rows of them, were all filed into points.

Selana had seen the Mantaru before. Every summer around this time for as long as she could remember she saw the Mantaru come and claim its offering. Not until now had she ever feared the beast.

For the first time she realized she had been tied up. That she had actually allowed her father to tie her to this damned totem without struggling. The rope dug deep into her flesh as she struggled, tears fell down her cheeks as all sense of composure fled her body.
“Please…” She whimpered, her body growing lax.

The Mantaru walked with an easy gait as it approached, its black barbed tongue sliding across its lips. Erik struggled towards his feet unaware of the approaching abomination. He turned towards the priest, who was now on the ground bowing, demanding to know what was going on but before he spoke he looked towards the beast. Just long enough to see the beast’s razor claws slicing through the air towards his throat. A deluge of blood sprayed out from Erik’s throat. The Mantaru licked some blood from its claws and laughed.

Resigned to her fate she locked eyes with her father, almost daring him to blink. He looked back, his eyes bloodshot. The Mantaru moved closer and then she felt a great warmth flood through her body. The Mantaru began to squint and then raised its claws to block out the sight of something.
The emerald that hung just above her breast began to feel heavy and it was warm against her flesh. The Mantaru began to scream and all at once the crowd around her was in chaos. Never had anyone seen the Mantaru in pain before, if that is what it was feeling.
The Emerald around her neck began to glow and a bright green light began to pulse from the gems depths. With each pulse the Mantaru stepped backwards screaming in pain as its black leathery skin began to burn.

The Mantaru flailed its arms, killing several people as if they were nothing more than grass. In a desperate attempt the Mantaru ran towards Selana. Her body urged her to move but even if she was not tied down a part of her felt at peace.

The Mantaru’s claw came crashing down cutting the rope that bound her, a look of complete surprise came over the pain and anger on the beast’s face as if cutting the ropes to free his offering was not his intentions but found itself doing just that. Without thinking she ran away from the Mantaru as it crashed into the totem and knocking it over. For a split second the faces on the totem all twisted in pain.

The Mantaru dissolved into a thick black mist. It rose high into the sky before dispersing into four different directions.
The Mantaru had been slain… but how?
The villagers around her were running around screaming and shouting. The priest was on the ground in shock. Somewhere her father was calling her name, but she ignored him. She was free.
She reached up towards the Emerald Necklace she wore. Somehow the Emerald had saved her… had her mother known what would happen if she was chosen? The chosen is to wear their finest clothes and jewelry, in case there was something physically wrong with the chosen. Something to sweeten the pot…
“Thank you mother,” Selana whispered into the night air. No one around her heard the whisper, but somehow Selana was sure her mother had heard her.



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Sometimes, late at night, I sit here and I wonder. The things I wonder vary from night to night. Sometimes I wonder about the stars and other nights I wonder about what tomorrow will be like. But recently I have been wondering what my life would have been like without you...-Samantha Greene
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Re: Chosen

Post by Hannah_Banana222 on Sat Apr 26, 2014 11:56 pm

This is really good. Lots of great imagery, and I was not expecting that ending.

My one complaint is that I was really confused about the setting. At first, I was thinking colonial America for some reason, but then with the polytheism and human sacrifice I thought it was an indigenous village. But with a guy named Erik? Isn't that Scandinavian (though he is an outsider, so I guess he can be from wherever the hell he wants).

And what is the religion in the story? I can't decide if it's some obscure tribal thing or Wicca.

Am I just being nitpicky? Maybe. I had a hard time fully enjoying this because it just didn't seem very believable. Where/when is all this happening? Did you make up your own village, or is my social studies knowledge lacking? Or does the setting even matter at all? To me, apparently it does.
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Re: Chosen

Post by Unit7 on Sun Apr 27, 2014 12:40 pm

Hannah_Banana222 wrote:This is really good.  Lots of great imagery, and I was not expecting that ending.

My one complaint is that I was really confused about the setting.  At first, I was thinking colonial America for some reason, but then with the polytheism and human sacrifice I thought it was an indigenous village.  But with a guy named Erik?  Isn't that Scandinavian (though he is an outsider, so I guess he can be from wherever the hell he wants).

Well the setting is... actually to be quite honest I don't think I have pinned it down. The story takes place in a fantasy world I have been building in my head for years and years. When I first wrote this I think I planned it in on part of that world, seeing as how everything else I have been writing takes place in that one continent. But a week ago as I was rereading it and trying to place it, I considered maybe I'd put it in a different part of the world altogether, mostly because it fit better with the whole idea of this been going on for ages. Not that this clarifies anything except that I really don't have any actual idea where it takes place, other then in a fictional world somewhere.

And what is the religion in the story?  I can't decide if it's some obscure tribal thing or Wicca.

As for the religion, its a very twisted and corrupt version of the main religion in this fictional world that worships 5 gods/goddesses known as the Holy Family. I... haven't been too creative with the names (Grandmother, Mother, Father, Son, Daughter)

Am I just being nitpicky?  Maybe.  I had a hard time fully enjoying this because it just didn't seem very believable.  Where/when is all this happening?  Did you make up your own village, or is my social studies knowledge lacking?  Or does the setting even matter at all?  To me, apparently it does.

No the setting was never meant to be important.I don't think I ever intended on showing this to anyone. It was just a means for me to explore a bit of my world. Though I probably should have let that have been known. That and I had human sacrifice on my mind... pretty sure I saw something on the History channel about it and ended up looking into it and started wondering what might go through someones mind if they were chosen.

_________________


Sometimes, late at night, I sit here and I wonder. The things I wonder vary from night to night. Sometimes I wonder about the stars and other nights I wonder about what tomorrow will be like. But recently I have been wondering what my life would have been like without you...-Samantha Greene
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