It was a long, dark musty trail ahead. A thousand thousand gowns, hanging from the backs of a thousand thousand maidens had brushed this path over the forest floor. To be a Bride to the Dusk was an honor and a dread among my people. For ten years(more) we lived in the sunniest, warmest harmony, planting crops, studying our books and scrolls and telling our stories a thousand thousand times. And then the Dusk came, a tall figure, shrouded in twilight clouds and carrying a frost. None of our people could properly remember his face, perhaps because he emanated such a miasma of doom that we dared not look on it. He demanded a bride or the blood of all our people. Our choice to sacrifice the unwilling soul of one or the lives of all. And for a thousand thousand decades the town elders agreed to send a bride. He became our god, tangible as the falling night.
I was older than most of the Brides had been. No one had expected him to choose me with my lame leg and infertile belly. None of us knew his purpose exactly, but everyone assumed he wanted children of a sort. When, in the circle of candidates, he had pointed a smoky finger at me, there had been a collective sigh of relief and mutters of "She has no family".
When I was prepared in the gossamer indigo wedding gown and my feet were bared to walk the path, the other girls were silent and shared no tears for me. Now, far down the path from the town to the dark, deep cave that Dusk inhabited all I could hear was the brushing of my gown, the rushing of my breath. And that's when I knew the Dusk was watching me.(less)