“So this was the dragon’s lair,” Tennin thought to herself.
It was all a blur now, the panic, the fear, then . . . then the what?
She had drawn the short straw in the annual lottery, and everyone had told her it was an honour to be the maiden that would save their valley for another year.
The Crone, and the Matron had helped dress her in the white garment and then put a garland of flowers on her freshly plaited hair.
She couldn’t believe it when it was her own father that bound her wrists, and then he and her uncle attached her bonds to the post before the dark cave.
In the dimming light of evening she could see that the post had been strewn with charred bones from the previous decades of “honoured maidens.”
The Crone then came and gave her a swallow of a sweet-tasting draught before all around her retreated from the growing fog emanating from the cave. A loud grating noise began to come the darkness, but despite the fear, Tennin could not resist the sleep that fell upon her.
She awoke lying in the sand in an secondary mouth of the cave, it opened onto a beautiful beach with a tranquil waterfall giving a reassuring “roar.” There in front of her was the smiling form of Moli, last year’s selected maiden.
“Welcome to your new home,” Moli said to the confused girl.
“Where am I? Where is the dragon?” Tennin anxiously asked.
“There is no dragon, only freedom here,” Moli said.
The Crone and Tennin’s three-year “dead” cousin Baddin came to show her the way to her new quarters, as several other young women, each slightly older than the next, carried pig bones towards the dragon post. Tennin was at the threshold of a whole new life.