Today is the day, he thought as he stretched standing after a night of fitful sleep. The sky on the other side of the window shown a cloudless. He dressed purposely this morning; time was something he didn't have today nor any other day for that matter. Afterward taking a few moments to bask in the warm rays of the sun as they came through his open window he entered his kitchen of the last 17 years. Looking around, he took note of all the finer things that left his notice until now. The cabinet door that hung slightly crooked. Why hadn't he taken the time to fix that? The pot rack that should have been hanging from the high ceiling was now half hazardly leaning against the far wall. It wouldn't have taken him an hour to put that up, why was he just thinking of it now? Maybe because this would be the last time he was here, he thought.
Breakfast had been laid out upon his table, bacon, eggs, biscuits and other things he was sure he had no appetite for. Sitting down he began to eat half heartedly, this would be his last meal at home and he knew it. Half an hour passed and he hadn't eaten much but enough to satisfy him for what had to be done. Back in his room he passed the time left to him reflecting on his life and how little he had left to him. He felt a pain of guilt for not spending it with his mother but he just couldn't face that and continue. And he had to continue, because the fate of the entire village depended on it. He sat in his chair at his desk; everything was in its place as it had been for the last five years. When his name had been chosen his mother had screamed and cried out in pain and loss she had felt at that very moment.
It wasn't fair she yelled clutching her clothes to her body. She had to be carried away by three villagers who brought her to their shared home. His father would have been chosen being the man of the house but he was killed before he was even born. He'd always heard he was killed by raiders, or thieves or monsters. Whoever told the story had a different enemy each time. Either they had no idea what they were talking about or they did and didn't want him to know. All in all he took the situation in stride; he didn't have much here anyway. No friends or family other than his mother. No one would really miss him but the loss he felt was for his mother rather than himself. She already had her husband taken from her and now her only son as well. Six months had passed since he'd been chosen and he had to admit he prepared as best he could for the circumstances ahead of him.
Every day he practiced the sword. The one the village master used an exact copy of the sword but it weighed thrice as much as the one that lying on his desk now. Helps build strength and muscle endurance he always said. Well he wasn't to sure if that was true nor did he really believe that it mattered. He picked up his sword and strapped it across his back with the new harness the local shopkeeper'd given him. Once it was firmly secure he picked up the small shield the smith had made, it wasn't anything ornamental but it would serve its purpose well enough he supposed. Straping the shield onto his left arm and drawing his sword with his right he took a few practice swings just to adjust hisself to these new weapons.
Noticing that along with the sword the shield he used to train with was a lot heavier than this one was. He replaced his sword in its scabbard and headed out of his room not bothering to look back, it wouldn't help anyway. He stopped at the front doorway long enough to pick up his sack and secure it over his shoulder safely away from his sword. Once this task was completed he stepped out into his future. Everyone from his village was waiting for him, lining the street filling both sides of the uneven packed dirt.
The houses were mostly made of logs with thatched roofs; some were even made from carved stones held together by some sort of clay. The people that lined the street greeted him as he walked by, reassuring smiles on each face, but those smiles never reached their eyes. And the normally comforting words were missing the sincerity they'd normally carry. He even saw his mother at the end of the line second to last to wish him well on his journey. She came out and hugged him tightly to her body; he could feel her trembling at her very core. Her pleas of safety were true and from the heart. Even the promise that he will one day return to her was equally sincere.
The words from her seemed to carry a command of truth with them, it seemed to fill him with hope he'd not felt till then. But only for a short time. He stepped back from his mother and kissed her gently on the cheek; promising to be careful and to do his best, he didn't want to lie to her and make promises of his return. He turned slightly to lock eyes with the last of his well wisher's. A young girl stepped forward as his mother stepped back, a long time friend, the town mayor's eldest daughter, the only girl who treated him like he belonged.
She hugged him tightly not saying a word, she knew the truth of what happened and pleaded that he leave in the night. She even wanted to give herself to him that night as payment for his running away but he held her at the hips, keeping her at bay. "When I return." he said simply. Then turned and left. He could hear the two most important women in his life crying out their pain and feelings of loss and love. Nothing could be done for it; he had been chosen as has someone every three years before him. It was his turn now, his turn to do what was right, his turn to die.