He says to our group he wishes it were easier. I wish I could offer him some comfort. I wish I could tell him things would get easier and eventually he wouldn't have to try. But every year it just gets harder and harder. It just isn't in our nature, yet it must be done.

Elves do not appease our tormentors. Everything we know says otherwise. We face our monsters head on and find ways to destroy them. Warfare, magic, politics, it is all part of our toolbox. Yet here we are, returning to the same spot again. Another fifteen prisoners. I used to learn their names, and their crimes before we would give them over. I couldn't do it any longer. It weighed on my heart too much. Many deserved their deaths. Rapist, murderers and general monsters; I had no issue sending them to face death. The ones like Toross, age 23, arrested for stealing bread. That was my third year participating in the ceremony. This is my 17th and I'll always remember him. He faced his death without screaming. I even named my second son after him, although neither shall ever know of that honor.

The Earth shakes as the creature draws near. Dragons, I thought they had gone extinct centuries ago. How I wish that were the case. One by one we send the prisoners forward to be eaten. We watch as each person is clawed, chewed possibly roasted. Their screams echo through the cave until their body no longer draws breath from this planet. When the dragon is finished, we pull the next prisoner from the cart to face their death. We used to dress them in ceremonial robes. Didn't make a difference to the dragon. We just sent them out there in what they have on now.

Claws and teeth are the favorites by far, but the dragon will roast one alive every so often. I prefer those. The screaming doesn't last long, and there's no blood or guts. Eventually he's had his fill and wanders back into the woods. This year he ate 17. That's 3 less than last year. He's continuing to lighten his meals. Perhaps he's growing old. If so, we may be able to kill it soon. We've done this for decades as far as I know. Send a few to be slaughtered to save the thousands in the city. I detest it. This is something Orcs would do. Making sacrifices, paying homage to some ancient creatures. Elves rise up, overcome and lord over dominion. Soon, I hope to find a way to kill this dragon.