The stranger came to the village on the night of the new moon, and took lodgings in the attic of the tavern.

Although his presence dominated most conversations those first few day, by the second week, he’d become largely ignored. The villagers had other concerns. Their crops, usually paltry, were now abundant, and all hands were needed in the fields. Word of the surplus attracted trading caravans, which brought new goods and wealth to all of them.

The second full moon after his arrival, the stranger left, taking with him the first-born sons of each family. As payment, he said.

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