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The monster would come at nightfall, they told her. At the moment when the sun just touched the ocean outside, and the horizon turned green. It wouldn’t be long now, Katrina knew. The sun filtered into the observatory at a harsh angle, barely a hand’s width away from the edge of the water and turning her hair as red as the dress they’d put her in. Not much longer now.

The flat stone floor was still wet from the morning’s high waves, but she ignored it, sinking to her knees as the cold seeped through the thin dress. Bowing her head, she started to pray.

Not to the old gods, they’d already failed. Praying to them had been the first thing her people had tried, and look where it had brought them. To the point of human sacrifices every new moon. No, they would get no more prayers from her, and no more tears.

To new gods then. To gods who would bring back the happiness and joy. To gods that would stop the drought, stop the fires and bring back the rains. To gods who would reassure her parents that her death wasn’t in vain, reassure her sisters that they wouldn’t be next. And maybe, just maybe, gods that would save her. She was so deep in prayer she barely noticed the sun slipping past the edge of the world, or the darkness that engulfed her.

The footsteps on the stone steps however, those broke her out of her trance. She whipped around to see a young man climbing the steps to the room, silhouetted against the dying light of the sunset.

“You aren’t a monster,” she blurted out before quickly covering her mouth with her hand. The man chuckled as he approached.

“Are you certain about that?” he asked as he reached the top step. It was then that she noticed his long, scaled tail as it flicked over the steps, wrapping around one of the pillars. She lowered her hand in horror.

“What are you?” She whispered. The man just laughed more as he crossed the floor towards her, holding out a hand towards her. She placed her hand in his and he pulled her to her feet.

“I suppose,” he said as he guided her towards the ocean, “You could say I’m a new god, looking to find a disciple.”