First Frost

coldWe had our first sacrifice over 100 years ago. Only the chosen knew of this ritual in this small town. The first sacrifice was made after the first frost and has been done this way ever since. Once a year a person is picked from the town. It has to be someone that has no idea of the ritual. That is the way. The choice is easy. Only four times has the name we have picked been turned down, then we have had to choose another. There are seven of us. Seven that choose. There are about fifty people that know about the ritual and when one of the seven is no longer with us then we choose another to complete the circle. Of the seven, one is chosen the leader. He is the keeper of the notebook. It is usually passed down from generation to generation. Sometimes not all in the family know of this custom. Families can be complicated. Difficult at best. My son-in-law was sometimes a big problem but he was easy to handle. He was a drunk but he came in handy for some of the dirtier jobs. My daughter deserved better, but she made her bed. She was not easy. She had many problems. I helped her as much as I could. I will write more about my family later. They mean much more to me than they will ever know.

This is the story as it was told to me when I was old enough to understand. I won’t go into all of the details of the long ocean voyage or the sacrifices my mother and father had to make to get all of us here in this valley, but this is where we stayed.

The curse that was put on our family was such that it required a human sacrifice once a year after the first frost. My mother tried everything to break the curse and could not do it. She hated making the sacrifice and it made her a bitter woman. She followed the old traditions of our village and made a few of her own as she saw fit. There were few that she could trust with her craft and fewer still that she could trust to learn of the sacrifice. Somehow, someone found out about it and sought out my mother to see if she could be of assistance. They became fast friends. Most of the rituals were done in the woods. In secluded little spots that were out of the way, and when you owned the land, it gave you power. It gave you the power to decide who to keep out and who could come in. Not many were let in. If someone wandered on the land by accident they were quickly made to leave. No one could know the secrets that were kept here. When I was old enough, I was given a piece of the property. I built my house there and had my family there. My task became great after my mother died. I was made the leader of our little band of seven.

It was hard to keep this from my family, but keep it from them I did. Some of the children would try to follow me at times up into the field and I would let them come with me once in a while. I would show them the different trees and where the ginseng was. All of the good mushroom patches and which ones were poisonous. From doing this, I knew which of my children that I could trust with the task of the First Frost. I was in no hurry to turn it over, it was a job that I didn’t like but had no choice. A few times the sacrifice was not made and the consequences were not pretty. I would not make that mistake again. As long as I was alive, my family would not suffer. They better pray that I stay alive for a long long time.