Lark's iridescent green eyes had seen the world in a minute. The dragon was stirring after its thousand years of rest and, still in a dreamy stupor, it had crawled into Lark's village two nights in a row. Left in its wake were the dead and a traceable path of charred fields.
The fields that surrounded Lark's village had always seemed so protective. Even invaders had been deterred by the expanse of green. Yet the dragon had crossed the fields and devastated the village in the span of a few nighttime hours.
Lark was drawn from her painful recollections by voices. Though they were out of her sight, they sounded near. Lark rose and followed the sound with childlike curiosity.
The elders had convened in the village square not far from Lark. None of them seemed to notice Lark as she approached. "You remember the story! The dragon sleeps for one thousand years, then awakes to find its princess. It has long forgotten that she's dead, so it destroys whatever is in its path until it is appeased."
"Nothing could satiate that monster." One of the elders shot back in disgust.
"The legends have it one thing can. The princess."
"She's dead! We can't bring the dragon a dead girl."
An old woman piped up. "The princess's soul reincarnates into a young child."
"We'd never know which child to pick! What would that help anyway? The dragon would just kill them. We need to look at this pragmatically. Let's send a messenger to the king and ask him to send the army."
"We need the princess." The woman insisted wholeheartedly.
They argued on until one elder interrupted them. His voice was soft but gravelly, and cracked like it took a tremendous amount of effort to speak. "She is right. We need the reincarnation of that girl to please the dragon. The last time the dragon attacked, the girl with the princess's soul was sent alone to face the dragon. She never returned, but neither did the dragon, until now."
"Marona of the Western Field, we have no way of telling which girl is the one." One of the elders protested.
"A girl of ten years, borne of the Calling Field."
All of the elders stiffened at the thought. "There's only one child in the village who was born in the Calling Field."
"And she must return there to stop the dragon."
Panic began to rise in Lark-Lark of the Calling Field. The overwhelming fear only lasted for a moment before a sense of peace spread throughout her body. A disembodied voice whispered to her soothingly. The dragon loves you. You're simply returning home once more.
Where the voice emanated from Lark wasn't sure, but something about the words felt right. Somehow the thought of facing that awful beast was almost… exciting. Lark cautiously stepped into the circle of elders. The old figures bowed their heads, though whether in regret or honor for her soul, Lark didn't know.
The oldest of the elders, Marona of the Western Field, closed his eyes. "I knew you were eavesdropping, little one." Before Lark could stammer out an apology, Marona continued. "Be that as it may, I'm glad you were, princess. I am to ask of you the greatest sacrifice." His old grey eyes opened. "To give up your most precious gift here."
The gift of life.
"I'm supposed to meet the dragon in the Calling Field." Lark's eyes strayed toward the field of her birth. "To go home."
The old man nodded. "I cannot ask this of you, but I must."
"The dragon won't hurt you?"
"Not until you return in another thousand years." Marona offered a crooked smile. "Little princesses never really die. They only return in another life to be loved again and again."
The voice had come back to Lark. Go home, little one of the Calling Field. Return to your dragon. Be loved and live once more.
Lark ebulliently started toward the field. "I'll see you again, Marona!"
"In another life as always."