Hargold the Chosen One strode up the hill to meet his destiny, wondering at the lack of a castle silhouetted against the sky. At the top of the hill, a hole led down into darkness. A sign beside it read, “This way to the dungeon.”
He’d never heard of a dungeon without a castle or a ruin atop it, but the evil within must be dank indeed to be imprisoned so far from any habitation.
The steps that led down into the hole were straight and true, the walls uneven and dry (and patently free of cobwebs), and the torches in their sconces burned with little smoke. Doubt niggled at Hargold.
The ground leveled out, and the short hallway passed through an arch (no door, he noticed, and wondered how a dungeon worked without a door) and opened into a cavernous space with a line of people — and other beings — snaking their way into the darkness. The line didn’t appear to be moving.
He snapped his attention to his left, where a woman dressed in green velvet lounged on top of a desk. Doubt stopped niggling and started shouting.
“Name?” She waved a clipboard at him. “I need to verify who’s been called.”
“What are all these people doing here? This is my quest!” He glared at the line, trying to decide whether he had truly seen a metal woman. “I am Hargold the Chosen One.”
“Hargold, Hargold, let’s see . . . ” She ran her finger down the clipboard. “Here you are. Just sign here, please, and wait your turn at the back of the line.”
He finally decided to pay attention to the doubt. “Wait in line? But I am the Chosen One!”
“Honey, everyone here is chosen. He’s been chosen to kill his cousin. She’s chosen to look for someone who made a grave mistake, but what she finds is going to surprise her. That one there? The squid? He’s chosen to haunt a freshwater lake. You’re all special, you all have stories, and you have to wait your turn.”
Doubt or no, he would not whimper that he was chosen. Casting about for something else to say, he saw darkened niches around the edge of the cavern. The people inside them glared back at him, as annoyed as he. “What about them? Are they chosen, too?”
“They were. She threw them back, gave up on them, or otherwise rejected them. They stay on, hoping the line will vanish and their turn will come again.” She thrust the clipboard at him. “Now, sign here.”
He looked around the dungeon once more, at everyone in the unmoving line. “I think not. I may be Chosen, but I can also choose.”
As he stepped through the archway, the woman behind him laughed. “No one leaves until she decides. You’re just lucky she’s done with you already.”
His doubt left behind, Hargold mounted the steps, wondering if the baker would be willing to take a formerly Chosen One as an apprentice.
— The End —