The machine was a gift from the gods. It was ancient, built from before when our father's fathers father was born and far beyond that. It was self maintaining because the craft to repair it manually was lost to our memories eons ago.
Every year, at harvest time, a young maid was sacrificed to the machine, to appease the gods and ensure an excellent crop. It was a tradition that dated well beyond memory, to the mist of the machines earliest origins.
This year Allowin was chosen. A fair maid whose innocence and loveliness were unparalleled among all the hundreds of village girls. She would be the honorable sacrifice this year. She would be fed to the machine this season.
Artur loved her beyond all words ever since they were young children playing along the babbling brook just outside the village proper. They had grown up together and before long they had become the greatest of friends. Over time, their love blossomed like sun on a cloudless day. He could not bare the fate of losing his beloved Allowin and brooded to the point of heart-broken madness. A fateful, final decision was made one restless night by the heart sick young man; this years harvest would be very, very differant indeed. Artur intently began to plot their imminent escape...
Artur waited until cover of dark to enter unseen in to Allowin's hut. She was sitting by the hearth, the light of the fire reflecting off the curvature of her face.
"We must go. Now, before it is too late."
"But Artur, It's my solemn duty to ..."
"No" he interrupted. He shook his head and looked into Allowin's eyes. " I cannot accept it. For years, we've been sacrificing our women to the machine, and for what?" He tightened his fists. "Good weather. Good crops? Good hunting?" " How do you even know these things are affected by this...machine of the gods? There is only superstition and legends told by lazy old men who do nothing but tell stories."
"But this is the way its always been, Artur. Our people have given tribute from time immemorial." She returned Artur's stare but not with anger or fear, but with the love they had shared between them for most of there lives.
That look could always quell the anger that flared up in Artur. She was his rock, his guiding compass.
Artur took her gently into his strong arms. " It is my wish, to spend the rest of our lives together. To live together and hunt the forests, fish the streams. To grow old together. To raise many children to be young and strong and to be happy as long as the Gods permit. If this is not your wish also..." He paused as a wave of sadness stabbed him in his mighty heart. "If this is not your wish, then I will go. And I will wander the world alone in exile until I die of an empty heart."
"But if you feel as I do..." She embraced him tightly and raised her lips to his.
" You know you have my heart, always." Allowin cried as she trembled in his embrace.
"Then lets us go. Let us leave before the hour is too late." She lowered her gaze to floor deep in thought.
"To live the life you describe...it is...very desirable to me. I wish ...it also..."
"Once we are gone, we will never be able to return. I must go and gather supplies...I will return shortly. Be prepared. We must make for the forests before our plans are discovered...we can cover our trail and disappear from this place."
And like a shadow, Artur was off...