Okay, so it probably wasn't smart to start this story with all the other ones I'm doing now (I'm also about to start another bb/rae fic)...but oh well...

The Choosing

"It is said that there is a master thief who lives in an abandoned mansion up the hill and deep into the Azarathean woods. The thief stole from everyone, rich and poor. He was only interested in his own profit.

Some even said that he stole just for the fun of it," the speaker paused, noticing the small girl rustle her bed sheets with excitement.

This was her favorite part.

"One day, an old woman was walking through the woods. All she had was a large emerald necklace with her. When she took a break from walking, she sat and eventually dosed off. The thief tried to steal the expensive necklace, but he underestimated the old woman. She awoke with a start and stared right at the frightened thief; he had yet to be caught by anyone, let alone seen. She told him that it was a priceless family heirloom and begged for him to give it back; she was, after all, too old to chase down the man."

The raven-haired girl leaned forward, enraptured by her mother's tale.

"The thief remained unmoved by her pleas and turned to leave. As he did, he heard the rustle of leaves behind him and he turned to behold a vengeful witch.

'You are so selfish,' she chastised.

The thief was mortified. Angered by his indifference with her necklace, she placed a curse upon him. She cursed him with immortality."

The girl snorted, "Well that's stupid. Who wouldn't want to live forever?"

The mother laughed, "Immortality is as much a curse as a blessing. She knew that it would be painful for him to watch everyone he knew to grow old and die.

'One day, there will be a girl who will steal your heart, and you will have to watch her age and die,' condemned the sorceress.

The only way for the thief to stop his immortality would be for him to love another and earn her love in return. Only then would he be able to live his life out with her as every normal person does, growing old together."

The girl yawned, "Did he ever fall in love?"

"No, my dear child, he has not. Rumor has it that he still lives up in that mansion. He steals from villagers. And one day each year, he plunders most of the village's possessions, just to show he can. And that, my dear child, is why each year one girl is sent up the hill to the mansion. It is the hope of the village elders that the girl who captures his heart will persuade him to stop his thievery once and for all."

The mother smiled at the sleeping form of her child and picked up the burning candle as she quietly exited the room.

Ten Years Later

Today was that day. The day where the village elders decided on the prettiest girl to send off to find the thief. Each year, all the girls in the village who were between the ages of seventeen and twenty-six would dress in their finest garments and, after several hours of preparation, would show up to the town's court. They would sit in the rows of wooden benches. At exactly 2 p.m., the village elders (after several long speeches) would announce the girl they had chosen.

It was always an honor to be chosen, for only the prettiest girls in town were. None of the villagers were worried anymore about the situation considering that each year the girl would return home within days. It seemed no girl would satisfy the thief, only the jewels the girls wore. They would always return home with most of their trinkets missing.

Arella was fussing about which dress her daughter should wear. Her daughter, Raven, on the other hand, wasn't too concerned. After all, she was almost certain that she wouldn't be chosen. Still, her mother insisted that she get dressed up again for the whole ordeal. She went 2 years ago when she was seventeen and was awed by it all. This year, after going through it all twice already, she wasn't. She almost considered skipping out on the whole thing, except her mother wouldn't hear of it.

So, after a bath and a meal, Raven was attempting to coax her coal black hair into a decent looking bun while her mother kept fussing over which of her dresses Raven should wear. Arella finally settled on the midnight blue one. It was a floor-length silk dress with intricate silver embroidery lining the slight v-neck of the dress. The embroidery also decorated her sleeves, encircling an area above her elbow. Her sleeves continued down, becoming a bit more voluminous.

At her waist was a silver cord belt and she wore blue ballet flats that matched the dress color. Her hair managed to look respectable in a bun at the nape of her neck. She wore a sapphire pendant to complete the look and was finally ready.

Raven saw her reflection in the mirror and was surprised at how good she looked. She rarely dressed up and wasn't accustomed to seeing herself in such a light. She had to admit that her mom had a thing for style, her milky pale skin looked good against the deep blue of the dress. And Raven loved the color, it was no secret that blue was her favorite color.

After saying her goodbyes, Raven left the house to walk to the court building in town. Everywhere she looked, she saw the town's girls in dresses and gowns of several different colors, styles and makes. And the girls who were still to young to participate looked longingly at those in dresses.

On her way to the house, Raven stopped at Kori and Tara's house. They were sisters, and they were Raven's good friends. Kori had on a deep green dress that reflected her eyes. The bodice of her dress was embroidered with gold flowers. Gold trimming lined her sleeves and the bottom of her dress. She also wore emerald earrings.

Tara wore a simple gold dress with a dazzling ruby and gold necklace. Raven smiled at her friends and joined them on their walk to the court. Last year, Kori had been chosen to go. Kori lasted the longest of any girl previously chosen, a week and a half, but she too was eventually sent back. Raven was surprised that the girls who'd already been chosen still had to participate, everyone knew that it wasn't likely that they'd be chosen again.

Before long, the three girls saw the courthouse looming in the distance. Raven was actually nervous about the ordeal and envied her friend's position. Kori didn't have to be nervous, there was no way she'd be picked again. And she'd been deemed the prettiest girl in town. Lucky.

Raven pushed open the heavy wooden doors of the courthouse and, like every year, marveled at the magnificence of the building. It was, hands down, the largest building in town. And it had the most ornate architecture. The wood paneled walls gave the room an academic austerity that Raven liked. And the wooden benches were cut so precisely; each one looked the same as the one before it. Raven sat with her friends near the back of the room. Best to look inconspicuous.

With 10 minutes to spare, Raven could see other girls filtering in, though most were already there. Raven sighed and leaned back, ready for the ordeal to end.

She zoned out for most of the speeches, tuning them out and allowing herself to fall into a sleep like state.

It was only when the head of the Village Counsel (A/N: The village elders make up the Village Counsel) announced, "And the girl who will go this year is…" that Raven actually began to listen.

The room grew quiet and tension filled the room. All the girls wanted (or as in Raven's case, didn't want) to go.

"…Raven Roth."

Raven felt the eyes of everyone in the room fall on her. She couldn't stop the crimson flush that flared in her cheeks; she hated being stared at. Raven rose and walked to the front of the room, instantly regretting her decision to sit in the back. She could feel the calculating gazes of her peers and wondered why someone else couldn't have been picked.

When she reached the front of the room she was congratulated by the 13 village elders. The head of the elders eventually dismissed the rest of the girls and turned to Raven to tell her of the plans.

He was definitely deserving of the title Village Elder, since he looked about a thousand years old. And for today's festivities, he was clad in his blue military suit. It looked as old as he was. He was skinny and bald with some spots of discoloration lining his skull. He had what appeared to be permanent bags under his eyes and the gaze from his onyx eyes was intense and unnerving. He appeared to always have a perpetual scowl. Despite his short stature and his age, no one wanted to cross him. It was said that he was an amazingly skilled general (some called him the ageless general-though never to his face). Raven was just glad that she could only speculate on the claims of his military prowess (A/N: it's the general from the Brotherhood of Evil).

He gave her a map of how to get to the mansion, though Raven found it rather unnecessary. It was pretty much straight back into the woods. Raven briefly wondered why they hadn't just decided to raid the thief's house or something, but she was then ushered to out to the street. The town fair was just beginning, and well, she was the center of it all. Just great.

Normally, she liked the fair. Each year the bakers sold their best treats and sweets and there were always games to take part in. There were even jugglers and, without fail, the circus would stop in their town for this. Everyone loved watching the Flying Grayson's the best; they were a family of three and their acrobatics were stunning (and became more so each year). And each year there was a banquet that stretched down the town's main street. The food offered would fit a king, there were so many selections that each year Raven couldn't even try more than half of what was offered.

However, this year, it was a nightmare. Everyone turned to stare at her as she passed and several people had the nerve to tell her congratulations. She knew they meant well, but she didn't really feel too fortunate. She consoled herself with the fact that it would all be over in a few days, she'd be sent home and eventually the town hype around her would die down.

This year at the banquet, Raven had to sit at the head of the table, at the other end of the Village Counsel. It was the seat traditionally used for the girl chosen. Raven found herself extremely glad when the night ended, her patience was wearing thin. She also had a long day ahead of her tomorrow, she'd have to pack and then, at noon when the sun was at it's highest, she would set out for the mansion. Once again, this was all for a good intention (when the sun was up she was less likely to get lost or be attacked by animals), but hiking in the sunlight would be a pain. She sighed and crawled into her lilac bed. She was claimed by sleep almost instantly.

Hey everyone! I've been dying to do a Rae/Red-x story for some time, and well, here it is! I hope you all enjoyed it! I promise the later chapters will be longer (and hopefully better)! :)

Please review! Also, if you've written a story for this pairing and have any helpful advice, that'd be great!