By Ann Murphy
The arrow tip went deep and his blood began to flow. It flowed into the earth, saturating it with its pungent warm smell of fear. The mouldering leaves of winter, like a sponge, soaked it up hungrily.
His hand grasped the arrow’s shaft, so deeply imbedded now that nothing could remove it. He had thought himself infallible, untouchable, so perfectly invulnerable. Yet the arrow had pierced him surely. He gasped, too stunned to register that the arrow, which had pierced the chain mail of his very soul was now allowing his life-force to ebb away.
Still holding the bloody arrow he fell to his knees, kneeling in his own blood. But it wasn’t supposed to be outside of him, on the cold clammy leaves of the forest floor. It should be inside him, coursing with power through his veins. This could not be happening. He had never been injured before, never even been touched by death’s whisper…until now.
He looked all about him, frantically searching for the source of his demise, his nemesis. He could hear the footsteps, but it was too dark to see, the crescent moon’s light hidden by the trees above. And then, there she was, walking towards him, her bow in her hand, string pulled back tightly, another arrow, ready to be released.
“You,” he gasped, not believing it possible. She was too small, too unimportant. She had been nothing. Weak, subservient; everything he hated.
She said nothing as she strode towards him, keeping the arrow ready to fly again. Her green velvet dress dragged behind her in the cold mud. She felt no pity for him, why should she? What had he ever done to deserve her pity? He looked up at her in horror, his fear reflected in her eyes but she said nothing. She wanted him to feel everything that he had ever made her feel. All the pain, all the hurt, all the anguish from years of misery at his hand.
But seeing him now, broken and on his knees, she knew that this was not possible. He was incapable of feeling. Only his fear and disbelief, which came as such a shock to him, could he feel now, now that his life was slowly ebbing away.
And what use is that? she thought to herself as she continued to stare into the eyes of the man who had hurt her so much. Now that he is close to death? Now he begins to feel something, even if it was only his own fear? Its too late, much too late.
She shook her head, realising that his death no longer meant anything. It would take nothing away. She would still be left with the pain and the wounds that he had inflicted. Piercing her emotional armour easily, he had laughed at her, caring less and less as time went by. Slowly the rent in her armour had gotten bigger and bigger until her life force, her inner-most self, had been stolen away. She had thought it irretrievable but had found, once he had left her, that she still had something left. Something she could grow herself. So she stayed in the shadows, healing her wounds, and building her strength until she had healed them enough to continue.
The day arrived when she thought she was ready. Her armour, was shiny and new again. She travelled, searching the known world, not resting until she found him and could make him feel what she had so often felt.
But now, looking down at his pitiful, stricken face, she realised that he was nothing. She realised that as long as she felt this anger, and desire for revenge, that her wounds would never truly heal. Her armour might be stronger but her heart could still feel.
She brought her bow down but kept the string tight, just in case. He looked at her in confusion, was she not going to kill him?
She sighed deeply, looking down at the dark glistening blood congealing in the rings of his chain-mail. Her anger died with it and she was left empty…once again.
Silently she turned and slowly walked away, her bow dragging behind her in the mud. He stared after her, incredulous, still clutching the sticky black arrow’s shaft. Left alone… with his fears, his life ebbing away in the lightless forest…
Dying Knight image: http://joey-b.deviantart.com/art/Lost-knight-exercise-pic-55796299