Death, Oh death, I have longed to find thee.
The years of serving my liege as King’s Guard has made my life weary. Made my sword grew heavy from the men and women and children that I have slain.
My life is summarized in six words ” My lord what is thy bidding.” So it was so it ever shall be. No matter the order I obey. No matter the consequences I reap. So has my father has done and his father before him. This is our family’s legacy.
As for my war mongering liege, he not only invades kingdoms but also butchers villages merely for the pleasure of it, and I, as his sword. Thus, he has given me the title, Knight of the Red Lake. A warning not only for my skill with the sword but for the things that I have done.
I drank to drown my woes. As I see my people force to build statues of me rather than the graves of their sons. Or see scarred maidens in high cold towers wishing to the stars.
“What could life possibly have to offer but suffering,” I said to thy self.
And sleep has finally overtaken. That night I dreamt I was at a lake. The lake was beautiful, shimmering like diamonds reflecting the suns’ glory. And the blowing of the wind gently kissing the grass as it swayed, the rustling of the trees and singing of the birds under the blue soaring sky.
I was at peace, but then a voice called out to me, coming from the lake. It was the voice of a young maiden. I went out to reach her. But as I stretch my hand, I saw my entire arm covered in blood. And out of the lake came people rising from the depths of the water.
“Why?!!!!!!!!!!!!”, they shrieked at me.
As they head towards me, their eyes, nose, ears, and mouth were overflowing with blood. They have turned the lake red.
I ran towards the solace of the tree. And true fear gripped my heart.
It was dead. Dozens of children hanging by the branches. I recognized some of them. One by one they turned their eyes on me. Wailing a cry so dreadful while they extend their hands towards me.
I was in a hellish landscape with no escape and I could bear it no longer. The only choice left was to end my own life just to make this nightmare stop.
A cold sweat broke through me as I opened my eyes. The lake in my dream was the very lake that I turned red all those years ago.
In my fear and sorrow, I grabbed my armor and sword to clear my head and rode outside the castle walls. Reaching an open field, I descended from my steed. Basking in the moonlight, I once again asked myself why is life cruel. Unfortunately, I did not reach an answer. Sick of questioning life, I drew my sword and was ready to feel its piercing steel.
Until I heard it then, a voice I wouldn’t ever forget.
“Arise! Arise! My good Sir! Your death should not be by thy hand. Come cross swords with me so that I might give you a beautiful death, ” he said in a cold but playful voice.
“Show yourself first! ” I said. “Attacking in the shadows is worthy only of an assassin!”
So out of the darkness and into the light of the moon, I saw him. His cloth was poor and it was as black as night and he wore a hood as if he was wearing a shadow for his face.
“What is thy name?” I said unto him.
“If you want to know my name, first defeat me in battle,” he answered.
And thus he drew his sword as we took our battle stances. With the light of the moon shining our blade, and with stars as our witness.
I thrust my blade at him, but he quickly evaded it and leaving the back of my neck exposed. I sidestepped, and we began to cross swords. And it was to my amazement how quick he was in his footwork.
Like a wind in the storm, his blows were both fast and strong. Cutting me from the exposed spot of my armor but his cuts were shallow as if he’s toying with me. But I know the truth
In all my years of dueling, I have never been outmatched like this!
He said to me in a mocking tone, “This is the knight of the lake? The one who bled an entire village dry? Pity, I’m dissapointed”.
In my anger, I swung my sword finally throwing him off-balance.
And as our sword locked I could feel as if I could overpower him, but he was cunning. I saw as he drew out a small knife, hidden in his sleeve. Too quick to evade, he stabbed me on my forearm.
A stunned silence echoed through me as my vision blurred and my left arm useless.
As he swung his sword towards me, I managed to block it, only for him to draw his scabbard and disabled my other arm
“You are beaten,” he mocked and smirked. “Thou hour has come.”
“Finish it then for thee is compassionate to end my misery. Let your sword fall upon enemy’s head. End my wicked ways, let me drown in my blood rather than to let me drown in wine. Close thine eyes so they will not see suffering. Silence thine mouth so it would not hurt others. Shut thine ears so that it will no longer hear the woes of thy victims. But most of all, cut thine hands so they will not hold a sword no more. “
He looked at me with his cold stare and said with a soft voice,
“You speak with such conviction but is there steel in your words? You said you wanted to know my name. Thy name is Death and I have come to take you.”
The moment he said those lines I was aghast. And said to myself is this it? Is this the death I was looking for? I should be at peace knowing that he would cease my suffering. But, why am I compelled to stop death? Is there a duty I have not yet fulfilled?
Then death spoke in a horrific tone and said to me,
“You are stifled, have you’ve done everything to end the suffering of others? Are yea ready to die with the sins still hooked to your heart? Are yea ready to join me to the depths? Cause that is where I will take all the Damned souls like you! The choice still stands before thee”
As the grass danced in the light of the moon. The veiled stars began to shimmer and the wind blowing coldly against the sweat of my neck. I was on my knees looking up to the sword that will end my life. It shined ready to strike. I was still conflicted about whether I will say nay to death.
As he ready to swing his sword everything became so slow as if time itself stopped in this one moment. I closed my eyes and my life flashed before me remembering the little good in it.
He swung the sword.
And I opened my eyes.
Screamed at the top of my heart, “NAY!!!!”
Right before it could reach me. And at the blink of an eye Death disappeared.
It’s been nearly 25 years since the day of our duel. Since that day I left the king’s guard and my old life. I became a farmer growing things instead of killing. Dirt washes faster than blood.
I want you to know that I am very grateful for what you did for me that night. And that I’m trying to seek the forgiveness of the people I have done wrong. Although most of them have forgiven me, some still harbor hatred towards me. I don’t blame them.
But if you had not crossed swords with me I would have taken my own life and I would have never found the one they call Love.
So I thank you and till our next meeting, I won’t bother crossing swords with thee instead I will greet thee as a friend.