“The Lord giveth…”, the words, they were not right. They were lies. Lies, and yet Roland had repeated them over and over, for all of his life -he knew them by heart, they were his shield. The corpse of a young woman, the miller’s daughter, was still warm, his blade had pierced her flesh as easy as when he tore his bread when he broke fast each morning. She looked so small, crumpled there on the earthen floor of the hut, eyes closed. A red stain spread under her body, soiling her simple cotton dress. Roland’s tongue felt heavy, thick, with the Devil’s nonsense. Gripping the hilt of his sword, Roland slowly staggered towards the door, like a man heavy in his cups. Fresh air.
“The Lord also taketh away. Over and over and over. What a capricious fellow, wouldn’t you agree, Roland?” It was the smallest of whispers, probably one that no one would have heard, and yet each word reached the knight’s ears clearly.
Roland stopped, feeling the air escape his lungs. A taste of copper on his mouth made him realized he was biting his lip rather vigorously. The knight took a step forward, as if unsure if the ground could hold his weight.
“Ah, ah…one should take the time to admire their handiwork. Gives us pause for…reflection.” The whisper tittered.
He had killed her, and now regret showed its head all too late. “Forgive me, Father.” A sob shook Roland. The sword leaned dangerously forward, trying to hold on to his master’s weight. From the corner of his eye, barely at the edge of his vision, he saw someone…tall, dressed in red, smiling. He could not tell if they were man or woman. The knight had faced death countless times in his life. A soldier of God, he was used to it, but this…”Get behind me, Satan!” With a growl, Roland straightened up, holding his sword in both hands.
More tittering. The hut started to feel cold, as if the snows of early Autumn were just falling out on the countryside, draping everything in white. “Brave knight, gallant knight. Serving God and country; no sin is too big for thee.”
With a roar, Roland swung his sword around, slashing at air, only to find himself staring at the young woman’s corpse looking back at him from the floor. Where did they go? Was he losing his mind?
“Just your soul.” The whisper breathed softly on the nape of Roland’s neck, a chill pierced it. Then darkness.