A Haunted Ending
By Megan Bilse
My body is covered in the reminders of a lifetime’s worth of battles but my heart bares the weight of them. I am an old man now. Being alone carries a new meaning than it has throughout my life. As I neared the end, I expected to be content with my success and look back with pride at the mountain of enemy bodies I created. I expected to have many great stories to tell of pillaging villages for the empire’s expansion. Instead, I have but one story about one body that haunts my ending.
It was the winter solstice and she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Though I only spent one night with her, it was the closest feeling to love my barren soul has ever known. She was brought to me by my second in command; a prize for our newly gained territory. She was different than the rest, the way she held her bodily honor with no fear of it about to be taken by me. Her trailing black hair reminded me of silk, a treasure I received from another eastern territory. I remember her beauty striking me at first glance as they took her away to be marked for me. I was curious to see if she could fulfill my appetite, unlike so many of the others. I swelled at the thought of conquest and of her territory I would indeed conquer that night.
The festivities lasted all day and when the moon was high in the sky, my second escorted me to my chambers, where the real treasure lay in waiting. My head felt light and my vision blurry from the drink of the new territory. I stumbled to my chair, forgetting my new treasure. The last I can recall of that night is the most angelic voice to have ever caressed my ears.
“Sir, I believe you have had too much to drink.”
I awoke to the most excruciating pounding my ears have ever known. To my delight, the angelic voice returned, accompanied by soft lips, to my ears.
“Drink this, it will make it better.” With no pause to determine if the drink was a threat, I sipped graciously, as if her voice commanded that I do.
After a glass, I slept until the sun was ready to set. I woke and found her sitting in a chair by the window; her hands busy in her hair. Why she was still there baffled me. She could have easily escaped telling the guards she fulfilled her duties.
“You look well.” By now she had found a way to make her carefully piled hair stay upon her head with just one ribbon. She drew my sword from its casing and began to examine it. Running her fingers along the etching and gold inlays.
“You are the most exquisite treasure I have won.” I regretted the words I chose as they were falling out of my mouth.
“Do you spend all of your time collecting treasures?” Her tone seducing, she looked back at me over her shoulder and all I had won was lost. There was only her.