As soon as the stone hit me, I knew it was over.
And the thing was, I was relieved. For one thing, it was the nature of the job. The possibility of death was always lurking over my shoulder. Oh sure, I was a warrior, and I guess people feared me or whatever. But I wasn’t invincible. I knew it was only a matter of time until someone proved it.
For another thing, I had been asking for it. Because I wasn’t just a warrior. I was a sideshow. And sure, it was fun at first. I liked the attention. I liked feeling powerful. But at some point, making sport of killing men half my size stopped being amusing.
To me, anyway; there were plenty of people who would’ve sat by watching me strike down soldier after soldier for the rest of their days, hooting and hollering as the men fell to the ground, lifeless. God only knows what fueled their bloodlust. All I know is, they disgusted me almost as much as I disgusted myself. It was one thing to take another’s life on the field of battle, but this murdering for entertainment? It was eating away at me. Literally–it was like the moral decay became a physical thing consuming me from the inside.
So as I felt myself falling to the ground, the weight–of my armor and of everyone’s expectations–was lifted. My grip loosened on my sword. I let go.
For the first time, I was unburdened.
The last thing I saw before I hit the ground was the kid. The one who’d put the stone in me. He looked shocked, like he couldn’t believe it had worked.
I must’ve looked that way, too. And I was shocked. I mean, a slingshot? Who’d have thought, right?
But had I had the ability to speak before it all went dark, if I could’ve seen the kid one last time in my dying moment, if I would’ve been given the opportunity for last words, I would have looked that kid in the eye and said, “Thank you.”