Rated K+ for mention of violence. The Haunted Knight's thoughts before battle. Written for an LJ challenge some months ago, a short character study.


A boy on a nag, but with a sword. The hooded cloak betrayed a lack of age rather than hiding it. No armor. The horse was tall, but a courser rather than a charger. No lance, not even a shield.

No challenge, either. It probably meant that he had no rank worthy of a fight on equal terms.

The other one, though, that dared to address him... there was power there, and the manner of royalty. If the haughty demeanor was a falsehood, the raven- black prince would pay later.

Well. If his first task for this new lord was to kill the boy on the horse, so be it. Either he would gain a new lord and a duty, or a death.

As long as there was a duty, he must serve. Seeking his death would be the ultimate stain on his filthy, haunted soul, and so he could not let himself die. There was no confession any longer, for he could not speak, and there was no church or priest in the gray mists of this accursed, endless forest; there was no absolution; the only penance he could serve was the constant memory of screams and curses as men died, of tears as she pleaded with him to give up his sword.

It was not enough. At least if he served a lord, that lord bore some part in his sins for having ordered his actions.

He put spurs to his horse, and charged.

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