A Ghost Named Grudge
“A grudge is like drinking bitter poison, then expecting somebody else to die.”
The Knight rode his horse alone. The narrow path to the castle was flanked by fallen knights that went before him to slay the Ghost that has been haunting the kingdom every night for countless years now.
He went past the courtyard and entered the throne room. Then…
Dust from the ground swirled before him to form a hazy, hooded figure of the Ghost he came to kill—like all the other knights before him who failed.
He awkwardly slid down his horse, unaccustomed to the heavy shield and broadsword he had to carry to battle.
The ghost laughed at the amateur slayer sent before him by a desperate Queen who has ran out of real warriors.
“I will be merciful. I will be swift.” He said.
But the knight did not seem to hear the insult hurled at him by his adversary, his gaze was fixed beyond the ghost, beyond the throne. He was reading something written on the castle wall.
The Ghost was puzzled by the Knight who didn’t seem to care that he was about to die.
The knight tore his gaze off the wall and stared at the pair of vacant globs of darkness where the eyes of the ghost should be and finally spoke “You are most surely right, but it will be I who will be Merciful and Swift!”
It was the first time the Ghost had been insulted. The impertinence of the unskilled knight rankled. The ghost briefly recited an ancient curse then mindlessly lunged at him with the broadsword that he pulled out of thin air, aiming for his heart. The knight dropped his own broadsword. Instead of parrying the blow, he pulled opened the chink in his breast plate and welcomed the sword into his heart, from pointed tip to hilt.
The sword that pierced the knight’s heart magically turned into ash and was blown harmlessly away by the gentle wind from the castle’s windows. The knight stood unhurt.
A guttural cry that seemed to rise from the bowels of hell filled the hall. The Ghost was holding his bony hands where his heart should be on his chest. He had neither eyes nor mouth but the knight knew he was in pain. The wound that should have been his was slowly, painfully bleeding the ghost to death.
“I used to be a court Physician before I was forced into knighthood by the Queen Guenevere, after you killed the last of her knights, Sir Gawain” said the knight.
“I have been a physician to countless other knights in battles and have seen those same wounds before. On my way to your castle I couldn’t fail to mark that each knight was killed by the same type of weapon they held in their hands when they dueled with you: I saw Sir Galahad with an arrow piercing his heart from a crossbow like his own; Sir Lancelot’s face torn in half by a mace, his weapon of choice; And I saw the remains of Old King Arthur cut in half by a powerful sword only Excalibur could wreak”
He turned his back on his fallen adversary now melting into a writhing pool of scarlet.
"All of them caused their own deaths.”He continued, “You could not be killed because every duel, like the one we had, you put a curse on each knight so that when they pierce your heart or wound you, it will be them who will bear the mortal wounds—NOT YOU.”
“It was a clever curse,” said the ghost with every ounce of dignity he could muster.
“Perhaps, but your name gave you away and with it your chance of winning against me.” Then the knight pointed to the name emblazoned on the coat of arms on the wall above the throne.
“Your name is ‘GRUDGE.’”
As he climbed up the saddle of his Horse he continued “When I read your name it dawned on me how you can be beaten. I remember being told by my teachers in the art of healing that a ‘grudge’ is like drinking a poisoned chalice, and then expecting your enemy to die. So I let you strike the blow, knowing that if you wound me, it would be you who would suffer death.”
And with those final words, the nameless Paladin Physician rode away—the slayer of the Ghost named “Grudge.”
Note: Thanks for reading but I don’t think I can consider this an original work since the main concept (being killed by your own weapon used to strike a passive enemy) was adapted from a Book I’ve read and lost years ago. I have to find it again though and give it proper citation.