This is not going to hurt. Pain is necessary. Pain is the best teacher. When something hurts, we stop. When something or someone hurts us we come out stronger. But this is not going to hurt. She lies there half asleep in the bed of sin, her body radiating heat; in her half-clothed slumber. Normally, I do not indulge in the pleasures of the flesh, but this bar maiden was just irresistible. So, whatever - it happened. We sometimes make the wrong decision and then we must deal with it. She wasn’t bothered by the scar on my face. But it is the scars on my heart she should have been worried about. While looking at her emerge from the sleep, I realize have to do something.

I am a killer. A journey-man that simply cannot be tied down. But when I rolled into this town last night I found myself in the tavern. Once the fire-water poisoned my mind enough and my dollar ran short, I stumbled out into the cold. Then there she was, dancing in the street without a care in the world. Dressed in tattered clothes and smelling like she'd never met a bath. Still, there was something about her. Something tugged at me when I saw her. Something I have not felt in a long long time. Something that reminded me of Annabelle.

Once, when I was a respectable soldier in the King’s army, I had my choice of wife. My choice was Annabelle. She was the daughter of a good home. She tenderly took my heart of flesh and when she left she replaced it with one of stone. We were to marry after I returned from the war. But a man that leaves for war is not the man that returns. War changes people, and I got some awful scars from that war. Like the one across my left eye. The wound was deep and the gorge of skin never healed to the right spot. Therefore, across my eye is a canyon of missing tissue. The eye, a once bright and welcoming blue, is now dull and forgetful gray. The eye is gross and I thought my Annabelle would not be caught dead with an eyeless ex-soldier. But I was wrong. She welcomed me with open arms… my Annabelle.

Annabelle’s hair flowed like a river made of chestnuts. Each strand danced in the light of her shining personality. The locks moved with as a shadow would. The only bad part of her hair was that from time to time it would cover her face. Once her face was covered I lost my access to her eyes. Her eyes were as bright as the morning sky and her smile as bright as the sun. The purest ocean dreamed to be the color of her eyes. They were a sea of lust, wonder, and beauty. Skin so soft and smooth as if she were still a babe. The hardened skin of hard work did not appear on her hands. White and plush like cotton was what her magical skin felt like. Scared of the red ball of fire that would scar her, she rarely went outside. She feared that the sun’s rays would cut away at her wonderful skin. Instead, she mostly found ways to cover up her lovely skin. Hours and sometimes days would be spent on covering up her skin. She dressed in long radiant gowns from faraway places, all of the latest fashions. Her heart spoke like the gentle breeze. Just like her silky voice, her heart was soft and welcoming and warm like tender hugs.

That was my Annabelle. I don’t know what about this maiden made me think of her, but there was something. Perhaps her careless, loving attitude. Or just that she is a woman. I can’t have her wake up and see me. I am a ghost a sword-wielder, someone who lives in the shadows. No one can know my face. That is why I cover it with the helmet. She knows my face, she has seen every last inch of me. She is sleeping. I woke up before her and started to put my armor back on. If you live in the shadows at long as I have; you learn to dress quietly. Her hand tapped my armor. Her body was dirty with sin. Kneeling on the ground next to the bed we shared. My thoughts drift to Annabelle…

We were in the town center walking and talking about our married life when the suitor that lost to me for Annabelle’s hand came riding up with his thugs. Surrounding us, he took Annabelle away from me, ask her for her hand again. His thugs roughed me up and added to the scars on my face. Then I went numb. I never felt anything after that... besides good old pain, he comes around every once in a while.

Still kneeling, I take the cloth that I use to wipe my sweat and place it over her mouth. The dirty bar maiden struggles and grabs for air. I pressed harder on her jaw as she frantically hits my helmet and armor. I could care less about the panic in her eyes. The fear she feels means nothing to me. I am numb. I can still picture it like it was yesterday… In the town center. Me, bandaged up from the war; lying on the ground as I hear another demand for my wife’s hand in marriage. She refuses and he declares that if he can’t have her… no one will. I watch from my paralyzed state as dirt and blood block my vision. I can see him pull out his sword and, with a swift motion, chop off Annabelle’s head. That is when I went numb.

I never got my feelings back, nor do I want them. This is my life now, a life of sin and no remorse. I am numb, I can’t feel anything but pain. Pain when someone cuts me and pain from my memories.

She continues to struggle for breath under the cloth. Looking at her I whisper, “Shh, It will all be over soon. Shh, it’s okay. This is not going to hurt.” This is not going to hurt. I feel nothing inside as her last breath left her lifeless corpse. I stood up and moved on. “See? That did not hurt.”