A Dance With the Devil
“Why don’t you make this easy for the both of us?” the man told Jaycee. “Just give me everything that you have, and I promise I won’t hurt you.” The man then began making his way closer to his prey.
It was apparent just by the look on Jaycee’s face that she would refuse to play the part of the frightened victim. Never before had Jaycee felt such an intense hatred for another human being consume her.
To the utter shock of her aggressor, Jaycee went on the attack. The sound her weapon made striking the man’s face and the way it felt brought about a feeling of wicked pleasure to Jaycee, who couldn’t help herself from wanting more.
The man stumbled backward but quickly regained his footing. He then wiped away a trickle of blood running from his mouth. “You’re going to regret that,” he said. The man then began his own attack. He unleashed a wild swing of his sword but Jaycee was able to block the attack, leaving their weapons locked.
With a strength she was unaware she had, Jaycee began pushing the man back.
“How are you doing this?” asked the man. “You’re just a girl.”
Jaycee was able to push her adversary away, leaving him open to attack. She immediately let loose with a flurry of strikes to his face, forcing the man to drop his sword. Knowing the opportunity to further disable her adversary had presented itself, Jaycee thrust her staff across his chest and slammed him into a tree. The man’s head took the brunt of the impact, leaving him unable to do more than stand on shaky legs against a dying body of wood.
With her opponent unable to fight back, Jaycee dropped her staff and picked up the man’s sword. She then glared at her enemy, her rage growing stronger as she did. “Look at me,” she demanded. The man was too badly beaten to answer or even raise his head. This only made Jaycee more angry. “I said look at me!”
The man feebly raised his head to look at Jaycee.
“Do you remember this face?” asked Jaycee.
“Please . . . I don’t know who you are,” said the man.
Hearing the man’s reply brought about a plethora of different emotions within Jaycee. At the same time, she felt shock, anger and sorrow. Jaycee couldn’t believe the man who had taken the lives of her parents and tried to do the same to her could possibly forget who she was. “He doesn’t remember,” thought Jaycee, tears now falling from her eyes. “Killing my parents wasn’t important enough for him to remember.”
“If I’ve brought you any kind of pain, please forgive me,” said the man, discreetly reaching behind his back for a small dagger tucked under his belt. “Not more than a day ago, I was shown mercy by a young man. I had wronged him in the past, but he looked beyond his anger to forgive me. Surely you can be as merciful as him.” Finding the dagger, the man drew it and waited for the perfect moment to cut down his foe.
“This young man,” said Jaycee. “This young man who showed you mercy . . . must be a far better person than I.”
“What?” gasped the man.
Jaycee then drove the man’s own sword through his shoulder. The man’s plan for a sneak attack would go unfulfilled as his dagger fell from his grasp.
The only solace Jaycee could take from her horrendous act was the fact that the rush of tears streaming from her eyes had blurred her vision enough to spare her from having to see every grisly detail of what she had just done.
The man’s eyes closed and his head lowered. With his sword driven so deeply into the dying tree, the man’s body was unable to fall to the ground.
With the ordeal behind her, Jaycee retrieved her staff, acting as if nothing out of the ordinary had just taken place and was on her way.
Having grown accustomed to her shadowy surroundings, Jaycee was forced to shield her eyes from the brightness of the sun when she exited from the forest. It was immediately after entering the light when a moment from her past came to her.
* * *
A young Jaycee came running into her house, tears streaming down her cheeks. She rushed to her mother at the table and buried her face in her lap.
“Jaycee, what’s wrong?” asked her mother.
“A boy pushed me and I fell and scraped my leg,” exclaimed Jaycee.
“Did he say he was sorry?” asked Jaycee’s father.
“Yes,” said Jaycee. “But I still hate him!”
“You shouldn’t hate someone just because they’ve done something bad to you,” said Jaycee’s mother. She then lifted her daughter onto her lap.
“Haven’t we taught you to forgive people when they hurt you?” asked Jaycee’s father.
“What if I don’t want to forgive him?” asked Jaycee.
“Why don’t you try looking at things from that boy’s point of view,” said Jaycee’s mother. “How would it make you feel if you hurt someone and you told them you were sorry but they refused to forgive you?”
“I would feel bad,” said Jaycee. She then took some time to reflect on what she was being told. “So, I should forgive people when they do something bad?”
“Yes,” replied Jaycee’s mother. “You should never allow hate and anger to control you. If you do, then you won’t be Jaycee anymore.”
“I won’t?” asked Jaycee.
“No,” replied her mother. “You’ll have become a completely different person. And the precious little girl that you once were will be gone forever.”
* * *
Unable to support herself on such shaky legs, Jaycee fell to her hands and knees as tears streamed down her face. “Mother, father, please forgive me.” She then placed her face against the ground and allowed her emotions to spill onto the earth.
Shadow Kahn stood before the man’s motionless body. The man was very near death but still alive. “Please . . . help me,” he groaned, opening his weary eyes. “A band of brigands attacked me and left me for dead.”
Shadow Kahn placed his hand on the man’s face. “Fear not,” he said. “For I will not allow the hands of that girl to be stained with the blood of the likes of you. Let it be me who carries that burden.” And with that, a burst of energy shot from his hand and devoured everything in its path, leaving behind only a path of scorched earth.
With the last traces of the man forever removed from the world of the living, Shadow Kahn began his trek out of the forest. But after taking only a few steps, he stopped to look back at what he had just done. “I wish I could say that made me feel better,” he said, “but that changed nothing.”