Assassination. Such an ambiguous word. It connotes some justification or meaningful purpose in the murder of a person. It is not like the purposeful, though random slaughter in battle and warfare. It is deliberate, sensible.
On the night of my death, the night clouds were creeping across the face of the moon, shedding intermittent light upon the dark path and torturous roads leading to Reykholt, over which they came to me. I had been alone for hours in the silence, except for the shallow whipping of my candle flame in the still of my room. No sound of bird or cricket, frog, or canine howling. On the banks of the stream cutting through my estate, loose earth rimmed the edges of the cold water like dark lips. The black outline of a large bird resting upon the cairn at the bottom of the dale, the moon sharing its white glow with the orb of the bird’s eye. The stars were faint, veiled by misty cloud. He came to me in my last moments of life.
“Soon,” is all he said.
There was an odor, the smell of decaying meat or rotting organic sludge, as if I were decomposing while still living. I have always thought that ‘if it smells bad, it is bad’, though now I know that if it smells, it is just a smell. It was the smell of my own fear, my anticipation of great pain and violence, of brutal horror. I never thought I would come to an end like that until that moment.
I felt naked, at the bottom of a hole, entombed in blackness with no sound other than the sound of my own breath and flapping of my heart, like a fly trapped in the honey pot, the horror and gloom of living death.
Gissur had spies watching Reykholt, to tell him when the opportunity was right. He came in the dark with seventy men on horseback. Their coming broke the silence of the night, breaking into my home, waking me from sleep. I lept out of bed in my night dress and fled. There was no place to go except to my garret, my loft in the small building next to my house. I was angry with myself for my cowardice. I should have stood fast and faced my enemy even knowing that I would be slain. It was only in those moments near my end that I came face to face with and admitted to myself my failings. In my last moments it was not just fear that filled me but also regret. I had done much good but I had also had many moments of weakness and failure.
My garret was my refuge. My mind’s eye saw it as my place of safety and shelter, impenetrable, though I knew it was just a loft with a flimsy door that would not even stop a house cat from entry. I imagined it as my shield, though it was nothing more than an envelope of my imagination. I made my way softly, quietly at first so as not to make any sound that would alert them to me. But the creaking of my floorboards broke like a murder of screeching crows.
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