There was a popping sound as his sword went through the front of my stomach. It happened before my blade even hit the ground following his flamboyant disarming maneuver. My hands reflexively jerked up and grabbed his hand on the hilt. I never was much with a sword. Always did my best work with my hands.
“It’s over,” he snarled into my face. I laughed in his.
“Not over ’til you’ve killed me, fancy boy.”
“I’ve run you through!” he crowed.
“You’re right about that.” I let out a grunt. It hurt like hell. “But it takes more than a stab to kill a man.”
He leaned in close. Intimidating me or whatever. Very impressive. “I’ve killed a dozen men with this blade.” You could tell by his smile that he was proud of that. Pathetic.
I laughed again. More of a grunting noise, yes, but he got the meaning. “No, you’ve killed a dozen puffed-up princelings like yourself. Milksops that give up before the job is done. You’ve never killed a man.”
“And I suppose you think you’re a real man.” Scorn rolled off his tongue like bad breath.
“Job’s not done yet.”
“What job?! You’re a fool who insulted me and got killed in a duel.”
I smiled. It probably didn’t look pretty. “Haven’t figured it out yet, fancy boy? I was sent here to kill you.”
He laughed again. That same, pompous crowing. “Well, you’ve certainly done a bang up job, haven’t you chap? I’d call this an abject failure.”
“I’m not done yet.” I grunted and pulled his hand on the hilt toward me, pushing the blade deeper, hoping I wasn’t making the wound too much worse. I think shock may have set in. I didn’t notice a lot more pain. More pain, just not a lot more.
His jaw dropped. He just stood there and stared like a poleaxed steer. Which was exactly what I intended. It gave me enough time to let go of his hand, grab his head, and snap his neck with a twisting heave.
His corpse dropped to the ground, dragging the blade with it until his lifeless hand finally let go of the hilt. That got through the shock. Holy hell it did. My knees buckled, but I made sure to fall sideways, as one does when run through with a sword.
I was hoping the docs could still save me. I was hoping they’d bother. If not, well, she’d still get the check. That was the whole point of this escapade, after all.
I blacked out.