He tried to shut out the cries and screams of his people. His heart beat inside his chest, pounding against his ribs as if it wanted to escape. Sweat ran down his forehead and into his eyes. The stone arrowhead slipped in his hand and cut his finger. Blood oozed from the wound and dripped onto her cheek. She did not cry. She did not whimper. She looked him directly in the eye. She was stronger than he was. He’d known that for a long time, but until now he hadn’t been aware how much stronger.
“My son. Finish what I have commanded.”
He glanced over his shoulder to the source of the voice. He could throw the arrowhead with enough force to pierce the heart of the one who spoke. Maybe that would free his own heart. But…he could not do that. He knew it, and so did the one who had spoken. He had no choice in the matter.
Smoke from the fires outside seeped in through the cracks. The stench of burned flesh stung his eyes.
“It must be done. She must learn the lesson.”
He looked down at the girl’s face. She was beautiful. He looked at the young man lying face down on the ground with the tomahawk lodged in his back. He could not blame the young man for noticing the girl’s beauty and acting on the impulses he must have felt coursing through his body. He would not blame any man. For she was beautiful, more than any girl he had ever seen. But that did not mean that things could be done that violated his tribe. There must be retribution.
He only wished it didn’t have to be him that had to carry it out.
He wiped the sweat from his forehead. He gripped the arrowhead tighter and lowered it so that its point made contact with her skin above her left eye.
Flames ate through the wall, heat searing his flesh, smoke burning his eyes.
He made the cut.
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