Cold silence rules all now. Gone the sounds of battle, the weeping of women, passed into the night. Behind, the city lies in ruins. Smoke of the still burning fires hides the smell of blood. That too will pass. Nothing will remain. The memory of battle will fade, only the stones marking the fallen will tell of the blood shed this day. Cold stone to replace the warmth of arms, greening earth fed by blood to replace love shared. Unreal it all seems now. A horrid dream fed by a terror in the night. Only the weight of swords against my back and the aching in my soul are reality. I cannot move from this place, my feet rooted in the earth. I long to shift my gaze from the stone placed only a few hours ago. My body grows numb as the reality of death seeps in. Silence, once my friend and companion, is now a cruel mockery of your voice. The distant peal of a bell marks the hour, rending the silence with its duty. Yet it too fades from my hearing, leaving again the silence that I long to have filled. Time stretches before me; minutes, hours, days become an eternity of emptiness. A whisper of movement and the shift of smoke bring no comfort only despair. Trust naught to hope for it has forsaken these lands...prophetic words spoken by someone I no longer recall. Hope, the last bastion of the lost. Even that has left me, gone with the last shovel of cold earth on this tomb. A stinging fills my eyes, the smoke of the fires obscuring the words on the stone before me. Yet I cannot move. Cannot leave this nightmare. Again a distant bell sounds the hour. How many times has it rung this night? I do not know. My mind is overrun, my thoughts scattered and useless. I cannot tell the nightmare from the dream, each mingling to create this new reality for me. A chill, as cold as the grave in which you sleep, fills me. The wind, ever fickle, shifts again, moving the smoke to hide another stone. In the darkness I need no light to know the name carved before me. It is my soul written there. My hope, my dream that lies buried in the earth. The touch of something wet on my cheek startles me. Breaks for the moment, the spell that I am under. I touch my cheek in puzzlement, my hand coming away wet. Tears. A lightening in the dark. The dawn comes, red as the blood spilled the day before. My vigil has ended, the rays breaking the hold of the grave before me. The faint warmth of the sun replaces the numbing cold of the night. I am free at last to move from this place. Yet, where would I go? There are no battles left to fight, nothing left to fight for. The brightness of the dawn mocks the bleakness of life. I lift my eyes hating the promise the light brings. The city behind begins to stir, the sounds of life returning to chase the silence of death from this place. Footsteps behind me, the forewarning that someone comes. I do not turn, not caring if it be friend or foe. They stop and the heavy sound of a breath being drawn brings pain again to my heart. "You are needed in the Citadel." Words spoken, but they have no meaning to me. Let them call for me, I care not any longer. The wind brings the whisper of your voice to me, a reminder of the oath we held dear. The chill of your grave begs that I answer their call. I cannot make your death into a mockery. I must go, I must answer their need. All that remains is duty. I turn away from all that I held so dear, to answer the call of my King once more. For that is all that I am now, nothing but a soldier in my King's army.