The old warrior pauses at a big rock and sets down his sword for the first time in a day. He takes a deep breath and then sighs. It’s been a day of too little sleep and too much pain. He has a few new abrasions and a minor scar from the battle last week with the man he had thought a friend. But it’s not the new injuries that kept him awake last night; it’s the old wounds that hurt him most.
Those old wounds trouble him most at night, when the world is quiet and the smaller, daily battles are won. The most painful wound is one he suffered close to his heart. When the spear stabbed her chest, he was sure he would die, right along with her. Yet somehow, even that scar has faded now. Just the barest shade pinker than his older scars, the pain has withered to a dull, timeless ache. The agony has finally dimmed enough to let him sleep most nights, though the memories of the hurt still haunt his dreams. His feelings of guilt were short-lived; there was really little anyone could do. Lacking an obvious, evil villain to strike at, he slays his own memories and attempts to vanquish his own weakness. He’s left with the undeniability of the gross injustice and the hard awareness that the world is an unfair place.
He ponders his old wounds for a moment. He notes how each battle survived leaves a mark on his very person, how each successful campaign leaves a new source of pain. Late on those quiet nights, when he feels the untold aches, he questions his decisions that led him to the fight. Was the result worth the agony? When the hurts of a thousand victorious battles return to haunt his cold nights, the causes seem a little less worthy, the victorious parades a bit more shallow. In a world this capricious, where is the just compensation for a life’s work? In a world this fickle, is there a cause worth fighting for? He wonders if he’s getting wiser or if he’s just getting old.
With yet another sigh, he picks up his sword, reshoulders his burden and returns to the trail. The one thing he’s certain of is that idle muscles make him think too much.