His heart is unhealed.

No longer can we craft and create.

This mountain into a man.

Broken, beaten, burried.

Giving grief assuring.

Our warrior wants no more warring.

The future obscure.

Is dangerously darker than death.

Diligence

Chapter One

By Curtis

Del walked to the door. Slowly he placed hand on the door, should he walk in or knock? It was his house, but the years of his absence made him a stranger. A tear ran down his cheek as he brought his hand down. Was he dead to them? Finally he walked away from the door, onto the dirt road. Home was here and he had nowhere else to go, but he no longer knew how to be a man; the war broke him.

The sadness cut into Del, deeper and deeper; every foot of the journey. He was home; home at last. Yet he could not walk into his house. To see his wife, to meet his children, not after what he had seen. Not after what he had done. After walking down the dirt road for a few minutes, he found a place and buried his face into his knees. A minute pasted, than an hour, maybe more or maybe less. He did not know nor care.

Del did not notice a man on a horse, that trotted by him. The man stopped and looked at Del, "Has something happen?"

Silently Del wiped away his tears and brushed his hair out of his eyes with his hand. Than proclaimed, "No, but I can still here the marching as thousands of marched to their death. Leaving the rest to remember."

"A returning soldier," said the horseman with compassion. "What needs of yours need alleviation. I am grateful for your sacrifice soldier, if you are hungry I have some bread you can eat."

At first Del almost excepted, but than he refused the offer. The lone rider, whom now seemed familiar, was offer his lunch. He could not accept, his house and food was less than a mile away. Del got up and stretched his arms before refusing the offer, "I have to go home. Thank you any ways though."

The horseman looked at Del for a moment, "Good gods.. Delzhid. I didn't recognize you, your hair so long."

Del put on a weak smile as he pulled his hair behind him. Long hair was taboo, but the meaning of taboo no longer effected him. "Mr. Masc I did not recognize you at first as well."

"We thought you were dead... Didn't the Great Royal Guard get completely wiped out before they..."

A deep shiver went to his core; Mr. Masc didn't have to say anymore. Del looked at his feet and said silently, "They killed most of us, almost all of us. Yet a few survived... we joined up with the king whom arrived after the siege and destruction was over."

Mr. Masc fell I silent, "It's good to see you again Delzhid. The village will rejoice at your arrival. For five years, we thought all of the village's sons that left had died."

"I have to leave."

Del walked away from the man and back towards his house. For the second time in a day he started the emotional path to home. Inside his head he remembered the image of his beautiful wife, fair skin and brown hair. Yet the image was distorted and almost gone, it kept him alive. By now, Del thought, that his boy would almost be ready for his ceremony into the adult world. Surely the boy would be a young man by now. Finally his thought drifted to his daughter.

The thought of Del's daughter brought tears to his eyes again; her name was Emea. Yet the few years he knew her, she was a sickly child. Sickly children never lasted long.

Once again Del arrived at the door. He straighten out his meek clothing; he disposed of the uniform at the beginning of the journey home. He swore he'd trade the sword for the hoe; the horse for the Ox; the killing for his family. Del realized it was his house, he would not be able to claim his family as a stranger.

His hand pushed on the door and it opened.

Del put one step in and brought the other leg in. Closing the door behind himself, Del suddenly felt out of place. In another moment of silence he walked to the kitchen, he smelled something cooking. Perhaps bacon. For the first time in six years his eyes fell upon his wife. Her frame seemed smaller, not as filled as he remembered. All he could do was watch her as she cut up a carrot.

His voice seemed gone. All Del could do was whispered, "Maya."

Maya turned around and looked at the man in her kitchen. Her hand went behind her to find the knife, "Get out of my house swine."

Del froze in shock, his wife didn't remember him.

"My brothers are going to be here any moment thief," screamed Maya.

Finally Del spoke, "Maya, you don't have any brothers."

Maya stopped and examined the man in front of her. The knife fell out of her hand as she walked to Del and place her hand on his face. Feeling a tear on her hand she pulled it back, "The gods have claimed me and sent an angel; for I am seeing the dead."

"No," said Del as he hugged his wife. "I'm not an angel. I'm not a ghost. I am not dead and neither are you."

"I thought you were..."

"I couldn't die knowing you were waiting for me back home."

"Del, I've ruined your inheritance. I.. I thought you were dead. I had no way of making money, so I used what was left of your father's inheritance to feed me and Delkirz," said Maya as she bursted into tears. "To pay for herbist and... the funeral."

"When did Emea pass?," asked Del as he collected himself. Reminding himself that soldiers acknowledged death, but didn't dwell on it. Than it dawned on Del, he wasn't a soldier anymore.

"A year and a half," sobbed Maya, her husband was home but the house was not complete.

Slowly Del bent down and whispered in her ear. "My inheritance couldn't have been better spent." Than he kissed her cheek. "I've missed you."

"Del, I also sold three-fourths of your land. My father was preparing to bring me back to his house along with Delkirz. For long now he's been trying to get me to give up on the land and except a life of a widow."

"But you didn't so it doesn't matter now. Where is my son at?"

"Working your youngest brother's field," answered Maya. "To me and Delkirz, he has been our life line. Even helped us plant our own crops."

"I will pay him back thrice folds," announced Del as he stepped back. "I'm going to receive my son."

Without a nod of approvement Del walked out of the room, soon the house. He walked to a hilly field, knowing whether or not the land was his; he didn't care. With the ability of a scout Del methodically followed a trail, seemed to have been made by an adolescent. He hopped over a small stream and came to a tree. It was where he and his brothers staged battles with wooden sticks. Del reminded himself that soldiers were bound to the land, not the emotions and continued on.

After another mile or two Del came to his brother's house. Inside of it Rophen would be, with a wife or two. Probably an heir and a full kitchen. While his son was a near serf and his wife starved. "No," whispered Del, he mustn't return to the thought patterns of a soldier.

The door opened and a man came out of the house, in arm with a women. They carried a basket and headed towards a barn. Del cupped his mouth with his hands and shouted, "Master Rophen."

The man stopped and turned around, handing his basket to the woman he was with and casually shouted back, "Guardsman Delzhid, what took you so long?"

Author's Note:

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I'd like to ask that if you see any gaping holes, in spelling or grammer to let me know. Likewise, if you leave an honest review that isn't skin deep; I will more than willingly review your story in return.