PrologueWhen the deception of other foes is constantly battering against your shell, you find yourself beginning to break down. They chip away at your armor, and little by little, you find yourself receding into a pit of darkness. When you find yourself with your back against the wall, and no one else to turn to, you break. You break so easily like a twig being stepped on in a dark midnight hike through the wilderness in which there is no escape. This is what is to come of your mind if you let your foes get the best of you. When your mind breaks, your physical being follows until there is nothing left of you but an empty shell with empty eyes and a black heart.
The room was dark. So dark that when I raised my hand and put it in front of my face, I could not see it. Not even a silhouette of it. There was nothing to make a silhouette, because in this kind of darkness, the silhouette was camouflage. I squinted my eyes and tried to adjust, but it was no use. I just had to settle with the fact that I was going to be in the blind for the duration of the night.
I could hear her breathing through the deafening darkness in the room. It was soft and peaceful. The methodical inhaling and releasing of breath made somewhat of a rhythm; a rhythm that I was devoid of. My breathing was erratic. It was the breathing of someone who had seen too much combat. Someone who was always cautious and who always thought someone was after him. I let out a small laugh. The breathing of a politician.
I envied her. She was quiet and peaceful. She didn't have to worry about anything. At least, not anything like what I had to deal with day in and day out. She had fallen asleep so easily, and here I was laying here still. Nothing I tried worked. I was at the mercy of sleep. How could I sleep though? I had too much to worry about. Sleep was a luxury; the luxury of a common man, and I was not a common man.
Finally I gave up. Sleep was not going to find me this night. Letting out a sigh, I sat up on the edge of the bed and stood. I had to feel my way across the room, though I was so familiar with it, I could have probably run laps around it without any troubles. This was just for an ease of mind I guess. Finally, I found the door and pushed it open. This room was slightly larger and brighter than the last, though not by much. Its only light source was that of a muffled moon light coming from the balcony overlooking formal gardens outside the palace.
I opened up the curtains to the balcony, and I almost had to squint. The moonlight wasn't that bright, but in comparison to the darkness from beyond the curtain, it was a blaze. I stood there, elbows on the edge of the stone wall of the balcony, thinking. I don't know what I was thinking about, or even why I was still up. I let out another sigh into the night sky. The moon was full, and the stars were clear above my head. Footsteps came from inside, but I didn't bother turning to acknowledge them.
The ruffling of the curtains were followed but a soft, melodious voice. It was Serren's. I didn't bother to turn around, however. Instead, I continued to stared down at the gardens full of grapevines, foreign and domestic flowers, and olive trees. "Darius, sweetie, what is wrong?"
I remained silent until she finally came up to me and wrapped her arms around me. Her hand was on my chest, while her head, she rested upon my shoulder. This was typical of her. She always seemed so innocent and sweet; always trying to somehow sooth my clouded mind and warm my spirit. Little did she know, however, that that was a game she, no I, nor anyone else could win. I had too much to do, too much to lose. Too much to handle. I was the Darius, Centurion of the 200th Legion, commander in chief of the British frontier, and husband to Serren. No, peace was impossible for me. Rome's needs surpassed and replaced that.