War is a young manís game, it always has been. When the recruiting sergeants arrived the young men marched away, fought, and died. Some came home. It is easier to go when you are young. You have no wife, no children, no real responsibility and the idea of war is a great adventure. You were once one of these men, but you were able to make it through the chaos of the Line and return home. Life was slower then, and you married a young girl with stars in her eyes.
When the enemy came this time there was no recruiting sergeants, no drums or fifes. There was only the announcement in the church that there was no left to defend the district; the young men were all gone. You were not the teenage boy with visions of glory in your eyes. You looked in the questioning eyes of your bride of several years, pregnant now with your first child and wondered, if not you, then who?
You ride off with the few men you can trust and head into dark forest. The days become weeks, and through it all you are both the hunter and the hunted. When it is time to kill you cannot hold back any romantic notions of honor, and blood is spilled quickly, with no remorse, and no show of pity. Pity will get you killed.
Weeks become months and you do not know if your wife and child are even alive anymore. There are rumors of farms being burned, women being killed, children being carried away. There is no word from home, only worried silence.
Months turn into a year and you are finally able to ride back home. There are fewer men than you started with a year before. Each missing man is etched in your memory. You will not forget.
You wonder what your wife will see when she looks into your eyes. Will she see the things you had to do and the lives you took? How will your child see you, man or monster? Will they see the fear, the blood, the death? All of these thoughts race through your mind as you ride the dark path to your home. At one point you think of heading west, leaving them behind to believe you were dead, but you are no longer a young man and the weight of responsibility drives you forward.
Your wife greets you aiming a shotgun at your chest, thinking you to be some renegade bent on plunder. She looks in your eyes, drops the barrel of the gun and rushes into the cabin. You swing your leg over the saddle, and are startled to see her standing there behind you, holding your child. Both of them look at you not as the soldier, but as husband and father. You pick up your child, holding it high. The look tells you that you are finally home.