I am a child, staring at a sky of iron grey, while snow falls onto my skin. I am alone, surrounded by rocks, mountains rising to the heavens like towers. I feel lost, alien. I do not belong here, even though I am here. I look into the sky and search for an answer to my existence, but only snow falls, in silence. There is no answer, and I have been forgotten.
I am a young boy, staring at a ceiling painted in garish colours, velvet clothing covering my skin. Around me, humans mingle, talking in hushed voices, their glances touching me like snowflakes, cold and invasive. I hear them, but I do not listen. I follow the ornaments painted unto stone with my eyes, seeing their flaws, where curves and angles are breaking the pattern. They hold no answer to my question, and neither do the men and women around me, with their concerns and plots. Surrounded by living, breathing beings I am still alone. They do not have the answers I crave.
I am a man, and around me is war. I wield a weapon and I kill, with ease. Blood spatters my skin, and my blows rend flesh and bone. Behind me, an army follows, shouting, struggling to keep up with me. They cannot, but they do not matter. Before me, the enemy falls. They look at me with horror, they curse me. And they die. I am beyond them, as I am beyond those who follow me. In battle, I know peace. I feel I am close to the answer to the question of my existence, because battle I know, and weapons are familiar to my hands. But I have no purpose, no reason to fight, and I understand I will not find my answer here, either. And so I lower my sword. The enemy attacks me, but they cannot harm me. Their blows are like snowflakes on my skin. And I am still alone.
I am a son. I see my father, and my existence is redeemed. He answers my questions and explains. And I understand. I have purpose, and duty, and I was born to fight his wars. He does not need to ask for my help, it is given as it was meant to be. I do not mourn what I leave behind. I can look up to the heavens and see my future beyond them. A sword without purpose is nothing, and a warrior without duty is just a killer. I am more than that. My father has found me and I am no longer alone.
I am a father. My sons carry my purpose to the stars.
I am a general, and I fight on countless battlefields. I lead armies, and build fortresses. They have no flaws. There is glory to my name, but I do not crave glory. All I want to do is my duty, fulfil my purpose. Surrounded by my sons I stand under alien skies. We carry this war into the future, for none can fight it like we do. I have brothers, and they say it is usual siblings like us have rivalries and are at cross-purposes. We argue, we boast. But we are united in duty. And yet…
I am a monster. Blood I have shed before. I have killed, in battle and outside. Not like this. I look to bleeding skies and the snow, once white and grey, is red with blood and yellow with grease. Those whose gazes touched me are now buried in the skies. The mountains are no longer stone, but flesh and bone. What I built, I tore down. I see shock on the faces of my sons, and disgust, and anger. It is in me, too, but there is more. I am lost again. My duty, it led me here, my purpose made me do this, for I am made to kill. And yet… I am supposed to be more, and I am not. A warrior with duty is a killer, too. It means nothing, and I have been lying to myself. No war ever meant anything. No war will ever mean anything. I am nothing but a weapon and I will always be alone.
I am a monster. Before me rise the walls of my father’s fortress. Of my brother’s masterpiece. I will tear them down. This is what I was made for, to destroy. To kill. I no longer ask questions. They have no answers. All I feel is blood and the sting of explosions on my skin; their residue cloaks my armour. I lie to myself again and tell myself I feel satisfaction, gratification. It is not true. I feel nothing. I am like a piece of a complex puzzle finally falling into place and like this piece, I do not know the pattern and do not care. And this is a lie, too. Lies are all I have left.
I am nothing. I build fortresses and tear them down again. Around me, smoke rises to heavens of blinding white. Stars were a promise but they are gone now. I had something, but I tossed it away. I have forgotten what it was. Or maybe I never knew. I am more than I ever was, and beneath my tread millions are crushed. The puzzle of my existence is as unsolved as ever, the pattern shattered, and no destruction will make it whole again. I have been defeated once, but I can be defeated no longer. I can do whatever I want. I can tear the world asunder. But for what purpose? Gratification? It is empty. Iron within. Iron without. A weapon without purpose is useless. And iron unused will only rust. I had a duty once. It filled a void I had not known existed within me. It was a lie. Now, there is only hatred to fill that void. Of what I fought for, of what I fought against. Of what I was, and what I have become. I look up to an empty sky and feel it burn. Gods whisper in my ears, and war beckons. Lies. Whatever there is around me, whatever I do, it never changes anything. I am lost, and alone. Only one lie ever gave me satisfaction. Only one lie stirred my empty heart. Duty. I tossed it away. I should have known better. In a universe of lies, I failed to choose my own truth.