Weary from long days of battle, the warrior collapses back onto the hillside, riled by life’s injustice. He remembers his long-dead father. How he pontificated on valor.
“What makes a great man?” He once asked. “Honesty? Determination? The courage of his convictions?”
They sat together on a cold night and watched the dying stars.
The memories haunt him still. His father, the saint, the scholar, paragon of virtue, his mentor and tormenter, died on his knees. Dragged away by unspeakable horrors into the night, begging for mercy all the way. Mercy that was not forthcoming. The warrior wears this shame like a badge as he rests on the hill, readying himself to once more combat the creatures that consumed the stars.
Screams snap him back to the present. Those Black Things approach. Ten billion lives dangle by a single, silver thread. Too many innocents depend on his light, too many to repeat his father's failures. He rises once more and waits for the beasts to appear. He stands in a pile of their melting, shadow corpses. Casualties from their last engagement. They shudder away in the night, still jerking in death throes long after he cleaved life from their nebulous forms, leaking into nothingness until all around him hangs a black mist, obscuring his vision.
He does not wait long, they arrive in moments. The voids that rend at flesh and soul, lives defined back their lack thereof. He cannot see them in the dark, but he hears their scraping footsteps. Their snarling mouths, full of misshapen teeth and tongues marred by gangrene, snap hungrily, announcing their ever closer presence.
For a moment, he freezes. His father’s fear exists in him still, not entirely purged by his shame. Again he remembers his words as they sat together and watched the emptying sky.
“What makes a great man?” Back then, he never knew how to answer.
Now, he speaks aloud. “Everyone has a choice. Succumb to fear, die begging, pleading on their knees for mercy... or overcome it. You can confront the monsters that growl at us from the shadows, or be consumed by them. There are some things, some people, worth dying for. Once you realize that, once you accept it, there is nothing left but the doing.”
Now surrounded by creatures of darkness, he smiles, no longer afraid. He raises his blade aloft—a ray of golden sunshine, razor sharp and hewn from the embers of the last cratering star—and cries the mantra of the bold:
“Opere et Veritate!” In action and truth!
So emboldened, he leaps into the fray once more.