As Horace moved the blade back and forth in a gentle circular motion over the oiled stone he allowed his thoughts to drift to happier places and kinder times, trying to push from his mind that the morning would bring naught but blood and death.
Unlike many of the men under his command he was no longer enamoured of war. A lifetime of killing the enemies of Rome had left him more than jaded, it had genuinely damaged him. He had not seen his wife and sons for nearly two years, and the last time he had been free to spend time with them he had felt no peace whatsoever, constantly haunted by the faces of men with whom he had held no real quarrel and yet he had put them to the sword without a second thought.
It was of no comfort, even, that they would have just as soon run him through if he had not fought with all the fury and cruelty that he could muster. In the heat of war it was not hard to simply survive, but the ghosts that followed him around in the quiet between battles were starting to weigh heavily upon him.