I still hold out hope that, as I travel the land far beyond areas I had even dreamed of in my youth, I will find a place that is untouched by war and strife. It shames me to admit this, but the constant struggle against seemingly endless and untiring foes weighs upon me. I am but a weakling and ask so much of others while giving so little. I look to men like Strider, Candaith, and Saerdan, whom I have never heard give voice to a single complaint, while I grumble to myself about being hungry, cold or tired.

I arrived at Trestlebridge in a foul mood which got even fouler as I heard a call to arms from across the bridge. A guards-woman was fighting off orcs that had dared to approach the bridge itself! I ran to her aid and, with a few others guards, we beat back what must have been a scouting party.

Afterward, as she thanked me for helping her, I noticed that she looked very tired. She must have been at her post for hours. There were dark circles under her eyes, and her clothes were grimy and threadbare. After a few seconds, her eyes caught mine. We both smiled, realizing that we were seeing ourselves in each other. We embraced, taking comfort in the fact that, while we both might have bent just a little, we had not broken. I threw my arm around her shoulders, and we let out a cheer for ourselves to celebrate our victory.

She said, “You know, when I am feeling low, I like to look around a bit, to remember what it is that I fight for so hard to save. Why not have a look around town, and later I would love to meet you in the tavern where we can celebrate our victory properly!”

I squeezed her hand and smiled, then began to wander around town and the hills nearby.  After a bit, I came to remember that, even as shadow comes creeping near, it helps to take in the beauty around us.  We take heart from that which we long to save, and that can inspire us to drive the shadow back.

Miss Aggy Digweed and I talked long into the night for, even more than sleep, we both knew we needed the shoulder of another like us. The rangers and other such heroes accomplish so many great things, and they inspire us all. They have a level of determination and resolve that I cannot fully comprehend. But, sometimes, to see one who was not destined for such great things still bear a great burden, and yet endure? That can inspire us all the more, and perhaps is something most of us can better appreciate.

Kaleigh

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