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Jennifer R. Donohue has a degree in psychology and works at her local library in central New York, where she lives with her fiancÚ and her Doberman. This is her first published story.

Sometimes, you can stop to breathe.
Sometimes, you repack that worn leather pack, which has been with you longer than any companion, and find the detritus from when you started, from before you bled so much. From when you were just goofing off in an inn, or at a trail marker.
A whetstone, from before you had a magical sword which never needs honing.
That last bottle of lamp oil. A forgotten healing potion, always a fortuitous find.
A cheap trail ration, long hardened beyond edible use.
The dog-eared book you meant to keep a diary in, or writer letters home. Did you ever write letters home? Maybe on holidays. Did you ever return home? Not even for a visit.
Why adventure? It's better, somehow, than farming. Than working at a tavern. Than entering a monastic order. Not everybody good at fighting wants to be a gladiator. Not every man is good at fighting, or woman good at cooking.
Adventuring is what you do when you don't fit in. Find your fortune on the road, satisfy your inquisitive nature in dusty hallways of ruins nobody even tells ghost stories about any longer.
It's strangely easy to find companions. The mage who couldn't stand to sit in the library all the time. The questing knight, proving some point or another for his god. You stopped listening when you saw the too-fervent gleam in his eye.
Sometimes those hallways were meant to stay forgotten. The things a careless hand might awaken were meant to stay lost, stay locked away.
You tear a page from the book, and write a letter now, to your companions. The mage made sure everybody knew how to read, a way of passing the time while traveling, or while snowbound, or while waiting for a particular lunar event to take place.
You hope they don't find the letter until it's too late to stop you. There are some jobs meant for just one person, and some lives better lived by others. You can't claim to have been the most noble, the most pious. But this last enemy, well, it's you they want. And they'll never get anybody else again.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, April 9th, 2015
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