Maral traveled along the path that ran adjacent to the main road; she was looking for Wisdom. Rounding a corner, she suddenly came upon a figure.  It was an elderly Dwarf who appeared to have lost his way. He looked very tired and dejected.

Maral felt compelled to stop and speak with him. She shared her food. That, and the companionship, gave the old Dwarf strength to continue his journey. As they were heading in the same direction, they became traveling companions. They did not speak often, but their easy-going natures did not require it.

The first night as they set up camp, Maral noticed something moving in the darkness. She saw the old Dwarf nodding his head as in agreement though they said nothing. This disturbed her so much so that though drowsy, she attempted to keep watch.

Sleep eventually overpowered her will to stay awake. Soon, however, a rustling noise startled her awake. She jumped at the sight of a huge, red, snake-like creature heading for the old Dwarf. He sat scared yet unmoving and silent.  

Instinctively, Maral jumped between the snake and the Dwarf. The snake stopped and glared at her but did not advance. Heart pounding and uncertain, she hesitantly spoke the eternal language. It still felt new and odd to her. The strange fire flickered and floated on the words toward the snake. Quickly, the creature disappeared.

The old Dwarf quietly asked, “Why did you do that?”

“What? That thing was dangerous,” she knelt beside him. “Do you know what it was?”

The Dwarf looked at the place it had just occupied, “It is my despair.” He would not look at her as he said, “It is my destiny that it consumes me.”

“No!” Maral said firmly, “That is not truth. I can fight it for you until you learn to fight it on your own. I can show you how.”

He did not respond.

Days of making little progress slipped by. Nights were filled with the old Dwarf waiting fearfully but patiently for the snake. Meanwhile, Maral spent herself in efforts to defend the Dwarf.

She was determined to teach him methods of self-defense. Patiently, he would listen to her words but they could not penetrate the fortifications despair had built around his reason. Maral refused to give up, though her confidence began to crumble as she became exhausted.

Then one evening, Maral drifted off to sleep and there was no rustle to wake her. The Dwarf fearfully walked to meet his despair that night. At dawn the sun startled her awake. The Dwarf was not in his place. She ran into the nearby woods and saw the snake bulging and satisfied. It stared at her gloating. It had won.

Filled with a fierce anger, she spoke the eternal language with such passion that fire flew from her lips and devoured the snake before it could escape. There, lying on the grass covered in slime, was the old Dwarf. His body was broken. She knelt beside him and placed her hands upon his still form. Feeling helpless, she asked for help from the Unseen. The Unseen appeared to have heard as inexplicably the old Dwarf began to breath.

He never opened his eyes or regained consciousness. Time was slipping away. She felt Forever unfolding before him, so she whispered, “May you find peace. In this moment, if you can, choose peace.” Then she cried and cried and cried as he left this world.