Rays of sunshine peeked through the trees onto a set of tracks. Auros crouched down to examine them. "He's been here. They're fresh. We've almost got him."
Farothel's eyes darted to and fro. "I don't know. It has to be a trap. He's too good to leave such a clear trail. He's toying with us."
"Of course he is. If he were serious we'd never stand a chance."
Grandpa dropped out of the tree behind Farothel and pulled him into a hug. "Oh, I don't know about that, Auros. You did a pretty good job tracking me. You just missed a couple of important clues."
"Grandpa!" Farothel laughed as Grandpa threw him over his shoulder.
"Bah. I'll get you next time." Auros rose to his feet.
"That's the spirit. With that kind of determination, it won't be long before you're ready to go with me to Eregion; but I think we've practiced enough for today."
His feet back on the ground, Farothel peeked up from under the hand ruffling his hair. "Grandpa, is Eregion dangerous?"
Grandpa crouched down to look Farothel in the eye. "Everywhere is dangerous, my boy. Nowhere is safe on its own. Most of it is the understandable sort: some person or creature that just wants to protect itself, its family, or its home. Don't cross them and they won't cross you. I wish I could say that would work for all of the world's dangers, but there are those that desire to harm anyone and anything they can."
"Orcs." Farothel grimaced at the word.
"Aye, mostly, and wargs. Trolls as well, and many other creatures that I hope you will never meet. These are the kind that come looking for trouble, not content to leave others in peace. That's why you must grow up to be strong: to protect yourself, to protect others, to protect those you care about. Not everyone can fight. Not everyone will fight. It's only through the strength of good people willing to stand against the dangers of the world that any place at all is safe and free. Don't forget that.
He rose to his feet and turned to Auros, who nodded in agreement to his words. "Strength isn't merely the ability to lift a sword or draw a bow. Not all battles are fought with arms. You must know the kind of battle you face, and you must temper strength with wisdom. It's much too easy once you've grown apace to decide not only that you know best how things should be done, but that you have a right to determine that for others."
Farothel perked up at the chance to show he'd been listening to Grandpa's history lessons. "Like Sau---"
"Yes, like him. If people are to be free, they must be allowed to forge their own path and face the consequences and rewards that come with their decisions. You are given by Eru your own Being only. What you do with what's yours is one matter. What others do with theirs is another. Wisdom isn't just discerning what's right, or what's best for a situation, which by itself can be a challenge at times. Wisdom is knowing that even when you know what's supposed to be done, you can't make someone else choose it."
"Like the sons of Fëanor!"
"Yes, Farothel." A sadness hung in Grandpa's eyes as he put his hand on Farothel's head.
"But we can choose it for ourselves."
"Of course, Auros. You must choose your own path, just as others must choose theirs. You don't have to like someone else's decision, and you don't have to agree, but it's their decision to make, their road to walk. That freedom comes with the responsibility to make the best possible decision; so learn all you can, listen to counsel, and weigh it with what you know to be right and true. With that knowledge, you can determine how best to use your talents, your strengths." Grandpa ruffled Farothel's hair again and grinned. "But that's something you both understand."
"Aye Grandpa!" Farothel smiled up at his grandfather.
"Aye Grandpa." Auros gave a thoughtful nod.
"Now let's go. It's about time for lunch and I thought I smelled cookies baking when we left."