She wasn't sure she knew the path anymore. At one point she could walk it blindfolded. Deftly avoiding the land mines hidden there. Not calling attention to herself. Walking past the sleeping giants without waking them. Able to scratch the hounds behind the ears without getting chased or bit. But now she wasn't even sure if she could remember which paths were safe and which would leave her bloody and torn by the end.
She remembered when she was younger and she could dance across the field like a gazelle. Never setting off an explosion. Never falling in to a trap. Too small and light to ever risk being acknowledged by the sleeping giants waiting to wake and pounce. Playing with the hounds without fear of their powerful snapping jaws. The years of magic. Of invincibility.
Then came the years where she wore her dark armor tightly around her. Where the monsters were scared of her. The power she wielded was immense. The hounds eyed her suspiciously but only growled low in their throats. But the giants knew what she did not. That it would fade. Her dark armor would shed and she would be vulnerable again. They waited...
The years of her young adulthood were the most fraught with dangers. Young enough to feel invincible. Still holding memories of when she was not threatening at all and memories of when she was left alone in her darkness she felt untouchable. She came to the battlefield armed with "TRUTH" and "KNOWLEDGE" she was the bright and shining knight. Then the first misstep. The first landmine. Dragging herself from the path to nurse her wounds she wasn't sure how to make it to the end. But she knew she had to. The pain receded enough that it was replaced by anger. How dare she be hurt! She would fight again...only to be bloodied and bruised once more.
After a few years she learned to carry with her rocks. Light enough to throw far away from her but heavy enough to trigger an explosion where they landed. They were to be used in case of emergency. When the hounds came. When they smelled her fear or vulnerability and she had no way out. Tossing a stone away from her, causing the explosion away...it wasn't noble, but it worked.
But mostly she learned the path. Where to step. When to step. To never let her guard down. Where the most dangerous parts of the battle were waged. How to stay away from the trailing vines that would capture you and drag you deeper in to the woods. When she brought companions she taught them to walk behind her. Stepping only where she stepped she protected them. Then there was the day her companion pulled her back from the edge of a newly dug trap, she knew she had found someone who could walk the fields with her forever.
It had been years since they had first joined forces and walked those fields battling the hounds and the giants together. Understanding that the victory feast in the middle of the battle only marked the beginning of the most dangerous time. When bellies were full and minds were muddled with drink, this was the time the smallest misstep could cause the largest of the battles. The bloodiest wars were waged on the way out of the battle field, not the way in.
They had been fierce companions. Each having the other's back. Watching for hounds and giants and traps of all kinds. All while walking on the safe path. Using distraction and each other to pass safely through. They had learned to fight as a pair. To ease the burden of the other. And to nurse wounds on the fly when an unexpected hit came. Could she do it on her own?
It had been years since she had tried. Did she still have it in her to be alone in battle?
She took a deep breath and took to the field....
"Merry Christmas! Oh we were so sorry to hear that Tom had to work. We were surprised he didn't work harder to spend the holiday with you. There is no trouble brewing I hope?"
"No trouble, it was just his turn this year. Oh is that your famous stuffing I smell? Can't wait to have some!"