It’s everybody’s least favorite part. It’s not a hopeful beginning. It’s not the stirring conclusion.
It’s the slogging middle. You don’t know how long you’ll be in this grim, grey land. You’re tired beyond imagining, barely able to summon the strength to move ahead, slowly.
Your terrain is filled with sharp rocks, cold weather, and dangerous hot spots. You cannot raise your spirits with song or laughter – you must hide from those who want you to fail.
Life is not good, pleasant, or rewarding. Life in the pleasant Shire is a memory that may not even exist now. You yearn to return to that comfortable life, with friends, neighbors, and family.
You have no words of cheer. You can’t even imagine what winning looks like, let alone that you might achieve it. The hardest part is that you MUST succeed, but you can see no realistic way to do so.
Except for 1, your friends have deserted you, died, or gone far away. You are surrounded by those who would squash you like a bug. Your enemies are large, powerful, and ruthless – you defeated them, only to see them return in greater numbers – and you are now fatigued and weak. You can trust no one, even when they speak soft words of comfort.
You cling to the one thing that make your life mean something. At times, you dream about using that one thing to get yourself the heck out of there. Leaving seems to be the rational solution. There is one way to end this torture, but your “friend” urges you not to use it.
The way forward is the moral thing to do. But the forces of immorality and self-interest cut you off at every turn.
The “eye” is on you everywhere. There is nowhere that you can escape the omnipresent spying; if your plans were known, the mindless hordes would be sent to kill you and steal your treasure.
How do you keep going? How do you summon the strength to continue?
We’re all going to have to find out.