1. Fear of the Shadow
The Shadow in the South frightens me. I admit it freely -- if only to myself. Yet my fear is so strong, I wonder if others see it, even when I do not speak of it?
Ever since that day when the Last Alliance met the Dark One before the gates of the Black Land, I have been afraid. I stood in the shadow of the walls of Mordor, the vast armies of darkness ready to engulf us, and I tasted despair. That day, my father was swallowed up and defeated by that darkness, cruelly butchered. I have since realized that death was a mercy, for he escaped the slavery to fear that followed! I escaped death but not slavery, for though the Dark Lord was overthrown, I tasted everlasting fear from that day forward. How could peace last in a world where the Enemy might rise again at any moment? For I knew in my heart that he was not wholly defeated. My father's fate could be mine one day, should the Enemy return. Ever I look southwards in dismay, and though long miles are between me and the Black Gate, distance is nothing to the Shadow. It will reach me, eventually.
A shadow now lies on the Forest that once was green and free from fear. The air under the trees is heavy and the mirky darkness is deep and forbidding. Has the Shadow I fear come to my forest? Is it coming for me? Or is it another evil that approaches, bringing with it all manner of dark creatures to torment us?
Is it any wonder that my borders are closed to all, that I have drawn my people apart? It seems to me to be the only way to keep the Shadow at bay, to keep myself and my people safe -- if there is indeed such a thing as safety against that dreaded darkness! If safety cannot be, then at least a delayed death might be ours, though some days I wonder if death would be better than this constant fear. I cannot escape the terror of that memory -- the memory of darkness and shadow. The thought that it might find me at last is unbearable.
If I am quiet and remain apart, separate, then perhaps the evil will not notice me. If I ruthlessly guard my borders against all who might approach, then perhaps our watchful peace will remain undisturbed for a little longer. I am a king of great power and authority, and my word is law to my people. But even I cannot rule my own heart to steel it to fear, nor can I order myself to look forward in hope to a future without despair.
Though it be with a heart filled with unease and foreboding, even so I will do what I must to preserve my people -- those who walk and sleep without fear, believing me to be strong and able to protect them. I will protect them -- even as I strive to keep my terror buried deep, so deep that no one else will ever see it.