Grunting, Serobin settled crossed-legged in the grass. "I'm getting too old."
"At least you're alive. We lost eighty men." Darion sighed.
"It's war," Serobin sat up, scowling. "There's always a price to pay. These men knew the risks. But I wonder what have they died for?"
Darion raised his head at Serobin's fierce tone.
"While you hesitate, we're losing comrades. What are you afraid of?"
Darion shifted against the tree trunk, searching for words. "I want to help my people. But how? My father was a great man. He held Kheld together. What if I fail?"
Serobin patted the earth. "Here below are the roots of this tree. They go deep, and spread far. Tell me, does the tree hold the earth together, or does the soil keep the tree upright?"
"The ground holds the tree."
"True. And it's not the king who holds the kingdom together, but the people. You are but one man, Darion. You can only do so much."
"But my father-"
"Your father was strong, like this chestnut. His roots went deep, but he was still one man. You're a different man. You can't be your father."
Darion swallowed. A lump formed in his throat. "I can try to measure up to him."
Serobin swung his arm wide. "Do you see another chestnut close by? Step away from your father's shadow, and grow your own roots. Try to measure up to yourself. You have much to offer. But make a choice, and soon!"