“Are you sure about this?” you ask. Your hand is tentative on the elder’s arm, and you stumble as he guides you over a rocky patch of ground. The sword and heavy bag swing unbalanced on your hips. “I really don’t think I’m suited for this kind of thing.”
The elder pats your hand gently, patronizingly. “I am certain,” he replies. You wait for elaboration, maybe a few worn-out but generous words of inspiration, but he does not bother.
He slips away at the mouth of the cave, his bone-thin arm unsheathing from under yours. He leaves you with nothing but a murmured “good luck” that sounds more like “goodbye” and a lingering boiled-cabbage smell. You immediately decide that if you die, you won’t miss him. You refuse to miss anyone from your village. You almost hope the monster kills you, so the village will be indebted to your memory and forced to recant every mockery they’ve ever made of you—the price they should pay for trying to make a hero out of you. If you die, they’ll remember your sacrifice, but if you succeed they’ll laud you as a hero. There’s no downside, you tell yourself. Even if you don’t get the chance to do it yourself, somehow your story will be told.