"Kel settled on the bench and placed her hands face-up in her lap, pressing thumbs and forefingers to show wholeness and emptiness, as the Yamani armsmistress had taught her. Yamani warriors meditated with broken limbs, in sleet and snow, even as their wounds got stitched up. I can do this, she thought. She let her thoughts and fears stream away from the still pond that was her image of herself as she wanted to be.
That pond showed her a man, stubborn, harsh, old, who spent the night in discomfort. He did not do it for the squire who kept vigil there, but for the sake of duty, and for the web of custom and law that was the realm.
The realm. In her time as a squire she had seen more of it than most people knew existed, from the damp and mossy streets of Pearlmouth to Northwatch Fortress. She had hunted pirates in the west, built up dams against floods in the east. Mountains, green valleys, desert— she had ridden or walked in them all, measuring them with blisters and grit. Was this what was meant by “the realm”? Or was it other things: a little girl with a muddy doll, Burchard of Stone Mountain livid with grief and rage, a king who admitted a law was wrong, Lalasa in her bustling shop with pins in her mouth. If they were the realm, then so were griffins, sparrows, dogs ugly and beautiful, Stormwings, foul- and sweet-tempered horses, spidrens.
If she owed duty to the realm, then it was not the dry, withered thing it sounded in people’s mouths. Duty was what was owed, good parts and bad, to keep the realm growing, to keep it as fair as life could be kept. Duty was an old man, snug in his fur-lined robe, snoring lightly somewhere behind her."
Keladry of Mindelan’s ordeal meditation, Squire, Tamora Pierce. (via mustangscullaaay)