The Final Ark

The Innkeeper’s Apprentice

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Confucius (trans. James Legge) The Analects, ch. 14. [1].


Smashing upon the rocks, waves swallowed back the murlocs who tried in vain to reach the earth. As he struggled to follow his master, Borothar allowed himself some daydreaming, contemplating the drowning of these aquatic murlocs. Oddly, they seemed very much human to him.

After hearing his master’s calling, Borothar looked up again at the high rock of Hearthstone, realizing how gigantic the cliff truly was. Down below, the boy didn’t actually trust his master’s ability to save him if a wave crushed his young body on the rocks.

Trying in vain to reach the earth…

Sniffing the air, Borothar feared a storm, as his Forestland exile taught him how to read the clouds and the winds. Furthermore, Master Melrag had trained Borothar when he came dressed like a suspicious wanderer. Out of all the masters he had encountered, ser Melrag of the Forest would be missed dearly.

His former master’s death at Brian Greyfallow’s hands did change everything. After that dreadful night where his throat got sliced, Borothar’s way of life and sense of priorities changed greatly. All of this started after this evil-doer of a jester offered him this pipe. Wandering into the Mockinjay district had been utter madness. It was only thanks to Dantena van Torquaz that his new master came to his aid.

“Hurry, maggot!’ Norman Daegoln ordered from above.”

Memories came as the sun reached its peak. Days and days ago, in what seemed to be an ancient echo, a dark night came for Borotar. After having accepted the poisoned gift of the fool, a modest pipe, Borothar had ventured into the lower Narrows, into what was known as the fishermen village of Mockinjay. It had appeared that across ages, conquests led by the Imperial Order encountered tribes of interbreed seafolk who federated into the purple banner of piracy. Some of these had accepted offers from imperial forces, such as privateering in their name for resources. Wars purged tribes of seafolk and yet some hid in the darkness of the Empire, such as the Mockinjay slum. One of seven black masses of Emperor Arius, the tribe of Seafolk of Zephyr Sarak’j, the notorious cannibalistic warlord had been hosted so close to the Imperial City that he was blamed for the importation of atlaterian roots’s dangerous increase to the mainland. And that night, Borothar had witnessed a blood war between the Greyfallow Brewery and the Seafolk. Captured by ser Thomas Khent, a sellsword for the Greyfallows, his throat had been sliced.

Then came a twisted irony of destiny. Adressing Dantena van Torquaz on a melancholic struck of luck, Borothar had been sponsored into squiring for Norman Daegoln. When this event occurred, a man, or was it a wench, came to Borothar dressed as a harlequin and offered him a pipe. Smoking it with pale delusion, Borothar had decided to explore the city in order to make a decision: abandoning his weaker master and his time for the teachings of the greatest swordsman and most accomplished magician of the third age. When Borothar’s throat had been sliced, Norman Daegoln, who had been following the boy, emerged, slaying all of them but Kent, before whispering strange words to the sea. At that moment, the sea had answered. Water had covered Borothar’s throat had healed.

Touching his scar, Borothar hurried and climbed the thorned rock that ripped his fingers’ skin apart. “Aie’, his voice was the one of the weak, as he took notice of. But too late.

Kicked by his master’s boot back down, Borothar’s back cried as his bones shivered. However, he pushed his mind into refusing to give in. Therefore, he did not scream like a highborne lady.

“You are the saddest squire that I was ever given,’ Master Daegoln’s voice said. “The only reason I granted Torquaz’s request was my belief that your sliced throat had desperate you enough to dedicate yourself fully to your training. I have trained women, and none failed to climbed this rock without whining.”

Norman’s cape whipped when he turned back. Finding his master’s outbursts of dramatic blames drastically amusing and enlightening, Borothar couldn’t forbid himself to smile. A smile often relieves the pain, she used to say. Struggling, Borothar managed to climb without screaming, thus making him acknowledged the potential of his willpower. Tragically, Borothar remained unsure if the lesson had been fully learned. Falling on his back hadn’t been bad enough…

Before accompanying his master in his journey, he had been trained into the five steps of Kyai in the Stumbling Dragon‘s tavern. His master also worked as an innkeeper where he entertained highborne with performances of magic and adventuring stunts, occasionally he would also bring guests such as Wellington Vale. Reuniting with the former had filled the lad’s heart with authentic joy.

Joy which vanished; the master judging harshly Borothar’s clumbsiness. Standing as a crane upon the sea and covered by a natural arch, Norman Daegoln seemed royal when he crossed his arms behind his surprisingly muscular back. Behind that underground cave lied the mission, Borothar knew.

”Do you know what we seek?’ Master Daegoln asked, his tone was reminiscing thunder.

‘The mystery behind the giant who commits suicide!’ Borothar enthusiastly expressed.

Whipping the air, a stick lashed his sour leg. Refraining from screaming, Borothar bit his lips. Smiling, the feline face of his master switched into a relentless grin.

”At the very least, you were blessed with an imp’s memory. Now be fierce rather than hasty, for we must now seek the source of the spectral apparition.”

Designating the cave, Norman Daegoln commanded with a single stare. Obedient, Borothar advanced until his master pushed him down to a certain, and most brutal, death.


Read next chapter here

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