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- A scholar who cherishes the love of comfort is not fit to be deemed a scholar.
After closing his eyes, Borothar awoke.
Remembering his master’s first rule, the squire had crossed his legs, suffering from his tension, after which he had emptied his earthly being. Ascending a path of liberation, he had detached his mind from his limbs and had embraced his medallion’s warmth, filling his magical heart with its ruby’s energies. His palms, which had been facing each other, had been increasingly warming up, as Borothar finally remembered the words.
A small flame lied between his hands, floating in the air, dancing, moving to the rhythm of Borothar’s heartbeats. Surprised that his skin ignored the heat, Borothar dismissed the thought and rose, focusing on his magical heart at all times. Master Daegoln calls it the First Step of Kyai, Borothar remembered. Mastering this spell defined the scope of your skill as a spellcaster. A basic from which the rest followed, this flame mattered dearly to Borothar who progressed in the cave, shy.
What things live down there?
Ahead, his master stared at the wooden stools, left behind by hasty runaways. Stools and purses of aspics lied everywhere at this entrance. Closing his eyes, Norman saw what had occurred here. Armed men had been forced down the cave, fleeing someone – or something – whom had emerged from the sea outside. Sniffing the air, Norman felt awkward, incapable to determine the identity – or very nature – of this oceanic invader. As for the armed troops, he knew for sure whom they were. Free Companies…
After serving alongside kings and heroes – and Dantena van Torquaz – during the Year of the Four Emperors and the Keshian Wars, he recalled when both had thwarted the plans of Theodius to overthrow Thorgrim’s newly founded Imperial Order. The latter, now dubbed by gleemen the Red Tyrant, lurked in these mountains, leading his own private army, the outlawed Iron Company. Inspecting a brown leather purse on the ground, Norman recognized the aspic tangled over the bear, the Rubarorian sigil of House Oursifer, Theodius’s banner. An old enemy…
Finally, Borothar emerged and Norman forced himself into vain confidence.
“This won’t come easy, lad. You’ll need to deserve your apprenticeship.”
He stood, magnifying his height. Looking down at his squire, Norman acknowledged the boy’s Kyai flame, and briefly smiled before hindering all emotions.
“Stay stealthy, we aren’t alone.”
And he went down the dark cave.
Borothar hurried, keeping his palms facing each other and breathed steadily. Above, he could ear the raging waves, smelling the ocean and struggling walking on the darker rocks. For indeed, it kept getting darker and darker as Norman’s footsteps increasingly vanished in the distance. Trying to close the range, Borothar noticed his flame growing smaller. Forced to stop, he focused on his breathing and the flame regain life. However, his muscles began to tense, and sweat began dropping on his face. He needed to relax.
Things live down here…
Hopefully, Daegoln-elda had offered him a dagger and a broadsword. Back at the Stumbling Dragon, Asral, one of his master’s bachelors, had taught him the basic movements of Griffincliff swordsmanship. His master claimed it to king of all styles, for he had personally defeated Dantena van Torquaz back in the latter’s prime. Even though Norman hadn’t drawn an actual sword in front of the boy, Borothar had heard of the widely accepted prowess that surrounded Norman Golden Eye.
After catching up, Borothar saw his master kneeling close to a rock, inviting Borothar to utter silence. Obeying, the boy knelt, and his flame perished. Slightly angered, the squire looked up and realized a torch was lit a dozen meters away. His heart began racing.
People live close by… Who would live here?
His eyes must have betrayed his fear, for his master designated his belly and breathed in and out. Borothar imitated Daegoln-elda and he actually relaxed.
Back at the Stumbling Dragon, Asral had taught Borothar that most career knights and free riders fell on the field because of their animal instincts. Master Daegoln had been trained in the Black Moor Abbey in Temeros as a Prime Knight, therefore he had access to the legendary order’s knowledge of meditation. Conscious breathing allowed him and his students to dissociate themselves from these primal emotions – the said animal instincts of the men born out of the world – and analyze the facts, only them.
In Borothar’s case, his scar on his throat could signify a burden and ignite fear in his present. However, letting go of fear of what might have been made him acknowledge his luck and his ability to survive severe injuries. Breathing with his master made him remember that he needed to follow the cave in order to find the source of these spectres. It was their contract. By fulfilling it, Norman Daegoln would pay his debt to the Imperial Court and would reward Borothar by recommending him to the Black Moor Abbey – and the Prime Order.
But could he trust his master? If one thing Borothar was certain of, was Norman Daegoln’s fondness for mind games. He had been extremely difficult to live with. Could he blame him? Anywhere they walked that the smallfolk recognized him they harast him! Wenches cried at his approach and lads begged for a performance. Usually, he reviled them and cursed in ancient languages. Once – only once – he had granted a highborne family their request in exchange for sponsorhip. Then he had performed an incredible flash of lightning that hit a chicken on the market street. The chicken hadn’t survived. In fact, he had been erased from existence. Sure, Borothar had been impressed. He had stuggled to ignite in flame after three minutes of meditation. Blasting a chicken away required extensive heat. It was difficult. But Borothar had actually never seen a true Achievement worthy of the ballads. In this cave, here, very soon how would Norman Daegoln deal with armed men? Would he blast them away?
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