The New Master

Harkov paced the room of his late master Brother Cullen, awaiting the arrival of Basil and this new Neophyte who had shown interest in becoming a War Eagle. The fireplace crackled noisily in the background, but the noise did little to comfort Harkov. His nerves were getting the better of him, the entire future of the War Eagles rested on his shoulders. The fear of failure was ever present in his mind, weighing on him like a ball and chain. As time drew on Harkov’s patience grew thin and he searched for distraction. Grabbing his great sword from a weapons rack on the wall and an oily rag he began to clean his weapon as he had done more times in this room than he could count. The familiarity calmed him, as time continued his mind began to wander. Remembering every lesson he had received cleaning this same sword day in and day out for several months as an apprentice. Harkov ran them through his head. Proper sword form, combat medicine,The founding of The War Eagles, The battle of Ito Pass, The Massacre of Helmsnacht, and many more. The history of his predecessors flowing through him filled him with pride. The feeling was cut off as a knock at the door pulled Harkov back to reality.

    “Enter.” Harkov said in a gruff voice, his displeasure at being pulled from his solitude clear in his tone. Harkov stood as the door opened and placed his sword back in the weapons rack, his back to the door.

      “Good afternoon, Sgt.” Harkov said without turning. He knew It was Basil and the Neophyte. Nobody else came up here anymore except for Harkov, not since the fire. Most of the routes to the high tower study were destroyed or blocked by damage from the fire. This small corner of the keep was all but forgotten.

      “Harkov, sorry we’re late. The reconstruction of the keep is progressing nicely but it still doesn’t make things easier getting here.” Basil’s response lacked the formality Harkov’s greeting had, normally he wouldn’t have bothered but he was trying to make a good impression. The two of them were professional soldiers and friends. Years serving together gave them confidence in each other and a relaxed banter.

      “This is Martin, the Neophyte I was telling you about. Basil continued prompting Harkov to turn and face them.

       Harkov steeled himself, he had to appear calm and confident. Turning, Harkov began.

       “Hello Martin, I am…” Harkov stopped as he saw the stranger in front of him. A small almost frail bespectacled man with an enthusiastic smile.

         “What the fuck?” Harkov couldn’t stop himself from blurting out his dissatisfaction. Martin’s smile quickly turned into a look of confused, wide eyed dread. Harkov looked to Basil and with no regard for Martin voiced his doubts.

        “You can’t be serious, this guy looks like a strong breeze will take him out”

          “Looks can be deceiving.” Basil responded, trying to quickly brush off Harkov’s doubt and reassure Martin. Harkov didn’t even look at Martin before saying,

“Leave us.” Harkov’s eyes never wavered from Basil; he could feel the tension in his jaw as he failed to suppress a look of anger. A small sound came from Martin as he began to protest before Harkov cut him off.

“Now!” Harkov’s voice was loud and angry, with the sternness of a veteran soldier.

Martin visibly recoiled from the unexpected change in volume. He quickly shuffled toward the door.

“Wait just outside please.” Basil added just before the door shut. Basil and Harkov stood in silence for a moment. 

“That was a bit harsh.” Basil started leaning on the table. Harkov crossed his arms and shrugged his shoulders.

“What do you expect Basil, you want me to begin rebuilding a subunit that has almost as much if not more history and service to the church than several chapters with some bookworm who you found in the library?” Harkov was being harsh, but he refused to admit it.

“I’m sorry but you don’t exactly have volunteers lining up outside your door.” Basil responded, he was right and he knew it. Before Harkov could argue Basil added.

“I’m asking you to give him a chance, just like someone took a chance on you.” Those words hit Harkov hard, Basil was smart and logical and it angered Harkov that he was winning. Harkov turned his back to Basil and looked out the window. The sight of Starkhaven, the last stronghold for the Order and the memory of his fallen master burned within him. He accepted what he needed to do.

“Martin, come back please.” Harkov said, still facing out the window. The door slowly creaked open and he could almost feel a sense of defensiveness radiating from how slowly it opened. The door shut and Martin shuffled quietly into the room, after that a silence took the room.

“I will take you on as my apprentice, you will be a War Eagle or you will die trying.” 

Martin responded almost immediately.

“Yes! Wait what?”

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