Bergen shoves his way into the little corner of Angela’s website he has preserved for himself. A bottle of Guinness clutched, too comfortably, in his hand. Perhaps he’s had one too much to drink. Or five. Perhaps something deeper troubles him.
The light is out save the single candle that burns on one of the tables. Wax has pooled into the grains of the wood. He nearly topples to the floor when he stumbles into one of the half-dozen bar tables. “Too girly,” he had called the room. Bergen threw back his head and drank. “Doesn’t matter,” he mumbles and drops into one of the chairs at the table with the wax and the candle. Only then does he realize you are standing there in the doorway, curiously watching.
Keeping his black eyes on you, he tips his head back for another drink. He doesn’t seem to care that you are watching.
“You,” Bergen kicks the chair across from him as invitation to sit. “Sit,” he says in case you didn’t pick up on his obtuse hint. Shyly, maybe nervously, you make your way across the cluttered room. Each step, the scrape of the chair, and the strain as you sit all echoes in the obscene silence.
“I used to be an adventurer once,” he mutters while balancing his beer in an attempt to peer down the neck to the bottom. “I studied afar in the green lands of Eire with the finest of scholars.”
You, the tavern, and the beer seemed to vanish as a distant look sweeps his eyes. He gazes upon the walls of the tavern and the dust-covered counter made bar.
“They had secrets there, secrets none dared write about,” he explains. “Secrets they buried in stories. To preserve their stories, the masters took an apprentice and taught him. For every master there was an apprentice. But there were so many stories that those stories accumulated year after year. Apprentices studied and mastered the oral songs until they too were masters. Then they learned new songs and new stories filled with new secrets. Every day, these masters would recite every verse, every song, every word they had every memorized so as to keep the words fresh. Their life equaled a hundred lifetime of masters. It took a life time to become a master. Many apprentices died unable to reach the lesson’s end. They left the masters alone, with none to take on the secrets and stories.”
Bergen paused to take back another drink. he sighs and returns the beer to the table. He stares at his hands in thought.
“Secrets were buried. Secrets to youth, to life, to the gods, and to weapons. Secrets that could wipe out entire civilizations. With each master to each apprentice the stories grew.”
Bergen raised his dark eyes to you, suddenly remembering you were there listening.
“What would a master who was facing death desire above all else?”
He knows you won’t answer and doesn’t wait for a response.
“He would desire immortality,” he says. “I am the last apprentice. Only I know the songs that speak of those secrets.”