At Long Last

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"Da' why do we have ta use this dusty ol' boat? I like those ships better," Hatten had once said to his father.

Andren had looked down at his son and replied, "We own this boat, lad. I made it with me own two hands. It's worth thirty of those blasted fancy pants vessels from the Boatsmiths' factory. In day's long past, their boats were the envy of all. But lately the Boatsmiths Union has been cutting corners, ye see. They don't put ay heart and soul into what they do anymore, Hatten. And a boat without heart and soul is no boat I want to ride the sea in."

When Andren had passed beyond this life, to join the ancestors and the Gods that keep them, Hatten had inherited his father's old boat. But even then, in his late twenties, Hatten envied the nicer looking boats from the Boatsmiths' factory. They shined with luxury and seemed to glide across the water with ease. Everything about those boats screamed to Hatten, "BUY ME, YE DOLT!"

So, Hatten decided to sell his father's handmade boat to Andren's old fishing buddy, a crusty old bastard nicknamed Tack, due to the odd way he walked that resembled a sailboat coming about to find the wind. Tack had jumped at the chance to buy Andren's old boat, as he knew the worth of a good vessel with heart and soul.

"Lad, are ye sure 'bout this? Yer father put his own heart and soul in this here boat. 'Tis a special thing," Tack had said before signing the bill of sale.

"Don't ye want it, then?" Hatten had asked impatiently.

Tack had only shook his head and signed his name, buying the wooden fishing boat called At Long Last. Andren had never told Hatten why the vessel carried that name, and when asked, Tack wouldn't say either. Hatten figured it was a boring story anyway, and had forgotten about the boat right after he sold it.

A month later, Hatten glided over the waves in a fancy new sloop. She cut through the sea like butter, so he had named the ship Blade, and had painted her silver. Finally, Hatten had felt as if he were just as good as everyone else in the dwarven fishing village Ungrim, which lay on the shore of the Sea of Nezra. He no longer felt embarrassed by the old wooden boat his father had used.

It wasn't until the first rough waters of the season came upon the residents of Ungrim that Hatten learned how wrong he had been to sell At Long Last. Sea dwarves were used to nasty weather and the resulting choppy waters, and Hatten was no exception. But as he navigated the stormy sea, he could immediately tell a difference. Andren's boat would have taken this weak storm as if it were nothing. Meanwhile, his new ship, Blade, was being tossed about like dwarflings with a ball.

Several hours into that fateful storm, Blade had struck something under the churning water, and Hatten had lost all control of the luxurious sloop. She went under in minutes, and Hatten was stranded in the stormy chaotic Sea of Nezra to die. He prayed to the ancestors and the Gods that kept them, and he begged for salvation.

"I just want ta be there for me boy, Yintal. I dun want the boy to grow up without his Da'," he had yelled to the sky. But the thunder and rain drowned out his cries just as the ocean was soon to drown the sea dwarf.

"Ye should've never been out this far on that shite sloop of yers," a familiar voice yelled to Hatten, and a rope landed in the water beside him. Looking for the source, he found Tack there, aboard At Long Last and looking as comfortable in the storm as he would in still waters. The old wooden boat with heart and soul had no problems in the rough sea.

On the ride back to land, Hatten had pleaded with Tack to sell him back the old fishing boat. "It was me own Da's ship, Tack! I made a grave mistake sellin' it ta ye, and I need it back."

"Nay, it's no' gonna happen, lad. Ye sold her, I bought her, she's mine," Tack said stoically, no emotion peeking through that sea-worn visage.

Hatten had hung his head and worried himself ragged all the way home. He had no money for a new Boatsmith's ship. Nor had he bought insurance on Blade from the local branch of the Queen's bank. Without money, he wouldn't have a boat. Without a boat, he couldn't fish. And if he couldn't fish, Hatten wouldn't be able to feed his family

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