Trembling… From the Cold? Or Cowardice?

This winter was bitterly cold. Clemens still shivering as he sat down at his study. A window had blown open from the cold winds forcing themselves inside his humble abode. He gave the pane a slight shove and made sure the flimsy hinge was secure. He was growing quite tired of winter’s chilling touches on his cheeks.

Wrapping himself in a blanket to warm up gave him time to ponder recent events. Most notably Stein. That man never failed to get under Clemens nerves. Mostly because the man wielded words of criticism like a master swordsman. Efficient, deadly to the ego, and unwaveringly correct.

Clemens had been doing what he could to leverage his knowledge to aid his friends in Runeheim, but clearly he needed to be doing more. Ask more questions, get to the heart of the matter, confront threats to the academic integrity of Runeheim… That last point made Clemens shiver. That entity made of pages troubled Clemens deeply, but what exactly did he do about it? He didn’t release it, so why should he have done anything? Wasn’t it Quill’s fault that thing went on a rampage stealing away knowledge from books and people?

Excuses. Clemens should have taken far more offense at that thing’s greed. Knowledge is meant to be shared and enrichen the lives of all; not hoarded like piles of coins or jewels. Clemens felt a fire rising in him; a twinge of anger and frustration. He was starting to become sickened by his own lack of willpower and courage.

“What would have Hakon done? He’d probably tear the thing to shreds with his bare hands if he could! Ha ha!”

Suddenly the window shuttered, a sudden gust of icy wind forcing it open again. Clemens yelped in surprise, then laughed.

“I guess I still have a long way to go before I can be as bold and fearless as my friends” he remarked, standing up to secure the window again, this time with just a bit more gusto. Then he sat at his study again, and returned to the archaeology report he was working on and noticed his handwriting seemed ever slightly more stable… As if his hands were shaking just a little bit less. Perhaps a sign that spring would return to Runeheim just a bit sooner.

How We Njords Will Remember

“What right do you have to tell their stories!?”

Those words still burned in Clemens’s mind like the midday sun upon his brow. Stienn had a point. No one in Runeheim asked him to record their tales in Gothic script. It doesn’t matter how many times Clemens could hear a saga sung, he could only record it as he heard it and understood it. His transcription could never perfectly capture the emotion emitted from the throats of the Skalds.

“Our stories must be remembered! When none of us remain, who will truly remember us as we are now!?”

Those words were like the sudden gust of cold air that breezed past Clemens. Saga’s counterpoint to Stienns argument stirred something in Clemens. He returned to his bunk and pulled out the portrait that artist had sketched of him. He stared at it for a while and pondered.

“One could describe me in words and might be able to tell someone else what I look like, but have they truly captured my visage and can share it accurately with others? Doesn’t that image of me only last as long as someone is willing to recount it? Isn’t that image only as accurate as the memory of the person who first described me? But this portrait will last so long as someone keeps it somewhere safe and it leaves no room for interpretation.”

Clemens paused on that thought and realized something he had not been considering. There is no reason that both a portrait and a spoken description of what he looked like could both exist at the same time. Both achieve the objective of capturing his image in different ways both with advantages and disadvantages. How are oral storytelling and written records any different? Just because a story is written down doesn’t mean must be told exactly as it is on the page. Can the two forms not coexist?

But he would need to put this idea to practice, Clemens needs something worth remembering to write and sing about…

“The Saga of the Unbroken Saint…” Clemens spoke under his breath.

Clemens quickly pulled out several sheets of ruffled paper and a quill. Nearly spilling an ink pot as he sat down and began scrawling out stanzas.

He had always considered himself more of a historian, dryly describing events that occurred, but inspiration had finally come to him like a spark lighting a forge. He had always enjoyed when his Skald mother recounted sagas of heroes, but it was now time to make her proud by penning a saga of his own.

When he was finished he would recount it to others who knew Rolf to hear their understanding and to gain their feedback, adding in details until everyone had the same image in their heads of who the Unbroken Saint was and the greatness of his deeds. When it was finalized he would transcribe that saga onto a stone memorial to place by the cairn where Rolf’s body had been reduced to ashes so that all that would come to Runeheim would be able to know the story of the Unbroken Saint and could recount that saga to all who would listen.

This is how we Njords will remember the Unbroken Saint.

A breath of fresh opportunity

Clemens stepped out from the tavern into the mid-afternoon sun. He had spent most of the day listening to the din of others pleasant conversations while relaxed into a chair. Eventually his legs had become stiff and he decided they needed to be stretched even if only for a brief stoll.

The pleasant breeze carried the subtle scent of spring on it. Clemens noticed that the muddy paths had mostly dried out despite the rain the evening prior. He chuckled a little remembering how many including himself had found themselves sliding all over the place, their boots caked in that muck. Looking up he noticed the brook that carved its way past the tavern. He could hear the stream gently careening over the smooth stones and felt called to the soothing sound.

A small bench sat near the brook. “Ah, a perfect place to sit and reflect.” Clemens thought to himself. Gently he lifted his cloak out from under him and sat facing the brook and the woods that lay just beyond. While Clemens greatly enjoyed the comforts of more developed and populated towns there was something about these less settled and developed places. A certain charming effect from being closer to nature.

Although he did not forget that this place was also the edge of a warzone. On this thought Clemens began to ponder why he had chosen to come to this place, to Runeheim. He was certainly of no use in battle and not a particularly savvy merchant or craftsman. He was certainly was not like Brother Manfred or Rolf, both whose skill at arms had seen them triumph over branded men of the Ironblood clan. He wasn’t quite like Victor whose resourcefulness could outfit an army or quite like the conviction and persuasiveness of Lady Vayne who managed to negotiate a lucrative deal out of that Hestrali captain, Tommaso. He certainly didn’t have the courage of that Dunnick miner who survived an encounter with a ghost and lived to tell the tale.

What could he do that would make the lives of people in Runeheim better? Surely he could be an educator, teaching those around him how to read and write and perhaps even a bit about the history of the corner of the world they now occupy, but that seems like a far off priority in a place like this. Although he was certainly capable of bringing people joy and inspiration through story, a small comfort to perhaps ease the stresses that weighed on folks hearts and minds.

His train of thought was interrupted by a loud creak from the bench beneath him. Standing up he looked at the bench and noticed the toll the wet weather had taken on its wooden structure. “If only wood could speak, I wonder what tales you could tell” Clemens sighed.

Although a thought suddenly entered his mind. A bench was a simple thing to construct. As a child he often went with his father to collect kindling and wood for fires when it was time to make camp. It wasn’t much of a stretch to think collecting wood to build simple comforts like sturdy benches and chairs wouldn’t be outside his of ability if he put his mind to it.

Perhaps he should speak to Victor, surely there were things that people needed that he couldn’t provide. That would certainly be a way for Clemens to contribute in a more practical way. Though he would need to learn more about how the people in Runeheim live from day to day, the routines they keep and the rituals they use to ensure their continued prosperity. Xavier seemed to know a thing a two about that, maybe Clemens should speak to him about the things ordinary folk need. Perhaps this was what his father meant when he said “There’s only so much you can learn from books”.

Clemens looked into the forest and thought to himself. “Perhaps this is the opportunity I’ve been seeking all along.” As a child he had loved grand stories about heroes and the great evils they vanquished, but perhaps his place was at the side of the people who live smaller, but no less important lives. To learn how they live and thrive, and to tell their tales to all who would listen. But, it also couldn’t hurt to to learn how to harness the gifts of nature and turn them into simple comforts for kith and kin.