“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.