Written by Jayden Woods, Edited by Malcolm Pierce
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“There, are, indeed, some notices of antiquity, written in the vernacular tongue after the manner of a chronicle, and arranged according to the years of our Lord. By means of these alone, the times succeeding [Bede] have been rescued from oblivion : for of [Athelward], a noble and illustrious man, who attempted to arrange these chronicles in Latin, and whose intention I could applaud if his language did not disgust me, it is better to be silent.”
–William of Malmesbury, Chronicle of the Kings of England, Preface
The intruder entered quietly, but Athelward recognized the footsteps of his dearest servant right away. The servant knew better than to interrupt the ealdorman in the middle of his work, so this must be an emergency. But if this was an emergency, why didn’t the servant say something? Silent or not, his presence wreaked irreparable damage. Athelward could not focus on his writing when someone loomed close enough to see over his shoulder, nor when such trivial questions plagued his mind as why the servant entered in the first place. Already, he felt himself slipping from his own stream of thought: a stream consisting of the dazzling rapids of history swirling in harmony with the sophisticated currents of the Latin language.
Athelward’s quill quivered with his growing frustration, then at last fell aside. It was too late now; his focus had been dashed upon the rocks and left to dry. Through gritted teeth, he said, “What is it?”
“There is a woman here to see you, my lord. She seeks your aid.” The Celtic servant, Drustan, seemed entirely undaunted by his master’s mood. Very little phased Drustan, who had a smug and rather reckless demeanor for a servant. Despite this, he almost always seemed to know Athelward’s mind, even without being told what to do, so Athelward kept him.
This, however, was not such a fitting example. Athelward could not believe he had been interrupted for something so trivial, and without more of an explanation. Because he was ealdorman of Wessex, thousands of people desired his aid every day. The fortune of a single woman, when compared to the importance of completing the great literary work Athelward now devoted himself to, was so trivial as to be completely insignificant.
Athelward closed his eyes and took a deep breath. The candles around him fluttered as he exhaled, casting undulating waves of warmth on his face. He did not want to waste his time with a useless conversation right now, especially with a servant he would probably expel from his service on the morrow. Better to simply ignore Drustan’s presence and get back to work. After a few moments, he felt as if he succeeded. He felt the stream of Latin words flowing back into his mind, the stream which flowed to his heart, then through his blood to his fingertips. He brought his quill back to the parchment.
“My lord? Her name is Golde. She says she knows you. She has a child with her, a little boy, and they look very traumatized.”