Day Ten: From the antagonist: happiest memory.
I had a lot of fun writing this interview with Reverend Whitebrooke for my day ten exercise. Enjoy!
“What? This is why you have interrupted me?” Reverend Whitebrooke’s voice filled the quiet room with deep thunder, startling the occupants. Priests and acolytes popped their heads up from their books and blinked in the direction of the towering Archivist, so that the grand reading room resembled a mole-infested field rather than a place of reflection and study.
“Yes, your Reverence,” the acolyte replied cheerfully, as if unaware of the priest’s frown of displeasure.
“You are stunningly oblivious. This is a colossal waste of time.” Whitebrooke strode towards the stacks, his robes billowing in his wake.
The acolyte hurried to match his steps, her scroll and quill clutched in her hands. “It won’t take long,” she assured the priest.
“Is there nothing that will dissuade you?” Whitebrooke halted abruptly and faced the acolyte with his fists on his hips. “Maker’s breath, very well. I find great satisfaction in a successful bout in the practice ring. It is always amusing to watch the soldiers’ faces as they are bested by an archivist.”
“Yes, your Reverence,” the acolyte replied. She scribbled a brief entry on her scroll and then gazed upwards expectantly. “And that is the happiest day for you?”
“What’s that? Well, perhaps not happiest of all, no.” Whitebrooke shook his shaggy head. “I have recovered many texts that were feared lost, and have discovered great works that had been forgotten. For all his collecting, Ezekiel did not accomplish as much.”
“I have even unraveled the mysteries of fuil crunor, knowledge that was systematically wiped from the face of the earth. Not just for our protection… no, not so that we may huddle beneath a shield. This knowledge can be used, you see, used to grant us power that those who came before me dared not dream of.”
“Yes, I take pride in my accomplishments as Archivist… why would I not? It was fortunate, in retrospect, that my work kept me from the Bishopric. No, I assure you, if I had not been so immersed, the convocation would have selected me, not Benno. But, in the end, this result was far preferable.”
“It must have been an amazing day for you when you became the Archivist, then,” the acolyte asked.
“True, the day of my appointment as Archivist was the inception of all I mentioned, so perhaps that moment could stand alone as the happiest.”
“Most people I talked to said their happiest day was when they got married,” the acolyte said brightly. “Are you married, Reverend Whitebrooke?”
“Yes, I was married. But that was long ago.”
“Oh,” the acolyte replied, her eyes wide. “I’m sorry, your Reverence, I didn’t mean to mention a sad day.”
“Far from it. I recall the day of my marriage very fondly.” Whitebrooke’s gaze drifted to the tall windows that filled the far wall.
“What was your wife’s name, your Reverence?” the acolyte asked.
“Aislin. She was a marvelous woman. A gifted intellect, far beyond her peers, and yet she chose to become a healer. She could have done anything, but she chose to help others.”
“Your Reverence, may I ask what happened to Aislin?”
“An accident,” Whitebrooke replied in a low rumble, almost a groan. His beard bristled as his mouth crewed on words that never emerged. For the first time, the acolyte waited quietly, not daring to interrupt. At last, Whitebrooke breathed in deeply, fiercely, and continued. “As banal a story as any of the hundreds of such tragedies that must happen every day. I was there, yet I could do nothing to prevent it. I often think of the irony that, had our positions been reversed, she would have been able to save me, while I could do nothing…”
Whitebrooke paused, and when he spoke again she strained to hear his words. “I find it… difficult. Difficult to recall her face without… without remembering how she looked, that day. Even my happiest memories have that shadow…”
Whitebrooke inhaled powerfully again and faced the acolyte. His gaze was empty, and she suppressed a shudder.
“That is enough for now, I believe. Return to your work.”