For those of you who were not able to make it to the funeral service for Bertrem the Aesthetic at GenCon 2002, we’ve managed to put together the following transcript. Enjoy, and may Bertrem’s soul rest in peace.
Dezra couldn’t make it tonight, so she asked me to read this instead. I’m sorry I can’t be with you at the memorial, only I went out to the pub last night with a gang of minotaurs … or was it Minnesotans? I don’t know, it was dark, and they drink about the same. Anyway, today I only feel a little better than Bertrem does, so this will have to do.
How should I describe Brother Bertrem? He was many things. Smart, charming, eccentric, hot …
Yes, that’s right. That’s something most of you didn’t know about him. You probably knew him as a scholar, but underneath the inkstains and the rumpled robes, the man was a complete animal.
I first met him when I was 23, and he was about a hundred and two. I came to Palanthas to borrow a book I wanted from the library, and … well, “borrow” is probably the wrong word. Where do monks learn how to do headlocks, anyway?
So they brought me to Bertrem, and he started in about larceny this and scruples that, and all the time he’s giving me this look. So finally, I just grabbed him by –SMUDGED, UNREADABLE–
He acted all shocked. “Young lady, I am an Aesthetic of Gilean. I am under a vow of chastity!” And I said, “Bertie, honey, the gods are gone.”
And the next thing you know, I was grabbing his As — um, Astinus bust, which he kept on his desk, and turning it toward the wall so it wouldn’t see when we …
… his gleaming dragonlance …
–SPILLED WINE OBSCURES TEXT–
… Silvanesti lotus position …
–SEVERAL PAGES CHARRED BEYOND REPAIR–
… with a gully dwarf …
–UNIDENTIFIED GREENISH SUBSTANCE BLOTS OUT NEXT FEW PARAGRAPHS–
… and they used to call Astinus “the Undying!” Honestly, in all my travels — and I’ve “traveled” quite a lot — I’ve never met a man who was so well — read. But then, he was a writer, after all, and you know what that means. The man really knew what to do with his quill.
Anyway, after that, we were good friends for many years, sometimes three or four times in one night. Too bad he went and keeled over. I’ll be taking some of my gold and giving it to the library, in his memory. We’ll call it the Brother Bertrem Endowment.
PS: Don’t believe that nonsense in his last testament about avoiding the opposite sex. Bertie was about as unstained as Lord Soth’s britches.
I’m here today on behalf of Ragh, a sivak draconian who sends his apology that he cannot attend in person. Last I heard, he was somewhere in the Northern Wastes. In any event, he asked me to deliver the following:
I visited at length with Bertrem on more than a few occasions. One hundred and twenty-seven occasions to be exact, all of the meetings occurring in the wonderful Palanthas Library. I found Bertrem to be an exceptionally wise soul, for someone of non-draconian heritage. At times he was surprisingly witty and uncommonly gracious, but most often he was serious and reflective, and seemingly far too concerned with what was going on in the world around him. Fortunately, he devoted most of his energies – at least during the one hundred and twenty-seven occasions I dealt with him – on the books in the Palanthas Library.
It was Bertrem who taught me to appreciate books. Indeed, before my first visit to the library, I’d only ever bothered to read orders I’d been handed or documents I’d obtained from the enemy. But Bertrem sparked my interst in other matierals. And he pointed me to scholars who instructed me in several languages. I believe it is because of Bertrem that I can read practially all of the written languages of Krynn. It is because of him that I am such an educated soul.
Bertrem was always helpful, directing me to the various reference sections when I wanted information on the great Solamnic clashes of old or when I desired to peruse tomes written by Red and Black robed sorcerers. Of course, all of my research was done before the Chaos War. I visited the Palanthas Library, and, thereby, Bertrem, when both were in their prime. Bertrem even recommended to me some lovely works of fiction … rousing tales about knights and dragons, mysteries involving shipwrecks and ghosts, a few good thrillers about spies and such, and a couple of far-fetched works involving stars and – at the time – Krynn’s three moons. I was especially fond of one book involving a draconian regiment. Even the lone love story I accidentally checked out was passable. Ah…
Bertrem taught me to love books. Undoubtedly he had a similar effect on others.
Bertrem never tired of my questions, at least not to whatever face I showed him. He was one of the few individuals I could truly say I enjoyed conversing with. I never found him droll or insipid or patronizing. Indeed, I found him an earthy, honest soul. Pity I was not honest with Bertrem. Not during a single moment of our one hundred and twenty-seven meetings.
You see, on each of our one hundred and twenty-seven visits – over the course of many, many years – I was someone… else. He never knew me as Rajh, the striking sivak draconian. He knew me as Marta the bookkeeper, who wanted to learn basic accounting procedures relating to payroll; Willum the tailor, who wanted to learn about fabrics and styles; Effingham Smyth the Third of … We sivaks don’t always look like our natural, impressive, silvery selves. Sometimes we look like weary soldiers, curious kinder, disheveled gully dwarves, middle-aged fantasy authors, impressive Dark Knights, young school children, pensive Silvanesti archers, frumpy merchantmen… and on and on. I’ll not go into how we assume these various forms – it wouldn’t be tasteful at a gathering such as this. So… on each one of my one hundred and twenty-seven visits with Bertrem I was someone different.
And suffice to say that while I knew Bertrem, Bertrem never knew me – perhaps his greatest and most appreciative patron. There was some advantage to this, of course. I could consider each trip to the Palanthas library with both a fresh approach and one of familiarity. I never dealt with another soul in that great library. I considered none of the other there Bertrem’s equal. And so it was only he I sought out to recommend more books.
Our last few visits were long – perhaps both of us secretly knew that time was growing short for the library. On these occasions I studied him more than I did the reference works I’d come seeking. I even considered assuming his form, so envious was I of his position within the hallowed halls. To work one’s entire life among books! Imagine! But to do that, to become Bertrem, I would have had to … well, I didn’t.
I left Bertrem whole and breathing when last we parted. Pity that last visit wasn’t longer still.
I believe that Krynn has lost its very finest soul with the passing of Bertrem.
Still, in spite of my fondness for him… I can’t say I’m sorry to see him go.
On each of my one hundred and twenty-seven visits to the esteemed Palanthas Library, I checked out a stack of books. And I never returned any of them. On a few stops, I wanted a couple of tomes that were not ‘allowed out of the library,’ Bertrem told me. I got them out, though, when he was occupied elsewhere.
I had no worry that I would be caught on a follow-up visit, or that anyone would charge me overdue book fees and attempt to spirit me off to some jail. As I said, I never assumed the same appearance twice. The books that Effingham Smyth the Third had past due would never be coming back. Oh, there were times when I feared Bertrem was onto me. But during these rare times, I kept my visits brief, and I managed to disappear before he could delve too closely into my person. Of course, I never left without a few books.
Yes, it was Bertrem who taught me to love books, to fiercely savor and covet them.
So still, in spite of my fondness for him… I really can’t say I’m sorry he’s dead. You see, I think if I would have made just one more trip to gather books, he would have found me out. If I’d come back for that final volume dealing with the War of the Lance – though I did manage to obtain eleven of the twelve books – he would have realized something was odd. And so I will have to find that volume elsewhere. Sigh.
And so I will think fondly of him, and miss him.
Thanks to Bertrem, I amassed a sizeable library, a wonderful, wonderful library. It is filled with mysteries, thrillers, historical works, treatments on the great battles, scientific studies of dragons, biographies of Ansalon’s famed sorcerers and politicians, atlases of countries known and lost to time, fantastic tales of knights and dragons and of a draconian regiment trying to build a bridge somewhere, preposterous stories about the stars and moons, whimsical poetry collections, anthologies, and … ahhhhh … one love story. And somewhere in all of my hundreds and hundreds of volumes is a book about Bertrem. I haven’t read that one yet. I’m saving it for last.
To: Astinus Lorekeeper, Master Historian of Krynn
From: Foryth Teel, Most Humble Researcher of History
My Most Honored Master, and all assembled guests…
My heart is breaking with the knowledge that I cannot be there with you today, to honor the memory-nay, the legacy!-of dear, departed Bertrem. In Truth, My Lord Astinus, nothing would give me greater pleasure than to join in these solemn ceremonies. However, as Your Excellency undoubtedly understands, duty compels me to remain in the field, continuing the research that I strive to perform so diligently, and uncomplainingly, in your name.
Not that this is easy to do, in my current circumstances. I must say, my lord, the accommodations in Lesser Balifor fall far short of the standards we have grown accustomed to in Palanthas, and the other Solamnic realms. Indeed, upon arrival at my inn, I was forced to clear the bed of giant rats before it was even fit for sleeping! (At least, I think it was a rat….it rustled the bedding most aggressively, and I was forced to touch spark to the lamp; fortunately, the monster fled in the face of my dauntless courage, and I did not actually see the beast!)
And Excellency, please do not endeavor to ask me about that which passes for food in this corner of the world! My Lord, the things they pull out of the ocean and put on your plate here would be considered unsuitable even as BAIT by any westerner with a modicum of taste. Needless to say, I am forced to make frequent use of the latrine. That rank chamber, alas, I am compelled to share with a family of kender staying in the room up the hall. Naturally, I am compelled to keep my door locked, and my possessions under close observation!
But, as I was saying, it is my lot to toil uncomplainingly in your name, Most Noble Astinus. I am flattered that you requested me to write with some reflections about your, dare I say, second most loyal assistant, the redoubtable Bertrem.
Bertrem, on those occasions when he was awake, was indeed known to toil in Your Excellency’s service. How well I remember him occasionally getting up to answer the door in the middle of the night. So efficient, so courteous was he that one would never even imagine that he was invariably suffering the effects of a monstrous hangover. (Indeed, Noble Lord, though it is perhaps not my place to say this, did you ever notice how rapidly the decanters of ceremonial spirits were drained, while Bertrem was on duty? I suggest the cause was not evaporation.)
Ah, but he was an historian for the ages, was Bertrem. I declare, several of his treatises-after I corrected his spelling and helped him to insert the necessary punctuation marks-were nearly suitable for reading, if not for actual publication. And it is well known that he was ever solicitous of your Excellency’s needs. At least, he was when he was sober. Furthermore, he did not steal that much from the other acolytes-some of those tales have been scandalously overblown by others who are less gracious, and less forgiving, than myself.
No, my lord, I do not begin to imagine how you will perform all of your duties, now that he is gone. *sigh* I suppose, of course, that a great portion of the burden shall inevitably fall upon my uncomplaining shoulders…that it shall be my chore now to return to High Palanthus, to dwell in the Great Library, even to answer the door in the middle of the night when notorious and terrifying strangers come knocking.
Know that I am willing, Excellency, to make the necessary sacrifices. In fact, there is a ship that departs in the morning, and in anticipation of your needs I have taken the precaution of securing a ticket. Perhaps you could send someone else to complete my current research in Balifor? After all, as they say here in the East, “The Maelstrom will still be swirling in the morning!”
As always, lord, I stand ready to act upon your every whim-and please, please, make it your whim that I should return home!
But in one thing you may rest assured: whatever you ask, however you command, I shall never complain!
Your most devoted servant (bar none)
Trampas “Dragonhelm” Whiteman
“Celebration of a Common Man”
Citizens of Palanthas, people of Ansalon, friends and fellow companions, honored guests.
I am Lord Dragonhelm, Knight of the Sword, and I come to speak on behalf of the Whitestone Council at this solemn occasion.
The Measure says that one should honor those heroes who gave of themselves and acted honorably in the defense of others. Their tales should be told, so that we do not forget the lessons of the past. This is, in itself, an honorable act.
I come here today not to mourn the death of a hero, but to celebrate the life of a common man, namely Bertrem of the Library of Palanthas. Bertrem. was not the type to ride on the backs of dragons, nor was he inclined to wield one of the sacred dragonlances.
He was more likely to ride in a carriage drawn by a very slow horse, and to wield a pen, not a dragonlance.
I daresay, though, that Bertrem was not as common of a man as he would appear! For Bertrem was a champion himself. Bertrem championed the cause of the common man, not by detailing the facts of history, such as what Astinus did, but by chronicling history in such a way, that the very hearts and minds of the average person would show through.
How else can we learn the lessons of the past if we do not understand what the men and women of the time were going through? How else can the average person fight against the forces of darkness, unless they know the hearts of those who stand against the darkness.
Tonight, as you depart from this place, go to your homes, and drink to the memory of Bertrem. Tonight, tell HIS tale, and drink in celebration of a common man.
Tracy Hickman & Laura Curtis
As Fizban and Mrs. Fizban
Ladies and Ladies … this is a solemnem … solumnnnum … this is a very serious occasion. I have come to speak about the death of a great man, a man much loved by me and by his companions, and a man who was an example to us all. He will be sorely missed.
What can you say about a man, brought up with questionable parentage. A man true to himself even if he were a bald-faced liar to his friends. How can any of us forget his courage, presenting himself before the knighthood and receiving nothing but black roses? Nor will any one of us soon forget the vision of him standing on the wall of the High Clerist Tower … lance in hand as he faced the onslaught of the Dragon hordes!
(MRS. FIZBAN STARTS FRANTICALLY TUGGING AT HIS ROBES TO GET HIS ATTENTION … FIZBAN CONTINUES WITHOUT PAUSE.)
His death, there on the wall, at the hands of his former companion Kitiara, rallied the knighthood in those dark times, turning the tide away from … What?
(MRS. FIZBAN FRANTICALLY WHISPERS INTO HIS EAR.)
Oh! Oh! Yes, yes … my apologies to all you Solamnic Knights out there … I … I know what a dower, humorless bunch you all are. Let me see … where was I?
Yes! What can you say about a man who has lived his life fully and completely. Who did not die in the great battles which he fought … but succumbed to time alone. As I staggered under his weight, carrying him across the great mirrored surface of Godshome, I looked down on his bearded, craggy face, at peace at last and though of placing him next to the forge of heaven that he so dearly loved …
(MRS. FIZBAN PULLS FIZBAN ASIDE MORE URGENTLY & WHISPERS)
What? I’m in the middle of a eulogy here …
(WHISPERS SOME MORE)
Are you sure? What difference does it make? They’re both DEAD aren’t they?
(MRS. FIZBAN WHISPERS SOME MORE)
Fine! Whatever! … What can you say about Caramon’s sons…
(MRS. FIZBAN GLARES AT FIZBAN)
Or … eh … Tanis?
(MRS. FIZBAN WHISPERS WITH EXAGERATED GESTURES)
(ANGRY) BERTRUM??? WHO THE HELL IS BERTREM?
(MRS. FIZBAN SHRUGS)
(EXASPERATED) Oh, for the love of Paladine, they killed off everybody didn’t they? I mean, the authors have left so many dead lying around it’s hard to keep up! They’re like some kind of scythe with pens! Then there’s that little beggar kender they’ve killed so many times they’ll have to stake him into his next grave to make sure he stays down! (CALMING DOWN) Well … oh … this is a solemn occasion … we’re all feeling really sorry someone NEW died … WHOEVER he is … blah, blah, blah … and, well, all I can say is he has a LOT of company up there … or down there … or wherever!
A Eulogy for Bertrem the Aesthetic by Brother Stan! of the Order of Aesthetics
As a member of the Order of Aesthetics, I had the honor to work closely with Brother Bertrem on several projects. He was, I can assure you, a brilliant scholar … and I learned a great dea from him. However, like all brilliant folk (at least those of my meager acquaintance), it was sometimes a challenge for me to keep up with his demands … and Brother Bertrem never hesitated to tell me exactly how (and how often) I failed to meet his expectations.
To say that he was “occasionally brusque” is a kindness I feel comfortable offering the dearly departed. However, Brother Bertrem always insisted that I tell the absolute truth, no matter how personally mortifying it might be. In order to celebrate my late mentor’s wishes I will ammend my earlier statement … I tell you now, without any fear of contradiction, that Brother Bertram was truly a cantankerous old goat!
He was the perfectionist’s perfectionist, he demanded absolute obedience from his associates, and he didn’t give a flying fig who he upset with his published opinions.
Some say you can judge a man’s life by the quality of his enemies. By this measure, Brother Bertrem led an exemplary life. He was denounced by every commander to lead dark-armored knights in the past 60 years, and was personally reviled by the Queen of Darkness herself.
Others say you should judge a man by the quality of his friends. By this measure, Brother Bertrem again comes up as a great individual. He counted among his personal friends nobles, gods, commoners, and practically all the Heroes of the Lance (including both Majere brothers and a kender, if you can believe such a thing) … impressive for someone who thought of himself as a “simple librarian.”
In my opinion, though, the best way to judge a life is by what legacy the person leaves behind when he or she passes. In this regard, Brother Bertrem was most successful. He leaves us literally with a world of information. Particularly his recent guides to life in Ansalon, which chronicle not the adventures of heroes, but the lives of ordinary folk … something no one has ever thought to record in all of our land’s long history. Also, despite his advanced age, my master spent nearly a year of his life working personally with Caramon Majere to produce a guide to the beasts of Ansalon that scholars will hopefully be using for years to come.
Yes, Brother Bertrem left behind the greatest collection of knowledge ever passed from one generation to the next … greater even than his master’s. For though Astinus’ collection covered eons … Brother Bertrem’s master took the bulk of his collection with him when he left.
So how do you sum up a life in a few paragraphs?
I can’t say that I have an answer yet … at least not one that I find wholly satisfactory.
But I keep thinking of something Brother Bertrem told me time and again. “To be remembered at all is quite a feat. To be remembered well is even rarer. But to be remember accurately is something that only a passing few have ever achieved.”
I will remember you, Bertrem of Palanthas. When I speak of you in the years to come (and I will do so often) I will speak the truth … just as you taught me.
Gilean bless you.
(As Commander Kang)
I am Kang, Governor of Teyr, Commander of the Draconian Nation. So this is Palanthas. Hmm…nice town. I like it.
We are here to pay tribute to Bertrem. So … who’s Bertrem?
Oh… right. Bertrem was the first human, the first anything, to recognize Teyr as the nation of Draconians. He recognized us as a unique culture and through him and the Palanthian Library, Ansalon knows us as a nation.
We of the First Draconian Engineers, and we of the Nation of Teyr, we salute you! Fight well in the Abyss.
Report to personnel at 8 am. We will arrange your 401K, into which you will be putting all of your salary into Abyss.com. And Bertrem, you are not eligible for health insurance.