Si monumentum requiris, circumspice

There is a corner of St Mary’s Church in Chatham that has my name on it. Well, the Ballard family name anyway. Grandfather reserved the plot many years ago. He and my grandmother are there, as are my parents. It is a modest family tomb in pinkish grey granite with a little ornamental iron railing around the edge, in a pleasant spot on the sunny side of the churchyard, with some shade from the old yew trees. I know it well. As a family, we always visited and maintained the graves of my grandparents and after Mother died, I was a frequent visitor. Part of me always wondered if she would preferred to have been cremated and have her ashes scattered in the woods that she so loved, but I forbore to suggest it when she passed, knowing may father’s wishes on the matter. Perhaps the yew trees sufficed to connect her with those woods.

There are two panels on the tomb as yet untouched by the mason’s chisel, someday to receive the names of Gilbert Edwin Ballard, my brother, and me. Of course, under present circumstances, I cannot imagine when the latter might happen. I know that it is possible for me to die, but that may be a long time hence. Nathaniel William Ballard – 1855 to well, anything more than 1955 is going to look extremely suspicious. This is assuming, of course, that there is anything left of me to inter. From what I know of our lore, there will be little more than dust left when I go, if that. Certainly there was nothing left of Maric, not even his clothes, when the privations of the years finally took him.

There is a graveyard by the castle, for those residents of the town that declined Maric’s gift and who had remains to inter. I have ordered that stones be made for those who passed as a result of Gwythyr’s actions, even if there is precious little left to inter. For Maric, there is nothing to inter. I resolved, however, that there should be something. If not for his remains, then for the people of the town. A memorial or monument to remember him by.

For this, I wanted something more than the plain limestone slabs that mark the other graves, and while our craftsmen are skilled, I did not know if they had the wherewithal to construct what I envisaged. My thoughts initially were to go back to London, exchange more gold for cash with my tame jeweller and have the stonemasons of London construct something. But there were logistical problems there – getting heavy stones back, assembling them etc. Gwyneth reminded me that there are skilled craftsmen among the fae, which I had not considered. I supposed I had always imagined them working with delicate things – jewellery and such like.  But, I was wrong.

Bran introduced me to one such person, skilled in stonework, by the name of Hornblende. I showed him some sketches I had done, of what I envisaged as a suitable memorial. A rectangular base, akin to a large chest, and a stele thereupon, and on either side, two urns for flowers. Red and black, I said. Hornblende showed me some samples and I chose those that seemed most suitable. We refined the sketches and I set him to work and left him to it. While I am not unskilled in the craft of the builder, I am more used to brick and wood, than working with stone.

For myself, I took to the workshop to start to craft a casket, of the best woods I could find, and lined with lead. Therein, I thought, I would place a bottle of Maric’s favourite wine, and a few personal items left of his. Said casket could then to be placed in the base of the memorial, in lieu of his bones. Perhaps there could be more, I thought. This memorial was for all the townsfolk. Perhaps, I thought, each who wished to do so could give some small item in remembrance, or even just a note, expressing their thoughts and memories, to be placed in the casket too. This idea pleased me greatly, and so I made a proclamation to the townsfolk, suggesting they might like to do so. And I sent similar missives to the fae courts, in case they wished to honour him too. Yes, this will be a fitting memorial.

Of course, Maric was so much more than could be contained in a casket of missives and small, personal items. Much more than a few slabs of marble and granite could convey. There is always going to be a much larger monument – in his legacy – the town of Mysthaven and its inhabitants. The home that he made it, the people he shaped, including me, and what it can be in the future. That is the lasting legacy, a lasting monument to the man I knew. I am reminded of the words that Sir Christopher Wren’s son had inscribed on his tomb – “Lector, si monumentum requires, circumspice” – Reader, if you require a monument, look around you. Perhaps I could borrow those words for this memorial. I am sure Sir Christopher would not mind.