Bergens, born Ernesto Bergens Phrincalico, and occasionally known as 'Calico', was a prolific author, poet, philosopher, glass blower, and, for a brief period of his life, politician. He lived from 1198 to 1290. In his early years, prior to the death of his family, he was a Calborium tree farmer. He died in 1290, and was survived by his second wife, Sue Phrincalico.
While he is best known for his scathing pseudo-autobiographical novel Tales of a HellPath Life, in which he lambastes the caretakers of The Aerilie Fountain for mismanagement (see below), he also wrote 17 other novels, hundreds of poems, and 2 tomes of philosophy. He is also widely considered to be the author of Poems of Sarti (see below).
Tales of a HellPath Life
Tales of a HellPath Life, Bergen's most successful novel, is in two parts. The first tells the story of a young adventurer, Calico, who explores all of Einwimz in a quest to find a cure for his family's Death Plague. Upon finding the Aerilie Fountain, he dunks his family, only to have them expire in his arms. The latter half of the novel depicts a bitter, drawn out class action lawsuit against the Fountain caretakers, in which Calico loses everything, and ends up drowning himself in the very fountain that failed to save his family.
The parallels to Bergens' own life are, of course, obvious, but the the popularity of the book stems from Bergens' beautiful storytelling, and his famous depiction of the highlands around the City of Goats. When it is assigned as required reading in the schools of Einwimz, teachers often omit the chapters of story exposition, and assign only the descriptive chapters depicting Calico's trek across the mountains with his dying family, and the chapter in which he returns to his home town, later in life.
Poems of Sarti
The Poems of Sarti are 742 poems, written on tanned leather, in amber from the Calborium tree. They were "discovered" in 1286, toward the end of the Broompushers Rebellion, in a cave in a cliff, high in the mountains just south of the City of Goats. They were discovered by a climber seeking shelter from a severe winter storm.
The physical condition of the manuscripts are of as much historical and academic interest as the poems themselves, and have been the source of much speculation since their discovery. While the parchments were very well preserved, there are many possible legitimate causes of this. They were discovered in a deep cave, high above the tree line, where the extreme cold, and the complete isolation from the elements, could have conspired to preserve them perfectly. And the choice of ink - the amber from the Calborium tree - ensures almost perpetual life. Indeed, other manuscripts have been discovered, known to be from the early 1200's, where the paper was completely deteriorated, but the letters themselves were perfectly preserved.
Nevertheless, given the state in which the manuscripts were discovered, scholarly analysis places the date (in the absence of intentional fraud) to be anywhere between 1009 and 1150. The earliest date is predicated on the mentions of Aerilie Fountain which was constructed around 1007.
However, due to both the subject matter, the style of writing, and certain linguistic clues, most scholars firmly believe that the poems were written by Bergens, artificially aged just enough, hidden in the caves, and then conveniently "discovered" by climber who should have known better than to be hiking in those hills on the eve of a predicted blizzard.
The poems themselves are divided into three sections.
The first, the Sarti-la, deal with nature - flowers, trees, birds - and are widely considered to be rubbish. Those that subscribe to Bergens authorship theory feel that these are put in as a red herring to draw attention away from the similarities between the other poems and Bergens' usual style. They also point to the fact that some of the butterflies mentioned in Song of The Seven Wings were carefully bred during he late 1100's. Furthermore, there is no mention of any species known to have lived prior to the Dandoorian Meteor, which, while not conclusive, is suspicious.
The second section, the Sarti-bo, deals almost exclusively with the Aerilie Fountain. It blames the Fountain, and its caretakers, for all of the woes of the world, and accuses the caretakers of intentionally poisoning thousands of people, both rich and poor, who came to the Fountain to be cured of the Death Plague. In Burn The Fountain, the poet calls on all righteous people to destroy the fountain, 'not leaving on brick upon another' and 'burn the very ground on which it sat'. In The Witch Aerilie, he accuses Aerilie herself of being a witch, leaving a curse to last across the ages, in order to 'seek vengeance for the evils of the Gesticulants.' While this is clearly a reference to the monks of the Abbey of Parapall, it is not known for certain what incident is referenced, although theories abound.
The final section, the Sarti-ka, consists of dozens of pages of seemingly nonsense rhyming couplets. These are thought by some to be an elaborate code, and Bergens himself hinted at this in many of his public addresses about the Sarti-ka. Late in life, he expressed deep frustration that nobody had 'broken the code', and his dying words were "Dammit, Sue, why don't any of them understand the code?" leading to further speculation that he himself had a message hidden in the code that he expected someone to discover.
In 1488, the famous mathematician Carson Q Lathavior did an extensive cryptographic analysis of the work, and discovered that, while the original manuscript didn't seem to hide any code at all, when translated into modern Aalish he detected a pattern, which, when decoded, might say 'The Fountain, The fountain, it's all their fault', again and again. However, Lathavior's work has not yet been replicated by another researcher.
The death of Bergens' family
In 1225, when Bergens was 27, his family - his first wife Laura, and his two daughters, Mels and Gladiola, contracted the Death Plague. Although the cure is well known now, at the time it was almost always fatal, except for those that found their way to the Aerilie Fountain, or the Healing Waters of Parapall. Bergens, being an illiterate farmer, was unaware of these things, and set out to cross the country from one end to the other looking for a cure, not knowing that it lay just miles from his own farm.
Upon finally discovering the Fountain, he went back to the farm, where he discovered his family on the verge of death. He rushed them to the Fountain, and plunged them into the water. Eyewitnesses claim that he held them under for long enough that, in their weakened state, they all drowned. Bergens, mad with anguish, started a propaganda campaign against the Fountain that would last the rest of his life.
Bergens ran for mayor of the City of Goats in 1277. He received three votes.
Death and legacy
Bergens died in 1290, an old and bitter man, deeply disappointed that not only had his campaign against the Fountain not succeeded, but it had drawn sufficient attention to the Fountain that it was drawing a steady flow of tourists, and was an enormous financial success. While he did not drown himself in the fountain like the protagonist of HellPath, he did die as a result a case of bottled Aerilie Water (sparkling) falling off of a truck onto him as he crossed the road. He was rushed to hospital, but died just a few hours later, his wife Sue at his side. In his last moments, when he was lucid, he blamed the Fountain for everything, and complained about the stupidity of scholars and their inability to crack the Sarti-ka code.