Neve leapt off the settee, fingers fumbling with buttons he’d undone. He stood too, head bowed beneath her tight-lipped stare. She shook her head. Her legs trembled.
“If I say sorry?” He looked up from beneath his contrite brows. “Cos I am, Kez—Na, forg—I didn’t. It’s . . . I guess it’s the effect of what Alan was . . . I’m sorry.”
Neve paced, unsure what to do. He blocked the door; was that intentional? To give herself time to gather her thoughts, she twitched aside the curtain, enough to see out. Except for a solitary pool of orange light all was dark. And Raesan still was blocking the door, his light held close as a sheath about him, his face dark and sullen.
“Alright, Raesan, it’s not you, it’s not personal. I’m just not . . . I’m not interested, not in romance, not in the physical. I’ve been too long alone.”
“And I haven’t?”
“What, an Asar, with no head closed to you? There’s a whole world of women out there. Most not even needing the coercion.”
“Yeh, mortals all, fawning, adoring. They’re not for me.”
“And neither am I. Now excuse me, I’m tired, and I have work in the morning.”
He didn’t move, except now to lean against the door to thoroughly block it. “The bells haven’t yet sounded, yeh; it’s not yet Sunday. I have said I’m sorry and I do mean it. I didn’t mean to upset you. And I have to ask this, yeh, cos I think you’ve not thought it. A Bellinn, yeh, and though you’re only a nock of the sixth generation you’re still going to live a long, long time and—”
“How long? It’s time you told me. And you’re wrong of me being sixth; I took Inga’s thoughts. I’m at least a fourth or above. You can only take thoughts from those the same or below you, that’s what you said.”
That flustered him. Neve had never seen him so agitated: light swollen, a sudden draught gusting. His arms waved like a gremlin-infested mechanical mill. Though he finally moved away from the door. She thought of escape, yet she stayed. “Well?”
He stood by the blocked-over fireplace, her framed embroideries on the wall behind him, and scratched at his scalp. “Have I not told you yet of the years of living?”
Now what was he avoiding with his pace in such a confined space, fingernails scraped against his thumb-pads. A most annoying habit, and far from silent.
“So Asars, yeh, first generation. 12,000 years. Those were the years of our banishment, yeh.”
“The Book of Enoch says 1,200.”
“The Book—” He spat.
She shrugged. “And those years ended in 1086? Except you still are here.”
“Yeh-yeh-yeh-yeh, but that’s . . . na, doesn’t matter. 12,000 years is a ‘roundabout’ figure and a good place to start – cos the second generation generally dies after 6,000 years. Only . . . well those 6,000 years aren’t easy counted, not after the first hundred. And after six grey-heads turn up their toes you stop counting those too. As you will discover. So, yeh, it’s only around-about the 6000 number.”
“You’re saying the numbers half with each generation. And do stop pacing!”
“Sharp,” he said and continued to make her front-room into a maelstrom. “Yeh, it goes 6,000, 3,000, 1,500 – except there are complications. See, any Bellinn who dies must be shortly reborn – at least that’s how it was until the Atonement. Though now?” He shrugged. “Now’s supposed to be no more Bellinn babies, yet now here’s you, prolonging our not belonging.”
“We’ve agreed on that; it’s not my fault.”
“Yeh-yeh. You know, Neve, you can be sooooo annoying, always interrupting. Just snap your lips and let me say. Now I’ve forgotten.”
Neve bit hard on an insult she’d like to throw at him. Cheek of it; she was annoying!?
“Yeh, so, there could be a Bellinn who has a fourth-nock body, while inside him, yeh, is a true first generation Asar. See what I’m saying?” He finally held still, though only while he regarded her, awaiting her comment.
She nodded slowly. Though complicated she did she understand it. If a first generation Asar, like him, was to die – because she had decapitated him while he was sleeping; oh, such joy – then because he must always live on this Earth, he’d be conceived immediately and nine months later be born. But he’d not have his original body. He’d be the son (or daughter?) of a nock. And that meant his body might be anything between second and seventh while inside he still was a first. Likewise, she might have been born as a sixth generation and yet inside be higher. Or he might have it wrong of her source and she be descended from some other Asar with less nocks between them, which she thought was more likely.
“So what you’re saying is that as a fourth generation, I’ll live for another 1,500 years.”
“If a fourth, yeh.” He laughed at her, scorning. “Now you might like to think upon that, Lady, yeh. Cos whether 1,500 years or only three hundred, that’s a very cold while to remain a virgin. Alone.”
He was right, that did take some thinking. And here she’d been, creeping on forty, biological clock ticking, probably forty years left till her demise, and all too late to start thinking of, well, that. But what he’d said made no difference, she still was set in her ways. And she didn’t like change. Phoebe’s death, moving here, that was enough for another hundred years. But 1,500 years—at least 1,500. That was shiversome. Her head couldn’t encompass it, not even when she thought of still being alive in 3475 CE. They were cold meaningless numbers. Though, friggle jacks, the changes she’d have to endure.
She dropped with a lump onto the recliner. And to be alone all those years? “Well, perhaps someone will happen along.”
“Yeh? And you’re so against it you’d not know him.”
“No, I’m sure if such comes along I’d know him. He’d be the saucer to my cup. Though you, Raesan, you’re more like a teaspoon. I’m sorry. So in future, yeh, you keep it tucked else no more downloads and out you go.”
He said nothing, just slumped on the settee and looked accusingly sad. She looked at the door, thinking of bed. “It’s always the same,” he said, no doubt to delay her.
Her hand halted upon the door-handle. “So what were these three oaths that bound the Breton count Alan? And what, anyway, was he doing in England, with Harold, when Gunnhild was nine? You offered Gunnhild and Alan as my great-grandparents, though I disagree. So I’d like to know more.”
She turned just in time to catch his grin.
~ ~ ~
She could see she was again at Tree Brunna Chase. See there was the lodge with its pagan carvings. And there too the lawn where deer came to graze. Though there were no deer today. Probably hiding their young since this spring – as she could tell by the trees clothing the hill, all greening and bronzing. And if that wasn’t enough to define the season, hark, a cuckoo called. But no other bird was as brave, not with that hawk soaring over, alone in a clean sky. It had been a good day. Four brace of coney, an elderly stag taken, and the usual vermin. Alan sat on the steps of the lodge, his host beside him.
His host was a powerful man, his body built like a Swedish weightlifter – complete with square jaw, blond hair, and a ‘tache three shades off red. He was handsome too, though no longer young. And though he didn’t wear silks – inappropriate here in the Chase – his deep blue tunic was cut from the finest wool-fabric, embroidered with stags, hounds and hawks. The panels of its divided full-skirt had fallen to either side of his thighs allowing sight of more muscles, barely obscured by his white linen breeks. Now she was learning how to control her host, despite the centuries parting them, Neve was able to look where she wanted. She looked at the man’s cloak. Dyed dark walnut brown, worn fur-side in, it was a treasury of embroidery, though she suspected the random vine-leaves and birds were there to disguise the seams. If only this had survived as had the Bayeux Tapestry, what a prize piece for any museum. She had no doubt it was the work of his sister, Queen Edith. For this man was Earl Harold, future king of England.
Had Neve truly been there she’d have likely fainted, for Harold Godwinsson was her unequalled hero, the one man in all the world’s history she’d most like to meet. Though his name had been sullied by later historians, yet he had defended England against Norse attack and had it not been for the Breton wing at Hastings he’d have doubtless held against William as well.
All summer, four months, armed and waiting for Duke William and his mercenary-topped army. Then to be called away north because his own brother Tosti, allied with the Norse Harald Hardrada – 300 ships, 9,000 men, from Norway, the Orkneys and Scotland – had attacked York, and the English earls, Morcar and Edwin, had failed to hold there. But, September 25th, Stamford Bridge: King Harold’s army defeated the Norse and drove them away – only to hear, three days later, of the Norman duke’s invasion. The long march south, the need to raise yet another force, for how many men had he lost to Harald Hardrada, and no waiting to parley, for Duke William was harrying King Harold’s own lands in Sussex. Thus on October 14th at 8:00 am, battle was joined yet again, now at Hastings. And were it not for the Bretons, who drew out the English from their shieldwall with one of their famous feints, King Harold would have held that field. He would not have been defeated. She was certain of it.
And this very same man sat here beside her on these warm wooden steps, an arrow in his hand rapped rhythmically against the heel of his boot. “You’re quite taken with her, aren’t you?” he said to Alan.
Alan returned his gaze to his host’s young daughter. Playing tag with her brother, her long naked thighs flashed where she’d kilted her smock, her long wheaten hair streamed out behind her. And in this sunlight she all but glowed. It was not how he usually saw her, demur at the king’s court.“Indeed,” he answered simply. “She has endeared herself to me.”
Harold chuckled. “She talks of nothing other than you, her Uncle Alan.’
Alan laughed too. And it was more than being polite.
“What if . . .” Harold waited while Alan returned his attention.
And now Neve was thoroughly melded with him, there was no mistaking his admiration of this man who’d made himself earl. Alan envied him; Alan who, young though he was, knew his own faults. Fault One, and major: he was too honest to play at the game of court politics.
“What if you were to marry my daughter?” Harold said oh-so-lightly, brow arched.
Alan laughed, and that was politeness for surely the earl was trick-playing him.
“I’m serious,” Harold said, but friendly, not at all reprimanding. Alan sobered. “It would do England no harm to strengthen her bonds with the Breton court.”
Alan wanted to laugh at that too, but dared not. “Lord Harold. I-I have no weight with the court, as well you know, else I’d not be here with our lord king, my cousin.”
“Fortunes change,” Earl Harold said. “Look at my own family; had my father not been close to Cnut . . .”
“It helped that he named his son for Cnut’s father.”
The words jolted through Neve. King Cnut’s father was Sven, a Danish king and briefly of England. Yet Earl Harold hadn’t a brother named Sven. Tosti, yea, and that was a Dane name. But Sven? She wanted to break the trance while she searched through her books.
And at once she was again on the settee. “But . . . “ she didn’t want to leave Harold and Alan.
“You want to know of King Harold’s family, yeh?” Raesan’s fingers traced the lines of her embroidery as he stood by the chimneybreast wall. “Wulfnoth, Sven and Tosti, Earl Godwine’s sons by Thyra, King Sven’s daughter.”
“No!” She sprang off the settee in search of the book. “Earl Godwine married Gytha, Cnut’s brother-in-law’s sister or . . . something suchlike.” She scanned the titles on the bookshelf. Which one was it?
“I doubt you’ll it in your books. Your books care only for Earl Harold’s mother. You’re not thinking, Lady, yeh. Might a man not have more than the one woman as wife? Like, women didn’t die young in those days, mostly of childbirth? Eh? But, as it happens, Thyra had been wed before. And she wasn’t so young. And when Earl Godwine returned to England she preferred not to go with him. So, yeh, you’re right, Earl Godwine did marry Gytha. After.”
“Returned to England? You’re saying Earl Godwine spent time in Denmark or . . . where?” If she didn’t find it in her books, then she’d check it on the internet. There must be a site.
“Wulfnoth spent several years in the Scandic lands, with his son Godwine. It was a kind of voluntary exile. You might find that in your books. Reign of King Ethelred, yeh. There, in Scandland, Wulfnoth was born.”
“No, Raesan, wait, you go too fast. And you confuse me with all your Wulfnoths.”
“Not mine. What care I, all over and done. It’s you wants to know of it. I’m only telling.”
“You cared enough to use it as a carrot, dangling that tapestry, and 1066 and-and everything, to get me to go with you into Eldsland.”
“Lady, I needed no permission of yours. Now, Wulfnoth, father of Earl Godwine, was a noble of Sussex, of the House of Cerdic, but not, perhaps, on the atheling-line.”
“Oh.” Neve sank back down, into the deeply padded settee. “So you’re saying that Earl Godwine, while exiled to Denmark with his father Wulfnoth, married Sven Forkbeard’s daughter and begot upon her a son whom, firstborn he named for his father. Wulfnoth.”
“Oh, how fast she does learn,” Raesan said. “Yeh, cos naming the son for the paternal grandfather is the old English way – we’ve agreed.”
“So was this the same Wulfnoth who was held as a hostage by Duke William of Normandy?” She had that story in one of her books. “Wulfnoth and Hakon, both taken as hostage. Supposedly the reason Harold ventured off to Normandy in 1064, as shown on the Tapestry.”
“Oh, the reeking Normans held them, it’s true. But Harold’s sea-voyage had nothing to do with them.”
“You didn’t much like the Normans did you?” That pleased her, for neither did she.
“Reeking angel-seekers. And you still don’t know the full extent of it, only that the angels messed with Guy – and even that story’s not yet complete.”
Neve ignored that. She wanted to know of Harold’s family. “So if the hostage Wulfnoth was Harold’s brother. What about Hakon? That’s not an English name.”
“Wulfnoth Godwinsson’s second born son.” Raesan said it, sing-song.
It took Neve a moment to follow that through. “So that would make him Harold’s nephew. And if second-born he’d be named for his maternal grandfather. Who was his mother?”
“A Norse lady, you don’t need to know.”
“Fine, be like that. But to get back to Sven, named for the Danish king. Why haven’t I heard of him?”
“I am surprised you have not. He was the reason for the family’s exile in 1051. Firebrand. Raped an abbess. Murdered his cousin. Duly sought forgiveness of his Eastern Nailed God.”
“Now that you say . . . but I’d forgotten. Earl Swein, died on pilgrimage to the Holy Land.”
“Forgot him, when he was mostly the reason for his family’s exile?” Raesan stared at her, incredulous.
“It obviously didn’t sink in. So will you now return me to Harold and Alan?”
“What, no more questions?”
“No, I have plenty of those, but they can wait.” She’d check out on the internet later. For now she wanted to know of Harold and Alan and Gunnhild.
~ ~ ~
Alan again was watching the child as she chased after her brother. How she laughed; a joy to hear – though at some other time. For now, Alan couldn’t believe his ears. “Lord Harold. You are not serious? But she’s a child.”
“Old enough to say her words, and that in the eyes of the Church. I’m not saying to bed her as yet. No! But marry her, marry her, do. She’ll keep in a convent until she’s ready. With you as my son-in-law . . . Alan,” Earl Harold begged, “I need someone I can trust. And it’ll be worth your while.”
“I hardly need bribing. Not when a few years hence and I’ll be beseeching you, anyway, to have her as wife.”
“Then you agree?”
But this couldn’t be true. To be offered the child he so adored. He nodded, scarcely able to form a word.
“No, Alan, a nod here isn’t enough. I need to hear you say it.”
“Then, Lord Harold, I agree it. I will take your daughter as wife, vowed before God.” He could swear he was lifted upon the clouds, walking in Heaven. This could not be true, it could not. He wanted to laugh and to laugh and to laugh. But that would not do, not with Harold sat beside him.
Harold slapped him heartily upon the back. “That’s good. For our lord king has entrusted to me a certain mission. And I need the company of men I can trust.”
When is this, Raesan; 1064? But it must be, from the child’s age. And it would be the mission shown on the Bayeux Tapestry.
King Edward Confessor was shown imparting his royal instructions to Harold who then departed by sea, laden with hawks and other hunting regalia, thought to be gifts for whoever the recipient. But neither historians nor contemporary sources could agree what his mission.
Was it to William Duke of Normandy, to negotiate release of the Godwinsson hostages, as the nearest contemporary English sources claimed? If so, then the mission failed, for said hostages were still in captivity in 1087 when King William died. Indeed, he ordered them released as a last dying wish, only to have his son, William Rufus, imprison them again.
Or maybe his mission was, as some Norman sources with hind-sight claimed, to confirm arrangements that William Duke of Normandy was to follow King Edward as his successor upon the English throne. Although William did visit King Edward during the Godwines’ exile of 1051, yet no note appeared in any contemporary chronicle that such had been the content of their unscheduled summit. More like it was an accord that Normandy, newly allied with Flanders (through William’s marriage to Matilda), would not also give succour to England’s exiles and Scandinavian enemies – as Flanders had for years, with Edward’s mother Emma, and many another including the currently exiled Godwines. But it mattered not a wit what King Edward might want since, for it to be legal, the witan had to approve it, and yet no record of it. Besides, would the witan truly have confirmed a duke of Normandy whose only claim was through his great-aunt, King Edward’s mother – and she not much liked? The duke wasn’t even of Cerdic’s line, let alone an atheling. And to the English that was incontrovertible, sacred.
And why did this make Neve’s blood so boil? Maybe she was right what she’d thought, though thought only part-jesting, that she was a higher nocked Bellinn reborn. Someone who had been intimately involved with all the matters of 1066? For she was sure she felt it more strongly than her fellow man did.
But while Neve’s head had been filling and flowing with extraneous thoughts, Alan’s memories had moved on. He sat now in a basic but comfortable chamber, alone with his host, his calloused hand rubbing his belly, sated by Harold’s unstinting provision. Neve thought she could smell, lightly mingling with the smells of food and wine and of candles, the smell of the sea. Beneath their feet was the sound of commotion to which neither man paid any heed. It was only the preparations for their voyage at sea. So they were sailing to Normandy, perhaps on the morrow? But no, she heard talk of Flanders being their destination. Yet Flanders was renowned for sheltering the enemy.
“Edgar Atheling has proven too young,” Harold was saying. “Besides, raised in the East amongst the Ungars, he has no English following. Though, of course, our lord king invites him. But our lord king is no fool.”
“No fool when he has you to advise him.” Alan knew it a lame attempt at flattery but it was his best.
“Be that as it may. Our lord king knows we’d do well not to rely upon one. And so he has tasked me to locate . . .” he lowered his voice. Though with the noise beneath them and their being alone there was no risk of their talk being heard “. . . a certain two others.”
Neve was astounded, as was Alan. “Two?” he echoed. “And both in Flanders?”
“And why not in Flanders, everyone flees there. My family particularly is well-connected.”
“One brother married to one count’s daughter?” Alan remarked with a grin.
Harold shrugged. “It helps.”
“But who are these athelings? They are athelings, I take it.”
“One we can forget,” Harold waved dismissively, “we’ll not find him there.”
Does Harold know of his sons? That through the boy’s mother, Edmund is an atheling and eligible too?
His son Godwine; Godwine was his firstborn.
“And the other?” asked Alan.
“The grandson of our most disreputable king. King Eadwig.”
“I am not so familiar with your English kings,” ever honest, Alan admitted. “I know only from your King Ethelred.”
“Because his wife Emma was your aunt too. Of course. So I’ll tell you the story.”
Neve’s interest sharpened. She knew the name Eadwig – king, not the rebel Eadwig who’d been swiftly departed by Cnut on his gaining the throne. That Eadwig, the rebel, was the atheling through whom Harold’s son Godwine could trace his descent. No, Neve remembered the note she’d written on Eadwig King.
A horny young man, by 957 Eadwig had upset everyone.
He was the elder brother of King Edgar who she mostly remembered because of his wives. He’d had three, one set aside, not properly divorced thus, tut-tut, he’d had two wives concurrently. On the third wife, Edgar had fathered King Ethelred, named the Unread, who then became father of the heirless King Edward. But of King Eadwig, what more did she know of him? Only that his reign was short. Four years, she thought.
“He was barely sixteen when he took the throne, son of King Edmund, better known as Edmund Deed-Doer,” Harold said. “And favoured not one jot by the kingmakers. They favoured, rather, his younger brother, despite – or rather because – Edgar’s reign would entail a long regency. But Eadwig had the right and, more importantly, the people’s adoration.”
Neve noticed, while Alan did not, that Harold knew what was important in politics. Eadwig had the right – but more importantly, the people’s adoration.
“However, young Eadwig also had the adoration of a certain young woman – and you know how it is when you’re sixteen; a bloody great shaft stuck out in front of you. They married. And exceedingly happy they were as they rollicked around in their Church-sanctioned bed.”
Neve liked the way he said that, such scorn for the Church. But then, Harold hadn’t married his beloved Eadgyth Swannhals in the eyes of their Church-circumscribed God. Again she wondered her vehemence at that.
“Such happiness never does last,” said Harold. “The kingmakers wanted him gone. So the kingmakers did all they could to cause trouble. Yiy-yi! All these years after, and his name remains blighted. They delved into her family, tracing it back. Hell and damnations! And who amongst us can rightfully say that his wife’s not a blood relative when the Church sets it at seven generations? And thus did the Church declare young Eadwig and Alfgifu too close in their blood. And wasn’t that predictable, never mind that Adam and Eve shared a body. The archbishop at Canterbury annulled the marriage. Eadwig was furious but what could he do. His hands were tied with incense and oil.”
Alfgifu. Neve’s head suddenly spun as it might on a fairground ride. But wasn’t that the same name as Elfgiva? ‘And here Elfgiva and the priest . . .’ The realisation; she wanted to shout, to exclaim. That priest had been Canterbury’s own archbishop! That was what he was doing with his hand on her head. Annulling her marriage. Banishing her – at least, banishing her out of her husband’s life. All those years of wondering and here now she had the answer. She was surprised her excitement didn’t kick her out of the trance. She wanted so much to giggle.
“What happened to the Lady Alfgifu?’ Alan asked.
“For years no one heard of her. She disappeared – and took the child with her. With the marriage annulled, he now was a bastard. But, the point, that child’s father was brother to our present king’s grandfather.”
“That’s hardly the shortest line to the throne.”
“Yet it is a line.”
“And you know he exists, this son of Eadwig, son of Edmund Deed-Doer?”
“Not the son, no of course, he’s long dead. But he married and got for himself two sons. The younger, we’ve no word of him. But the elder – and he is the one – after fathering twelve daughters, finally a son. And not surprisingly, he named the boy Edmund. That boy Edmund is now in his thirties.’
“Information had off Tosti’s wife?” Alan asked though he thought he was certain.
Harold shook his head. “Had through my sister. Nuns, the fount of all knowledge, nothing else to do but to gossip. And who wouldn’t gossip of one son and twelve daughters.”
“And is this Edmund armed and able?”
Harold grinned. “A full Flemish following. And our lord king will bestow lands and title upon him, he’ll create for him an earldom – though he must swear never to allow the Danes in. Alan my son, I cannot express how important that we have him as heir.”
Why, Raesan? I don’t understand this. Why doesn’t Harold keep quiet of his quest and promote his own son?
You don’t listen, yeh. He has already said.
“Without this atheling, the Danes will attack us. Always murmuring, soon or late, it will happen. I know they’re my kin but . . . no, I fear for my England if we allow them in. But with Flanders tied to us, they’ll then turn against them. And Flanders too will provide additional forces. And then with your Bretons . . . Invincible, Alan, we’ll be invincible. Then let your cousin try placing his arse on our throne. I cannot wait to tell him. The bastard, he thinks our people will have him? Not even the stale-stinking stall-reared Franks will accept him as king. A mere duke. So, come the dawn when the tide turns, then he will see.”
But they never reached Flanders, it was shown on the Tapestry. A storm blew them off course, and into the hands of one Gui de Ponthieu. Neve found that now in Alan’s memories, the truth of it. Gui, a rebel count not long brought to heel by the duke, used them to offset his taxes – he sold them to William Duke of Normandy!
The next part of that story was told on the tapestry. But its commissioner, Queen Edith, had reason to play cute with William Bastard, now king of England, and perhaps did not tell the whole truth. For, unlike the tapestry, there was no hawking and hunting, no expeditions to Brittany to hold siege at Dol. That siege was likely included merely to set the date. 1064. No, William Duke of Normandy kept Earl Harold as captive until he agreed to swear before witnesses upon holy relics that he would support the duke in his quest for the English throne. Such an enforced swearing never was valid. Yet it was waved as a banner in seeking support and, importantly, Rome’s approval.
And Alan? Neve was surprised when she found this in his memories, stored as a kaleidoscope of images with a refusal to more than glimpse them. The duke, Alan’s cousin, takes him north, almost to the coastlands of Normandy. He can hear the gulls, smell the air. He hears said around him, here is no hold of the Church; here are only the old ways. And here William takes him to a véhus though he needs Earl Harold to explain its nature. There is no escape; a guard of men upon the wood building. In the dark of the heathen temple, with a heathen priest to make the blood offering, the bastard duke, his very own cousin, grasps Alan’s cut hand. Their bleeding palms pressed together, bleeding wounds dripping together, their comingled blood splattering upon the heathen oath-ring.
Deed complete, now the duke explained of it. He and Alan now were oath-brothers, the tightest binding of all heathen rites. Now each would support the other in all their woes and every ambition. Of course, William speech came larded with hints of wealth.
“It cannot be undone,” Harold told him when, more weary than angry, they made their way back to the boats, alone. “But I’ll tell you this, my son. If I must defend England from him, then I would rather you withdrew from the battle. Find an excuse – go to Rome, go to the Holy Land. I’ll not hold that as a loss of honour.”
Alan tried to smile but was unable. “You forget of the other oath binding me. If my lord Duke Conan says to fight . . . I am first and forever a Breton.”
. _____ .
Next episode, 14th May, The Witch And The Simulacrum