city under sea

fic: you and i at play [project of doom]

Started this for the "utopia" issue of imaginarybeasts--one of several attempts, none of which were finished in time, and this one wound up not really fitting, anyway. And I don't quite like it, aside from a few bits, but it sort of has a beginning and end (there's not much middle) and so counts as being a completed story and I need more of those.

Think of this as a sketch of what might happen towards the end of or just after the novel which is the project of doom.

*

Iranan had forgotten how little winning a war actually meant--the fighting didn't so much stop as get shifted to a different venue. Lunch, for instance. Or fishing. Or mending the nets that got ripped while fishing because someone who would remain unnamed had managed to snarl them irreparably in underwater weeds and then refused to be patient and cut them free strand by strand.

"If I find you did this on purpose to force me into this conversation, I will never speak to you again," he told Aramahin, who only grinned. "Don't think I won't, just because we're long-lost-kin. I spent the vast majority of my life not speaking to you, and I can very easily go back to doing so. Not doing so." Aramahin grinned more widely. "You look like a young idiot with that expression," Iranan accused him. "Which is fitting, as you seem to turn me into a tongue-tied fool of twenty again."

"I'm just giving you time to unknot yourself," Aramahin said, falsely innocent. Iranan could hear the laughter hiding in his voice. "And then realize that you'll need to reknot that section you just did, unless you want to do the same repair next time you go fishing."

"What makes you think there will be a next time?" But Iranan started unpicking the net despite his protest--it wasn't fair to leave shoddy workmanship to be dealt with by someone else. "Now, out with it. You have me as captive audience, so make the most of it while it lasts."

"Captive, cousin? I hold you captive?" Aramahin was laughing outright now. "You, the savior of the archipelago, who single-handedly destroyed that which kept us all in fear and despair? How could I--who only ran daily raids for two hundred and eighteen years without losing a single man--possibly hold you against your will?"

Iranan put down net and needle and waited for Aramahin's mirth to run its course. It had a bitter edge that probably should have been expected, given how people seemed determined to give Iranan glory for deeds that had mostly been done by others. "Cousin," he said when Aramahin at last subsided into silence. "Cousin, you cannot hold me against my will, for my will is yours to direct. And yesterday you--and Adharil--seemed glad enough to direct everyone's attention to me--which I allowed because I thought you wished for continued anonymity."

Aramahin pressed his hands to his face and made a sound Iranan had never heard before, which somehow combined despair and amusement. But when he dropped them to his lap again, he was again smiling, mouth and eyes and all. "Yes, and I do thank you for it. My pride would like some of the glory, but my self is glad for the chance at some quiet. However--" mouth still smiling, but eyes very, very sober "--if my will rules thine, I would ask thee to lay thy net aside and stand."

Behind the seemingly nonsensical request sat some weight that Iranan couldn't identify; they were kin, Aramahin and he, but had grown up in worlds that had forgotten each other. So he pushed the net off his lap and stood with all the solemnity he could bestow on such small actions.

He expected his cousin to follow suit, but instead Aramahin knelt and crept across the net toward him, on his knees like a supplicant in the halls of justice. Within arm's-reach of Iranan, he stopped and raised a hand, palm-up, as if in offering. "I do not know the proper words for this," he said, hand still up and eyes turned down, "but that does not make what I am about to say invalid." And Iranan wanted to pull back, to run away, hands over his ears, because he knew what was going to come next, had seen it coming ever since he'd been hailed as hero and his mother's son. He might have run, but for the weariness traced out in every motion Aramahin made. Long weariness, such that Iranan could not even begin to fathom.

"Aramahin, son of Odasimon and Urililan and fourth-son of Asihin and Elenim, regent-in-exile of the Spine-of-the-World and the Uncounted Isles, begs leave of his king to lay down his office." His extended hand trembled slightly and Iranan clasped it between his own without thought or hesitation, despite what it meant to do so.

"I am not yet king," he told his cousin, "and may not ever be so, but with what authority has and will yet be granted me, I give you leave to lay down your office. You have served long and well and now it is time for you to rest, if you so desire."

From laughter to tears in the space of a few minutes; Aramahin rested his face against Iranan's thigh and wept freely, like a small child, until the fabric there was wet and dripping. But Iranan stood and wondered if this would be emblematic of his new reign, if he wound up having one.
The fragments about these 2 characters are intriguing. Is there a longer story/origin story?
There is indeed a theoretical novel (or several, possibly), which takes the premise of the TV show Stargate: Atlantis, strips it all the way down to its foundations, and rebuilds it into a fantasy world in which things function a bit differently. (Much longer lifespans, craftsmanship at a level that we would consider magic, and the lost-by-the-time-of-the-novel ability for point-to-point travel. Also, life-force sucking zombies.)

If I ever lose my job, it might actually get written. ;)

Until then, every now and then I'll have scenes like this which occur with that as the assumed setting.