baloonworld: (Albino cave crawfish)
[personal profile] baloonworld
I appear to have written terrible Narnia fan-fiction entitled ... and storm the gates of heaven

It's post Voyage of the Dawn treader,

I

He swims on. He is tired beyond reckoning, limbs aching and dull. His nose breaks the the water, droplets shake free from his whiskers as he breaths deeply. The sun is setting at his back, and even if the light had been good, spots would dance before his eyes. He should rest. He swims on. For honour.
He has eaten nothing in weeks, but the water of the Last Sea supports life, if anything better than mortal food does. He has been swimming for days.
The others turned back. They had responsibilities and duties in the mortal world; the prince's absence would eventually lead to power grabs, violence and worse. He swam on.
For honour.
To turn away from so grand and adventure was impossible, but he was so tired. The Last Sea is food and drink and its cleansing vitality chases the ache from muscles, but it was not air, and sleeping would kill him sure enough. If he stopped, he'd sleep. If he sleeps, he'll drown, so he swims on. For honour.
Sapience, bipedal gait and a nearly 30-fold increase in mass have not done mousekind any favours as swimmers and his legs cycle in the water. It will, he thinks, be soon, either in the night or with the sun rise, and he will rest, having come further than any other, marking the ultimate reach of mortal creatures into the realms of the sun. He hopes that he will last to see one more sunrise, and he will swim on until breath fails him.
For honour.

Some time in the night, his foot touches sand. He carries on, woozy with lack of sleep, and his next stoke touches too, toe-claws scraping up plumes into the perfect lapping water. "G-ground." The word wanders confusedly through his head, and in a moment of misguided clarity he realises that he has to swim on, for honour, so that this, the strangest of adventures may be undertaken, so he should ignore the distraction, take bearings from the stars and swim on into the seas of the sunrise. He rolls onto his back, checks the stars and the gentle lapping waves wash him to shore and he passes into unconsciousness.

II

Just because the Garden has not had visitors since the world was new, does not mean that guardian spirits of immortal holy fire slack on their patrolling roster, and the Sarap of the Eastern Gate found him at dawn.

"WHO DARES TO INTRUDE ON THE LAND OF THE EMPEROR OVER THE SEA?" The Sarap had in fact, been humming a good bit of the music of the spheres to itself, and not noticed him until it was embarrassingly close. Reepicheep sprang to his feet, stumbled on leaden limbs and splashed back into the sea, hand groping for a sword that wasn't there. Paddling in the curiously vital waters of the last sea he said, with great dignity, "did someone think it would be funny to accost a knight in his sleep? I assure you that your humour is in extremely poor taste."
"IT IS FORBIDDEN FOR MORTALS TO SET FOOT WITHIN THE GARDEN. TURN BACK OR I SHALL SLAY THEE." The Sarap wondered if he was overdoing it a bit. It had not actually had anyone to talk to since the beginning of the world, the garden was at least ten miles away, inasmuch as miles meant anything in the Land of the Emperor Over the Sea, and it was confronting a naked dripping wet mouse about a quarter its own height.
While Reepicheep was extremely tired and hungry, and had exceptional hearing (which made the Serap's bellowing declamations painful), the last phrase made it through his sleep-sodden head to connect to one of the vast array of thought processes dedicated to opportunities for dueling.
"Ah my brother! I see that you are a good and honorable creature who will give me satisfaction for your crimes against my dignity! Very well. At noon tomorrow, We shall meet upon this beach, and settle the matter as gentlemen should."
"Now that that matter is settled for the moment, I have eaten nothing in weeks; does the hospitality of the Emperor Over the Sea extend to breakfast?"

Over a breakfast of fruit (and it was very good fruit. Elsewhere in these books, another author has held forth on the sweetness of the grapes that the dryads of Narnia bring to their revels. These were better, although not as good as the fruit from the Garden), the Serap established that Reepicheep had come because it was inconceivable for him to turn back, that he meant no harm, that his hearing was fine and the Serap did not need to shout, that he gave his word of honour not to sneak into the garden and that yes, the two foot mouse was absolutely willing to fight him, the sacred guardian of the Garden to the death over a rude awakening, even if he did bring him pears. This last had required some clarification.

"You Are Aware That I Am The Guardian Of The Eastern Gate, That I Am Of Spirit And Fire And May Not Be Harmed By Mortal Weapons?"
"Is what you are saying, that as you are immortal, you have more to lose in a duel? Very well, I shall even the odds for you, and fight with my left hand." Reepicheep grinned, not an entirly reasureing sight on any rodent. "Also, I appear to be without a second. Do you know some reliable person of these parts who might be willing to serve in that role?"
The Serap was beginning to feel bad about this, and the mouse's superhuman cockiness was not helping.
"I Am Only Required To Slay Those Who Enter The Garden Uninvited. It Would Be A Bad President For Guardian Spirits To Start Killing People Outside The Realm Of Their Protection. Perhaps An Apology Will Suffice?"
Made expansive by some of the best pears in creation, Reepicheep considered this. The Serap seemed a decent sort, and he could have a look around the Land Over the Sea outside the garden. If there were no opportunities for adventure to be had, he could always go back the Serap, declare his intention to enter the garden and duel it then. "Very well, your word of honour then, that you will awaken travellers with dignity and pears, and not with rude shouting."
"It Shall Be So."

III

Three weeks later, curiosity with the endless glories of creation satisfied, Reepicheep strode up to the Eastern Gate. How and where in the pleasant wilderness of the Land Beyond the Sea he had found a sword, a sword belt or a flamboyant mouse-sized hat is a mystery for another story. He knocked on the gate, causing it to clang musically, and read the sign while he waited. The Serap answered and Reepicheep declared his intention to enter.

"You Must Know That This Is Your Certain Doom. I Am Stronger Than You, And Far Faster. You Can Not Touch Me, Nor Could You Injure Me If You Did. Please Do Not Do This Sir Mouse."
"To sit outside your walls until the world ends is not for me. To know that I sat here, with the greatest of adventures mine for the taking, and that I did not do so seems a much greater doom than what you offer; therefore I must go forwards, and enter the Garden"

No witness speaks of the duel that took place between them; there were no other sapient creatures to be their seconds, just them, outside the gate, under the watchful eye of the great red-and-purple bird (although some speculate that the Serap and the bird were one and the same). What is known is that, at the end of the world, when the elect ascended through the Land Beyond the Sea, and reached the Garden, it was not the Serap of the Eastern Gate that greeted them, but a mouse, swaggering, tail outstretched and cocky, with a flaming sword at his hip and a red feather in his hat.

From the condition of Reepicheep, the absence of the bird (save that single feather) and the absence of the Serap, I think that the duel went like this:

Reepicheep saluted his opponent (that he did this is, I think, undeniable) and crouched, sword in a guard position, eyes black, shining and unblinking, chisel teeth gleaming like a promise of mayhem. The Serap, with regret and pity, drew its flaming sword and struck with blinding speed at a mouse who had parried before the blow even started. A solid hit by Reepicheep, and liquid fire started to drip slowly onto the ground. The Serap, for all that this was more injury than it had expected to suffer, was not short of supernatural vigor and renewed its assault. We know that Reepicheep dodged wide enough that, if his fur was singed, it grew back. I imagine that it was not, that he danced around his larger opponent like a child playing keep-away.
I don't know how he closed the distance, reaching in close enough to poke holes in immortal flesh without getting hit himself, but I know he must have.
I'm sure that the Serap could endure injuries that would have killed a creature of flesh and blood, for supernal essence and holy fire are tough and enduring. I imagine that it kept him at bay for hours, covering its injuries, fire leaking from dozens of wounds.
I like to think that Reepicheep asked it to yield, frequently and not without respect, but guardian spirits can no more forgo their guardianship than poor mortals can forgo breathing, or than Reepicheep could discard his honour.
I think, although I do not know, that he showed it that size, strength and speed, celestial constitution and divine purpose were nothing when matched against the skill and honour of the greatest of mice and that eventually he persuaded it that its duty of guardianship would be better served by recruiting him as an honourary Serap and moving to a management role.

I think that they trained together every day at dawn, on the beach where they first met, celestial fire and earthly flesh dancing together on the water's edge.
I think that as the centuries passed, the Serap became better at interacting with other creatures, and understood that it had been lonely.
I think that eventually, it understood the love encoded in his every parry and riposte.
And I think that they lived together, happily, until the end of all things.

Date: 2012-09-15 10:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] same-difference.livejournal.com
Now I want to go read the Narnia books, having never actually done so before.

Date: 2012-09-16 08:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] baloonworld.livejournal.com
It's one of those storeys which read very differently as an adult, so you will be spared the weird disconnect of finding out that it was actually meant to mean something that you did not picked up on the first time around.

Date: 2012-09-16 12:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cheekychipmunk.livejournal.com
I like, very much :-)

Date: 2012-09-16 01:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] baloonworld.livejournal.com
Thank you! It's because Reep is the Best Mouse.

Date: 2012-09-17 02:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lucy-k-p.livejournal.com
This is fantastic. I was always a Reepicheep fan and I think you have him down beautifully.

(Ursula Vernon just posted an excellent story from Susan's perspective, so I guess Narnia must be in the air.)

Date: 2012-09-17 04:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] baloonworld.livejournal.com
Thank you! Reep and oolong are surprisingly similar in my head, they just have different farcical vocabularies.

The connection that you are missing is that I read [livejournal.com profile] ursulav and she kicked this snippet out of my head, where most of it had lived for a couple of years, although I did find out some things in writing it down.

Ursula Vernon also mentioned that she found that what happens and how we are told to feel about it in Narnia are often contradictory, and Reepicheep suffers from it too: he's always treated as comic relief, but he never acts like it.

Date: 2012-09-18 11:05 am (UTC)
xanthipe: (violet)
From: [personal profile] xanthipe
Not terrible in the slightest - a fitting interim for Reepicheep :)

Date: 2012-09-18 06:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] baloonworld.livejournal.com
Thank you! I should work on the self-deprecating thing; everyone's been lovely, so I really don't need to pre-empt criticism like that :)

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