But while I was away, I did do some writing and a lot of thinking, and it mostly all came down to that little elusive bugger of focus. I am easily distracted. I write many things simultaneously, both novel-length fiction and short stories, and as a consequence I rarely finish and submit anything. Because I've been in a bad place mentally these last few weeks, I've been thinking a lot about two very ill-starred characters, but Arosek and Ryenn have ended up inspiring a lot of short fiction as well as their own novel-length epistolary thing. But while I was wandering the mangrove reserve in Bunbury every day it occured to me that both characters are now a firm part of the forevergirl, and because of this I've been thinking again about Greywater, and...yeah.
What did I manage to write in the end? A thousand words or so of Greywater, roughly five thousand words of a short story between Arosek and Ryenn called (as a placeholder) In Our Bedroom, After The War, and then I wrote out bits and pieces of four or five other short stories that came to mind. You see what I mean about focus? Some of it was inspired by news of a couple of competitions closing at the end of the month, so...yes. I don't know.
Still, in two days time? It is Easter. I should have had four days in the clear but I offered to come act as second pharmacist on Saturday morning, but it's only three and a half hours out of the long weekend. But what I have decided to do? Is use it to just write. I want twenty thousand more words in Greywater, and I want to finish both A Statue of Us (for the Wily Writer's superheroes competition) and Dream On (for the CONText competition). I'd also like to finish In Our Bedroom, too, mostly because it's a fairly telling moment in the relationship between Arosek and Ryenn. The reason why I like to write them when I'm depressed, I think, is because it just does not end well. But then, it's a bit debatable whether it ever went well one way or another anyway. And yet...they genuinely care about one another, and they need one another. They don't actually spend all that much time around each other once they leave school, and I think that contributes to my fascination with their interactions in later life. Every moment is charged with things unsaid, and it just fascinates me.
I've also been commissioning again, and when I got back from Australia I was delighted to find in my deviantart note box a message that Círa and Otho were done. And it's gorgeous; Neme-chan is unbelievably talent. <3 I have a version printed out and stuck on my wall already, though I will have to get a proper poster version done through snapfish at some point. And today, I got home from work to find that Ryenn and Arosek are done, too. So, to celebrate, I think I'll find a little snippet of the pair of them.
This little bit is from the novella that originally bore the title The Simple Story. It's actually told from the viewpoint of Aleksandr Zaloyo, a former Kearnian noble; he's telling his companion, a former Leiceynan hierophant, what he knows of Ryenn and Arosek, who lived about a hundred years before they did. Aleksandr's understanding of the convoluted history is interspersed with the real story, as the point of the novella? Was to show how the truth and the legends match and diverge. It's a mess, even though the first draft stands finished at twenty-two thousand words (!), but here's a little bit of it anyway. As I said, Arosek and Ryenn? Intrigue me because they are very different people. Arosek loves too much, whereas Ryenn doesn't love at all. But then the tragic thing is that each to each, they are the only ones who can draw the other from one another, if that makes any sense. Arosek can teach Ryenn how to love, but the flip side of that coin is the simple fact that only Ryenn can teach Arosek how to hate.
“Where were you?”
Ryennkar did not blink, taking his habitual place across from his friend; it was three hours beyond the time of the meeting Arosek had called upon his return to Erindel, yet he seemed relaxed, incurious in regards to Arosek’s growing agitation. “I apologise for my lateness, as well as for my unexpected absence. I was attending a funeral.”
“A…funeral.” The tense lines of his face deepened, but his dark eyes had widened with curiosity. He knew as well as anyone that the man had almost no family to speak of. “Whose funeral was it?”
“She’s dead?!” Arosek found himself on his feet, directionless and bewildered. “You…why didn’t you say so earlier? I wouldn’t have called you back if I’d known!”
“There is work to be done,” he said smoothly, waving his hand at the abandoned seat, the stacks of paper at every place. “It’s not your concern.”
Arosek did not sit. For long moments of dim silence, lit only by guttering candles and punctuated by the sound of their breaths, he stared from the window of the meeting-room. The others he had called were long since gone, their business conducted without the benefit of Ryennkar Vassidenel, and Arosek Asfiye had never felt so alone.
“Why won’t you talk to me about her?” he whispered to the window.
“You didn’t need to know.” The chair creaked as he leaned backward, the dark robes rustling with a sound too agonisingly familiar. Arosek did not look back at him, not even when he added thoughtfully: “Not that it matters, not now. It is done.”
The coolness of those words made him turn, the words flying from his lips before he had even thought them. “Did you love her?”
Ryennkar’s smooth brow furrowed. “I don’t follow.”
“It’s a simple question.”He stalked across the room, his compact form all muscle and motion. He didn’t even know what she had looked like, not exactly – he’d never even met the unfortunate woman! – but he held a picture of her face in his head all the same. Knights and princes were not just the stuff of legend, though Arosek had never needed a white horse, only his hands and his voice. He slammed those same strong hands down on the table on Ryennkar’s right and demanded: “Did you love her?”
He blinked, looked down at the spectacle, but the bang had not made him so much as flinch. “Why are we discussing this?”
“Because I’m your friend. Your best friend.” He found himself shaking, his weight barely supported by his hands, but his voice was as strong and clear as it had ever been. “And I’ve never met your wife even though you’ve been married to her for four years, and now she’s dead and I never will! Does none of that strike you as strange?”
“No.” He arched an eyebrow at Arosek’s answering frown. “To both questions.”
Like a marionette whose strings had been rudely cut mid-performance, Arosek slid to the floor at Ryennkar’s side. His head was aching again. He’d thought three weeks of the rolling hills and great lake at Wendar would have been enough to erase the memory of the three dead men, but then he hadn’t reckoned with the sudden addition of Ryennkar Vassidenel’s poor dead wife.
He spoke only when a hand dropped to his shoulder, though he kept his eyes upon the faded pattern of the rug beneath his knees. “Why did you marry her?”
“It doesn’t matter.” The hand tightened, his touch of the other man’s skin cool even through their clothing. “You didn’t need to meet her.”
“How do you know that?”
“I didn’t want you to meet her.” In one easy movement Ryennkar left his chair, dropping to one knee at his side. The long fingers moved upward, tilting Arosek’s face so that the grey eyes sought his, held them steady. “She’s gone now, Arosek. There’s no need to speak of her again.”And then he stood, a flurry of black and silver, and bowed his head. “I see that the meeting is already concluded. I apologise for my late appearance, but perhaps tomorrow would be a better time for us to discuss the matter in question. I will come to you upon the ninth hour.”
Arosek didn’t stand, pretending to admire the elaborate woodwork of the table leg. He didn’t want to watch the other man go, but a moment later he couldn’t bear not to.
He turned from the door. “Yes?”
Looking at the other man, Arosek found himself wondering again how he could picture the face of a dead woman he’d never even known. “Did she love you?”
Ryennkar blinked. “I don’t know.” The slim shoulders rose and fell. “I never asked.” He closed the door then, and was gone.
The above picture is the commission of the two of them, done by the wonderful RaraHoWa; Arosek is the golden-blonde, Ryenn is the platinum blonde. As I said, it's about the fact that one loves, and the other does not...except when it comes to one another. Poor bastards. I really do love this picture; it actually reminds me a lot of this terrible letter exchange in the same story, where Arosek writes Ryenn a happy, casual, cheerful letter and gets the shortest, curtest, most formal note back in return. Honestly, the things I put my characters through...! And on that note I suppose I ought to get back to writing more of their story -- although to be honest, tonight I think I'll work on Greywater for a bit. The current wordcount is 44,294; I'm sure I can kick it well over forty-five thousand. ...well, once I've done some Zumba for the evening, anyway. I've also promised myself there will be NO BUYING OF PORTAL 2.
...yeah, we'll see how long THAT lasts...