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New Fic: Storyteller (Torchwood/Doctor Who)

This is the thrill of having a shiny new fandom: all of the fic ideas start flowing. ;) For some reason though I've had a bit of a thing about the power of words and stories lately, this is another variation on the theme. This is my first attempt at doing anything even remotely Torchwood related as well, so any comments on it are appreciated.

Title: Storyteller
Author: io_aenaria/Aenaria
Rating: PG
Characters: Ianto Jones, The Doctor (10th) and Rose in mentions
Spoilers: End of Days for Torchwood, The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit for Doctor Who
Length: 1081 words

Notes: Many many thanks to mustangbex for her cracking beta job on this!


They have planned to be in Rome by this time, but the schedule, so meticulously planned out for the Great Gap Year Adventure, didn’t take into account freak December snowstorms. High up somewhere in the Italian Alps the only place around that has room for them to stay is an ancient and active monastery. It’s a willing trade; the monks are not ones to turn down hostellers for the night, especially ones so young, and the boys from Wales are willing to pay to get out of the snow.

While his mates are still asleep the next morning, Ianto Jones wanders into the monks’ earliest of early morning services, the only light in the cavernous room coming from a few scattered candles and dim light bulbs wired into the ceiling, almost disappearing into the stone and woodwork. He is the last person anyone would call religious, but would admit to a bit of fascination as to why people believed what they did. Aside from being in Latin, the early morning mass wasn’t that different from ceremonies he recalled attending as a child.

Afterwards, one of the few English-speaking monks asks Ianto if he would like to see their library. Feeling it would be terrifically impolite to decline, he agrees. On the way there he dares a glimpse out one of the arched windows into the gloom. He sees the snow thick and white on the ground, glimmering like some weirdly iridescent cloak, and he knows they won’t be going anywhere for a few days.

The light in the library is dim too, a throwback to the older days when other monks scribed their works by candlelight. These monks are a bit more practical though, using green glass and brass lamps to light their way. There are plain and sturdy tables in an open space in the centre of the room, with the aisles of books radiating out from there like an overly educated star. “Very impressive,” Ianto murmurs, not sure what else he should say.

The monk nods, a pleased grin on his face, and waves an arm at the aisles of books. “Please, explore.”

Ianto nods back and wanders off, tugging the sleeves of his jumper down over his fingertips. There’s a draught coming through the stone walls, sneaking in through the cracks left by time in the mortar. As he walks, he sees titles on dusty leather-bound books, some he recognizes, but most he doesn’t. Words and names such as ‘Beowulf’, ‘Roman de la Rose,’ ‘Wolfram von Eschenbach,’ ‘The Winter’s Tale,’ ‘Psychomachia,’ ‘Petrarca,’ ‘Tertullian,’ jump out at him, briefly registering across his eyes. He gets only part way through a title that says ‘The Further Nice and Acc—‘ before he spies a table set up in the middle of the aisle, heavy with books and practically beckoning him to explore it.

The books on this table are of a different sort, darker and weightier, carrying a bit of a threat about them. “What are these?” he asks the monk who is creeping up behind him.

The monk leans over his shoulder, peering down through half-moon shaped glasses. “’The Testament of Solomon,’” he murmurs, his hand going out to brush against each cover in turn. “’Daemonolatreiae libri tres’… ‘Malleus Maleficarum’. These are books about witches and demons.”

“Demons?” Ianto questions. Books of fantasy, no doubt, made up to keep people warm during nights around the fireplace and keep the darkness back.

The monk gives him an intuitive look, probing in a way that makes Ianto squirm. “You don’t believe in them?”

He shrugs, trying to look confident even though he is only eighteen years old and so brand new at everything. “They’re just children’s stories; legends from when people didn’t know any better.”

“Yes, but every legend has to come from somewhere.” The monk shifts slightly and picks up another book from the table, one that had been hidden from Ianto’s eyes, smaller and slimmer than all the rest. “There’s a story in here. An ancient story, from before time was trapped down and recorded with numbers. It speaks of the Lonely God and the Valiant Child, called upon to destroy the Beast in the Pit. The Beast was a creature of great, immeasurable evil, trapped before time immemorial but slowly waking up. The Lonely God destroys the Beast’s body, but the Valiant Child, the bad wolf turned wolf mother who carries the words of a lost civilization within her skin, oh, she destroys his putrid soul.” He turns to Ianto, and the young man feels a cold finger draw a line down his back, making him shiver slightly. It could just be from the draughty walls, he supposes, even though he knows that there is a part of him that doesn’t want to admit it could be something more. “A story, a legend, yes. But something had to have happened to make people come up with this story. No one remembers the facts, but they all remember the tales.”

“I think you’re making a big deal out of nothing,” Ianto says, full of bravado and false hubris. Still, he slowly backs away from the monk, resisting the urge to turn tail and run straight back to Newport. It is that feeling at the base of his neck, the one that says no matter how much he tries to deny it, things are different from here on out. Things are going to be looked at with different eyes.

“Ianto,” the monk calls out, stopping him where he stands. It was the first time any of the monks have used his name. “In your native language, there is a word: cyfarwydd. By my understanding it translates into ‘one who knows’, the keeper of the traditional tales and knowledge. Just keep that in mind.”

Ianto just turns and heads back to their room, not emerging until the snowstorm is over and they can be on their way again. His friends worry, but all they can do is bring him food while he stares at a crack in the stone wall. The monk who had taken him to the library isn’t seen again.

The brief moment is pushed out of his conscious mind for years, deliberately not thought about until it becomes habit. It is only when he is in the Torchwood Hub many years later, reading words from a bible that talk about the end of days and the beasts that come from the pit, does he think back on the monk’s words, and a shiver goes down his spine once more.

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Comments

( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
paiger1218
May. 21st, 2007 04:02 am (UTC)
Oh how I loved this. And I'm not just saying this 'cause you're my best friend. Sounds like a good prologue to something coming... out of the darkness...

And yay for shiny new fandoms! Must say that I am forever indebted to you for getting me hooked on Who, Torchwood, Life on Mars, and of course, all things Tennant... or should I say Ten-inch? *veg*

Love ya hon!
bodlon
May. 21st, 2007 08:48 pm (UTC)
‘The Further Nice and Acc—‘

I'll have you know I caught that. ;)
io_aenaria
May. 22nd, 2007 02:53 am (UTC)
And it was entirely deliberate. ;) Thanks for reading!
boxed
May. 21st, 2007 09:27 pm (UTC)
He gets only part way through a title that says ‘The Further Nice and Acc—‘ YESSSSS THAT IS MADE OF SO MUCH WIN.
This is a wonderful bridge between Doctor Who and Torchwood. I really enjoyed reading it. (:
io_aenaria
May. 22nd, 2007 02:54 am (UTC)
I'm glad you enjoyed it!

(And I couldn't resist tossing that book in there. It only seemed appropriate that it strike Ianto's eye ;)). Thanks for reading!
(Deleted comment)
io_aenaria
May. 22nd, 2007 02:54 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked the story and the notion. :)
hellenebright
May. 21st, 2007 10:45 pm (UTC)
...hmm, why is your comments box presenting me with 2point type....never mind, I have a magnifying glass.

Very nice ficlet. Particularly good on description, this defeats a lot of writers who simply leave it out. And extremely nice touch with the welsh. Ianto as the bardd, the keeper of the community's culure and history, is spot on.

However, f you're going to join the wonderful community that is Torchwood, a word of advice. Torchwood is a great British production, and we Brits insist that you colonials write in proper English, not that mangled stuff you use in the States. So that'll be centre, draughty, colour, cheque please. Oh, and "gotten" is completely banned. Depending on context, you should find either "been" or "got" serves absolutely adequately, there was no earthly reason to make up a new word in the first place(grin)

Seriously, I suppose it is because not only are the scriptwriters Brits, but the "official" literature is all in UK English, and most of the fan writers are Brits, but anyone writing in US English kind of stands out and does tend to get pulled up on it.
io_aenaria
May. 22nd, 2007 03:05 am (UTC)
*tips hat* Why thank you for the kind comments!

As for the language bit, as much as I may try to use proper British terms, sometimes it is hard to break years of schooling and a university degree in writing in my native, "mangled" tongue. ;) If that's the case then I'm more than willing to be called out on it and adjust terms accordingly, but as an American sometimes things are just going to slip on through. ;) Thanks for the advice though, and I'll try to keep a better eye out in the future.
hellenebright
May. 22nd, 2007 11:59 am (UTC)
No worries. The spelling actually isn't such an issue for me, its where the phrases are different. The best/worst example I've ever come across is "skivvies", which seems to be a term for underwear in US English, whereas in UK English a skivvy is a maid of all work.

Most of the comms seem happy enough to advise a writer who thinks something might be said or referred to differently in UK and US English.
crabby_lioness
May. 22nd, 2007 12:19 am (UTC)
Very nice. :)
io_aenaria
May. 22nd, 2007 03:05 am (UTC)
Why thank you! :)
damalan
May. 22nd, 2007 04:30 am (UTC)
Delightfully, impressively original. An elegant use of Doctor Who canon to paint a slightly different view of Ianto, the once and future keeper of lore. Oh and I agree with hellenebright; very good descriptive text; I know I am not good at that myself so I admire it in others.

Sounds to me like you've set up the beginning of a series of related stories
io_aenaria
May. 31st, 2007 09:49 am (UTC)
Why thank you! I know I did work hard at getting the descriptions down, always like to set the scene properly, so I'm glad that you appreciate it, and that you also think the story is original. That's one of the best comments you could give me. :)

As for a series of related stories...I'm not sure yet. I'd like to, but I have no idea when I'll get other ideas. Maybe seeing a few more episodes of the latest season of DW will help inspire things. ;)

Thanks again for reading!
fatchickengirl
May. 22nd, 2007 09:00 am (UTC)
What an excellent peice, I enjoyed the placing of bad wolf ros in the centre of the 'myth' and yes all 'nyths' start off as a reality....
io_aenaria
May. 31st, 2007 09:50 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed the concepts. Thanks again for reading!
(no subject) - athousanderrors - May. 22nd, 2007 12:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
io_aenaria
May. 31st, 2007 09:53 am (UTC)
Well, first fic in the Torchwood fandom, definitely not my first fic ever. ;) Been many years since that momentous occasion, far too many than I'd like to admit because it makes me feel rather aged. And I can guarantee that fic was not fantastic. *g*

Hehe, yes, Agnes. I had to put my favorite book somewhere in there! :)

Thanks for reading, and I'm so glad you liked the story!
(Deleted comment)
io_aenaria
May. 31st, 2007 09:47 am (UTC)
Re: Excuse me if I'm wrong but
Yup, I am one and the same! Please however, if you could, edit your post to remove the a.k.a. Elizabeth name from it? I don't want that name attached to this lj.

Thanks!
catyuy
May. 31st, 2007 05:03 pm (UTC)
Re: Excuse me if I'm wrong but
Sorry bout that. I deleted it.
You might not remeber me.
I was VNMATVolpe on aol.
We chatted a bit.
laligin
Jun. 5th, 2007 10:52 am (UTC)
Hurrah for late comments!

Hurrah for a great fic! *applause*

And also hurrah for Agnes Nutter! :D Glad to know someone's keeping the book safe... ;)
maypanic
Aug. 13th, 2007 03:05 am (UTC)
I just wandered here from... somewhere, I've lost track. Anyway, read several of your stories and they're lovely. You really have a gift for descriptive storytelling.
Had to comment on this one in particular, even though I'm a few months late, because it's gorgeous.
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )