veni vidi vici (gratuitous latin for "i came, i saw, i conquered)
starring italy and china, plus, posthumously, rome
because starlight has a ginormous writers block that just won't go away, ancient civilizations are interesting, her cousin wanted rome and china
thoughts by the author the quality makes me want to cry blood but oh well
He doesn't remember when Feliciano remembers that Yao is old.
And Yao is old, there's no denying that. Alfred may say he is old, but Yao can say he's ten times older. There's no denying that he has seen countless deaths and rebirths, destruction and rebuilding, and life and death throughout the millennia. He's seen empires rise and fall – he was one himself, as well. Still, it's nice to think someone remembers this, since nobody takes him seriously anymore.
China, Feliciano, catching up to him after yet another pointless world meeting, says in his perky-cute way, You knew my grandfather, didn't you?
Yao pauses in his tracts and stares at the younger nation. The thought of Rome, he concedes, and all the other ancient nations is so distant and faraway, like a carefree, breezy memory he tries hard to remember in these years of statistics and economy and bilateral relations. It seems like an inebriated frenzy amidst years of sanity. The thoughts of being able to go barefoot in the fields, of worrying about the imports from India, of greeting all these – these children's parents and grandparents is like finding an old box in the attic that you forgot you had.
I did, he replies finally. Why do you ask?
I did know Rome, China concedes again. We traded things. Silk. Gold. Egypt's mother, too, and Greece's, they were wonderful women. I very nearly shared a border with Kievan Rus', her children are as lovely as she (if not as stable). I heard about Scandia, and Magyar, and Albion – then Britannia and Gaul. All your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles. They were great people –
But he doesn't tell Feliciano this, because the younger world could care less and it's up to him to remember.
Did you – Feliciano looks down. Did you interact a lot?
Not particularly, says Yao sparingly. Parthia and Kush were in the middle, moderating trade and all that, so we were very far apart. He looks Feliciano in the eye. There was trade, yes. Embassies and missionaries. Prisoners, on occasion. You are his grandson, yes?
Feliciano half-nods. Ah, yes. Rome was my grandfather.
The fact that Yao is old is once again thrown in his face. He and Rome had interacted, if sparingly. He first hears of Rome through rumors that spread through the trade routes, rumors that increase in size and magnitude that he was gripped with an endearing curiousity. The first time he sees Rome the latter is broad-shouldered and strong, a young man poised to take over the world. He was friendly, if distant. Nice enough. Cheerful, ike his grandson.
Do you – Feliciano pauses again, as if he's about to approach a touchy question. Do you remember how he died?
Yao very nearly stops in his tracks.
He does, he barely does. The last time he sees Rome the familiar stoop is gone, the head bowed with near-defeat. Rome had given him a reassuring smile, saying that a few barbarians weren't going to take him down, telling him that yes, they would meet again.
They never did.
Yao's heard tales – tales that could had been distorted over time into myths and legends, myths and legends of a broken Germania coming outside with a bloodied blade.
(But then again, myths and legends are based on facts, aren't they?)
The world had felt his fall –France and Spain and England, surely they would remember. Greece. Egypt. Turkey. Could Italy not ask one of them? But once again he realizes that among the nations alive today, he is possibly the oldest one who could tell them anything, if not the most experienced. He and Rome were east and west, sun and moon. The superpowers of the ancient world –
(a world that is dead)
Long ago, he would laugh at being the last one standing. Now he realizes his civilization is one of the last remnants of a dead world, and he is old.
No, he says to Feliciano. I don't remember. I'm sorry.