Shall I bring these songs together
From the cold and frost collect them?
From The Kalevala, translated by John Martin Crawford, 1887
Depending on how you define things, people have been living, dying and getting born in Antarctica for a couple of centuries. Some even get married here, even though the legality of such ceremonies is often in question due to the international nature of the continent.
We still don't know how long the city structure we call Atlantis has been here, or how long ago it was abandoned – but we do know its history spans thousands of years. How long ago was the last bonding ceremony of any sort held within these walls?
Before ours, that is. It's not legal, and it doesn't need to be. I'm not a member of any church, and religion means little to Riley. We can take care of the government's side of it later; we just wanted to exchange our vows here, in this place that is to be our home for a long time.
It took time to sort out everything after the night Anne crossed the line from obsession to insanity. Patrick needed immediate medical attention, and was first treated by our team doctor, then the closest science station – which happened to be American – offered help and their medical team performed an emergency operation which enabled him to survive the trip home. We invited the doctors to our wedding.
Ian and his men stayed behind to protect our site, while Ben worked from the base camp to arrange a more permanent research post. Abigail and later Patrick took care of things in the States, and Ben's contacts all over the world made sure everything went smoother than I could ever have believed.
I wrote the first press releases. We kept the whole incident with guns silent, and I mentioned Anne as part of the group responsible for locating the lost city. None of us wanted to strip her of that, despite everything. She is officially out of the project for medical reasons. Well, that's not really a lie, except that I didn't actually spell out that she's in the Psychiatrisch Ziekenhuis Veldwijk – a mental institution back in the Netherlands.
We assembled a perfect team to work in our lost city. Thankfully, I don't have to lead it. Ben found a perfect leader for the project in an older professor who is more used to dealing with the politics of an operation this size than me. I am technically just a part of the team but everyone knows this is my project, my baby. I have my say in every decision, I'm the first to learn about any new find.
We have experts on every field one could dream of, and I genuinely like all of these people – you have to, working in these surroundings. Some of us sleep in the buildings we built next to the mountain, some in Atlantis itself. Needless to mention, I – we – live here.
That's what you want to hear about, isn't it? Riley and me, how we are doing?
Just fine, thank you very much. I love him to bits. I don't think any one of us would survive sane here without his irreverent humour. He's wonderful – I was worried about how he'd feel about living in the 'Frozen Wonderland Behind God's Back' as he so eloquently refers to the land but when ever I ask he just shrugs, gives me that smile – you know the one I mean – and says that as long as he has his Internet access and me he'll make do. Not necessarily in that order.
He is invaluable, really, doing whatever is needed. Cataloguing, solving any computer problems we have – and in these conditions you have plenty – and even holding a flashlight to a squealing linguist on occasion. He also makes sure I eat and sleep, and not just spend my days staring at the walls.
We do manage to have quite a lot of sex, too. Hey, it's our honeymoon, after all. Yes, I'm grinning widely writing that.
We make new discoveries every day. The first one that took my breath away as much as the first glimpse of the place is a room – or a set of rooms... wait, I'll need to explain a bit. We have discovered many connected sets of rooms we have taken to calling apartments. They don't always resemble living spaces but are somehow a coherent whole in this beehive of a mountain where everything is interconnected.
So, in our systematic research of the place we stumbled into this 'apartment' we dubbed the Story Room. The walls are filled with carvings and paintings like everywhere but these are different. Every room tells a story. The text we still can't translate but the pictures are clear enough. And even Riley can recognise the myth, though for us it is more familiar in a Greek context. It's about spring, and families, and love, and about the king of the underworld kidnapping a queen for himself. Hades and Persephone. Pluto and Proserpina. Oh... my... Go...
"Well, we knew they sailed around the world," Riley pointed out and I wanted to hit him. Being reasonable when I was speechless?
"Yeah, but this is... it's... the first proof we have of... the influence..." I swallowed, hugging him, hugging the others who had been assigned to our team along that corridor.
I remember whispering, reverently "The Kings of Atlantis Become the Gods of the Greeks" while staring at the wall.
Riley didn't even need to ask this time. He is used to me quoting Ignatius Donnelly by now.
It took us six months to stumble into our first Atlanteans.
We have a system. We establish research in the rooms we have gone through before venturing forth to find more. That's why we only advance a few rooms a day. Everything needs to be catalogued and photographed before moving on. We only make that much progress because we have so many people to do this.
We divide into smaller teams and everyone takes turns in 'exploring duty' as well as 'cataloguing duty'. Yes, Riley's terms. As is the whole concept of 'venturing worth', I might add.
I try to do my exploring with Riley, not only because otherwise we spend way too little time together but also because it truly is a joy. I never know how he is going to react to things, or what he is going to say.
I wouldn't have expected his reaction to finding a room filled with human remains to be what it was.
"Huh, bodies," was all he said, seeing the piles of mummified remains.
I have to admit I was a bit surprised he wasn't more troubled.
"You handled that well."
"Well, hanging around you academicians has certain... what's the opposite of 'a perk'?"
I honestly don't remember whether I kicked him or kissed him. I seem to do a lot of both.
I'll have to stop writing soon. I'm getting tired. I seem to be getting tired a lot easier these days. Maybe it's because I seem to forget to go out in the sun most days. Or the fact that I'd forget to eat if Riley didn't bug me. Healthy foods too. Who'd have thought?
Or maybe it's all that sex that's cutting into my sleeping hours.
Yeah. I'm – we're – happy. Pretty darn happy. The only thing that frustrates me no end is the fact that we still can't make head or tails of the language. My dream, and I can't crack it. Where's my Rosetta stone, dammit? I had hoped the shared myths would help but no. All this history, the wealth of information... and like the Etruscan language, we can't read it. It's killing me, and I just want to go through more rooms, unwilling to wait, unable to believe we wouldn't find anything that could help. Just like Riley said, they did sail the world. They made the map. They made the disk.
Didn't they bring anything back? Didn't they learn any languages? Or were they really all gone before other written languages emerged?
Well, at least we know the Nazis didn't empty Atlantis, after all. With the size of this place that would have taken decades. It took us months to reach parts they left untouched, though, and still we haven't found much.
We have come to the conclusion that the lower we get, the farther back in time we go. I am willing to buy the theory that the city started on the ground level and every time they needed more room the Atlanteans built – dug – upwards. They kept abandoning the older, lower, levels and took their belongings with them. We have a working theory that there have been windows and even rooms outside the mountain as well but these have been destroyed by the snow and ice.
So the part we entered was probably the newest, or latest, part of the city, and therefore rich in artefacts. I can but hope Ian and Ben are successful in locating them.