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Water-Envy

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Of the Fremen who leave Arrakis and later return to their homeworld, the other Fremen say this: water-envy causes the most vivid dreams.

-from "Water Customs of the Fremen" by the Empress Irulan Corrino I

 

Before her, the water of this world stretches out until it meets the line of the horizon. Water so endless its other shore is invisible, and so fathomless that great creatures inhabit its depths. Wind whips at Chani's hair, catching it and throwing it behind her. She tries to force it to stay behind her ears, but it refuses to obey. She has come here to see this water, this ocean. Her own language has no word for it.

The air smells of something Chani has never known. Sea-weed, Irulan has told her. Plants that grow only beneath the water. All of these new words she is learning: shore, seaweed, tide, coral, seagull. They feel strange on her tongue when she tries to say them aloud.

She remembers her father's teachings, while she stands before an ocean on a world so far from her home. Irulan comes to stand at her side. This gift Irulan has given her, this moment, this place, this image of Liet's vision for their homeworld - it is more priceless than the thirteen thousand worlds of the empire. It is more priceless than a thousand empires. Irulan seems to know Chani's thoughts, because she reaches out to tuck some of Chani's loose hair behind her ear before the wind catches it again.

"Water for an entire world," Chani whispers. "My father dreamed of this."

The wind carries her voice away, out over the waves. It is lost to the water.