Disclaimer: I don't own Narnia or any characters you may recognize from the books or the movies, I wish I did but I don't...
Summary: The Four have fought for almost three years to remove the scars Jadis left on Narnia. Now the time has come for Narnia to look beyond her own borders. An Archenlandish lord brings warning of rebellion. But who among men can be trusted?
Peter paced in the courtyard, watching the shadows inch closer as the sun began to set. Four days without so much as a word from his brother or about him. He hadn't seen Edmund on any of the transport wagons, though. And Edmund would have found a way to sneak back and find him so they could move on to the next house. His little brother prized his skill at being sneaky.
It would be five days come tomorrow. Oreius would be sending the Sea Birds soon, if he hadn't already. He needed to find his brother. Peter had heard some of the squires joshing each other about their likelihood of ending up in the lord's dungeon. He ran both hands through his hair, tousling it as he planned and paced. Dungeon or the lord's study? Dungeon or the lord's study?
Peter frowned up at the manor. He didn't know where the dungeons were and, presumed squire or not, he couldn't just demand to be taken to see a prisoner. He didn't even know if Edmund was prisoner.
It would have to be the study.
Peter continued looking up at the lord's manor, retracing the path to Lord Aiden's study in his head.
He wished that bloke would go see what was wanted. Then he'd be able to plan in peace. Sunset would be too early. The hours kept by the Lone Islanders didn't quite last as long as the Narnians (especially when one took into account all the nocturnal creatures who called Cair Paravel home) but they still lasted long past sunset.
A hand clamped on his shoulder, spinning him about to face Tamlin. "Galahad," the knight repeated with a touch of pique in his voice now. "Pull your head from the clouds, boy. Take my swords to the smithy and have them sharpened."
Peter barely bit back a hot retort in time and he bowed his head, hoping the man hadn't noticed his temper. "Yes, Sir Tamlin. Sorry, sir. I was just thinking about-"
"A girl, I know." The knight grinned, all hint of irritation gone. "Just be careful you don't cast your eye too high. It's a long fall for a squire."
Bowing his head again, Peter cleared his throat. "Yes, Sir Tamlin." He was only sixteen and was far too busy with kingdom matters to even think about girls, much less have infatuations. He hastily took the two short swords from the knight and started to turn then remembered to offer a slight bow and wait for dismissal.
When the house was asleep, in the late watches. That was when he would free his brother. Confident now in his plan, Peter strode to the smithy.
It took far longer than he had originally thought. But, after avoiding Tamlin as the knight headed into the city, wrapped in a feature-obscuring cloak, Peter was finally where he could sneak into the manor. He scanned the area as thoroughly as Oreius had taught him then he found the rose-covered lattice that would allow him to climb up to the second floor balcony unseen. Peter checked the area again and then took the risk of scaling the makeshift ladder. Thorns dug into his hands then tore at his clothes but Peter ignored it all. He had to make sure his baby brother was all right. He had promised Mum.
Peter kept low once he climbed over the balcony railing. He crept over to the doors and carefully tested the handle. Praise Aslan, it was unlocked and well oiled, easing open with nary a creak. Peter made it into the corridor without any trouble but he still kept his eyes open for any sign of a house guard and anything familiar from his last trip.
Fortunately, it seemed that Lord Aiden was rather slack in security measures compared to Oreius. Peter paused at a crossroads. He didn't remember it. He started down the right-hand corridor and then dashed to hide behind a large column bracketing an archway as two shadows appeared in the faint moonlight.
"He is growing weaker."
A soft sob filled the air on the heels of those gruff words. Then a woman's teary voice answered, "I know, my lord. We must keep trying for another son, another heir."
"I could make arrangements for you and the-"
"But the governor will not honor it. We have . . . we have seen what happened to the other families who attempted to change the inheritance. Aiden, I could not bear it." The woman wept softly and Peter watched as the larger of the two shadows, Lord Aiden no doubt, took the other into his arms.
"You should not have to bear any weight on your shoulders, my lady. Pray forgive me for finding no cure to help our boy."
"Forgive me for bearing you only daughters and a sickly heir."
"Eirlyss . . ."
"Please, Aiden, say you forgive me for failing you in this precious matter."
There was silence for a long moment as the shadows stood so close they almost looked to be one. But then Lord Aiden moved back from his wife and began turning toward the archway. Peter froze, not daring to move and hardly daring to breathe. He couldn't move around the column or his shadow would betray him. Aslan, please!
Then the shadows drew closer. Aiden murmured, "Come, my lady, let us walk around your lily pond. There is no full moon but there is yet enough moonlight that it should prove almost as pretty a picture as you."
They walked through the archway, Lord Aiden's head bent toward his wife, and neither looked left or right. Peter didn't let out the breath he'd been holding until the couple passed out of sight. He closed his eyes for a moment. Thank you, Aslan.
Hurrying down the corridor, he gave a silent cheer when he recognized his surroundings. Now to find the study and then Edmund.
Lord Aiden kept a tidy study, which made it a challenge to look through papers without leaving behind any signs that someone had been snooping. He also wasn't sure how long he had before his presence was missed. The slight, dark-haired boy looked up from the desk, listening intently, but this part of the manor remained silent save for the sound of his own breathing.
Edmund tested the large center drawer. Locked. He pulled out the lock picks he'd hastily stashed up his sleeve and then went to work. He heard the snick of the lock and then pulled on the drawer again, this time it slipped open with ease. Letters and two stacks of parchment. Edmund pulled the drawer further out, trying to make out the writing on the topmost parchment.
Lords of the Islands call a council to address
A muffled scream made him jump back. Edmund slid the drawer close and then hurried to the study door. Another muffled scream. This time he was certain it came from the family quarters. But he didn't hear any guards.
Edmund yanked the door open and then sprinted down the hall on silent feet. He paused at the sight of two men, masked and hooded, jogging toward him. Each of them was carrying a struggling girl over their shoulders. They were so preoccupied with trying to keep the girls' flailing under control that they still hadn't noticed his presence.
Gritting his jaw, Edmund ran forward. He drove his shoulder into the closest man's gut and then stomped on his insole, making the man curse as he nearly lost his grip on the girl. Edmund ducked under the man's wild swing. Then the second man staggered back into his companion, one meaty hand clamped over his face. Peter stood there, fists clenched and breathing hard, as he ordered in a low voice, "Put the girls down."
Edmund jumped with both feet on the first man's foot and slammed a fist into his gut. "Let her go."
The man swore and dropped the girl almost in Edmund's lap. He steadied her then grabbed her hand, dragging her back toward the study, her sobbing sister trailing them. He let go and then gave both girls a little push. "Go on! Run! Get your father!"
The girls darted frightened looks at him and then at where Peter was still fighting with their would-be abductors. Then the younger of the girls screamed. The girls turned and fled, looking like ghosts with their white nightgowns flaring behind them, still screaming. Edmund could hear shouts from further away. It seemed the manor's guard had finally woken up.
He spun on his heel just in time to see Peter knock the smaller of the two men down. The man groaned once and then went completely limp. Edmund ran into the fray and jumped on the larger brute's back. "Hit him!"
"I'm trying," Peter huffed then he dropped to the floor to avoid a swing.
Edmund grunted as the man slammed back into the wall. He wrapped his arms around the brute's neck, squeezing tighter. Oreius claimed that if he held on long enough, his opponent would collapse from lack of air. Of course, it would help if this bloke had a proper neck instead of a stump. He finally let go and dropped to the floor. He met Peter's gaze and nodded.
Peter gave a curt nod and then locked his hands together to form a large fist. He slammed his foot into the brute's knee, making him stumble back. Edmund braced himself on his hands and knees, smirking as the brute tripped over him and crashed to the floor. He rolled to his feet and then kicked the man in the head. Peter followed through by punching him. Edmund winced a little at the sound of the brute's nose breaking.
Peter straightened and looked around then grinned. "Well, that was easy."
Edmund rolled his eyes. "Why do you keep leaving me the big ones?"
"What? I took the big one. I left you the short, skinny one."
Edmund opened his mouth to retort but then shouts filled the air and the hall filled with the blaze of torches and lanterns as guards swarmed on their position. Edmund stepped forward, hoping to keep Peter from being locked up. "You need-"
"Silence!" Two men jumped on him, forcing him to kneel and yanking his arms behind his back. Another man lowered his sword to his throat.
A glance to the right proved Peter was in the same predicament. And if he knew the magnificent blockhead at all, he'd probably surrendered without a fight as soon as he saw Edmund in custody. Edmund sighed. So much for an unnoticed investigation of Lord Aiden's study.
"What have you done?" Lord Aiden was suddenly there, glaring at them all, his keen gaze taking in the two unconscious men and then sharpening as it landed on Peter. He turned back to Edmund. "Is this how you repay my trust, Gawain?"
The lord didn't even wait for a reply before he gestured sharply. "Throw these four in the dungeon. Now!"
A/N: Please Read and Review! Dun dun dun! Leave a review and let me know what y'all thought about this one.