I started this Narnia in Middle-Earth AU fanfic three years ago for Wildhorses1492's challenge (from her story "Faith Shall Not Fail") based on Cosette24601's "The Sword in the Stone" Narnia Fanfiction. I unfortunately forgot all about it and have recently rediscovered it.
I do not own Narnia, LotR or the King Arthur legends.
The Lion, the Wizard, and the Sword in the Anvil
Thin tendrils of light shot past the craggy, leafless branches, and the sharp edge of fresh, new air cut through the midmorning forest. He pressed his fingertips against damp, cool moss and mud, feeling the indentation in the sod.
"It's still warm; the stag passed here not too long ago."
The Ranger nodded down at his trainee with pride. "Very good. Do you think we'll catch up to him this day?"
His Lincoln-green cloak dragged across the leaf litter as he rose from the ground. "We had better, or there will be no venison for supper."
The Ranger smiled lightly. "Lead on, Kal."
The teenager strode off at a swift pace, while moving with the stealth of an Elf, so as to make no noise. He knew the woods like the back of his hand, even if he had never traveled this far into the east before. He knew the direction of the sun; he knew which berries were plentiful and which were poisonous; he had learned well.
After walking for nearly an hour in silence, the boy came to a halt, his body stiff. The Ranger behind him did likewise until the boy motioned him forward, indicating with a twist of his hand for him to draw his bow. Pointing, the lad revealed the location of the handsome buck, eating bark from a birch.
The buck darted off and was gone from sight within a second.
"I hope I'm not interpreting."
The pair turned to face the approaching figure, thrashing about through the undergrowth, whacking his staff noisily against brambles and fallen branches that were in his way.
"No, Gandalf, we weren't doing anything, aside from almost eating," the Ranger announced dryly.
"Then I haven't caught you at a bad time?"
"Does a Wizard ever come at a bad time?" Kal asked.
"That depends on who is receiving him." Gandalf stumbled to a halt in front of the two. "Nasty bit of a briar patch there; you can't sneak up on anyone in this wood."
"No," Kal pretended to agree.
"Have you come for pleasure or on business?" Strider wanted to know, though he knew full well that a Wizard never simply showed up to have a cup of tea and idle chatter.
"I was merely passing by on my way to Narnia."
"And what business has drawn the Grey Wanderer there, prey tell." Strider got down on his haunches, and Kal did as well. Gandalf took a seat on a fallen log. "I have heard that the Witch is dead."
"Yes, so she is." The Wizard pulled out his pipe and began to clean the bowl with a stick. "And now with her gone, the Narnians are holding a tournament to determine who their new ruler is to be."
"What kind of tournament?" Strider unstrung his bow and returned his unused arrow to his quiver.
Gandalf banged the pipe against the log. "Sword-fighting or a joust, I would imagine."
"And are you planning on joining in?" inquired Kal, tilting his blonde head toward the Wizard.
"At my age? I should say not." Gandalf pursed his lips. "Strong, young men and women are what the Narnians will be looking for. Someone courageous, unselfish, and has a long life ahead of him or her. They would not give me a second look."
"They will have underestimated you," Strider pointed out.
The Wizard guffawed with serious mirth. "Imagine me: King of Narnia – or any land for that matter. I would have to stay within the country, deal with matters only effecting the country. I would be cooped up, that's what."
"Yes, that would be devastating. Poor Gandalf the Grey could only advise the lives of people in one country. That would be a shame."
The Wizard eyed the Ranger severely. "What are you insinuating: that I go about, all over Middle-Earth, to tell people how they should be living their lives?"
"Well, isn't that what you are doing, telling me to journey to Narnia to take part in this joust?"
"You are the heir of Isildur; you know you have calling to a regal life."
Kal furrowed his brow. "What is this?"
"Sometimes a mere Ranger is more than what he seems," Gandalf finished, sticking his pipe in his mouth.
"For an old man, he can walk very quickly."
Strider laughed. "Old man, you say. He's a Wizard."
"So, that means he's not really as ancient as he looks?" Kal gazed over at the Ranger as they walked in stride. Gandalf was far ahead.
"Oh, he's ancient, but far from what we might consider old."
Kal seemed to be lost in thought at that. "You mean how he has never changed in all the years I have known him?"
Strider nodded. "He has lived forever. He is well educated in the ways of all of the world."
"He thinks you are the one to win this tournament?"
"He has not said that, but he knows of the Prophecy upon me: Aragon, son of Arathorn, heir of Isildur; he knows there is a throne, somewhere, waiting for me."
Kal shook his head in amazement. "And all these years, I thought you were like me – nobody."
"Kal!" shouted Gandalf, motioning for the boy to come alongside him. Kal hurriedly obeyed, not because he feared the Wizard would be cross with him if he did not, but because, next to Strider, Gandalf was he favorite person. As far back as he could remember, Gandalf had always been there, showing up in his neck of the woods once or twice a year.
"Walk with me, boy, it has been long since last we talked. How have you been?"
"Well, and you?"
"Growing forgetful, I fear. Tell me again, how old are you?"
"I don't know."
"Why is that?"
"Oh, surely you remember that, Gandalf."
The Wizard frowned slightly.
"You're the one who found me, when I was half-mad. I did not know my age then; I do not know it now."
"Half-mad! Who called you that?"
"All the Rangers did – that is, except Strider, or Aragon if that is what I must call him now."
"Strider will do until it is time for the other name to be revealed to others."
"When we reach Narnia then?"
"Have you ever been to Narnia before?" Gandalf asked, changing the subject.
"I don't believe so."
"Well, you either have or you haven't."
"Then, no, I have not."
The Wizard stared forward, into the east. "Then this should be an adventure of the greatest kind."
The grey of his cloak looked heavy in the soft, white mist, as though it should have hindered his every step. Amazingly, Gandalf never faltered; he stepped right along, out ahead of his two companions – though he often asked one of them to come to his side, speaking to each privately in turn.
Kal marveled at Gandalf's desire to talk to him when he should have spent all his time coaching Strider in everything to know about Narnia. All the same, he was pleased that the Wizard made time for him.
"Do you know much about Narnia?" Gandalf asked on one particularly cloudy day of their journey.
"I have heard of the Witch who pretended to be Queen of that country, freezing it, making it always winter but never Christmas," Kal explained. "Strider told me all that – he heard it on the road, I suppose. He never took me into the East because of the Witch."
Gandalf nodded. "What else do you know?" Kal remained silent then, causing the Wizard to give him a long, curious look. "What is it?"
"It's just that…" Kal bit his lip. "I shouldn't think such, but it truly scares me."
Gandalf almost came to a halt, but he slowly continued, leaning more than usual on his staff. "There is no shame in being scared when it is warranted."
"I don't feel as though I should be scared though." Kal met the Wizard's gaze. He always found he could talk to Gandalf about anything. "Strider once told me that in the days before the White Witch, the son of Eru himself used to be seen in Narnia, and that he was a lion. I've never thought of the son of Eru as a lion, and the idea of meeting him frightens me."
"He has many names, and, I suppose, many faces. Maybe in other worlds they do not see him as a lion."
"There are other worlds?" Kal looked up, wide-eyed.
"I have heard, time and again, mention of supposed portals."
Kal gazed down, lost in thought for a long while. At length, he asked, "Do they see him that way across all of Middle-Earth? I mean, is it possible that where I came from, he wasn't a lion? That place I came from, what was it called? The Rangers used to say I mumbled it often. War-Room, that was what I used to say."
Gandalf pressed his lips together firmly, bringing his beard into his mustache. "Do you remember anything of War-Room?"
"Hmm," the Wizard mused, and then he was silent.
Rose's bouncy blonde locks framed her grinning face as she stuck it close to the boy's, her mischievous, devil-may-care look was in her blue eyes. "Let's explore the house," she whispered. "Ann will be furious looking for us, but it will serve her right for dragging us before the housekeeper to explain about the cookies."
"All right," Kal knew it was his voice that answered – or, at least, he knew he was playing the part of the little boy. He always knew the names of these people, but come morning he would not be able to recall anything from the dream except for Rose running on ahead of him down hall…after hall…after hall.
The sun warmed his face as he stood on the top of a ridge, head tilted to embrace the heat. Gandalf had told him that this morning he would not be needing his thick winter cloak much longer. Kal hoped the Wizard was right; he wanted his first taste of summer to be more than just a sampling after the long-lasting snows and cool spring.
"What do you see, Kal?" Strider called up to him as the Ranger and Wizard climbed the embankment behind him.
"Blue sky, no clouds, even terrain, vast open space. We will have fair traveling all day!"
"Do you see a place to make camp?" Strider asked.
Kal studied the land again. "There's a hill far ahead. If we could walk that distance today, we could make camp there. We would have a good lookout from there."
Strider drew up alongside the boy now, and gave a firm nod. "Wise decision."
They stepped lively down the hillside and trekked eastward with a spring in their step, heightened by the arrival of early summer. They had not gone far when the merriment died away. Kal could not explain it but it felt like the life had been sucked from the air. Everything was too quiet for its own good. Then, without warning, an arrow was in the turf at his feet.
Strider strung his bow and notched his own arrow, pointing it in the direction the first one had come from. Another dart zinged out from behind the hill, nearly smiting the Wizard. Strider launched his own arrow and the three ran back the way they had come with Strider sending a few wild shots at the unknown enemy.
Forced to seek new passage, the companions skirted the open prairie. They spent the night in a clearing behind a grove of trees instead, with the three taking turns at watch. "I got a look at the man who was shooting at us – a short, lank, weasel-fellow," the Ranger revealed.
They were coming upon the small hours of the morning when Kal was on watch, when he heard someone off to the side of their camp. Cautiously, the boy stood, his clothing not making a single rustling sound as he rose. He silently drew his dagger and crept to where they had stored their food-pack. In the half-light of dawn, he could plainly make out the slim frame of a man, knife in hand, preparing to cut into the pack.
Kal pressed the tip of his blade to the man's back. He stiffened and Kal slowly allowed him to rise, the sword still pointing at him.
"How do you explain yourself, thief?" the teen asked in low tones.
"A thief? Be that w'at ya call yerself if ya was in mah place?" the man whined.
"You were trying to steal our food. You have no honor."
"An' so I must be," the stranger sighed, slumping to the ground. "Be a decent man, I should have like that, but it ain't no good now."
Kal tried not to put too much into what the wretch was saying; they were just the manipulating words of a liar. Nevertheless, his eyes were stolen away to the man's disheveled appearance. The clothes had seen better days as they were soiled and full of holes now; they barely covered the thin man's body. The wretch shook with cold, and his hair and eyes were wild.
"Death should be welcome," he mumbled. "Mah 'eart is cold like hers; she froze h'it just as she did the ground, she did. Nothing can warm h'it now."
Kal lowered his weapon, even though it was against his better judgement. The man was such a pitying sight to behold, and Kal felt that his words were sincere.
"Are you sure it's too late?"
"H'I'm an old man, near the h'end of mah time. How could there be a chance fer mah?"
Kal took off his green cloak and wrapped it around the man's quaking shoulders. The stranger stared up at the teen in wonder. "Why 'elp mah?"
Kal shook his head not really knowing. "I guess because I think you are a decent man."
The thief wore an incredulous look. "I wish I saw what ya see. Ya 'ave the 'eart of a king, lad." Kal thought for a moment that the man would cry. "I shouldna 'ave shot at ya, but I thought ya were bahmen. Forgive mah."
"Of course." Kal reached into the food-sack and pulled out a loaf of bread and a pouch of water. "These are for you."
The old man nodded his appreciation, the joy of being loved sparkled in his eyes. "Bless ya. I must go now."
Kal helped the man to his feet. "Where are you going?"
"Nowhere. But I 'ave 'eard h'it said that Aslan is on the move. Mebbe I go and find him. Ya 'ave made mah feel like mebbe he would see mah."
Kal nodded, watching the man scuttle away into the approaching dawn. He did not notice the newcomer behind him until a hand was placed on his shoulder.
"Gandalf!" he exclaimed quietly, relieved that it was only the Wizard.
"Why did you help that man, Kal? He could have been lying, you know."
"I know, but I don't think he was. I think he was lost." Kal let slip a slight smile. "And I thought of something you told me: True courage isn't about taking a life, but knowing when to spare one."
The Wizard nodded approvingly. "Then you have displayed great courage this day, young Kal."
As Gandalf turned away, back to their campfire where Aragon was still sleeping, Kal called softly after him. "I always thought you told me about what you told that Hobbit because you wanted me to remember it."
Gandalf looked back, his face unreadable. Then he moved on toward the makings of breakfast, smiling proudly to himself.
"I know you two are around here somewhere, you naughty knaves! Come here, this instant!" Kal knew it was Martin – whoever Martin was – calling to him and Rose as they ran down the many passageways.
"Let's spilt up and hide!" Rose suggested excitedly. She scurried off down one hall and Kal turned down another one. There was only one door down this way. Kal opened the door, and saw before him…
Kal blinked in the morning sunlight, awoken by Gandalf muttering something about only being a day away from Narnia. How many times in his dreams had he opened that same exact door, and how many times had he never been able to finish the dream and see what was in the room?
"We're in Narnia now," Gandalf announced.
"How do you know?" questioned Kal, examining the trees. They looked like the same kinds of plants they had encountered all across Middle-Earth. But even as soon as he spoke, he realized there was something different about the trees. They radiated something, as though they had a heartbeat. Did one Birch move its branches in greeting?
"Even the air smells different," Strider observed. "Narnia is a very different place."
They came into a little clearing where, in the space's exact center, stood the strangest tree Kal had ever seen. Its bark was black iron and it only had one branch. At its top was a single golden leaf, flickering behind glass.
"I've seen this before." Kal walked around the structure a couple times while Gandalf and Strider continued eastward. "It's called a lamppost, I think." Kal came to the Wizard's side. "But how can I know what it is, or know that I've seen it before, when I've never been to Narnia before?"
The Wizard shrugged. "Perhaps your memory is playing tricks on you."
"Could this be what was behind the door?" Kal looked around.
"What door?" Gandalf asked, watching the teenager closely.
"I-I don't know. But it's ridiculous to think there would be a door in the middle of the woods."
Kal turned back to the Wizard, expecting him to have his eyebrows raised, probably thinking that Kal was mad after all. Instead, Gandalf appeared to be proud, as though Kal had just said something every intelligent. "Is it now?"
A Centaur – which Kal had never seen before in his travels – blew a horn to announce that the sparring match would take place shortly. Narnians of every kind and variety bounded about amongst the contestants, seeing which they thought worthy of being their new leader. Still, it was not up to them to decide whether it would be the powerful Centaur or the longhaired Elf or the Man from Gondor; the Prophecy proclaimed that it was to be the winner the match.
Strider put his name down as a contestant, and sat back on the rocks with Kal, watching as the battle between two eager contestants took place.
"They want to be king," he mumbled irritably.
"What's that?" Kal questioned, turning fully toward his friend.
"These people, they have come from all over to see if they can win the fight, but they will not be good kings."
"Maybe you'll win. You'd be a good king."
The Ranger shook his head. "This is not how I would want to become king. All these people have something to prove...or show off. It's a circus. You shouldn't be made a ruler if you do not care about the people of the country. What does that Man from Dale or that Woman from Calormen know of Narnia? What do I know of Narnia?"
Strider removed his sword belt, and leaned back, shutting his eyes. Suspecting that the Ranger was taking a nap, Kal's eyes returned to the event. There was cheering and booing as the first round ended. He watched intently as the next two would-be-rulers entered the ring. He did not notice a tall figure with long, dark hair coming up to him.
The teenager looked up. "My Lady Arwen," he greeted, quickly standing, kicking Aragorn in the foot as he did so. "What brings you here?"
The lovely Elf grinned. "One of my brothers is trying his hand at the fight, but I come because a certain Wizard said you would be here."
Kal grinned over at the Ranger, knowing to whom the Elf was referring. "Shall we go for a walk?" Strider asked slowly, as if he had wanted to say something else but that sentence had gotten lost as he drank in her beauty.
Arwen waited for him to take her hand, and the two wandered away into the hilly turf.
In time, Kal made his way down to the ring and leaned over the ropes, watching closely. From his new vantage point, he could see into the pavilion that had been set up at the end of the arena. A large, golden Lion sat there, presiding over the event. Kal studied him closely, though he was hard to look at all at once. He was so majestic; Kal knew that he was the son of Eru, and he was both scared and delighted to behold him.
Another round had ended on the sparring field, and a Faun had come up to announce the score and to reveal who the two new contestants would be. "Allizah of Calormen and Strider the Ranger of the North."
Kal spied Gandalf, Aragorn, and Arwen standing to the side of the arena, all looking frazzled. Kal joined them at once, and soon noted what was amiss.
"I took off my sword to rest earlier, up on the ridge," Strider revealed.
Gandalf turned to the blonde boy. "Run up there and fetch it!"
Kal did not waste a moment, mounting the rocky terrain to where he and Strider had been watching the event earlier that day. But when he reached the place where he thought they had been, there was no sign of the weapon. He looked around franticly. The Narnians would pick a new contestant if he did not hurry and find something for Aragorn to fight with.
Not far, on the other side of the ridge, was the castle, Cair Paravel, overlooking the sea. Surely someone there had a blade that could be borrowed. But Kal realized his error only after he had entered the overgrown courtyard: this place had been abandoned for years – this was the very castle that the Narnians were trying to fill with a noble ruler.
Kal was about to turn away when something catching the light in the corner of the yard caught his attention. It was a sword hilt sticking out from a mass of brambles. It was sliced through an anvil, and Kal surmised that it would not be worth the effort to try to haul it out. But he gave it a yank anyway, and it came away freely. Its blade was spotless, not a fleck of rust to be seen despite that it must have resided, exposed to the eternal winter elements for a long time. Nevertheless, Kal barely noticed the sword's miraculous appearance. Instead, he put all this energy into getting back to the sparring match.
Once he had arrived, Gandalf rushed toward him. "You are in time; I could not stall for time any longer."
Strider accepted the weapon with a look of confusion. "This is not my blade."
"I could not find yours."
Aragorn stared at the sword, his intense gaze drawing both the attention of the Wizard and Arwen and a number of Narnians.
"What are you waiting for? You have a weapon now," pointed out a Badger.
"Would you look at that sword!" cried an ancient Bear. "Some of you Narnians have forgotten, but we Bears haven't, that there was once a different Prophecy at the start of the White Witch's reign that said this sword should be pulled from the Anvil."
"Are you certain it is this sword?" questioned many Narnians, gathering round.
The Wizard took the blade from Strider and examined it for himself. "The runes in its bloodchannel read 'Rhindon.' This is the very blade." He eyed Kal, and the teen could not tell if Gandalf was angry or speculating.
"Where did you find this?" demanded a Faun to the Ranger.
Strider gestured to the boy. "Ask my apprentice."
"It was in a courtyard," Kal mumbled, waving his arm in the general direction of the Cair.
"Let us see for ourselves!" shouted a Centaur, and all made their way to the abandoned castle.
Once there, the sword was replaced into the slit in the top of the anvil, and a Centaur tried to remove it again, only to find it stuck fast. The powerful half-horse, half-man creature turned to Kal and gestured toward the weapon. Kal nervously stepped forward, noting all the watching eyes upon him. He saw that the Great Lion himself had joined the crowd and was watching him expectantly. However, there was something else in the way the Lion gazed at him that none of the others did – he was encouraging and smiling, not skeptical. Kal took a deep breath and lifted the sword before the audience.
"He is your king," the Lion said amid the gasps. "High King Peter the Magnificent."
Kal stared at the Lion, as did many others. "Begging your pardon, my lord, but I think you have me confused with someone else. I'm not a hero."
"Peter Pevensie, formerly of Finchley. You were once from a very different world, and entered this one through a wardrobe in a spare room."
"War Room," Kal heard Gandalf whisper only loud enough for the young boy to hear.
The Lion went on, "You were staying with your mother's relative, Professor Kirke, during a war, in which you and your older siblings had to be sent away to stay safe."
Kal gripped the hilt of the sword to his chest and closed his eyes. Rose bouncing down the hall, escaping Ann; Martin hollering after Rose and the little boy who Kal knew was himself – Peter. He slowly opened his eyes.
The Lion shared a smile with Gandalf, as if he and the Wizard were in on a scheme. Kal thought back on all the questions the Wizard had asked. Then Aslan was staring confidently at the young man before him. "And now you shall be our king."
Kal shook his head. "No, I…I wouldn't know the first thing. Stride–"
The Ranger cut the young man off as he stared proudly at his apprentice. "You have proven yourself as a provider and a protector. This is your destiny."
"But what about…?" Kal trailed off as Strider shook his head. "My calling is elsewhere."
Kal looked to Gandalf, then to the Lion whom he could still barely look at in all his brilliant majesty. "I do not think I am ready."
The son of Eru smiled. "It is for that very reason, I know you are."
Summer morphed into golden autumn, then it faded to white snow, and the prime of the king's life had passed. High King Peter still enjoyed long walks in the forest, surrounding himself with the plants and animals that he had known so well in his youth as a Ranger's apprentice. On this particular crystal-clear winter's day, he was pursuing the fabled White Stag by following the tracks of a hart.
His tracking skills rewarded when he pushed back the boughs of a Spruce to find the flawlessly white buck, eating bark from a birch. Without making a sound – not a flap of fabric or a creak in his aged bones – Peter approached the creature and grabbed hold of one of the sprawling antler racks.
"I, High King Peter the Magnificent, hereby have captured the White Stag, and in exchange for your release, you must grant me a wish."
The Stag nodded his head. "Whatever you ask for, so you shall receive."
Peter took a deep breath. "I have ruled the land of Narnia for sixty years, and I have left it in the capable hands of my apprentice, since I have no descendants of my own. Now, I wish to return home, at the time when I left."
"Climb aboard, My King, and we shall ride across the lands you once trapesed as a youngster, against the Time that brought you here, back to the portal from where you entered this world."
Peter fell hard on his knees, landing on the floor just outside the wardrobe door. He thought he might cry from his fall, but the pain was completely forgotten when he realized how little and young his hands were, how he dressed in knickers and high socks. How Rose's bright face appeared before him, grinning like a Cheshire Cat while Ann rushed forward to see if the youngest of their family was all right, how Martin looked ready to scold them all for whatever they had been doing in the professor's house.
"What were you doing in the wardrobe?" Martin demanded.
Peter looked back at the open door with the long winter coats filling the space. "You wouldn't believe me if I told you."
A floor board creaked, and the children were surprised to realize the professor had been sitting in the window seat the entire time. He stood and came over to them, a bemused look on his face as he stared at Peter.
As mentioned above, I started this fanfic three years ago (actually, three years ago exactly to the day!) in response to two Narnia fanfictions. I don't know how I stumbled on this story again after all this time, but I finally decided to finish it.
The premise for Kal's/Peter's backstory comes from Lewis's early conception of Narnia, according to something I found The Chronicles of Narnia page on Wikipedia: "This book is about four children whose names were Ann, Martin, Rose and Peter. But it is most about Peter who was the youngest."