The Lion's Words
Disclaimer- I do not own the Chronicles of Narnia, or any of its characters. Obviouslyenough, that belongs to C.S. Lewis, but I do own Maril and the story line.
A/N- basically, this is a revised one-shot of what happened when Jadis took over Narnia before the Pevensies came and how the prophecy got started. (Thanks to all who reviewed!)
When Adam's flesh and Adam's bone
Sits at Cair Paravel in throne,
The evil time will be over and done.
The steady pounding of the drums reverberated in my bones, as I stood knee-deep in water, facing the east. Though the waves steadily battered me, my feet were firmly planted in soft sand beneath the broiling surface of foam and brine. A westerly flowing wind whipped and played with my hair until it streamed out behind me, and for a moment, I could almost believe that all was well. Almost.
The legendary voices of the mermaids and mermen, so beautiful they were heartbreaking, harmonized with the rolling surf and bass drums. Forever, I will be haunted by that sound. Forever, the ethereal song of the sea people and the roll of the war drums will echo in my heart, forthey signaled the end.
The White Witch, Jadis was her name, had swept down upon the beautiful castle of Cair Paravel and turned all its people to stone, except me. I, the Queen of Narnia and Empress of the Lone Islands, had escaped to stand on the shores of the Great Eastern Ocean and gaze into the rising sun one last time as I remembered how the nightmare had begun with a fantastic festival.
That night, Cair Paravel was breathtaking. Though the castle was already beautiful, it seemed as if Narnia herself had decorated the palace for the ball that night. Streamers and ribbons hung from every tree, tower, and window, fluttering slightly in the breeze that came off the Great Eastern Ocean. I walked through the garden feeling as if I had slipped into a dream. Placed ten feet apart were lanterns the shaped like globes that provided a soft magical glow, and soft pipe musicwas provided by unseen musicians.
I smiled softly, my eyes shining at the beauty of my home. The hired workers had outdone themselves, and they would be justly awarded! Tonight was the annual celebration of Narnia's Creation by the Great Lion, Aslan, and it was tradition for the ruler to throw a party. I, asQueen, had that responsibility, and I wanted the festival to be a night to remember for centuries to come. I took a deep breath of sweet Narnian air, and quickly went to see if any of my guests had arrived.
The celebration was all I could have hoped for. The official ball and dancingwere quite enjoyable with newly written scores as well as traditional ballads. Then, the guests were taken to the green lawn outside of the palace for a delicious banquet,where they feasted to their hearts' content. Next, came more lively dancing on the soft grass with the sea behind us, and after that,was the actual story of the Creation. Thetale had been put into song, and Warbler, a nightingale, gave a stunning performance that left the audience wishing for more. In conclusion,a grand finale of fireworks painted the night-sky with dazzling, fiery color. The guests stayed until the early hours of the morning, and I knew they had had the night of their life.
Afterward, I stood on the green lawn and surveyed the remains of the party, feeling tired but so happy, I thought my heart would burst. I loved my Narnia, the land, and the people. It was my entire life. Then, Jadis came.
First, I heard a sound that made my blood run cold. I strained my ears and stood perfectly still, thinking that I was onlyimagining noises, but the dreaded echo persisted. An icy wind was blowing in from the West, and with it came the steady pounding of war drums. An army was on the march and looking for blood. Maybe I could see it from one of the towers.I ran to the tallest height and peered out through the darkness of the night, hopingagainst hope that I was mistaken. My heartsank, and i clutched at the stone wall in dismay. Hundreds of torches flamed on a distant hill, advancingupon my palace, and the majority of my own army wasstationed at the far border!
I knew I had little time to act, but I needed to gather my scattered thoughts. I paced across the tower, racking my brain. How had the army gotten through my border patrols? Who were they? The giants had just been subdued only a few weeks ago, and they could not possibly have enough soldiers to launch a succsessfulattack on our border yet! We had no enemies, andI had recievedno word of an attacking army from any of myscouts.Would I be able to defend the castle with the handful of guards and knights still at Cair Paravel? I did not want to answer that question. As I turned to ringa warning bell, the answer to one of my questions came. A faun was galloping towards me, gasping,"Your Majesty! The Witch, Jadis, has returned!" he cried.
I felt my face pale as all the legends of the ancient prophecy flooded my mind. If they told the truth, thenwe were doomed before we even began the battle.My eyes met the faun's, and I choked out a quiet order.
"Prepare for battle."
The fight that ensued was neither long nor fair, and inan hour, Cair Paravel was in the hands of the White Witch and her wolves.
Honestly, I do not remember much of the time between the first sound of the drums and when I was brought to see the victorious Jadis. Though I participated in every war that occurred throughout my reign, I still hated the battles. No matter how glorious they sound in the stories, battles are truly a horrible business, and my memory only held blurred pieces of frenzied preparations, a short fight, and utter defeat when our forces were suddenly turned to stone. But I clearly remember every detail of my meeting with the Witch.
She was beautiful but chilling. I had never seensuch a pale face. Her skin made even the purest white seem dirty, and her eyes gleamed with a cold greedy light.
"Ah, Queen Maril. Wonderful to finally make your acquaintance," she purred maliciously.
I stood silently. Jadis rose to her full intimidatingheight from where she had been lounging on the throne, and walked down to where I stood defiantly between two gray wolves, her slaves. The Witch stroked her long gold wand in a thoughtful manner as she considered me, and I returned her gaze with silent hate. Finally, she spoke.
"Now it seems that although I have conquered all of Narnia, even fair Cair Paravel, you are still its queen until I dispose of you."
She laughed cruelly at my expression.
"Do not worry, girl. I will not kill you here, on the spot. No, that would not do."
Jadis tapped me on the shoulder with her wand.
"Your people need to see a demonstration of my power, I think, in order to be convinced that I do truly rule this land. They need to see their Queen executed."
The Witch turned to her captain, a beastly giant of a wolf, and ordered, "Spread the word throughout the land that all are to attend the execution of Queen Maril at the Stone Table tomorrow, at high noon."
Then she turned back to me with a horrible mirthless grin.
"Lock her Majesty in the dungeon with a double guard."
Her wolves took me to the dungeon where I was boundin a locked cell. The heavy metal chains rattled with every movement, the roof leaked nasty water, and rats ran everywhere in the pitch black. I could not even see my hand in front of my face, it was so dark, and I spent the night drifting in and out of sleep mixed with lurid dreams of battles, yellow wolves' eyes, and ashen skin. All the while, the images were accompanied by a haunting nightingale's song. Then, among the nightmares, I saw a flash of gold and felt a breath of fresh air that could not possibly have come from the stale dungeon.
My eyes snapped open as I shot to my feet, every sense alert. Something had shaken me from my hallucinations, and I knew it was not the Witch. I realized that my chains had fallen to the floor, the clasps broken. I gazed in amazement at my unchained wrists and ankles. I was free! I blinked in confusion, trying to peer through the dark shadows. The door of the dungeon which had been bolted and padlocked before, now stood wide open, and the two sentries were sprawled sound asleep in the corridor. I shook my head in utter bewilderment.
I felt an inner drivetugging me out the door and down the long stone hallway towards a stairway that led to the first level of Cair Paravel, and I obeyed. I took off my dancing slippers and ran on silent bare feet through the palace. As I ran, I passed many painfully familiar stone statues decorating the halls. The faun who had first brought me news of Jadis's attack cowered in one corner while a centaur was stood undaunted and stoic. Two statues stood side by side, and for a moment, I stood gazing at them, imagining their last moments. One of my dogs, a non-speaking yet loyal beast, stood with his teeth bared in protection of my maid and best friend. However, the worst sight was of the nightingale, Warbler, who had been turned to stone in mid-song.
Finally, I exited the castle and found myself facing the beach and the Great Eastern Ocean. The moon still hung in the paling sky, while pre-dawn light cast eerie shadows. I stole across the swathe of sand, and the sea pulled me as if it were a magnet. Slowly the sun rose above the distant horizon of waves, and I waded into the stinging salt-water.
Even though I had avoided capture so far, I knew it would not be long until her minions found me missing. No, it would not be long now. I closed me eyes, andthe sun slowly bathed me in her loving light as she climbed higher and higher in to the blue Narnian sky, chasing away all the shadows of night. A single deep breath of the salty airdrove outall memory of the dank dungeon. and the endless expanse of Great Eastern Ocean stretched on and on until it and the sky merged in a burst of gold-yellow fire. Then I heard a voice that made my heart leap with joy call to me across the water.
Queen Maril the Merciful: that was my people's name for me. I had tried to be fair and just queen in a time of war against the troublesome giants on Narnia's border, and we had finally driven them back so that they would not bother our country for a very long time. Although my foreign relations lacked somewhat, I had dedicated my time and life to Narnia and her people, and because of it, my people were utterly devoted to me.
"Maril," the voice repeated persistently, snapping me out of my reverie.
I searched for the source, but at first, all I could see was the burning sun. Then, He called my name again, and I turned around to see Him standing on the beach, facing the East. Aslan had returned to Narnia! The Great Lion padded out towards me through the water and shook his mane. I felt the sting of salt-water on my face and bare arms. I opened my mouth to speak, but no words came.
His mane was of molten gold and blended into the fiery sun rising on the horizon, and his eyes were terrifying yet serene at the same time. My fingers itched to reach out and bury themselves in his rich fur the color of burnished gold. Aslan, the son of the Emperor across the Sea, had returned. He came forward until the Great Lion and I were almost nose to nose. His whiskers tickled my face, and all I could do was stare into his eyes, because in their great depths, I saw my future reflected.
"Aslan," I whispered reverently, "Will Jadis be overthrown?"
His sad countenance made me wish I had not asked the question.
"Jadis's rule of Narnia will be very long by your reckoning of time, but do not lose hope, Daughter of Eve. The day will come when Jadis will be vanquished and Narnia will once again be a free country."
His words were not the answer I wished to hear, and my face fell. I wanted the Witch to be driven out and killed, immediately! Why wait so long and let the Narnians suffer at her hand when Aslan coulddispose ofher here and now? He met my gaze, knowingly, and at once, I flushed with shame.
"A force greater than yourself is at work here, Maril. It is more powerful than you, or even the White Witch."
I nodded, chastised, and ventured forth one more question I had been dreading.
"Then, I will die?"
I saw my words had hurt him more than a sword or arrow possibly could. The Great Lion's eyes filled with tears and one slowly trickled down his muzzle to splash into the sea below.
"The choice belongs to you. You can run and hide in the south with the Calormen. Jadis will never find you, and you will be safe to live out the rest of your days in peace as you deserve."
I asked Aslan for my second option.
"I need someone willing to be my messenger, but if you accept the task, your mortal life here will end."
Once more I gestured for him to continue. The Great Lion said, "You would be my messenger and bring Narnia its hope once more. I would carry you to the Stone Table, arriving just in time for what was supposed to be your execution. Having lost you, Jadis will put three Narnian lords to death instead, and she has told the people that you are already dead. There, you would declare these words to the Narnians and the White Witch."
"When Adam's flesh and Adam's bone
Sits at Cair Paravel in throne,
The evil time will be over and done."
Aslan waited silently for me to make my decision, but we both knew I had no choice at all. Even if I did choose to flee to Calormen, the guilt would haunt me for the rest of my life. I did not need to speak.
The lion nudged me back towards the shore, and we waded in. My skirt, the same ball-gown from the party, was now quite tattered and worn, yet still cumbersome enough to present a major problem. Aslan gestured one huge paw towards the woods that grew on the south side of the palace.
"There are fresh clothes for you in the trees. The naiads and dryads brought them for you. Go and change into them."
I obeyed and walked into the forest a little ways, glad the Witch would not be able to laugh at the rags of the Queen of Narnia. True to Aslan's word, there had been a bundle of clothes as well as something else I had not expected. When I picked up the bundle, something heavy hit the ground, and I glanced down.
There on the ground, glinting in the sun and lying among stones and leaves, was my crown. It was a delicate graceful circlet set with beautiful emeralds, and the warm color of the gold was reminiscent of Aslan's mane. Legend claimed thatthe crown had been passed down from the first Daughter of Eve ever to rule Narnia, Queen Helen. Slowly, I reached down and stroked the warm metal, and a small smile touched my lips.
I changed out of my ragged, filthy party-dress splattered with gore and seawater, and into a simple white gown. Then, I set the crown on my head, and immediately, its weight gave me a feeling of purpose. The saying went: once a queen of Narnia, always a queen of Narnia.
Aslan waited for me on the beach, gleaming brighter than the sand in the glare of the ascending sun. He gestured for me to mount onto his back, and somehow, I managed to clamber up into a sitting position. I wove my hands deep into his mane as I had been wishing to do for so long, and without a warning, the Great Lion crouched and started running. At first, I was frightened at how fast we were traveling, though I had grown up riding the finest horses, but I remembered who was carrying me. With Aslan, I felt no harm could come to me.
The forest ahead of us was familiar territory because I had often hunted in the woods with foreign diplomats and other guests. The weather mocked Narnia's misfortune with its azure cloudless sky, but our journey was silent.Even the birds and animals had fallen into a hush. All of creatures seemed to know of Jadis's attack on the palace. Around noon, the hillupon which the stone tablesatcame into sight, and my heart started to race with fear while my tongue felt swollen and heavy. I knew Aslan could feel my body trembling, but I was unable to stop thepanic from mounting.
We stopped at the edge of the wood, and I gazed up at the hill.A few scraggly trees covered it, and it was a very tall steep hill. Perched on the top, gray slabs of stone formed a crude table, but the magic that hung around the place made up for its simplicity.
Naiads, dryads, fauns, great dogs, giants, horses, centaurs, flocks of birds, deer, badgers, dwarves, squirrels, bears, winged horses, and countless other creatures crowded in a terrified silence around the Stone Table, and on top of the table itself stood Jadis. She looked as cold and evil as ever, but I detected a bit of frustration at not having her main attraction. Three great Narnian lords who had long stood by my side with wise advice were at her feet. Ropes bound the man and dwarf's wrists and ankles, but the ancient owl had been shoved into a sack.
My knees were quivering so hard, I was unable to dismount without falling in a heap on the ground. Aslan helped me to my feet with his velvet paws, and I saw tears once again glistening in his eyes.
"You need not fear death, dear heart. I will be with you throughout your time here and even in your death."
I nodded, swallowing the tears that threatened to spill over.
"Repeat the rhyme to me," Aslan instructed.
I obeyed even though my voice cracked midway, and my heart filled with fear as well as a sense of duty. The words held power and the hope for the Narnians, and I was the messsenger. Aslan put his massive paw on my should and said, "Go, Daughter. Wait for the perfect timing. Narnia must know that the Witch's time as tyrant is doomed before it can even begin."
I swallowed, nodded somberly, and faced the hill on which Stone Table sat. But then, I turned back unable to resist the temptation to throw my arms around Aslan's neck and bury my face in his golden mane one last time. At the Great Lion's touch, I felt his strength and courage go into me. We parted without any more words.
I forced my feet to take one step and then another until they had carried me out of woods at the base of the hill. Among the Narnians, I saw many familiar faces as well as hundreds of unfamiliar. Jadis was slowly sharpening a stone knife, a menacingsound that sent an icy chill down my spine, and her wolves surrounded the base of the Table. I made my way through the crowd of silent creatures.
My heart was pounding so loudly, I was afraid that Jadis would hear it before I came within ten feet of the Stone Table, but she had not seen me even when I stood right before the wolves.
Then, the dwarf-lord spotted me. His eyes widened to an unimaginable size, and he jumped to his feet. Unfortunately, he hadforgotten the ropes that bound his feet, and the dwarf wobbled precariously. With a shout, he crashed head-long into the Witch, knocking her right off the table! I snatched at the chance and leapt up onto the table shouting, "Narnians, it is I, Queen Maril!"
Thunderous cheering broke forth from the once silent crowd, and I continued.
"I bring word from Aslan, and I bring you hope!"
Jadis struggled with her skirts on the ground, crying for her wolves to kill me, butthe frenzied crowd held them back. I lifted my crown off my head, hefting it into the air to show that I truly was the Queen, and screamed Aslan's rhyme at the top of my voice.
"When Adam's flesh and Adam's bone
Sits at Cair Paravel in throne,
The evil time will be over and done."
I repeated it, until the crowd started to chant the words along with me. I knew the many squirrels would tell anyone who had not attended the execution because they could never keep a secret to themselves.
"These are the words of Aslan, the true King of Narnia, now and forever!" I cried.
A centaur on the fringe of the mob blew a battle horn, and other Narnians took out concealed weapons. Many started screaming about revolution and killing the invader. They advanced on the wolves, but the Witch's reinforcements sprang out of the bushes to hold back the mass. Then, Jadis's cry of rage reached my ears. She stalked to me, black fury distorting her features, and I smirked at the Witch.
"Your time is doomed before it can even begin, Witch! You are finished!" I whispered passionately.
I saw defeat register in her eyes, and joy filled my heart. Then, I infuriated her even more by calmly and coolly placing the golden crown back on my head. The Narnians were in a feverish uproar as Jadis yanked on my braid, forcing me to tip back my head and bare my neck, and I offered no resistance.
I knew that Aslan would be with me, and my death was not the end, it was only the beginning for myself and for Narnia.
The ominous roll of the execution drums was drown out by the terrible yet awesome roar of a lion. It echoed from one side of Narnia to the other like raw powerful thunder, proving to the world that Aslan was alive. And the sound reminded me that I was Maril the Merciful, Queen of Narnia, Empress of the Lone Islands, descended from the first Daughter of Eve and Son of Adam ever to enter Narnia, and daring messenger of Aslan. Narnia's deliverer would come, and evil would never triumph. I gazed up into he pure blue Narnian sky, a smile of victory on my lips.
I no longer felt the Witch's icy cold fingers digging into my skin, nor did I feel the press of the knife blade. Even when it sliced my throat, I felt nothing. All I was aware of was the Great Lion, and when that stone knife ended my mortal life, Aslan accompanied me to the East and eternity.
Down in Narnia, a heavy snow began to cover over the flowers, the rivers, and the bloodstained battlefield. Yet, even as the Witch's icy grip settled over the land, hope was alive and breathing in secret corners and shadowy places.
A/N – Like it or no? Review please! This is my first (and hopefully not my last)fanfic!