Out of a wooden chest they took soft leather leggings, tunics, and long, quilted jackets of fine burgundy colored wool. These they had the boys put on first, and over them they drew the shining hauberks and the mail leggings, which Turkin informed them were called chausses. Then came the tabards and the coifs. While the dwarves were not as polished in their court manners, they certainly handled the armor with nimble skill, and they were considerate in teaching the boys and Palomnus the proper way to layer the pieces and lace and buckle the fastenings.
Peter's plate armor – the pauldrons to protect his shoulders, the vembraces to protect his forearms, the greaves to protect his shins and calves, and the sabatons to protect his feet – was expertly made and surprisingly light, although Peter was starting to sweat already under the many layers he wore. He found his range of motion and ease of movement to be much better than he had originally thought. He was given a full gauntlet for his sword arm and supple, beautifully tooled leather gloves for his hands.
Edmund's armor was very similar, although he had no vembraces, nor did he have gloves. He was, however, presented with a shield, and when the process was complete, both he and Peter stood motionless for a moment, their hearts beating rapidly. Before this, it hadn't seemed quite possible that they were meant to be kings, but as they slowly drew their swords, hefted their shields, and shrugged their shoulders beneath the pauldrons, they felt almost immediately transformed.
"Mmmhmm," Turkin murmured, watching them carefully. His apprentices moved between the boys, checking the armor. Finally they stood back with the older dwarf, crossed their arms, and nodded. "A p'fect fit," one said, "Well done."
"Well done indeed," Palomnus echoed quietly, his eyes focused on the brothers, who had now begun a careful sparring match, slow swings met with equally paced parries. The clear ringing of metal rebounded in the pavilion, and although their faces were flushing with effort, both Peter and Edmund moved with cautious confidence and the beginnings of what would come to be a warrior's grace.
A grin split Peter's face as he ducked his brother's swing and brought the tip of his weapon to rest beneath Edmund's chin. "Surrender, my lord," he said pompously, puffing slightly, "I have bested you."
Edmund suddenly laughed. "Very good, Peter," he replied, "You have the right words. But have you really…" he suddenly spun to his right, sweeping his shining sword up with the movement, "…bested me?" The older boy hesitated with the blade at his neck and then smiled at his brother. "Clever, Ed," he said, "I surrender."
There was silence for a moment, and then Palomnus spoke. "Excellent, my kings," he said, "The armor does you great credit, to be certain. I know our land is in capable hands; thanks be to Aslan."
"And our thanks go also to you, Turkin, and your apprentices," Peter said as he and Edmund sheathed their swords, "for giving of your time to make such gifts. I know we'll be safer tomorrow because of them."
The chief armorer nodded, obviously gratified. "It's what we do best, sire," he said gruffly, waving a thickly callused hand. "Radkin and Dentan here'll take the stands to yer tent fer ye. If ye need anything, ever – come see us."
"We will," Edmund said, "Thank you."
Palomnus broke the slightly awkward silence that followed by clapping his hands. "Well, now that the proper words have been said at the proper time, I believe the second thing I shall do in your service, my lieges, is to escort you back to your tent and into bed. Can't have you nodding off in the middle of the battle tomorrow, now, can we?"
Suddenly Peter felt his stomach, which had slowly come undone with the exciting diversion, twist itself over again, although not nearly as hard or as nauseatingly as before. "Somehow I think I'll stay awake," he said as they left the armorers behind and made their way back through camp.
"But a good night's sleep will certainly help," the faun replied from where he walked behind them, his hands clasped behind his back.
"If I fall asleep," Edmund muttered, but only his brother heard him.
They came to their tent and entered to find Peter's campaign table moved carefully to the side and two cots, piled high with pillows and blankets, set up near the tent walls. Turkin's two apprentices brought the stands in and stayed long enough to see that Palomnus and the boys were well on their way to successfully removing the armor before taking their leave. Palomnus in his turn brought them hot, earthily spiced drinks, which made them pleasantly drowsy, and then bowed, said he would wake them at dawn, and left also.
"Did you hear what they said, Peter?" Edmund asked softly, tucked beneath the soft-weave of his blanket, "How Aslan gave them the measurements for the armor days ago?"
"Yes," Peter responded, his arms crossed beneath his head. A haunting, soft music began just outside, and he could see the fire-shadow of Palomnus and his pipes against the tent walls.
"Our measurements, Peter. I'm sure Lu hadn't even come on her first visit. He knew." There was a curious note to Edmund's voice, and an odd choked sound came from his cot before he fell silent.
"Yes," Peter said again, remembering the glorious terror of looking into Aslan's deep golden eyes. Of the limitless love he had seen there, along with the tremendous majesty and the bottomless sorrow. For a moment, he wondered what business would be so important to take Aslan away from them when he was needed most, but his thoughts were interrupted by a giant yawn from Edmund. Peter smiled into the darkness.
"Aslan gave us his armor," he whispered to himself. "He is never far away." And within minutes, the future High King of Narnia was sound asleep.