Disclaimer: I came up with the idea, but the characters aren't mine. C.S. Lewis created them.
"Father, can't I please go with you?" begged Prince Tirian.
"My son, it's completely out of the question," replied King Erlian. "You are too young yet to go to battle."
"Father!" complained Tirian. "I am almost fifteen years old! From the time I was eleven, I have trained daily with not only a Narnian sword and bow, but also a Calormene scimitar! I'm certain that if you allowed me to accompany you, I could prove to you that I am capable of defending this land! And…"
"Tirian." The firm voice of his father stopped Prince Tirian from continuing his side of the argument. Defeated, he became quiet.
"I need you to understand something, son," continued Erlian in a somewhat calmer voice. "If I were to die in this attempt to push the giants back once more from our border, you would be the next king. But if you were to come with me, and we both died, who would be king then? I have no other sons. There would be chaos in Narnia if we were without a king, and that is just what the Tisroc of Calormen needs in order to conquer our small country. I have no doubt in your skills as a warrior, but I'm sorry. Now please, go inside. I believe lunch is ready."
"Yes, Father," sighed Tirian. With that, he turned around and headed inside the castle.
There was much noise and many crowds were gathered to see the king and his warriors off. The music wasn't exactly what you'd call cheerful, but neither was it sorrowful; it was simply solemn. Five hundred Narnian soldiers were seated on their proud and strong mounts, and King Erlian himself sat at the front on a stallion as pure and white as snow. He was addressing the crowds, but Prince Tirian did not hear him, for he was standing in the balcony outside his room some distance away. Suddenly, his door opened as one of the maids entered.
"Your Highness should be very proud of your father," she said. "Not many people would be able to hold their heads high as he does knowing they could be facing certain death."
Tirian just nodded sulkily. He certainly wasn't acting like he was old enough for battle at this moment, but he didn't care. Seeing the expression on his face, the maid said,
"Your Highness, wouldn't you like to get away from the castle for a bit? In fact, I think maybe you should go to the garden. I think there is somebody there who would cheer you up."
Tirian turned around to face her, but she has already left. Confused, he decided to go out and see what was up.
In the garden, he wandered through the hedge-like walls until he reached the very center. When he saw what was there, he gave a sharp cry and rushed forward.
There in the center of the garden stood a beast so noble that once you had seen it, you wouldn't be able to do anything else but just stand in awe of his glorious beauty. He was taller than a man, and his body was of a creamy white and shiny. His slender legs looked to be extremely muscular, and he held his head higher than any horse ever did. An indigo colored horn protruded from his forehead, and it appeared to have just been polished. His eyes were full of wisdom and yet merriment, especially at seeing the Prince coming towards him gleefully.
"Good afternoon, Your Highness," the Unicorn (for that was what he was) said, in a voice that held a strong equine accent. "How have you been?"
"Not so well, Jewel, I must admit," replied Tirian. "It is so unfair that Father won't let me go with him."
"Your Highness," replied Jewel, "the King is right. You are still a boy, even though you see yourself as a man. And as the heir to the throne, it is your responsibility to be here in case…well, you know. Besides, if you'd have gone, I wouldn't have had any friends to come back to."
Tirian sighed, but smiled a little. He had known Jewel since the time of his own birth, at which time Jewel had been a foal. They had pretty much grown up together, until about a year ago when Jewel had decided he wanted to leave Cair for a while and see other parts of Narnia—his main hope being that he'd find some of his family. Tirian remembered that day like it was yesterday, and now Jewel had returned.
"What made you come back, Jewel?" he asked the Unicorn.
"Ah, that's a long story," the Unicorn replied with a hint of an equine grin. "But to make it short, I got kind of lonely. I couldn't find any other Unicorns, and there didn't see to be anybody who knew where they were either. Also, it just wasn't the same without you, Your Highness. So, I came back."
"And I'm glad you did, Jewel," said Tirian. "I quite missed you."
The friends spent the rest of the afternoon together talking about what had happened to each of them in the past year, and Tirian almost forgot about his unhappiness about being left behind.
The weeks passed, and Tirian woke up each morning looking for the return of his father. And when King Erlian didn't return by sunset of each passing day, Tirian began to become depressed. He hadn't expected his father to be gone this long, but despite his feelings, he continued to watch for the standard with the Great Lion waving in the breeze which would signify the army's return.
Finally, on the first day of the third month of the King's absence, Tirian caught sight of the banner. He immediately ran toward it, but as he got closer, he could see that something wasn't right. He watched as the army continued to advance, but it appeared to be much smaller. And the King's white horse wasn't leading them. Where was his father?
People began to gather outside the castle gates, and it was clear that they too could see something was wrong. And as the procession moved closer and closer, many began to assume the worst. There were murmurs and whispers all around. Within minutes, the truth became obvious.
King's horse was being led, its head hanging down, by a young
soldier with a grim expression on his face. King Erlian was not
mounted on the horse. Instead, he was lying on his back with his eyes
closed ion a makeshift bed that was being carried by six other
soldiers. Even from a distance, Tirian could see that his father's
face was quite pale and his hands were lying by his sides. Afraid for
the King, he ran out to the approaching army, despite the crowds.
"Father!" he cried as he drew closer.
Ten soldiers began to move to prevent him from reaching King Erlian, but when they saw who he was and the clothes he was wearing, they allowed him to pass. Tirian, however, did not notice this, for he was concerned only for his father.
"Oh, Father!" he cried again, a few tears present on his cheeks. He turned to the nearest soldier. "What happened?"
"His Majesty was fighting one-on-one with the giants' leader. He just didn't have a chance. The leader was too big and too strong, and he struck the King on the second swing of his club."
Tirian looked back down at his father, and was surprised to see the King's eyes open a little. When King Erlian saw his son standing by his side with tear-stained cheeks, he smiled a little, and weakly raised his hand.
"My son," he said in a voice that was barely above a whisper.
"Yes, Father?" asked Tirian.
"Your time," replied the King as he struggled to breathe, "has come. I need you to be strong. The throne is…yours. Govern this country like a true King—the way Aslan would want you to."
"But Father," Tirian said, but he got no further than that, for at that moment, the King closed his eyes again, and was silent.
Almost every person in the whole land of Narnia attended the memorial of King Erlian. He had been a beloved ruler, and Narnia had seen several years of peace with him before the giants had invaded. Tears were everywhere, but no one cried more than Prince Tirian. And he wasn't just crying because he had lost his father--the tears flowed as he remembered that he was to be the next King. Obviously, he hadn't been crowned yet, but he knew that was most likely going to come next. So he cried because even though he had felt that at fourteen, he was perfectly capable to go to battle, it was different when it came to ruling an entire country.
Just as soon as the service ended, Tirian ran to the garden, where he hoped he could be alone. How ironic it seemed that he would never have gone there any other time. He wandered to a stone bench, and collapsed onto it in his grief. And he found that unfortunately, he was not alone, for Jewel was grazing some distance off. The Unicorn spotted Tirian, and trotted over to him.
"Why weren't you at the memorial, Jewel?" asked the prince quietly so as not to sound worse than he felt.
"I didn't feel it was my place to attend a service for someone who I've not seen in almost a year and a half," replied Jewel calmly. "Also, I wasn't sure how to crowds would feel with someone like me around, seeing as how they have probably never seen a Unicorn before."
Tirian nodded sadly, and Jewel immediately sensed that there was more to the problem than him simply mourning his father.
"What is the matter, Your Highness?" the Unicorn asked.
Tirian didn't respond at first; he only just continued to sit there with his head down. Jewel nudged him with his nose. Finally, the Prince said something, though it was clear he wasn't really talking to Jewel.
"I remember several years ago when he used to crawl around on his hands and knees with me riding on his back. He said that he was my noble horse leading me into battle, and that I was going to save Narnia from some great danger. I would be holding a wooden sword, and he would crawl (he called it galloping) as fast as he could toward the nearest target, and allow me to dismount. He would watch as I slashed at the target with my sword to defeat it. Somehow, I always won. And then, after my victory, we would head inside for my hero's reception dinner."
"I know that he was a wonderful father to you, Your Highness," stated Jewel. "What else do you remember?"
"I remember…" began Tirian, thinking hard for a couple minutes. And then he gave up, crying, "I can't remember!"
Jewel watched as the Prince burst into tears once more. His gentleness forced him to simply wait this one out. But suddenly, Tirian looked up at him with his tears still streaming.
"I can't do this!" he shouted in anguish. "I can't be King! I don't know how!"
"Haven't you been learning in your studies how to be diplomatic and how to rule this country the way the Great Lion would want?" asked Jewel patiently.
"Well of course I have," replied Tirian, "but that doesn't mean I can actually do it!"
Silence followed as Jewel tried to think of something to say, as all the while the Prince was still crying. Finally, as if divinely-inspired, he knew what to say.
"Your Highness," he began, and then waited until Tirian looked up at him. "Have you ever heard the tale of King Peter the Magnificent?"
"Yes," said the Prince, "but what does that have to do with me?"
"You know well," continued Jewel, "that King Peter, the High King over all Kings of Narnia, is remembered for his deeds and the multiple battle he won. He is also know for being a skilled diplomat and counselor, which was why he was called the Magnificent. But you know something, Your Highness? King Peter was no older than you are now when he was crowned King."
Tirian looked up at the Unicorn. "Are you serious?" he asked.
"Completely serious," replied Jewel. "And you know what else? His three siblings were crowned King and Queens with him. The youngest was his sister, Lucy. Queen Lucy was only eight year old when she was crowned."
Tirian was silent with shock. And then, as he sat there pondering what the Unicorn had told him, he suddenly remembered one more thing. His great-great grandfather's great-great grandfather, the King Caspian, had also been only his age when he was crowned. And both he and King Peter had had to fight battle before they were crowned. Tirian sighed.
"I guess there is no reason for me to be complaining then, is there?" he asked, defeated.
"No there isn't," replied the Unicorn.
"But I'm still horribly frightened," said Tirian. "I don't know how to run a kingdom. What if I mess up?"
"Do you really think your father's lords are actually going to force you to be king by yourself?" replied Jewel. "They know you're still young, and I'm sure they will be perfectly willing to help you until you are old enough to make decisions on your own."
"Yeah, I suppose," mumbled Tirian as he sighed again. "Thanks, Jewel, I guess. I don't feel a lot better, but I feel a little more like I can do this."
"You're welcome, Your Highness," replied the Unicorn. "Don't worry. Just remember that Aslan will be with you every day, and that He will always help you no matter what."
"Presenting…His Majesty, King Tirian!" the herald shouted. There was applause and cheering throughout the entire throne room as the crown was place on Tirian's head. Tirian himself was trying hard not to show how nervous he was, but he was feeling like he was going to faint. And then, the worst part of the whole affair happened. The whole crowd, about a thousand people, looked at him expectantly, as if waiting for what he was about to say.
"Um…" he began, the silence in the room making him feel worse. He was afraid he wouldn't be able to continue. But then, he suddenly felt warmth on his face, and though it didn't stay long, it left him feeling stronger and braver. He opened his mouth to continue.
"Though I am still very young, I know that it is my responsibility to lead you as King of Narnia. Let me not neglect to say that I am rather frightened, for I never expected that I would be King at my age. But I promise that I will be strong, and will do my best to rule the way I have been taught. And Narnia shall continue to live at peace. Um, I guess that's all I have to say for now."
"King Tirian turned around, and sat down on his throne. The entire throng stood and cheered, which made him feel so much better, and so much happier. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad after all.
Epilogue: Narnia enjoyed almost a decade of peace with Tirian as its King. And the event that took place when that peace ended--well--you can read about those in The Last Battle. But rest assured, dear reader, that the last King of Narnia ruled with bravery and wisdom, and sought with all his heart during those first years to remain strong, even when he felt he couldn't. And everything really did turn out all right after all.