Disclaimer: Not mine.
A/N: I'm not dead! Only kinda mostly dead. (Which isn't all dead, I'm still slightly alive.) My only excuse is that I'm coming close to graduation, and I've been swamped with work. That, and my creative writing class is my most HATED class ever, and it's taken a lot of the spark from my will to write. So my apoligies, the next chapter won't take nearly as long. Really. I swear it. ...And thanks to SubOrbital for the help. :)
Orieus examined the sword, fresh from the sharpening block. Even in the pinkish dawn light it glinted golden. He nodded his thanks to the dwarf before sheathing it with a satisfactory ring and turning out the door. He was in a foul mood: that healer had put a sleeping drug in the tea.
"If you're to save our King, I won't have you doing it while you're witless from lack of sleep!"
He was right. Damn him, he was right. But, so far as Orieus was concerned, sleeping until dawn while Peter was alone with the enemy was inexcusable. At least for now. Oh, how he had unleashed upon that faun. (Hell hath no fury as a General without his King.)
"This is precious time you've wasted!"
"Any more precious than our King?" Ghebren responded evenly, though looking highly affronted. "I'd hardly want for you to be asleep on your hooves as you blunder into the enemy encampment!"
The worst part was, that tottering two-footer was right. As much as Orieus didn't want to admit it at the moment, it was the truth. To attempt to go on a rescue mission while injured and exhausted would be more than foolish, but it would put Peter in just as much danger, if not more.
Ghebren wasn't just good at his job: he was the best. The faun had served in Aslan's own army, and should the need for a campaign arise again, Healer Ghebren would be at the top of the General's list of people who would come to serve their King. And when Peter was safely back, he may even forgive the healer for the Horses Ass comment.
For, now, though, Orieus hurried his way through the giant halls of the Cair, adjusting the straps on his belts. He didn't even break his stride as a grave-looking Satyr rushed up and walked beside him, having to do an odd sort of skip-step now and then to keep up with the centaurs longer strides.
"We have a single report." He said anxiously, "That those who took our King are moving swiftly south-west…"
"Yes?" Orieus inquired, arching an eyebrow. "Is there more?"
The satyr nodded, doing another hop-step.
"It's believed they're heading for Mourning Hill."
Orieus didn't stop, but his face darkened.
"Are you certain? Who gave the report?"
"Sir Giles himself, sir. He was the only one to get close enough."
"And what of our other scouts?"
"No word, Sir." The satyr said, shaking his head. "Sir Giles is the only scout we've heard from, and that came from a courier."
Orieus nodded, frowning. His grip tightened on the sword at his side.
"I understand. Keep me updated."
The satyr nodded, realizing he was dismissed and turned down a hallway, finally able to take up a normal cadence again. For his part, Orieus picked up the pace; if the report on Mourning Hill was true –and he had never been given reason to distrust the Fox- then there would be even less time than he had hoped. He continued walking, picking up his pace, and scowling...unitl all at once he stopped.
Orieus looked down, and indeed, there was Queen Lucy standing at his flank, surprise on her face. She curtsied awkwardly, trying to balance herself while keeping a grip on a little bundle she held in her arm.
"You heard me?"
"Not until you were right next to me." He assured, making the youngest Queen break into a relieved smile. She'd been practicing walking quietly, being assured by her sister that a true Queen makes no noise when she moves. However, Orieus had the sneaking suspicion that she didn't like bothering to lace up the delicate slippers that had been made for her, and was instead trying to hide the fact that she'd taken to walking about barefoot. The little Queen straightened, before holding the bundle up to him, standing on her tiptoes, revealing her bare feet.
"I made these," She informed him, and the General realized it was actually several handkerchiefs, "It's been raining, so Peter might have a cold. Oh! And that tin has his favorite tea in it. There's more than enough for both of you, so it'll warm you both up."
She said this all very fast, and Orieus' eyes widened as it sunk in. He smiled, then, taking the little bundle and both her hands in his. He marveled for a moment at how small she was.
"My Queen, thank you. These will be most useful."
Lucy's face brightened considerably.
"Oh good!" she chirped, "And…could you do one more thing, please?"
"Anything, my good Queen."
"Could you tell Peter I'll have pancakes for him when he gets back? They're his favorite, you know. His very favorite."
Orieus smiled, face gentling.
"I shall, My Lady," he promised, "You have my word."
"Thank you!" Lucy breathed, before suddenly throwing her arms around him in an awkward hug. Orieus looked down for a moment, honestly befuddled (he couldn't recall any other person doing this to him,) before relaxing and patting her back with one hand. He'd never met anyone with such an utter, unquestioning faith as this young girl had…much less, such a faith in him. The thought that he may not be able to bring Peter back did not seem to even occur to her.
Lucy looked up at him, breaking into another bright, contagious smile.
"You're welcome!" She responded happily, before giving him another squeeze. She backed away a bit, face alight, before turning and rushing off, feet padding loudly on the polished floor. Orieus watched her, holding the little package tightly, hope renewed.
Orieus watched as his bag was double-checked. No, not double. Triple. Normally he'd go through this process himself (and indeed, he had earlier,) but at the moment, a certain someone was absolutely insisting on doing it himself.
"My King, I assure you, I am well prepared."
"What about food?"
"You already saw my provisions."
"I have bandages, medicines, and herbs."
"What about…what if Peter gets bored?"
"I assure you, King Edmund, that is the least of my worries."
Edmund continued to stare into the bag, frowning and sullen-looking, as though trying to will something to be wrong with it.
"What about socks?"
Edmund turned to Orieus, a slow grin spreading across his face.
"No…you wouldn't consider socks, would you? Having hooves and all." He smirked, squaring his shoulders, "If its been raining, then Peter's boots are probably soaked through. And so are his socks, and if his feet are wet and cold, then he's bound to get sick. So you should have a pair of good, clean, dry socks for him."
Orieus arched an eyebrow, opening his mouth before closing it again, giving Edmund a curt nod.
"No. I hadn't thought of that," he admitted. After all, he was not used to rescuing people with feet. "Do you, then, have any socks for me to pack?"
Edmund's jaw jerked shut, eyes widening just slightly.
"I will." He decided. "Take your bag and come with me, General. I'll get you some socks."
Bemused, Orieus retied and shouldered his pack, clopping along next to Edmund, who was walking quite fast. The young king said not a word as he made his way for Peter's room, throwing the doors open and dashing for the wardrobe. He pilfered the inner drawers as though they were his own (and Orieus suspected he'd raided his brother's closet before,) and quickly enough turned to him, two pairs of thick, wooly socks in his hands.
"These ones." He said, thrusting the bundled socks at the centaur, who took them, before examining them.
"Do they have songbirds stitched on them?"
"Yes. And Peter absolutely hates them for it, which is why they're still so nice and thick. So they're perfect."
Orieus studied the youth for a moment before stuffing the socks into his bag.
"That is…rather robust logic."
Edmund smiled, satisfied, and Orieus bowed, before turning to leave.
"General Orieus. If you don't return with my brother…with Peter being very much alive…a handful of Nasties aren't the only one's I'm going to be coming for."
The centaur turned, and was nearly taken aback by the look on the young boys face. He nodded again, having absolutely no doubt of the fury that would be waiting for him under the hands of the Just, should he return without Magnificence.