Disclaimer: Narnia is not mine. I would love to visit it someday though.
"Are we almost there yet?"
"You know we're not there yet; we'd see it if we were."
"I didn't ask if we were there, I asked if we were almost there. And besides, I wasn't talking to you. Father?"
The speakers were two boys, at most thirteen years of age though one was probably rather less than that. The elder of the two had ordinary brown hair and clear brown eyes that seemed to smile even though his lips were straight. The younger was considerably fairer than his brother—for such the two obviously were—with white-blonde hair and sharp green eyes. Both boys were mounted on strong horses and wore short daggers at their sides. Half a length in front of the brothers two men were mounted on horses of similar build. Both men were armed with swords and daggers though they did not seem to be expecting trouble. The younger of these two men sighed slightly at the bickering behind him.
"Yes, Jaerin, we are nearing Cair Paravel. We should be there within half an hour," he said.
"Harrah!" A delighted cry escaped both boys and their horses shook their heads at the impatient urgings of their young masters.
"Can we not go any faster, Father?" the younger boy asked. His father had addressed him as Jaerin.
"No, Jaerin. I have told you that many times. If you wish for something to do, go back and see how your mother and aunt fare. Tell them we should be arriving at the Cair soon."
"Yes, Sir!" Without further words, the boy wheeled his horse around and trotted (he would have galloped but the distance was to short) back to a carriage that followed the riders. The other boy hesitated for a moment, seeming to debate whether or not to follow, but chose to stay where he was. The boy's father smiled at the sound of his son's excited declarations coming from behind.
"I dare say that your younger son is rather excited, Peridan," the older man said to his companion. "He will be hard to keep in check once we reach the Cair."
"What do you mean he will be? I am as excited as my sons. You know that I have wished to return to my ancestral homeland since I heard of Winter's fall. It has been nearly two years, Tran! Two years since the White Witch was defeated and Aslan Himself crowned the four rulers of Narnia yet I am only just now making my way to ask their permission to dwell in this land. I am the one you should be worried about!"
"It hasn't even been eighteen months, my friend. And you know that you could not have left any sooner. Don't exaggerate too much or you'll end up sounding more like a three-year old than a man with three children."
Peridan laughed heartily at Tran's words. "You're right. It just seems longer when one has been wishing for such an event since one was a child."
"I do not doubt it. What do you plan to do once you are settled?"
Seeing that the conversation was not likely to be very interesting and unnoticed by the two men, the boy who had remained slipped out of the ring of soldiers that surrounded their small party. He grinned as the entire group rode by, seemingly oblivious to his presence outside the circle. First were his father and Lord Tran of Archenland, a noble man and advisor to King Lune. Some distance behind them was a carriage in which rode his aunt, Lady Leah, mother, and little sister. His younger brother Jaerin was still riding beside the carriage, eagerly relating stories of what he would do when they arrived at their destination. Another, rougher, carriage followed this one; the maidservants rode there when not talking with the waggoners. Last in line were two wagons in which all the portable goods belonging to the family of Peridan were loaded. Surrounding this whole group were about a dozen men-at-arms. For though times were better in Narnia since the defeat of the Witch, her followers still lingered in hidden places and it was not safe to carry valuables unguarded.
Thoughts of the Witch's defeat brought more serious thoughts to the boy's mind. If the stories he heard were true, then Narnia's kings and queens were only children. Two of them were supposed to be younger than he was and the oldest not quite two years his senior. How could boys his age rule a kingdom? He had enough trouble keeping his room in order, a kingdom would be impossible! Shaking his head free from such thoughts, the boy urged his horse through the ring of soldiers and up just behind the furthest wagon. He was going to pass on by but he caught the edge of the conversation and slowed instead as the grin spread back across his face. One of the maidservants was relating to the wagon's driver the events of the morning—and their first encounter with a talking animal.
"…and there we was, just makin' sure the missus is all settled for breakfast and the little lady is ready to when this great big squirrel just jumps out of the tree. It walks up to us all unafraid like right up in front of the missus. Now the little lady's all excited about having a squirrel so near but she doesn't move since she's afraid that she'll scare him off. And then this squirrel just looks at her and grins—I know he grinned so don't laugh at me—afore looking back at the missus and bowing down in front of her. She looks a little surprised but that weren't nothing compared to what happened next. That squirrel looks right up and says—as clear as I'm sayin' to you now—'Good morning, madam. Welcome to Narnia.'…"
The boy's grin broadened and he passed the gossiping maid. His mother had nearly fainted when the squirrel talked and his sister, Rien, had squealed in surprise. Thankfully, Father had warned them that animals in Narnia were not quite like ordinary animals and that many of them could talk and think like humans. Mother had thanked the squirrel for his greetings and they had actually had quite a nice chat with him. Other Animals had joined them and it was a merry party at breakfast. But that was hours ago. Surely by now it must be almost lunchtime. Just when the boy was beginning to think that he might ask if they could stop for lunch, a shout from the front made him urge his steed forward to see what had caused it. Jaerin was at his side in an instant as they raced to the front of the line.
"What is it, Father?" both boys asked breathlessly.
"Look!" The boys looked and simultaneous gasps of astonishment slipped from them.
"There it is, Cair Paravel, the castle of the four thrones, shining on the edge of the Eastern Sea as it always has in my dreams."
Peridan leaped down from his horse and hurried over to where the carriage had stopped. He flung open the door and held out a hand to the occupants. A joyous light was in his eyes and there was no denying him as he spoke.
"Come, Saera, Sister Leah, and you too, Rien. This is a sight that you must see."
A tall woman with fair hair and green eyes stepped down from the carriage, blinking at the brightness of the day. A small girl, at most nine years old, followed her and last another woman with light hair. Peridan led the three to where the boys and Tran still sat on their horses staring at the sight before them.
"Oh, Father!" Rien exclaimed as she clapped her hands, "It's even more beautiful than you said."
And it was. The castle rose in many-tiered splendor at the very edge of the ocean where the Great River met the waters. The bright midday sun glinted off thousands of windows in glorious splendor making it so that the whole castle seemed to be coated in golden light. At the topmost turret, a huge banner snapped in the wind. Even at that distance, they all knew what it must be: a green field on which a red lion rampant rose in majestic beauty. The Banner of Narnia. Four smaller banners were also visible though none could quite make out what design they bore. Still, they knew that their presence meant that all four sovereigns of Narnia were home.
"Perhaps soon, we shall be able to call those who dwell in that castle our kings and queens," Peridan said softly. "I shall at last return to the allegiance of my fathers."
Jaerin looked from the castle to where his father stood staring. "Does this mean we can go faster?"
A/N—I'm back! School is terrible about making one do things other than that which one desires to do but now I've enough space to get some writing done at odd times. This story takes place in the early years of the Four's rule in Narnia, when they were still "only children" though we know they were more. It also interlocks with and overlaps several stories by elecktrum. That excellent writer is allowing me to borrow some of her stories in exchange for my characters. Therefore, you might recognize some of the events related. Almyra too, is using Jaer and Jaerin eventually. Last, but not least, JealousoftheMoon wrote about the brother's entrance into cannon in the most recent Cannon Keepers installment. If you haven't read those authors, go do so immediately. You will not regret it.
Electrum graciously beta read this chapter and the ones to follow. Many thanks to her!
I will be switching my point-of-view in each chapter unless otherwise noted. The brothers will have to take turns.
Chapter next: At the Cair