Black Dwarfs, Blue River
This is dedicated to everyone who enjoys reading about obnoxious Dwarfs, sneaky little brothers, and King Nancy. It was inspired by 'Late Night Meeting' by the1hobbit. Check out my bio for the link to her art.
Disclaimer: Narnia and its characters are the property of CS Lewis, Walden Media, and Disney. I'm just borrowing them and I promise to give them back when I'm done. Until the next story, of course.
Chapter One: Invitation
"This chap Brickit is being deliberately provoking."
Edmund sparked to that just as I knew he would. Anything that could vex his older brother was worth looking at in his book. Clad in loose and comfortable clothes for sleeping but looking far from ready to call it a night, he crawled across my bed so he could look over my shoulder at the letter I held.
"With handwriting like that, I agree. Are you sure you're reading it right? You're not holding it upside down, are you?"
I nudged him lightly with my elbow in response to his teasing. "Listen, will you? I'll read it."
He draped himself heavily across my shoulders and back as I struggled to make out the appalling handwriting. Clearing my throat, I read aloud:
"To Their Majesties, the newly crowned kings and queens of Narnia from Brickit, Chief Smith of the Blue River Smithy, greeting!
"Having survived one queen and all her evils and having been forced in the past to ply our noble trade without compint . . . compensation - Oh, he can't spell, either - in the form of supplies or valuables, you will understand that we will not willingly place ourselves in the thrall of anyone sporting a crown and the supposed authority and its abuse that accompanies such rank, nor anyone who has not the nerve to face us with their request for armaments and craft but rather sends lackeys bearing parchment decorated with seals and we therefore refuse your overtures and bid you come yourselves or leave us in peace.
Brickit, Chief Smith, Blue River Smithy"
I glanced at my brother as I finished. Edmund was staring with wide eyes at the paper. I waited in anticipation for the explosion I knew was about to come. Even as I watched his expression went from amused to indignant; I knew already what the end result of this would be. The situation would be more than Ed could resist.
"Thrall?" he finally sputtered. "Sporting?" He leaned closer and snatched the page from my hand, staring at it, turning it over, and finally he looked at me in disbelief. "This is all one sentence!"
"Told you he was being provoking." I took the letter back. "The thing is, Ed, the Blue River Smithy produces the finest weapons in Narnia. Even the smiths here at the Cair admit that, much as it pains them. We need them willing to work with us."
"They have to be Black Dwarfs," he snorted.
"Oh, yes," I agreed. I had already spoken to Blait, Chief of the Black Dwarf clan, about this Brickit fellow and the report had not been promising even by their low standards. Brickit was grouchy, crass, argumentative, highly skilled, and, just as his letter claimed, a victim of the White Witch's tyranny.
Edmund frowned, that thunderous fury he was so well known for in Finchley and which he was learning to control and apply here in Narnia darkening his expression. He did not like that we had been insulted in this fashion and he was struggling to come up with a suitable response. I let him seethe, having already worked off my (much milder) outrage at Brickit's insinuations.
"Let me see that again," he insisted, seizing the letter. His lips moved faintly as he struggled to read the sprawling script. "Come yourselves or leave us in peace," he quoted softly, savagely. He sat back on his heels and looked at me with smoldering eyes. "Well. That sounds like an invitation to me."
"Invitation? Really? Strikes me as a challenge."
He snorted. "They're Black Dwarfs. It's the same thing. I'll go."
"We need them, Peter. You said so yourself. I'll go to the smithy."
"What will you do?"
Casting me a haughty look, he shrugged and said, "I'll win them over with my charm."
I stared back at him. Charm? Edmund Randall Pevensie? "Lion preserve us," I muttered.
"Oh, he will, Peter. He will," Edmund reassured me. "It's the Blue River Smithy and this Brickit chap that needs to worry."
I found myself grinning, mentally agreeing and wondering if Brickit deserved an advanced warning. I considered my brother's fiercely determined manner, the steely-eyed gleam as he read the letter once again. This would be a good opportunity for him to prove himself, I felt, and really, he was the best one of us to take on a pack of obnoxious Dwarfs. I settled back as he fumed and planned, watching him in silent satisfaction and delight.
"You think a week is enough?"
Edmund snorted. "I'm sure it will be more than enough for me, Peter."
"I wish you'd at least take Martil along to look after you," I said, slowly folding the tunics he'd tossed on my bed as he packed a few things.
"I know you do, but a week on my own will do me good. Besides, I'm sure he could use a break from me."
I made a little sound of disagreement. Our valets loved to fuss and fret over us. As near as I could figure, it was their whole purpose in life.
My fellow king paused in his packing to gaze at me from across the bed. He knew me too well. "Peter . . . don't worry. I'll be home soon. If I can't win them over we'll send Lucy after them next."
I laughed, a little reassured. It was only a week, after all.
"Lucy could charm a hag into submission," continued Edmund, shoving clothes and supplies into the saddle bags ranged across the coverlet. He buckled on his sword as I straightened out the contents of the nearest bag, slipping in a letter Susan and Lucy had prepared for him to find. I tied it closed and slung it over my shoulder.
"Come on, the girls are waiting to say goodbye."
He paused, smiling. "I'll miss you, too."