Author's Note: I'm going to hell, I just know it...BUT. Bang the gongs and sound the trumpets, I'm on my own with this one. Correct, I'm writing this little offering by myself. And I'm terrified. You guys don't know how much.

Anyway. /my dramaxangst. I will say this right now: IF YOU HAVE NOT YET SEEN THE SECOND INSTALLMENT OF THE NARNIA CHRONICLES, DO NOT READ THIS FICTION. And if you have, keep your negative comments to yourself. The movie was very good, and enjoyable to watch.

This is my offering, therefore I will write it as it comes. Granted, I'm known for being a canon-whore of the most righteous persuasion but I'm not about to get into a discussion about interpretations of C.S. Lewis' work, kthx. This is just my take on completely fictious events (canon wise) after the movie. Yes, there are going to be OCs in this story. Deal with it. They're a necessary evil and not all of them are ZOMG!TEHDEVIL.

All right. Bearing all that snark in mind (and forgive me, I'm just tired of trying to justify my own blasted writing to myself and will quit being emo now), here's the story. Humbly offered in the Narnia 'verse, some two years after the ending of the book/movie Prince Caspian. Let the magic take you and enjoy.

The spring morning was beautiful. The wind playfully teased the new spring leaves, filling the forest with gentle laughter and whispered words of life and newness. The birds sang merrily, their songs sweet and clear in the soft sunshine that flooded the canopy. A few animals darted here and there, going about their daily tasks, but all paused and lifted a wing, paw or otherwise hailed the horse and rider that loped easily through the once-foreboding Narnian forest.

The horse's name was Destrier, and even though he had not the ability to speak, he nevertheless carried his passenger and friend with majestic carriage and grace. For he bore upon his back Caspian, High King of Narnia, Telmar and Emperor of the Lone Islands. The young king had received his crown just two short years before, but already the kingdoms under his rule were beginning to flourish, slowly awakening and recalling their glory long forgotten in legends and myths.

However, all that was far from Caspian's mind this morning. He and his horse were galloping through the woods, and he took care to answer every hail as he passed. These creatures were not just his subjects; many of them were his friends, having stood beside him during the war with his uncle, Miraz. And, although the people of Telmar had been raised to believe that the creatures inhabiting the forest were evil and dangerous, Caspian had firmly dissipated that notion. Slowly but surely, Narnians and Telmarines were learning to live in harmony; more and more Telmarines – mainly the youngsters – were expressing interest in the forest creatures and a few of the Narnians were venturing forth from their woods to broker trade with the citizens of Telmar.

This morning, His Royal Majesty had left the comfort of his Telmarine castle and was riding for the ruins of Cair Paravel. It had become his habit, to leave behind the court of Telmar and journey into Narnia's forest to oversee – and assist – the rebuilding of the once-glorious castle. Shortly after his coronation, King Caspian had decreed that he and his people would once again make Cair Paravel the image of splendor it had been during the reign of the Kings and Queens of old. Most of the Narnians had been enthusiastic about the idea, and, although the people of Telmar were still a bit dubious of the Wood, they nonetheless followed their young King's direction and began the laborious task of rebuilding, hauling rock and quartz from natural quarries nearby.

Caspian and Destrier topped a small rise and he reined in, surveying the land below. The gently rolling hills were lush and green, giving way to the tall trees at the end of the small clearing. A soft giggle made him turn, smiling to see the merry dancing of the wood nymphs. The curious little creatures made entirely of flower petals and grass swirled around the king and his mount, softly brushing against them with child-like wonder.

"Hail, King Caspian," came the soft whisper in his ear.

Caspian watched them, still filled with as much awe and wonder as the first time he'd ever seen such magic, and replied, "Hail, my friends."

"We bid you good morrow," the nymph said, brushing a petaled hand against his cheek then darting away with a sweet giggle.

"And the same to you," he replied with a smile. "I am glad to see you this morning."

The nymph giggled again and swirled around Destrier's nose, causing the black horse to neigh and toss his head playfully. She swirled and played, darting here and there before coming to rest just at Caspian's side, asking, "You ride to the castle this morn?"

The young king nodded. "Aye. To aid in its rebuilding."

Pink and blue petals moved as the nymph bowed her assent. "'Tis well, good king," she approved. "Narnia thanks you for your care."

Caspian felt his cheeks warm, touched by the creature's praise. "Thank you," he replied simply.

She giggled and, with one last brush against his face, swirled back into the trees, disappearing into the boughs, leaving only the fragrance of spring and new flowers lingering on the air.

The king rode on, arriving at the quarry just as the sun rose above the high trees surrounding the canyon. His men were already there working, hauling the massive blocks of quartz and stone atop large wagons and sleds. Present as well were several centaurs, Glenstorm and his sons Ironhoof and Suncloud among them, satyrs, fauns and other non-speaking creatures. Yet all were working side by side and the work was merry, for the Telmarines grunted songs as they labored, accentuated by the stamp of the centaur's hooves and the occasional bark or growl of another hard-working animal.

Caspian halted Destrier at the quarry's entrance, where he was greeted by his captain, Torman. Dark eyed and distinguished, Torman had been a sergeant in Miraz's army, but Caspian had always liked and trusted him, as well as admired his ability to smooth even the roughest tempers and arguments, thus his promotion to this important project, ensuring all went smoothly.

"Sire!" Torman hailed, taking Destrier's bridle as he approached. "Where is your escort?" he immediately demanded.

Caspian laughed as he dismounted, patting Destrier's thick neck affectionately. "Torman, you worry far too much, my friend. I am hardly a child and there is naught to fear in these woods. Can I not ride alone on such a beautiful morning?"

Torman cocked an eyebrow at his youthful king. Although nearly twice the king's age, nearly old enough to be the boy's father, he well remembered the rashness of youth, as well as it's sometimes stupidity. And he could not fault his king for his exuberance. Not soon forgotten was the Lord Protector's "guardianship" of their young liege. Since the death of his father, Caspian had been watched most closely. Torman figured that these bouts of freedom must be exhilarating for the young man. Nevertheless, he and Telfonus, Caspian's closest advisor and friend – who was no doubt racing through Telmar's castle searching for his charge - , would see to it that no harm befell the tenth king of the Telmarines.

The captain sighed. Well, when he allows us to watch over him, that is, he thought with a shake of his graying head, watching his king throw off his cloak, sword and dagger before sliding down the side of the quarry to join the other soldiers hard at work. It never ceased to amuse the older man that his liege lord and king had no qualms whatsoever about throwing off the royal mantle and working alongside his men, thus earning their respect and comradeship.

As Caspian reached the bottom of the slide, he glanced up and spied the large centaur Glenstorm, standing at the head of a large wagon. Glenstorm lifted a huge hand and Caspian returned the gesture, grinning broadly. He strode towards the centaur's post, speaking to a few of his men along the way.

Glenstorm inclined his head respectfully as the king approached. "Sire," he rumbled.

"Greetings, Honored Glenstorm," Caspian said with a smile.

The centaur snorted, the sound very much like that of a horse, with obvious reason. "No need to affix titles, Caspian," the creature told him. "We need no such distinction." He swept a broad hand at the land around them. "We are defined so by our Mother. And our Father." Glenstorm lifted his hand to the sky.

Caspian lifted his head and closed his eyes, feeling the sun's gentle warmth on his cheek. "Ah, what a freedom, my friend." He grinned up at the large centaur. "Sometimes I'm envious."

Glenstorm chuckled. "We should race again. Perhaps Ironhoof will be lenient."

The dark-haired youth flushed, a bit chagrined. Glenstorm laughed this time, placing a hand on the king's shoulder. "Do not fret so, Caspian. Few horses indeed can outrace the centaurs, so do not feel so burdened."

Grinning, the Narnian King conversed a bit more with the centaur leader and his sons, then set to work with his men, cutting and hauling stone for the recovery of Cair Paravel.

Four leagues away, beyond the great Narnian river, past the city of Beruna, and on the other side of the Shuddering Woods, in a tall palace of rock and stone, a young man by the name of General Telfonus irritably paced down the hallway, inexorably headed to the quarters of Doctor Professor Cornelius, councilor and tutor to the young King Caspian.

Dark haired and dark eyed – characteristic of all Telmarines – the general was a handsome man in his very late twenties, tall, steadfast and brave. Currently he was serving his king as General of Caspian's Personal Regiment and Senior Advisor to the throne, neither a position to be taken lightly. Genuinely fond of Telmar's young new king, Telfonus took his duties quite seriously, informally "adopting" the tenth Caspian along with the Professor, Captain Torman and a few select others in order to mold and shape the young man into a king remembered far into history.

But this morning…

General Telfonus was in a bit of a snit. He'd woken early, intent on sharing breakfast with his liege lord and king, only to find the brat missing yet again! Voicing a bellow that no doubt startled the scullery maids into knocking over their dish buckets, the annoyed general abruptly raked the members of the king's personal guard over the metaphorical coals, severely berating the officers for their absolute lack of performance.

One of the suitably cowed soldiers chanced to say, "…General…King Caspian ordered us to stay behind, sir." Swallowing hard before his commander's stern eye, he went on, "…for the protection of Telmar Castle, my lord."

To his credit, General Telfonus hadn't thrown a table against the wall; he merely quelled his ire and whirled about, barked orders to his men and stormed for the Professor's chambers. The Doctor's door was open – thankfully, else Telfonus might have walked straight through it – and the General found the Professor comfortably ensconced within.

Doctor Cornelius looked up from his reading as the tall young man strode in. "Ah," he said in greeting, taking his glasses from his nose, "good morning indeed, General Telfonus." A closer glance and Cornelius added, "I take it you've not had breakfast yet, hm?"

"He's gone again, Cornelius!" Telfonus burst out, waving his arms and stamping in a circle. "Why does he insist on tormenting me so?! It's my job to keep him alive, godsdamnit!"

Telfonus swore vilely for a few more moments, then ran low on steam, straightening his collar and regaining a bit of composure. He eyed the professor speculatively. "I suppose you know the whereabouts of our young renegade?"

Cornelius laced his hands over his paunch, leaning back comfortably in his chair. "Indeed," he replied. "Caspian set out quite early this morning for the quarry." He chuckled to Telfonus' barely audible groan. "Now, now. He'll be all right. Torman will keep him out of trouble."

Telfonus growled under his breath. "That's my job, Professor," he grumped. "I can't protect him if he insists on sneaking out while my back is turned." The general dropped into a vacant chair, head propped on his hand. "Sometimes I think he does this just to make me old."

"Quite possibly, Telfonus," the doctor chuckled. "Our young king is still just a boy, you know, more than likely drunk with his new freedom. Caspian will settle down in time. He's done remarkably well as king thus far. Let him have his bouts of rebellion; no harm will come to him in the woods, the Narnians will see to that."

Telfonus grunted reluctant agreement. "Perhaps. Although I have to disagree about the 'boy', Cornelius. Caspian's now twenty; he's more than grown enough."

"Indeed, General," Cornelius replied. "Grown enough to do as he wishes, as well. A cat's-cradle, it seems," he added with a grin.

The general shot the professor a sour look. "Quite." Sighing heavily, he tipped back his head, staring at the high vaulted ceiling. "Perhaps we should just marry him off. That'd settle him down and I'd get some decent sleep at night…"

Cornelius glanced up from his reading at that. "Funny you should mention it, Telfonus," he mused, searching through the clutter on his desk, finally finding a particular piece of parchment and unrolling it. Perching his glasses back atop his nose, he peered at the sheet, lips moving as he went through the words.

"Ah," he said finally, "here it is." He flicked a glance at the general. "It seems that this is a treaty signed by Caspian IX and Archduke Bornen of Archenland."

Telfonus blinked and rose from his seat, coming to read over Cornelius' shoulder. Lips moving as he read, the general's face suddenly paled and he jerked upright, swearing as he all but ran from the professor's study.

"To horse!" Cornelius heard Telfonus bellow. "We must find King Caspian! Now!"

Glancing back at the parchment, the rotund professor shook his head and sighed. "Ah, my lad. I fear things are about to change…"

And let it be known that, in the presence of these two kings, so are our countries ever tied in bonds of fellowship, which will be brought to the ultimate fruition in the blessed union of our children, the Heir to the Topaz Throne of Telmar in his twentieth year, and a chosen Royal Daughter of the House of Anvard.

Alandra had heard the words a thousand times. Sometimes she fancied those were the only words her elder sister knew. But you mustn't be snide, Alandra, really. Just because Melissande is perfect and will be queen doesn't mean you may be spiteful. Those thoughts firmly in mind, the youngest daughter of Archduke Bornen of Archenland sat back in her coach seat, resolved to just gaze over the land as they rode along.

She didn't know how her father had divined that it was now time for her sister to wed the king, but divined it he had, thus she, her father, her elder brother and her elder sister – as well as a few of their retainers and another coach full of servants – had set out from the capital city of Anvard, traveling north to the land of Telmar, the home of the new young king of Telmar and Narnia, Lord of Cair Paravel and Emperor of the Lone Islands. Apparently this Caspian had amassed quite the empire after the battle with his usurping uncle. Or so the rumors had said.

They were quite enough to impress the beautiful Melissande, who had gushed and fawned appropriately. Tristan had been impressed, but for entirely different reasons than land and title. Apparently the spirit-rousing battles had been sufficient enough to endear the new king to the Archduke's nineteen year old heir, for Tristan longed to meet him and hear tales of the fighting.

But it was only Alandra who had been entranced by the tales that the great Narnian forest had come to life once again. More given to study and literature than her siblings, she had long loved tales of the olden days, the golden age of magic and wonder of the High Country. Her tutors had despaired of her voraciousness in devouring the old dusty tomes, nose buried deep in their tales of unicorns, fauns, centaurs and dwarves that roamed freely in Narnia's kingdom. In her earlier youth, she had often fancied herself walking along beside the High Kings and Queens of old, King Peter and Queen Lucy. And Aslan himself, the Great Lion of Ages who guarded all the lands with his mighty roar.

Perhaps she'd be able to walk in the forest, to see the fauns and other speaking creatures that inhabited the lands. Ceremony and propriety she cared little for; the yearning of the stories pulled her, brought her eagerly to the northern lands of Telmar and Narnia.

Her brother's voice brought her from her reverie. "What're you staring at, Landy?" he asked jovially, using her hated nickname.

Rolling her eyes, she replied tartly, "The trees, Tristy." He jigged her with his elbow, earning her swift response, her own elbow in his chest.

"That's enough, both of you," their father spoke up, frowning. Alandra couldn't ever recall seeing him smile. Archduke Bornen's face was hard and lined, almost weathered. His shock of dark blonde hair he'd given his son, as well as the flinty grey eyes. Yet he was a fair man, respected by his people, even if his methods were a bit harsh at times. He felt one had to rule by force to preserve order and was willing to do whatever it took to protect his family and his lands. And, now that there was a new king on the Topaz Throne at Telmar, he was determined to have that loose end tied up and cinched quite nicely.

The archduke's buckle sat next to him, prim and proper in her soft blue traveling gown. Melissande, the archduke's eldest daughter and his pride and joy, was the very portrait of a queen, from the crown of her onyx-gilded head, with thick black curls that fell in artful dishevelment over slim pale shoulders, to her small slippered feet. Thickly lashed vivid blue eyes were delicately set in a perfectly sculpted porcelain face, soft color only high on her cheeks and deep red in her bow-like lips. Every movement she made was exquisite, the very picture of grace and beauty.

Because of this, or perhaps because he wanted her to be the perfect queen, the archduke had indulged her every whim and fancy. Melissande, while otherwise speaking in a gentle modulated voice that men everywhere held their breath to hear, was prone to fits of the most violent rages should her every desire not be met. Her brother and sister had long ago learned how to deal with her temper tantrums, but the archduke looked forward to the day he could hand off his perfect, yet quarrelsome child to the tenth king of Telmar and have a moment's quiet.

"When will we arrive at Telmar, father?" she asked in that rich vibrant voice.

Bornen's lips curved in what might pass for a smile, providing one knew him. "Tomorrow morning, my dear. Early afternoon at the latest."

Alandra, sitting across from her father, was glad to hear it. Normally she enjoyed travelling, but having to be cooped up in the carriage with her family for three days was a trial for anyone's sanity. She longed to be on horseback, riding pell-mell through the woods, carefree and without thought for anything.

Turning back to the window, she sighed. Perhaps in the bustle and hustle of Telmar, she would be able to slip away from her patron's watchful eye and do some exploring of her own. Her brother would accompany her, no doubt. They were very close, being just ten months apart in age – Alandra's nineteenth birthday was just two short months away. Staring out at the passing landscape, she resolved to shut the world out and lose herself in the magic of the stories once again.

To be continued...