So we come to an end of the journey. This is the final chapter of "Points on a Compass," and it ties all four lands together. This chapter took forever to write, because I wasn't sure how to approach it, but now, I think it's my favorite. It's also dedicated to Miniver, who has helped me brainstorm ideas and who has given lovely feedback the entire way through. Thanks so much.
This chapter relies heavily on The Last Battle so there are lots of spoilers. The events proceed as the events of the novel do. That being said, I don't even imagine that I own anything in the seven Chronicles. They all belong to C.S. Lewis.
Chapter Five: Further Up and Further In
"Once a king or queen of Narnia, always a king or queen. May your wisdom grace us until the stars rain down from the heavens."
Digory Kirke stared in amazement at the five children before him, though he and Polly were hardly any older now. Gazing in wonder at the world around him, he couldn't help but feel some certainty that they were back in Narnia—or something very similar. Oh, it did not look like Narnia, but the feel of it was the same. He laughed as the five children greeted each other, Eustace and Jill rapidly relaying their adventure to their friends. The youngest of the five did look marvelous in what had to be Narnian attire, but Digory's eyes were diverted toward the three Pevensie children.
He had never doubted their sovereignty over Narnia. No, the change he had seen in them was far too extreme. No longer were they children haunted by a war and difficult times, but rather a family who had seen years of hardship and joy. Now, crowns atop their heads and weapons at their sides, they exuded nobility and love. Never in England had Digory seen such a glow in their eyes, such smiles on their lips. He felt the sudden urge to bow, for here were monarchs worthy of their titles: Valiant, Just, and Magnificent.
As they stood before the giant Doorway, Jill stared in awe at the darkened land before them. She had never known Narnia like the others—she had never seen it in its glory. All the same, she loved it dearly. She jumped when Aslan roared, gripping Eustace's hand tightly. In the distance, beyond Narnia's marshes, she saw a giant, dark shape rise. She remembered seeing him—Father Time—beneath the moors, sleeping, waiting. His time had come.
On her left, Peter gasped, and she cast him a sidelong look. She saw Lucy squeeze his hand tightly and remembered that the North was Peter's domain. Jill noticed Peter clench the hilt of his sword, feet assuming a battle stance. She knew how often he had battled the Northern Giants. Pale faced, the High King watched as the giant blew into his horn, suddenly illuminated by the thousands of stars falling from the sky. The king's eyes gleamed in their light as he gazed at the clear northern skies for the last time.
To her right, Eustace gasped, whispering to her of the Star he had met lifetimes ago. Streaking the sky silver, Jill blinked, turning away from the practically unbearable brightness. Her eyes found Aslan, and to her surprise, she found Him looking at the Peter, Edmund, and Lucy. Puzzled, she turned to her friends, only to find them staring in wonder at the great Lion.
And then He spoke, barely audible. "Well done, my children, well done indeed."
When the rain of stars ended, Eustace was horrified to find dragons slithering across Narnia. He gulped, dropping Jill's hand and clenching his fist. Dragons were horrid, horrid creatures. He knew from experience. As they slithered across Narnia, chasing the good creatures from their home, he saw Lucy clasp her hands together tightly. Eustace knew that it was only Edmund's hand on her shoulder that stopped her from racing forward.
As the scampering of feet faded away, a great cracking rattled the air. The forests were being demolished. Eustace saw the dragons tear through tree after tree. In front of them, Narnia was being destroyed, its forests devastated. Trees tumbled to the ground, and grass withered beneath heavy feet. In the West, Eustace saw the light of what he knew to be a lamppost glinting in the darkness before it was extinguished, squashed by a monstrous weight. The light vanished, the barren, rock world illuminated by the glowing of the fallen stars. He heard the clanging of metal and turned to find Edmund had drawn his sword. A ragged whisper escaped the young king's lips, and Eustace felt his skin chill.
"It looks like she's done this." To see these great western woods so stone-like, so very much like statues must be tearing at his cousin, a man who had spent his life protecting these woods from the Witch's influence.
And then, Edmund turned to Aslan, apologizing, faithful. His eyes full of longing, he slowly sheathed his sword.
For the first time in his life, Eustace saw his stoic cousin cry.
King Tirian could hardly breathe for all of the excitement of the past few days. First he had been at war, aided by two children from another world, and now he was standing in the midst of the kings and queens of old, watching his country perish. The agony was terrible. Unlike the dignified lords and ladies beside him, Narnia was his only world, his only home. He loved it with all of his soul.
As stillness enveloped his barren lands, he snuck a glance at Narnia's three Golden Monarchs. Despite their explanation, he wondered at the absence of Queen Susan. He remembered King Peter's bitter tone and King Edmund's stricken expression. Of the three, Queen Lucy had struck him the most. Her beauty radiant, her sadness heart-wrenching as she mourned the loss of her sister.
Now, as he gazed upon her, he saw her countenance change. In fact, both she and her brothers were now staring raptly at the Door. His head swiveling, he found that the craggy hills and sharp mountains of the barren world were but islands. Rushing toward them from the other end of the world, the Eastern Seas glistened in the starlight, foaming, hiding Narnia beneath a blanket of water.
He heard a gasp and turned to find Queen Lucy had clapped a hand over her mouth. "Oh. Oh my."
She dropped to her knees, twirling her fingers in the water that lapped at the Doorway. "Aslan's Country," she murmured to herself, gazing up at the golden Lion thoughtfully.
"Beyond the Eastern Ocean is Aslan's Country."
As the sun rose, overly large and blood red, Polly remembered the first sunrise in Narnia. How very different things had been then. To see the first and last sunrise of a world was truly a blessing. She exchanged a look with Digory and knew that he too was remembering. Remembering a lifetime, another world, a long-ago adventure, and all of the stories that had come since. Polly remembered a girl, as radiant as the sun, as graceful as a queen.
As the moon and sun became one, spouting fire into the steaming ocean, she remembered stories of this sun, told with passion and love. Memories of a golden, gentle sun, very different from the one she gazed upon now. And as the giant squashed the sun, extinguishing the last life in Narnia, Polly wept for the radiant southern sun.
She wept, for its queen was not here to do so.
It was a dream, Susan knew it to be one, and yet it was all so real. Realer than anything she had ever seen in her life. She watched as Narnia perished beneath water and Lucy's tears at the loss of their country. She ached for her sister—she knew Lucy's pain—and yet she could not help but feel smug in having washed her hands of that business before encountering any other hurts.
Even if Narnia had been real, it no longer existed.
But as Susan watched her brothers and sister, racing through the green countryside, Dogs at their feet, Eagles soaring above, she felt a wound re-open. They did not know it yet, but this, this was the land she had loved.
Her heart ached when they realized it, shouts ringing in her ears.
"Those hills," her sister cried, pointing south, "the nice woody ones, and the blue ones behind—aren't those like the Southern border of Narnia?"
Susan knew them to be, yet they were more were more beautiful—realer—than anything she had ever encountered in Narnia.
"Look!" exclaimed Edmund excitedly, "there's Mount Pire with his forked head and the pass into Archenland and everything!"
Susan couldn't help but share in her brother's enjoyment, wishing to whirl him around as she had once done so many years ago. Narnia's South, restored! It was as if they had never left! She imagined trailing through the forests again, swimming in the rivers. Oh, to go home!
Rather than join in her excitement, her siblings were strangely silent, exchanging saddened looks.
And then she remembered. She was not there. This was a dream.
Still, she could not help the delight that bloomed in her chest when Farsight the Eagle began to describe the land below—illustrating the Great River that still snaked through Narnia's South, and beside it, the Stone Table.
The Stone Table. The symbol of redemption.
She watched as joy lighted on Peter's face at the mention of Ettinsmoor, and how Edmund grinned when he heard of Beaversdam. Eyes gleaming, Lucy clasped her hands together, delighting in the notion of Cair Paravel still resting on the Eastern Ocean.
The Eagle's next words echoed in her mind. "Narnia is not dead. This is Narnia."
And as the Professor began to explain how this could be, how they could be back, Susan realized she had been mistaken all along. Narnia had never turned its back on her; she had never been exiled. No, she was only banished from a copy of the world she loved. She had broken her promise to forever look after the lands beneath the radiant southern sun.
This was a dream, yes, but Susan knew it was also a reality.
"I have come home at last!" brayed the Unicorn, brandishing its pearly horn. "This is my real country! I belong here! This is the land I have been looking for all of my life, though I never knew it until now."
The words pierced the gentle queen's heart like one of her arrows. And she knew then. She knew that someday she would go home. That someday, she would be reunited with the world she held so dear, with the people she had forgotten. Susan knew that she could never erase what she had done, but she could remember Narnia's radiant southern sun everyday until Aslan called her home.
Edmund's breath hitched at the sight of Cauldron Pool and the Great Waterfall. To the south, he knew was Lantern Waste.
The others racing toward the Pool, he hesitated, sinking to the ground, leaning against one of the great oaks of the Western Woods. For the second time that day—or had it been years?—he felt his eyes fill with tears. To have seen the destruction of these woods and then, shortly after, their resurrection was too much to bear.
Staring around at these beautiful, massive trees, Edmund momentarily felt as if this forest was not his own. It was like when he had been crowned—he hadn't believed he deserved such a magical place. And now, after years of becoming acquainted with his people, his land, these woods, he was once again a stranger. These trees, this Waterfall, everything was far more beautiful than he deserved.
And yet, no.
Edmund knew this land. He had poured his heart and soul into this forest. He had spilled blood among these ferns. This was still his forest. Just as these woods were a brighter copy of their former so selves, so was he.
Everything he had learned in Narnia seemed to point to the beautiful restoration of the great Western Woods.
Death begets life—a life far more splendid than the one before it.
Aslan's death, his own redemption, and finally these striking woods. All part of the cycle of destruction and restoration.
Feeling the rough bark of the tree behind him, Edmund knew that this was life fully redeemed. Seeing these woods in all their glory, the barren wasteland was but a vague memory. This was reality.
Later, Edmund would gaze at his land from the heart of a garden, deep in the mountains. He would see the silhouette of each tree, casting shadows over sparkling rivers and vibrant ferns. He would see a lamppost, ever-bright, always a reminder of his marvelous gift: a second chance.
His mind at ease, he would greet his friends, his people. Those he had thought were forever lost to him. The Beavers were first, his oldest Narnian friends, happy at the prospect of an eternity with their king. He would find the dryads, the birds, the fauns, and every other creature delighted to find King Edmund had returned. Delighted to know their just king had come home.
And then, Edmund would know. He would know that he had done his duty. That the splendor before him would exist forever, free of danger, free of evil. He had proven himself. Edmund would know that he need not fear his past, that now all he must do is embrace the joys of Narnia's great Western Woods, for redemption is forever.
"Further up and further in!" The cry reverberated through Peter's bones. Further up and further in, to Narnia! He plunged into Cauldron Pool after the Unicorn, relishing in the cool water that soaked his skin.
Feeling his sword slap his leg, he felt the phantom of a worry shoot through his mind for his precious weapon. And then he heard Lucy's laugh and the thunder of the falls and the yipping of the Dogs, and Peter realized that here, it was impossible to worry about anything.
Swimming easily, Peter gilded through the water, staring in wonder as the Unicorn began the ascent, its horn causing the water to cascade toward the ground in two, gleaming rivers. Not stopping to think, Peter followed.
Up, he swam, though he was hardly sure if he was swimming or climbing. He swam higher and higher until Cauldron Pool was a small blue spot on the ground. Somehow, he stopped, gazing around in awe at the lands spread before him, water spraying around him.
This was a vantage point Peter was familiar with. Seeing Narnia spread before him like a map, Peter felt his heart soar like the griffins he had once ridden so many years ago. He imagined that he no longer needed a griffin to fly—that he was perfectly capable of doing so on his own.
There, to the south, was Lantern Waste, and even further, the pass to Archenland. He could see the ocean shining in the sunlight, an endless stretch of blue, framed by sand as white as snow. He gulped, turning his head North.
There was no giant lumbering over Narnia's marshes now. Instead, Peter found himself gazing at a vibrantly green field, speckled with patches of water. Still treading water, he looked south of the marshes, hardly believing that the emerald land before him could be his bleak moors. And yet, they were, for just south was the River Shribble, those strangely beautiful hills, and Owlwood Forest.
Peter wondered how marsh-wiggles behaved in this new country.
Squinting, he found he could see the waterfall he had flown over so many times. If possible, the water was the brightest blue he had ever seen. He could even see the griffins soaring over the surf, diving from the cliffs.
He wanted nothing more than to join them. To see Narnia as he had during her Golden Age—soaring through the clear northern skies as King Peter the Magnificent.
"Further up and further in!"
And yet Peter knew. Somehow he just knew that Narnia's magnificently restored North would wait for an eternity to greet her king once again. That steeper mountains, richer orchards, and bluer waters awaited him beyond these falls. Peter knew that somewhere, in the highest and most beautiful of mountains, Aslan waited, and that then, his King would show him beauty he never could have imagined in his clear, northern skies.
Standing arm in arm with her dearest Narnian friend, Mr. Tumnus, Lucy felt fit to burst with happiness. Around her, old friends chattered, happily exchanging greetings and stories, and she couldn't help but smile at Mr. Tumnus every couple of moments.
There was Reepicheep and Caspian and dear little Trumpkin. Further back was Trufflehunter and Patterwig the Squirrel and even the Bulgy Bears. Spotting Aravis and Cor and Corin, Lucy waved brightly, remembering all of the times she had spent in their company. Lucy couldn't help but grin when she found Peter conversing animatedly with Oreius and Glenstorm, thinking that if there was any sort of trouble in this world (which she highly doubted) Peter and Edmund would have an awfully hard time finding it. She spotted Edmund speaking with the Beavers, a soft expression of his face.
And Lucy, Lucy reveled in the company of Mr. Tumnus, a friend she had thought never to see again.
"Mr. Tumnus, look!" She gazed in wonder at Cair Paravel, glittering in the white sand. "Oh, Mr. Tumnus! I can see my bedroom through a window in the castle, and through there, I can see the ocean!"
She stood in amazement, marveling at this wondrous new ability. She gasped in delight, grasping the Faun's hand tightly.
"Oh, my! I can see all of the islands, Mr. Tumnus. There's Terebinthia and the Seven Isles! Why, I can even see the all of the places we stopped on the Dawn Treader! And there's the Sea of Lilies and even the underwater castle!"
She clasped her hands together, twirling to face her friend, eyes shining. "It's all still here, Mr. Tumnus. Every last bit of it! Do you think they remember me? Oh, I do hope they do!"
And the Faun laughed. "I don't know how they could possibly forget you, Queen Lucy. You are their queen."
She laughed happily, eyes roaming across the glistening eastern sea, heart pounding, cheeks rosy with excitement. She could hardly wait to board The Splendour Hyaline and submerge herself in the vibrant cultures of the island people.
"And I shall sail to the end of the world once more!" she exclaimed happily, laughing as she wondered what was at the end of the world in a world that never ended.
And then, to her amazement she found her gaze focusing on a mountain beyond the Eastern Sea, a mountain that they had once called Aslan's Country. And beyond that, beyond her Eastern Seas—
"Oh, Peter! Edmund! Come quickly! Why, it's England! I can see Mum and Dad!"
And it was true. Just as this was a purer, truer Narnia, the three Pevensie children found themselves gazing upon the true England.
Lucy laughed delightedly. "Beyond the Eastern Seas! There is always some great wonder there!"
And as if on cue, a great horn rang throughout the glorious mountains, its clear cry calling them, calling them further up and further in.
When Aslan appeared, the valiant queen remembered the yearning that had always accompanied the love of her Eastern Oceans. Radiant, the great Lion's eyes glistened, and when he spoke, it was the clearest sound any of them had ever heard.
As he smiled proudly at the three Pevensies, his kings and queen, Lucy knew without a doubt. She knew that this was what her heart had dreamt of all those years. That this was the mystery that lay beyond end of world, the dream she had never been able to imagine. And as Lucy remembered the Golden Age, a ruined Cair Paravel, The Dawn Treader, the roaring ocean that had destroyed Narnia, she knew in her heart of hearts that step by step the glistening eastern seas had brought her to Aslan.
To her true country.
"And as He spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great a beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us, this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them, it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before."
C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle
Thank you so much for reading and reviewing throughout this story. I'm really rather fond of the entire thing, I think. It's very different than anything I've ever done before. Please review one last time, and let me know your thoughts on this chapter, or the entire story as a whole.
Thanks again, and God bless.