A/N: Something has finally happened. Susan and Caspian have split companies, so now there IS reason to read Susan's version of this story. Because she is off having a wild adventure while Caspian goes off on his own little...thing. Anyhow in this chapter we finally get to meet some other important people (BOOKVERSE). Enjoy.
All around me, there was nothing. Absolute desolation. The sun was gone. If it was night then it was a black night with no stars blinking in the heavens or moon to cast a silver light across the land.
Then two points of light shone in the blackness around me: two planets in conjunction in the heavens. I heard a voice speaking in a clear, soft tone. It said:
"Tarva and Alambil have met in the halls of heaven. On earth, a Son of Adam has risen to name the creatures and rule over us."
My heart leapt. Tarva and Alambil. The names sounded familiar, but I couldn't place them. I only knew that they had to do with me in some way or another. Then another voice, low and dangerous, replied to the first.
"A Son of Adam, yes; but which will be chosen? The old or the new? The known or the stranger? The loved or the hated? The trusted or the doubted? Who will be chosen to fulfill the prophecy?"
My stomach flip-flopped as the voice finished its speech. This new voice sounded wicked, and evil. Were the words supposed to mean something?
It's a riddle, I realized, swallowing hard. Am I to figure it out?
"One will be chosen, the other despised," the voice continued, drawing out the 's' in 'despised' so that it sounded like a snake's hissing. "But a time will come when all depends on the unexpected. Twists and turns by the dozen; failings and frustrations—until Narnia faces what may be the end."
There was a bitter, horrible silence until, to my relief, the first voice spoke again.
"Aslan has already decided the fate of Narnia. All we must do is trust in him."
Tarva and Alambil faded away, and I watched, my heart aching as they disappeared into the blackness.
Wait…don't go, I tried to scream, reaching for them. I don't understand…don't know what to believe…
"…you know very well what I believe, Nikabrik, and that is that all we can do is trust in Aslan."
I jerked awake when a low, earthy voice spoke in the silence. To my relief, I found that the darkness, the stars, even the riddle, had all been a dream, for when I cracked my eyes open they were greeted by a warm, welcome brown light that hung heavily in the air around me. From above came the sound of rain thudding rhythmically against the roof of the place in which I lay.
I was lying on a small bed, barely long enough for me to lay stretched out. I was wrapped in a soft brown blanket, and most importantly, I was warm, something I hadn't been since the night of my cousin's birth. I reached up and touched my head, finding a gauzy fabric that seemed to be a sort of bandage. I winced as a sharp pain flashed in my head, and then a dull ache began. There was a coppery taste in my mouth.
"Trust in 'Aslan', you say? Bah. None of those old stories are real, now are they?" another voice said, harsh and low, yet not fully evil. I flinched at the sound, wondering where I was, and whether I was a prisoner.
"Apparently some of them are," said another voice dryly, and there came a few chuckles from the others.
I stared at the wall until my vision cleared, and saw my shadow. A gentle, flickering light seemed to be coming from behind me. I waited for a moment, and then heard a crackle, and then a fizz.
A fire. A wood fire, I thought, grateful for the lessons I had received from Dr Cornelius in observing my surroundings.
"But what are we going to do?" asked a new voice, younger than the others, belonging perhaps to a boy about my age. "I still don't understand what all this means."
"Neither do the rest of us," replied yet another voice, younger still, "but it shouldn't be too hard to figure out, once he's awake."
Curiosity overwhelming me, I rolled onto my back and landing squarely on my wounded arm—ouch!—and then turned my head to face the fire. From my new position, I could just barely make out the silhouettes of five people, sitting between me and the fire. Two of them were tall, perhaps Telmarine soldiers, I thought with a shudder. I had been captured. Now they would turn me in to Miraz, and I would be…
Wait…didn't one of them mention Aslan? I wondered suddenly, hope filling my heart. Perhaps they're not Telmarines. Perhaps they mean to help Susan and—
My heart skipped a beat. Susan. I sat up quickly, but then jerked to a stop when another wave of pain crashed through my head. This time I could not stifle a moan as I clenched my jaw, trying to stop my head from spinning.
The five figures all started; they all turned to look at me with fearful, startled expressions. I was surprised to see that the two tall figures, whom I had assumed to be the Telmarine soldiers, were really two boys, and the smaller figures were short men with long beards. I couldn't make out the fifth figure, but it lunged toward me, putting a gentle hand on my shoulder and pushing me back down. I closed my eyes as I sank back to the bed, head throbbing.
"Lie still, now," it said in what I recognized to be the earthy voice that I'd heard upon awakening. "That head of yours won't take kindly to any jerking about."
I opened my eyes to see what this person looked like, and let out a shout of surprise when I realized what it was.
It was unmistakable: the white patches on its cheeks and the long, slender snout with whiskers at the end. The creature before me was a badger.
"You can…can talk?" I gasped; my heart was beating wildly, and I wondered that I did not faint, so great was my amazement.
The two short men stepped closer, and I now saw that they were not men, as I had first thought, but dwarves, one with a black beard, and one with a red one.
"Obviously," the red dwarf remarked dryly, raising an eyebrow and searching my face with a sharp gaze.
The black dwarf drew a knife and took a step toward me.
"Just as I thought. Only a Telmarine wouldn't know of talking beasts." He spat the word out like poison. "Let's kill it now."
The two boys sprang to their feet. My eyes widened, and I grabbed for my sword only to find, to my dismay, that it was no longer by my side. I sat up, and my head spun; I scrambled backward as quickly as I could. Swallowing my fear and panic, though my eyes were wide with fright, I watched my attacker warily.
To my relief, the red dwarf stepped in the black dwarf's way.
"That's quite enough from you, Nikabrik," he said warningly. "We're not going to be killing anyone."
"Do try to behave yourself," the badger added. "After all, the boy isn't going to be leaving anytime soon; not with that bruise on his forehead."
Another wave of pain and nausea hit me like a brick wall, and I grabbed my head with my hands, gritting my teeth and trying not to cry out. The badger pushed me back patiently and put a surprisingly cool hand on my forehead—surprisingly cool for all the fur, that is.
"Just what I feared," it murmured. "Your fever's back. Look what you've done now, Nikabrik. Frightening the poor lad with threats of murder."
The badger gave the black dwarf an admonishing look and then waddled over to a table, coming back with something in its hands.
"Drink," it instructed, holding a cup to my lips.
I sat up slightly and did as ordered. The liquid that flowed down my throat was sweet, but it scalded my tongue, and I swallowed quickly. When all the liquid was gone, I rested my head back on the pillow. Then, I remembered the questions that pressed to be asked.
"How…how long have I been unconscious?" I asked the badger, wincing at the hoarseness of my voice.
"It has been a day and a half since we found you outside our door," it replied, sitting down in a chair nearby and watching me with bright brown eyes.
"What is this place?"
The black dwarf made an impatient motion.
"Do you really expect us to answer that?" he snarled. "Just so you can escape and betray us to your Telmarine friends."
I shrugged and glanced at the two boys, who were watching me warily from beside the fire. They hadn't spoken since they'd known I was awake, though I was certain that their voices were the ones I had recognized as the younger ones. Suddenly, another question, so important that I half sat up again, entered my mind.
One of the boys gasped, and the other made a sharp movement, betraying his surprise. After exchanging a look, the taller boy stepped toward me. His eyes were blue like the black dwarf's, but they weren't nearly as cold.
"Susan? Not Susan Pevensie? You've seen her?"
I sat up a bit straighter, ignoring the pain in my head as well as I could, and glared at the boy defiantly.
"I swear if you've done anything to hurt her, I'll—"
I choked on my fury, unable to finish the sentence. The tall boy let out a genuine laugh, turning to the smaller boy.
"Hurt her? Us?"
I watched him with growing apprehension and curiosity. Finally, the question that welled up in my mind could not be held back any longer.
"Who are you?"
The boy glanced at the other boy, and then bowed slightly-a bit awkwardly.
"Peter Pevensie, once King of Narnia. This is my brother, Edmund, also a King. And the reason that we would not hurt Susan—if, of course, we knew where she was—is that she is our sister."
I gasped audibly as this sank in. My eyes darted from one to another. Edmund bowed slightly when my gaze fell on him and watched me curiously. Peter met my gaze squarely; our eyes stayed locked for a moment.
High King Peter the Magnificent. It had to be him, for although he was much younger than the King Peter who'd fought Giants and held court in the old tales and histories, there was something about the way he moved, the way he met my gaze with a wisdom beyond his years in his ancient blue eyes; something noble. Something magnificent.
Awestruck, I bowed my head, for it was not often one found oneself in the presence of a king—much less the High King of legend. I would have knelt but that being in bed made the idea seem both melodramatic and ridiculous.
"Your Majesty," I stammered instead, "I…I never even imagined…that is, I didn't mean—"
"Hang it, Peter, say something," King Edmund put in. "Heaven knows what he's heard about us, but if they've been saying that you have to stare at the ground when we're in the vicinity we'd best set him straight at once."
There was a wryness in his voice, young and boyish though it was, that made me glance up. There was a sparkle of mischief in those brown eyes as he grinned and said, "That's more like it," a sparkle that made the knot in my stomach unclench if only a little.
"Edmund's right," King Peter added, the noble ancientness in his eyes shifting to apology. "I didn't mean to frighten you. We mean you no harm; and if, as you say, you are concerned for my sister (if she was the Susan you were talking about) I don't see that we have any cause to mistrust you."
A growl from one side made the knot in my stomach re-clench. The black dwarf was glaring at me, looking as though he'd rather run an arrow through me than sit watching.
"There's plenty of cause to mistrust him," he said loudly. "Ain't he a Telmarine? Ain't he dressed in royal-looking clothes?"
"Never seen any royal clothes so ripped up looking before," muttered the red dwarf, while I flushed self-consciously. "And yet he doesn't talk like a commoner."
"What can you tell us of Susan?" asked King Peter, ignoring all the others.
"Who are you?" asked the red dwarf, furrowing his orangey eyebrows and stroking his beard.
"And why shouldn't we just kill you right now?" the black dwarf blasted, drawing his knife.
I jerked back at his shout, and a sudden twinge of pain reminded me of my arrow-wound. I winced and grabbed my upper arm with my left hand. Before I knew it, the badger was at my elbow, holding my arm in its furry hands—paws?—and inspecting it carefully.
"Stop with your questions, my friends; they'll wait until our young friend is healed. What's this?" it asked, pulling my tunic sleeve back to reveal the bloody gash that was torn across the back of my arm—just below the shoulder. "I didn't see this before."
"Arrow," I grunted, flinching as the badger prodded the skin around the wound. "Not as bad as it could be."
Edmund pushed past his brother and stood beside the badger.
"The arrowhead's still in there," he said after a moment. "It'll have to come out."
I raised my gaze and found him staring at me with compassionate brown eyes. I nodded, and then fell back on the bed. My head was spinning like mad. I opened my eyes to say something, but everything was blurry, and then seemed to be very far off. Dark fringes closed in on the bright colors, and then everything went black again.
A/N: Poor Caspian. It seems almost every chapter 'everything goes black' or something. :P Hopefully after this he'll stop fainting and get over it. Comments? I would love to hear from you. :)