A/N: Hoo boy, this one has been bouncing around for a long time. This went through several drafts before I finally settled upon a style I liked. As I've put so much thought into this story as a whole and so much work into getting the first part OUT, I'm bound and determined to see this thing through to the end. So keep me accountable. ;) Many many thanks to Inky and Cherokee for agreeing to beta this for me and to the e-Inklings for support. Also... this one goes out to Elecktrum. Thanks for letting me bounce a few ideas off you and being gracious enough to allow me to borrow a bit of your awesome work for later chapters. :D Okay, enough of that. On with the story.
Every now and then an afternoon would come in the Waste where the weather was nothing short of spectacular. Warm sunlight filtered down through the treetops to the ground below, unhampered by a cloudless sky. It may have been summertime, and thus expected to be somewhat hot, but such this went beyond the general warmth. The gentle breeze coupled with the dazzling display of light as it meandered its way through the canopy of leaves brought with it a warmth not just to the skin, but to the soul as well. For any fortunate enough to be out and about on such a day, it would be difficult to feel anything but pure bliss from the dance of sunbeams all around them.
Difficult, but not impossible.
The figure pacing about in a small clearing was evidence enough of that. A lone unicorn stallion moved back and forth in a little circle, light glinting off his indigo horn and coaxing its way through his mane in an effort to soften the dark expression on his face. A brave attempt, but an unsuccessful one. For the thoughts flitting through the unicorn's mind were anything but pleasant, and the war between the warm without and the cold within was no contest. His face was as rigid as rock, dark eyes dull and perhaps somewhat chilled, his steps pensive. He shook his mane, the soft sound of his hoofbeats on the grass increasing a little as he started to pace faster.
From the trees came a soft but firm voice, as effortless as the breeze surrounding the clearing.
"You don't have to do this if you're not ready, you know."
Perched atop a nearby rock sat the source of the voice, blending in rather well with the leafy canopy above and behind her. It was what seemed to be a woman, but upon looking at her closer, her manner gave her away as not a woman but a dryad. Something different in her movement, her voice, her expression – difficult to describe but unmistakable to any familiar with the subtle differences. She looked up on the unicorn with a compassionate face, saying nothing more than the few words she'd just spoken.
The stallion looked back to her, shaking his head. He took a breath before he spoke in a firm voice, "If I waited until I was ready this would never be done. No. The time is now or never. And if this is to do any good, it must be now."
The dryad couldn't tell whether his words were meant to convince her or the stallion himself. Letting a simple nod suffice as her reply, the dryad took up a quill and parchment. Made from plant fibers, yes, but all given by friends of hers who knew what purpose they would be used for – and who thought it a worthy cause. Glancing back to the unicorn and giving another small nod, she waited.
For his part, the unicorn halted his pacing for a moment, weighing for what seemed like the hundredth time the numerous reasons not to do this quite yet. All of them seemed mere excuses to the single reason he could think of to act now – that if he didn't, he never would. And he needed to do it at some point.
Resolved, he turned to the dryad. "Take this down."
And as he spoke, the dryad dutifully wrote down every word.
My name is Jasper, and this is a story that must be told.
It is the story of a young rabbit, lost and separated from his family, unfortunate enough to take a wrong turn that would lead to his fate.
It is the story of a brave fox, seeking to make a difference and paying a terrible price.
It is the story of countless others – dwarfs, dryads, dogs, horses, fauns, satyrs, centaurs – I cannot even hope to list them all.
And it is also my story.
The story of a rash unicorn who thought he could solve a problem and ended up finding himself in much deeper waters than he intended, finding the consequences to be more than he could ever imagine.
These stories may, on the surface, all seem to be very different. But at their very core there is a vein that beats the same in them all. That is the tie that links us. The chasms dividing us are great. But this solitary thread is enough to bring us all together.
We are survivors, trying to cope with the memories of our past. They are painful. They are unpleasant. They are hardly even speakable, the horrors that we have seen.
As difficult as it is, however, speak of them we must. As terrifying as it is to us, and as frightening as it may be for others to read, ours are stories that must be told.
I was told that I was the first to experience these things, the first to feel the effects of the common link that we all now share. As such, I believe that it is up to me to start the process of telling these stories.
It is my hope that in talking about what we have tried to hide for such a long time, we can finally begin to heal. It was not just our bodies that were turned to stone – no, it went much deeper than that. Our hearts, our very souls, were shaken and frozen as well. Aslan was able to set our bodies straight. And as to the rest, his breath was able to kindle the flame to melt our petrified hearts and souls. It is up to us to fan that flame, however. Perhaps in telling my story, I will finally be able to come to terms with what I have seen and felt. Even now I am not certain I am ready to set these words to paper through one of my closest friends. But with her support and the grace of Aslan, I hope to make it through, and in doing so, find comfort. And to lead others to do the same.
We may be pained by these memories. But we must remember one other thing: not only are we survivors, we have been given a second chance. Though it may not appear as we expect it to, those of us who have felt the effects of the Witch's wand have another chance to live life as the Lion would want us to.
I am taking that chance in the best way I can think of. I choose not to let these thoughts haunt me a moment longer. And it is my wish that I will lead others to make the same choice.
For as long as these memories plague our minds, her hold is still felt. Only when we let the flame left in our hearts grow enough to melt the icy chains that bind such thoughts to us will we be truly free.
And it is only then that Narnia will be rid of her forever.