Title: Terror Gold
Disclaimer: I do not own the Chronicles of Narnia
Note: After the Prince Caspian movie came out, this plot bunny bit my heel and hasn't let go until I finally wrote this down. It comes from two things: 1, Peter seems to have an unreasonable hatred of Caspian even before they meet and 2, Edmund's line "Telmarines? In Narnia?" indicated that the Telmarines existed even during the Golden Age and that the Four Sovereigns had dealings with them. Another fancy hit me, about how Telmarine children might learn rhymes concerning the Golden Age, even if the stories were lost, since many children's rhymes have some sort of historical background, like "Ring around the Rosy" and the jump-rope song "Lizzie Borden took an axe". Combine all these things together, and you get this story.
Note 2: This is rated T for references to dark themes (meaning violence and blood).
After the terrible mistake he had made, nearly resurrecting the White Witch, Caspian felt less ready then ever to be one of the leaders of the Narnians. Before, he had just been stewing in anger and blaming the High King for acting so arrogantly. Disappointment and bitterness mixed together as Caspian had sullenly resented being "put in his place" by Peter, who seemed to hate the Telmarine for every breath he took. Then came the White Witch, and Caspian had been enticed by her enchantment, and so had Peter, both kings fallen to temptation. It was not until he had stood up, looking at the angry face of King Edmund that Caspian remembered that Peter was not the only King returned from the Old Days. Edmund had so quietly followed Peter's lead that Caspian had almost forgotten he existed. Until the boy, so many years younger than Caspian, had destroyed the Witch, glaring at them with furious, wise eyes and being ever so much a more noble king than either Peter or Caspian had been acting like thus far.
Perhaps that was why Caspian now watched the younger king during the council of war. Edmund had quickly taken it upon himself to write out the challenge to single combat as Peter dictated, interjecting suggestions as they went. Realization hit Caspian. They had done this before, brother-kings issuing challenges to fierce opponents with ease born of long years. Seeing them as children, Caspian had forgotten that they weren't children, or at least they had not always been so. Once they had been two adult kings in royal finery and majestic crowns, planning battles and duels and ruling Narnia as the Just and the Magnificent. The phrase two kings, two crowns, silver and gold crowns whispered from Caspian's memory, but he just shook his head, ignoring the chanting rhyme as he watched Peter and Edmund work.
"Who will issue the challenge to Miraz, sires?"
All eyes turned to Glenstorm, who had asked the question. Caspian frowned, he had not thought of who would go to the Telmarine camp to deliver the challenge. "I am afraid my uncle will not respect an ambassador who is not…human." Which left them with exactly five people who could go, and Caspian had no idea what the proper choice would be.
Edmund did, apparently. "Well, I'm going of course."
Caspian blinked as the High King's face lost all color. There was fear in those blue eyes, terror that Caspian had never seen in them before, not even going into battle, not even when they were losing the battle. "Ed…"
The younger king raised an eyebrow at his brother. "You would send Susan or Lucy? You obviously can't go, you're the challenger. And we can't send Caspian into danger."
That startled Caspian from ruminating on the strange fear in Peter's face. "What? Why not?"
Edmund gave him a wry look. "The whole point of the single combat and the probable subsequent battle, the reason Aslan most likely brought us here, is to put you on the throne of Narnia. You can't exactly do that if you're dead."
Caspian stared, hearing what Edmund was not saying and seeing it in the guilty look of the High King. No matter how Peter had taken over the leadership of the army, no matter that the High King had not thought about Aslan's will, this entire time King Edmund had been fighting for him, to put Caspian on the throne, not take it himself. He was so taken aback by this that Caspian almost missed Edmund asking Glenstorm and the Giant Wimbleweather to accompany him, in order to intimidate the Telmarines.
As the planning continued, Caspian meant to puzzle over the conundrum of King Edmund's words, but he was distracted by the demeanor of the king's siblings. Peter's face had regained very little of its color, and his eyes seemed to darken every time someone mentioned the embassy to the Telmarines. Caspian might have thought that the High King was only channeling his anger over the Telmarine invasion of Narnia, anger at Telmarines in general. But he remembered the High King's fear, caught sight of the faces of the Queens, and realized that there was something more going on, something the Four Sovereigns were hiding from the rest of the council. Susan's eyes were filled with worry, glancing between her two brothers as if she wanted to bundle both of them up and never let them leave her sight. Lucy, the Valiant queen, was biting her lower lip and…Caspian realized that the young girl was gripping the pommel of her knife until her knuckles turned white.
Yes, there was definitely something more going on. Caspian just had not idea what it could possibly be.
Short first chapter. Actually, I only broke it up into chapter because the story is just long enough to be too much for a one-shot.