Concluding chapter.


The King of a New Age and the Queen of the Old one stood in silence for some time, each musing over the history just told in that sacred room. Their thoughts were interrupted by a messenger fox that slinked towards them. "My queen, your royal sister bids me tell you that it is time to 'take your shift' out on the overlook."

"Thank you, tell her I will be right there." The fox disappeared down the tunnel and Lucy turned to Caspian. "It's my turn. Will you be alright?"

Caspian gave her a tentative smile. "I should be asking you. I was not reliving that horrible memory."

Lucy squeezed his hand, a silent thank you. "I'll be better once Edmund returns. We all will be."

She turned to leave, but Caspian stopped her with a soft, "Lucy?"

Looking back at him, she raised an eyebrow in question. "Yes?"

He hesitated only slightly. "Thank you. For telling me."

Lucy gave him a small smile. "Thank you for listening. And understanding." With that, she left Caspian alone.

.

Not sure what to do, Caspian wandered slowly down the tunnels, again looking at the paintings that graced the walls, but this time seeing more than just pictures. He saw the lives, the heartaches and joys, of two queens and two kings.

Two Kings, Two Crowns
Silver and Gold crowns

The phrase from before whispered across his mind, words straining from his memory. Why was he remembering this now?

Gold comes, terror Gold
Riding forth, fierce and bold

Caspian gasped as the whole memory came flooding back. Himself, a small child, watching the servant children playing rope-jump in the courtyard, chanting rhymes that he knew, he knew, even as a little boy, hearkened back to the forbidden stories his tutor told him. As in the other rope-jump songs, the children would recite a rhyme then count the number of jumps they completed after the rhyme ended. How many does the Gold one burn? He had never understood that song, never knew what the children were counting. But the Professor, willing as he was to tell the stories behind so many of the rhymes, refused to do so with this one. It was a tale, Caspian was told, not meant for young ears. The refusal had frustrated Caspian, and when all the other play-rhymes disappeared into the abyss of lost memory, this one remained. Not just in whispers now, but the entire rhyme beating in time with his heart. He remembered the rhyme.

And now it made sense.

Caspian stopped short, when he realized that in his daze he had walked to the opening that led to the ledge which surveyed the field in front of the How. From the shadows of the doorway, Caspian saw High King Peter standing at the edge of the overlook, staring out towards the woods where the Telmarines were encamped, hand never leaving the hilt of his sword Rhindon. Lucy stood beside him, her fingers resting lightly on his arm. Seeing them like that, seeing the hard stance of the boy king who now looked nothing like a boy at all, Caspian knew that Lucy's hand was not one of restraint, but one of comfort. A gesture saying that, whatever the High King did, she would support him. Because nothing, not even his little sister, would restrain Peter should his brother come to harm. Just as Lucy had told him.

Just as the little rhyme chanted by Telmarine children warned their fathers:

Two kings, two crowns
Silver and Gold crowns
Lost Silver stand strong
Silver of the right and wrong
Gold comes, terror Gold
Riding forth, fierce and bold
Silver tarnish, Silver dire
Burning west a Golden fire
How many does the Gold one burn?
One, two, three, four…

'Listen to the children, Uncle,' thought Caspian, darkly. 'and do not lay a finger on the Silver Crown, for they know the consequences of harming the brother of the High King. And if you ignore their warning, I will be able to do nothing but stand with the Valiant Queen and watch the Golden Fire burn through Narnia…and count with them.'

How many does the Gold one burn?
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen…


Don't worry, we all know that Edmund made it back safely and Peter doesn't go mad and the Telmarines almost all live happily ever after with the Narnians. But I think Caspian gained a new respect for, and fear of, Peter.