Title: Beneath the Traitor Sun
Summery: An eclipse, a reformed traitor, and an ancient myth all come together as the Free Narnians make their next move. To bad that remnants of the Witch's army have a similar plan. Sequel to King's Bane.
Disclaimer: I own diddly squat
AN – If you haven't read King's Bane, then you're going to be very confused. I'd go read that first. There'll be little bits of recapping. Next, I'm going to ask you to bear with me. This is the first time I've gone about writing a sequel.
Chapter One is brought to you by the common cold.
"Every uncorrected error and unrepented sin is, in its own right, a fountain of fresh error and fresh sin flowing on to the end of time." CS Lewis
Peter drummed his fingers on the arm of his throne. The rather rotund Duke in front of him continued on and on, complaining loudly of the problems he was having with a nearby dwarf clan. The Duke – whose name was Merado – normally dealt with Edmund. Before having to deal with the man himself, Peter had thought his younger brother to simply be exaggerating.
He was now being corrected in his assumption, and was wishing vehemently that he didn't have to deal with Merado at all. But Peter mentally kicked himself, and was forced to remember why he, instead of Edmund, had to deal with the pompous Duke.
"So I said to this Wicket, or Micket, or whatever that detestable dwarf's name was, that if he can not abide by my rules, he could go ahead and leave Lantern Waste. After all, it was his family that was ripping up the ground to get at their precious metals and disturbing the peace. And then, your Majesty, do you know what that bearded excuse for a Narnian said to me?"
"I suppose you'll tell me either way," Peter answered. Idly, he wondered if Merado realized that the 'detestable excuse for a Narnian' was standing near the door of the throne room, listening to the Duke's rant. The Lord Smith of the Lantern Waste clan of dwarves – whose name wasn't Wicket or Micket, but in fact Rickanarrbrik – simply leaned against the wall and allowed Merado to dig his own grave.
Merado merely confirmed Peter's suspicions by plowing onwards. "I won't use his exact wording, your Majesty, as it is much too crude and disgusting for these halls."
Peter held up a hand for Merado to quiet, and looked to Rickanarrbrik. "What did you tell him, Lord Smith?"
"Nothin' too bad, High King Peter," said the dwarf with a shrug and a smirk. Peter felt apprehension brew in his stomach. Edmund was generally the four monarch's chief diplomat in all things concerning dwarves. Many times, Edmund's scathing wit and sarcasm was the only thing to get through to them.
Of course, that was before…
Peter was jolted from his reverie as he realized he had missed the dwarf's words. "I'm sorry," he said. "But could you repeat yourself, Rickanarrbrik?"
"I said," said the dwarf slowly, as if doubting Peter's intelligence. "That his grace – with all due respect, natur'ly – could kindly take his peace and shove it up where the sun can't touch, Majesty."
Peter blinked once, and tried to keep a straight face. He failed. Miserably.
Merado noticed at once, and stamped his foot. "Your Majesty, this is hardly a laughing matter! I demand that my complaint be met with respect!"
"Believe me, Duke Merado," said Peter seriously. "Your complaint is being met with all the respect it deserves."
Merado's face turned an interesting shade of red. He sputtered for a moment, and then burst out with, "I demand to serve my complaint to King Edmund!"
"I'm with Cherry-Cheeks," said Rickanarrbrik, and had it not been for what the two were suggesting, Peter may've laughed at the nickname. "I want to talk to King Edmund."
"I'm sorry," said Peter. His voice was sharp and his words clipped. "But King Edmund is not holding court."
"He hasn't been in court for months, your Majesty," protested Merado loudly. "And I demand to know the reason!"
The reason, Peter was tempted to tell them, was that anyone coming to the Cair may be an enemy to his brother. It had only been about three months since a terrorist cell composed of Narnians – they referred to themselves as the 'Free Narnians' – had attempted to assassinate Edmund. They had had used a toxin known as King's Bane to fell the young king. It caused Edmund to have terribly vivid hallucinations of his worst nightmares coming to life. Peter wanted to bellow at the Duke and Lord Smith how, even now, whenever Edmund woke from slumber he was plagued by illusions so real, he couldn't separate them from reality half of the time.
Instead, Peter met Merado's gaze squarely and didn't move, even when the Duke broke the stare down. "It is not your place, Merado, to question the authority of the High King," he said icily. Everyone gathered in the throne room grew silent and watched. "It should suffice your curiosity enough when I say that my brother is not holding court. Now, continue your issue with Lord Smith Rickanarrbrik."
With a slight bow of the head, Merado continued on in his tirade about Rickanarrbrik. Peter's attention, however, was quickly placed elsewhere as Philip nosed his way into the room, and quickly trotted over to Sir Giles Fox, the chamberlain. Merado sent an annoyed glance towards them, but kept on talking. Peter, however, felt his stomach plunge as he watched the pair converse in quiet whispers.
Every muscle in Philip's body was tense, and Giles' ears went flatter and flatter as the Horse whispered to him. Peter knew what that meant.
"So sorry to interrupt," Giles said, not looking at all apologetic. "But his Majesty High King Peter is needed in the library. There is an urgent matter that needs attending."
Peter was all ready on his feet and walking towards the door, Philip in his wake.
Merado called after him. "But…But my complaint, Majesty!"
The dwarf answered him. "Let him go. There's more important things that this."
"No one was talking to you, Ticket!"
"Oi! My name's not Ticket, its Rickanarrbrik! Rick-uh-nar-brick!"
The door slammed, and effectively cut off the arguing. "Where is he?" Peter asked as king and Horse swept quickly through the halls.
Philip snorted, knowing very well that Peter didn't enquire as too Edmund's physical location. "I think the Witch's Dungeons, your Majesty."
Peter swore and continued on his hurried way.
"Not real," Edmund whispered quietly to himself. He had one arm bent against the wall, and his head bowed. He shivered against the freezing air around him. "It's not real."
A freezing finger trailed down the back of his neck, and he shuddered. "Isn't it?" asked the Witch.
"Peter's coming," Edmund said in response. "You're not real."
"Of course I am, Edmund dear," she whispered before viciously backhanding him across the face. Edmund bit back a slight sob, his knees shaking.
"I was in the Library, I was reading," he said. "You can't be here."
"But I am here," Jadis crooned softly. "I'm always here. Don't fret, child. I am going no where."
Edmund frowned. Wait…
She grabbed his chin and forced him to look up. "Edmund, Edmund," she said. "You're home with me."
"Yes, yes," the witch continued. "With me. With your real family, where you belong."
"Peter!" he gasped and nearly went wept at the realization. "You're Peter!"
The next part always made Edmund woozy and sick, but even closing his eyes didn't help. The icy walls flickered and shifted, flashing from their blaring white to the sandy walls of the library. Walls and bars became shelves and stacks of books, and the freezing air quickly rose to warmth. The Witch's sneering, cruel face seemed to stretch and pull until it became Peter's concerned one.
Edmund dropped to his knees and allowed his brother to pull him into an embrace. He could feel his body shaking and shivering uncontrollably. "It's all right, you're all right," Peter whispered softly. "Where did you go this time, Ed?"
"The dungeon," he whispered with his voice soft and sounding terribly weak. "She…she was there…"
"She's gone, Edmund. She's gone. She can't hurt you anymore."
Edmund simply buried himself deeper into Peter's arms. The youngest king had told his brother everything, sparing no detail, of every torture that the Witch had put him through. For nearly a month, Edmund hadn't been able to look Peter in the eye for fear of what he'd see there. Anger, maybe. Or contempt and disgust over everything that Edmund had done, everything he hadn't been able to stop. But when he finally did meet Peter's eyes, all he found was worry, love, and protection.
It made Edmund feel even worse. He didn't deserve that.
"It's all right," Peter continued. "We're all okay…"
Every time that Peter saw Edmund, he was shocked. It was as if his brother was simply fading away, growing fainter and fainter until he would all but disappear. He hardly slept for fear of the hallucinations that would greet him upon waking. Those very same waking nightmares troubled Edmund to the point where he barely ate.
In fact, Edmund consumed only the barest minimum to stay functional. And even that little amount Peter, Susan, and Lucy had to all but force into his mouth.
Oreius had refused to let Edmund rejoin in training, and Peter had stood behind the centaur all of the way. But what had startled both the High King and the general was how easily Edmund had given up the argument. Time once was that Edmund would fight tooth and nail to get his way, and upon denial would simply figure out a way to do it any way.
He was wasting away, and there was nothing that Peter could do to stop it. All he could do was read those letters from the Free Narnians – letters he could now recite by heart, though they made him physically ill – and hope to glean some sort of new information from them. But it was to no avail.
The thought of those terrorists still roaming free made Peter's heart hammer and his vision to become slightly tainted with red. He would find them, and he would show them the full terror of his wrath. Magnificent was a title that meant wonderful and great, but it also meant terrifying and awe-inspiring. Peter intended the Free Narnians to discover that side with out any room for misunderstanding.
Had he known what they were planning at that very moment, his blood may have quite literally boiled.