Chapter 9: The Dragon
Capsian sighed happily as he look over the camp he and his crew had been him to set up after they had finished gathering water.
They had set up a dozen tents along the edge of the wood, along with a fire pit a little ways away on the sandy beach.
He looked across the beach, towards the ocean and spotted Lucy walking along the shore, looking completely at ease.
He shook his head, he had noticed this ancient Narnian queen many a time lately. As he did notice her more and more, he felt this rushing feeling swell up inside of him. Not unlike the way he had felt when they had first set sail on the Dawn Treader towards the East; very exciting but it also made him very, very nervous.
These feelings were a mystery to the young king; he had never felt this way before, therefore he did not know what to think of them.
With another shake of his head, he pushed his thoughts and feelings to the back of his mind. He then waved to Edmund, who was leading his men from the wood, helping another man carry a very large deer.
The rest of the crew, who were in charge of finding supplies for repairs, had returned an hour earlier, with the location of a tree that would be built into a new mast for the ship.
Caspian smiled, they were all back together.
"Welcome back, your majesty!" he said, as Edmund came closer. "I see you had a successful hunt, you brought back plenty of game, well done!"
Edmund smiled, passing his load to another man before instructing them to beginning preparing them for their dinner and the meals to follow, before turning to Caspian.
"We had to travel, well into the wood to find some large animals but once we did, I must admit, it felt great to be out hunting once more."
Caspian nodded, hunting was something he enjoyed very much, the dumb animals of course.
They engaged small talk for a few minutes, recounting their day to the other, before they were interrupted by Lucy.
They both turned to smile at her in greeting, but their smiles quickly dropped when they saw that the lady was not smiling, but frowning.
"Edmund. Was Eustace not with you?" she asked quietly, focusing her eyes on the camp and the surrounding area.
Her brother's eyes widened in realization.
"No, we never spotted him. Did he never turn up? I was sure he would come wandering out when he became hungry." Edmund said, turning to look for him, as well.
Seeing the worry and concern on his friends faces, Caspian tried to calm their worries.
"Perhaps Eustace wishes to remain hidden until the latest possible? I am certain he will reveal himself once we start cooking the meat."
He placed a comforting hand on his of their shoulders, and smiled encouragingly.
Both nodded and tried to smile, truly hoping their cousin would return once they had made the evening meal.
Two hours later when Eustace had yet to show himself, they had all admitted that he must me lost.
They had tried calling out in the camp and the surrounding area but had received to answer in return.
By sunset, Lucy was sick with worry, Edmund was frowning but silent, and Caspian was wrought with guilt.
He had acted on his relief that Eustace was finally leaving them alone, and not on how a young boy like Eustace could easily get himself lost.
Some of the crew had grumbled in complain of having to look for the boy, but Reepicheep silenced them quickly. He reminded them, that while Eustace could be a nuisance, he was still a family member of the King Edmund and Queen Lucy, and he should be treated with the same respect that they showed their majesties. The men nodded somberly, and apologized.
Lucy had insisted that they form a search party immediately to look for him, however as the sun had now set it was too dangerous to look now.
Caspian explained that he didn't want to risk losing or injuring anyone else.
While Lucy knew this, and that nothing could be done till morning, she could only turn away from them and retire for the night in her tent.
An hour later, Edmund couldn't hold back a smile and a small chuckle as he saw Caspian turn to look back at Lucy's tent for the dozenth time as they sat by the fire.
Edmund elbowed Caspian in the side gently, Caspian raised an eyebrow in question.
Edmund smiled and laughed.
"She's fine, you know." he said simply.
"I beg your pardon, Sire?" Caspian said, looking into the fire.
"Lucy, she is fine. She doesn't want the men to see her worried, so she is hiding."
Caspian raised his eyebrow, once more.
"But in Aslan's name, does she feel the need to hide that from us? She would gain comfort in the company of friends, I should think it would cause more stress for her majesty if she remains in that tent all alone."
Edmund only shook his head, "I think it is because she does not wish to show weakness in difficult situations." he stopped Caspian with a raised hand. "I know most, you and I included, do not see that as a weakness. Lucy, on the other hand, does and this is how she has always handled it. She always wants to remain strong for the people of Narnia, and it's hard for her to do that when she doesn't feel all that strong."
Edmund gave his friend a reassuring smile.
"Do not worry, Caspian. Once morning comes, and we begin the search for Eustace, she will calm...slightly."
Caspian paused before nodding.
"Very well, let us at least organize the search parties tonight so that we will be able to begin at first light."
Edmund agreed, and they both turned together and called the men to attention.
Caspian was relieved to see that Lucy did, in fact, look more calm the following morning when everyone, except Lucy and Reepicheep, set out in different directions in search of Eustace.
When they returned that evening, however, Caspian felt his heart clench painfully when he saw her face as she realized they had not found her cousin.
"You were not able to find him? Were there no clues or signs to indicate in which direction he had gone?" she whispered, trying to hold her composure.
Caspian felt those strange feelings push to the surface as he saw how much the worry had taken its toll on her.
"I am extremely sorry, Lucy. We were not able to find him...but I promise you, we will not stop looking until we have located Eustace." he replied, wanting to comfort her somehow but not sure how.
Edmund slumped down next to the fire, exhausted.
"It's true, Lu, though I do not know where he could have possibly got to, there is a slight possibility that he has gotten farther than we had looked today but I doubt it, Eustace has never been one for exercise."
Lucy, her nerves shot with all the worrying she had done that day, turned on her brother.
"Well! Perhaps he wouldn't have wandered so far if we had been kinder and more patient with him!" Lucy snapped.
Edmund, usually the calm one, stood and frowned.
"Wait a tick! We have been patient with him! But you know what a rotter Eustace can be if he wants to, and he had been the worst on this trip!"
Lucy looked ready to tell her brother exactly what she thought, but Caspian stopped her.
"Stop, please." he said calmly, stepping between them to separate the siblings. "Now, we are all very tired, and very worried for Eustace, this is not the time to let our tempers ge the better of us, let us sit down for a few minutes."
Edmund and Lucy nodded, before sitting next to one another by the fire, Lucy laying her head on her brother's shoulder in apology. Edmund smiled and put an arm around her in reply, Caspian smiled and sat across from them.
"What you must understand about your cousin, at least from what I have learned so far, is that he has been on his own for the majority of his life. He is used to it, and knows of nothing else. Being around others and caring for them and having them care for you, is something he must learn on his own. In time, Eustace will learn how to appreciate the people around him, but until then we (especially you, your majesties) must be an example of that."
Edmund and Lucy looked at Caspian in awe. This young man had grown in maturity in the last three years, he already has the wisdom of a king of many years.
For the first time since Eustace had gone missing, Lucy smiled.
"Thank you Caspian, I had never thought of it that way."
Edmund nodded, "Neither had I, but we shall act on it once we find Eustace."
They all smiled at one another and nodded.
The crew of the Dawn Treader retired early that night, all their energies had been spent entirely, looking for Eustace that day and they wanted to be well rested for the search the following day.
While she now felt much better about finding Eustace, Lucy had a very difficult time sleeping.
She tossed and turned the entire night, she would start to drift off, only to become uncomfortable and have to change her sleeping position once more.
It was near dawn, when Lucy's frustrations got the better of her. She dressed quietly and with a light blanket wrapped around her she made her way towards the beach.
She quickly found a comfortable spot a place where she could sit and lean her back against a large rock, to watch the sun rise, and made herself comfortable.
By her guess, the sun would begin to rise in half an hour, so she let her thoughts wander where they may; once the sun rose she would return to see the men off to search.
She must have fallen asleep, however, for when she next opened her eyes she faced a large green dragon.
Lucy couldn't help it, she screamed; pushing herself against the rock at her back.
Knowing that there was no escape for her, she shut her eyes tightly, waiting to be burned or ripped apart.
But then...she heard something that gave her pause.
'Is that...whimpering?' she thought to herself, listening closer, before opening her eyes.
The dragon had moved away from her, and she couldn't believe it! The dragon had curled up as small as it could get and...it was whimpering and shaking it's head.
Something was different about this particular dragon, because from the stories Lucy knew of, dragons always attacked first, fire blazing for a quick and easy kill. This dragon had not only, not attacked her while she had slept, but when she had screamed it had backed away from her.
Before she couldn't think on her theory any longer, she heard the sound of heavy footfalls of the crew running towards her location.
"Lucy!" Caspian called out frantically, Edmund voice quickly followed; "Caspian, wait!"
The running stopped.
"Why do you stop me?! That dragon-"
"If it ha-" Edmund lost his voice for a moment, he took a breath before continuing. "If it has, you would only be running to your own death."
Reepicheep joined in the conversation, "You are correct, Sire. Shall we try an attack from a distance, perhaps with our bows? We must avenge the Queen Lucy!"
Lucy finally found her voice, and called out; "I-I am all right! Please don't attack the dragon, it has not harmed me, nor do I think it will attack others."
As she couldn't take her eyes off the creature, she gasped as she saw the dragon's reactions to her call to her friends, it nodded it's head quite vigorously when she mentioned that it would harm no one.
"Are you mad, Lucy!?" Edmund snapped, his concern for her, getting the better of his temper.
"This is a dragon! Let us figure out a plan to get you out of there, we will not let that monster hurt you!"
Lucy had carefully observed the dragon as the others called to her, she could see fear in those familiar eyes, it had also shook it's head once more when Edmund had reminded her it was a dragon she was faced with.
Each nod or shake of it's head had been in synch with their conversations, perhaps...
"Dragon," Lucy said, not quite sure if this was truly happening, "can you understand speech?"
She gasped again when it nodded and grunted to her question, she wanted to verify her theory once more.
"If you can understand me, would you please raise your right arm above your head?"
She watched the dragon nod, before lifting its right arm, however it was only able to lift his arm up half way before it let it fall to the ground once more with a whimper.
As it lowered the arm Lucy caught sight of a flash of gold, she leaned forwards to get a better look. There was a gold band stuck around it arm, and it looked swollen and infected around the band, as if it's arm had been smaller when it had first placed it on it's arm.
"Oh! You poor thing, that looks dreadfully painful."
Before she could truly consider her actions, Lucy stood and, ignoring the frightened shouts of her companions, approached the injured dragon so that she could get a better look at the injured arm.
Seeing that the wound was very red and swollen, she quickly used her cordial (which she always carried with her when they were ashore) and let two drops fall onto the wound.
She jumped and let out a giggle a moment later, when the dragon let out a puff of smoke in relief, the swelling has already started to lessen.
"There now," She said, smiling up at the dragon. "though I can remove the band, those drops from my cordial should give you some relief."
She stroked the dragon's face gently, before turning to the others, who were still shouting at her to run.
"It's all right everyone! This dragon means no harm!" she called out waving to them with a smile.
They were not convinced, Caspian had a scary expression on his face and while he moved closer and gestured for the others to follow he kept his sword raised.
Lucy couldn't see why they were so concerned, if this had been a regular dragon she would have been dead by now, but they all refused to relax.
She pointed to his right arm, and explained that it had been injured and was probably looking for help when it had landed here.
But once the band was spotted, there was a moment of chaos when Drinian suddenly raised his sword at the dragon's neck. The creature let out a howl of terror before backing quickly away closer to the water.
This time, Caspian grabbed Lucy and pulled her back, she fought him but he held fast.
"No! Captain, please don't hurt it! This dragon is different" Lucy cried out desperately.
The captain pointed his sword at the dragon, "That dragon wears the band of the Lord Octisean of Narnia! Did you kill him dragon!? You are a hoarder of treasure!"
The others drew their swords as well, the dragon let out another cry and shook it's head over and over.
Lucy felt against Caspian, in tears.
"Please please don't! Edmund, Caspian! Can you not see? This dragon has not once attacked us! This dragon is different! It understands speech!"
Her brother paused at this, and commanded everyone to still but not lower their weapons.
"Perhaps he could be a man enchanted into a dragon?" Edmund pondered, "I admit, I had heard stories of it..."
Everyone hesitated, Reepicheep marched up to the dragon, with his sword raised.
"Dragon! Were you once a man? The Lord Octisean?" he demanded.
Everyone watched as the dragon reacted to the mouse's enquiries.
"It nodded, but also shook it's head, what could that mean?" noted Drinian.
"Are you another man enchanted into a dragon?" Edmund asked, his mind at work.
The dragon nodded and it began to cry, lowering it's head as steamy tears fell to the sand.
Lucy gasped and let out a moan, everyone turned to her in concern, but she only looked at the dragon, finally recognizing those eyes.
"Eustace?" she asked, praying she was wrong.
But when the dragon let out a howl and began to cry once more, they all knew that poor, poor Eustace had been turned into a dragon.
Lucy pushed Caspian's arms away from her and ran to her dragon cousin, lowering to the ground so that she could hug the boy around his long neck, in comfort.
"Don't cry, Eustace," she whispered, keeping her voice strong for the sake of her cousin, "we will sort this out, somehow. It will be all right."
Their companions could only stare in shock.
(A.N. I hope you guys enjoyed this chapter, I had a really hard time deciding how to write it out, and fought to get it done for you guys. Let me know what you thought of me changing the point of view from Eustace to everyone else. Next chapter should be up in a few weeks (I have a math midterm, and finals coming up so it could be longer) Please read and review! :D P.s. so nice to see some new readers and thank so much for all your encouraging reviews this last chapter! I loved all of them!)