Author's Note: Hey everyone! This is my first story ever, so be nice with the reviews! I'm not going to say "review my story!", so only review if you so desire. If you don't like it, DON'T READ IT! It's that simple. I re-wrote this chapter almost completely and I plan to do so with the other chapters as well. Enjoy! :D
Disclaimer: I don't own Narnia (I wish) but the plot is all me.
Darkness flooded my vision as I opened my eyes. All was silent, except for the gentle snores emanating from the room beside mine. Caspian really should get that looked at, I chuckled to myself. For those of you who don't know, Caspian, or Prince Caspian I should say, was my fiancé. I cringed internally at the word. The only problem was, as you could probably tell, was that I didn't want him as a fiancée. His uncle Lord Miraz wished us to be wed, as well as my father. Caspian may not see it, but his uncle was an evil twisted man, and I didn't trust him one bit. He was unnecessarily cruel, and I was totally against the way he chose to rule our country. He always had this sinister, calculating look when he would watch Caspian and I together. Since before I could remember, I had the feeling that he was plotting something terrible. That was the reason I was leaving. Or, one of them anyways.
I loved Caspian, but I wasn't in love with him. Marriage, in my mind, would ruin everything we had. I had known him since I was a little girl. We would play together when my father was summoned to the castle for council meetings, and he would stick up for me when the other boys tried picking on me. He was a good six years older than I, but that never really mattered until I was about thirteen. I started noticing Caspian looking at me funny. I would ask him what he'd been staring at and then his face would go all red and he would mumble, "Nothing." Well, obviously it was something! My body was changing and I was growing into a young woman. I starting becoming really self-conscious, and with me still being the naïve child that I was, I thought he was noticing my awkwardness. As I grew older I discovered that he wasn't repulsed by me changing, but rather quite the opposite. I can't recall my first reaction to this epiphany, but I do remember dismissing it and continuing on being with him like nothing ever happened. Everything was going fine, until my sixteenth birthday.
In my country, a girl becomes "of age" when she turns sixteen. So I wasn't surprised when on my birthday, my father brought up marriage and me finding a suitable husband. I'd shuddered at the thought of being with an ugly fat old man for the rest my life and bearing his children. It was enough to make my stomach turn upside down.
I'd mentioned it to Caspian the next day when we went for our daily walk in the castle courtyard. "Could you imagine? Me being married?" I giggled at the absurdity of it all. I remember him chuckling uneasily, then his face going serious.
"Come on Avaia, you should at least think about it. I mean, you are of age now…" I stopped walking and looked at him incredulously.
"You can't be serious," I groaned, "I don't want to get married! It would be absolutely horrid!"
"What if it was to someone who you loved?" he'd asked, his deep brown eyes searching mine. I felt a confused expression spread across my face. "Like who?" I exclaimed, exasperated. He opened his mouth to answer when a maid rushed over to us from the castle to tell us that our tea was ready. Thankfully he didn't continue that conversation.
However to my dismay, about a week later the topic resurfaced at my home. Then, my father delivered the most unpleasant news of all.
"Well, my daughter," Father had begun, "since you're of age, I think it is high time you got married. I will not allow you to disgrace this family by not doing what is expected of you." I felt my mouth drop open in dismay. "But father-!" he held up his hand to silence me.
"Now Avaia, I will not tolerate your disobedience! I love you, and as your father I want you to be safe and happy, and not live a life of shame and loneliness." I sighed miserably, knowing there'd be no arguing with him.
"As you wish, Father." I felt my happiness and freedom already draining itself out of me.
"That's my girl!" he exclaimed, clapping his hands together in delight as he pulled me into a tight embrace. I hugged him back half-heartedly.
"Come," he said stepping away from me, "I have already chosen a suitor for you, dearest. The best possible match I could find. I'm sure you'll approve of my choice!" He beamed.
I froze. How could he have picked someone already? He grabbed my hand and I allowed myself to be led outside of the house. My legs moved mechanically as my head spun. I'm not ready to be married! I don't know the first thing about being a wife or having children!
We winded our way through some narrow streets and I found myself in the castle courtyard. There was no one around, which was odd, save for one figure standing off to the side. As we drew nearer I realized it was Caspian. What in the-
"Oh, Caspian!" I called to him, hearing my own despair in my voice, "My father's going to marry me off to some oaf! I'm so glad you're here! I want you to be with me when that prick finally gets here-."
"Avaia!" said father sharply. I looked at him, and was startled to see an extremely confused expression on his face. "What are you talking about girl! Are you daft? The man's right in front of you!"
I turned slowly towards Caspian, terrible realization dawning on me. Caspian. My father wants to marry Caspian?
Stunned, I could do nothing but stare at him in astonishment. Blushing, he grinned at me sheepishly. His face reminded me of a child that was caught trying to steal some last minute sweets. I forced myself to smile back, but I was sure it looked more like a grimace. Never had I imagined I would be marrying my best friend.
Days turned into weeks. Weeks into months, and still the pit of unease had not yet settled in my stomach. Caspian would dote on me and shower me with affection, and I felt obligated to return it. Even though I was acting like it was from my heart, it was more out of gratefulness. I would much rather be married to a man who I knew would treat me with love and respect, but there was still that one part of me that longed to be my old, carefree self. I detested the idea of being any man's property; unfortunately the society I lived in demanded it of me. Sometimes, I would squirm under the intense gaze of my fiancé, and when he asked me what was wrong I told him I was chilled, or whatever other excuse I could think of. I hated lying to him, but I knew deep down I didn't feel the same. Every time he would gaze down on me with those big brown loving eyes, I couldn't help the guilt that seemed to seep out of my every pore. He deserved someone who returned his adoration and savoured his every glance. That person was certainly not me.
So, that was pretty much the main reason that prompted me to escape. I couldn't handle the pressure, the awkwardness it sometimes produced. I was scared to become committed, to become a mother. I'd heard of so many women that'd died in childbirth, and it was definitely something I didn't want to risk. Not to mention Miraz terrified me; I knew with whatever he was scheming, it had to be terrible. Gathering up all my courage, I got out of bed one night and retrieved the extra food I'd stored under my bed from the past few days. It was wrapped in a white cloth so it was still fresh. I walked over to my trunk and pulled out my grey travelling gown, pulling it over my head. I was just about to leave, when a familiar object caught my attention. It was the beige horn on my shelf; the one mine and Caspian's professor had given to us when we were younger. The opening was that of a lion's head, its maw opened in a ferocious roar. Professor Cornelius had warned us, that whenever we were in danger we were to blow into it and help would come. Taking that to heart, I'd never let it out of my sight as a child. Now, I was sure it was just something that the professor had given me to make me feel safer after my mother was murdered. Dismissing the thought quickly, I'd decided against taking the horn, fearing it would be unnecessary to carry any extra weight. Pulling the hood of my cloak over my head, I swept out of my room for what I was sure to be the last time. As I crept down the hallway, I felt fear rise up in me. I would never see my father again. Never see the flowers in full bloom in the castle gardens. Never again watch the sunset with Caspian, feeling him hold me close and telling me everything was going to be okay… I shook my head sharply. I was going to do this, and nothing was stopping me.
I slinked through the halls like a wraith, making no sound save for my soft breathing. Peering around every corner to make sure no guards would be in my way, I ran hastily across the courtyard and into the stables. I closed the door behind me, exhaling deeply in relief. Enough moonlight was streaming through the windows so I could see vaguely where my mare's stall was. Upon seeing me, Damia whinnied softly. I smiled at the sound and ran to find her saddle. She was, as Miraz had told me before, the most beautiful mare his stable had ever seen. Both her sire and dam were one hundred percent Telmarine warhorses, which made her a most finely built animal. She was about 16 hands tall, with a sleek black coat and a long stringy mane and tail. My father had her bred for me when I was 9 years old, and I've never rode another horse since.
After saddling and bridling her, I shoved the sack of food into the saddle bag. I opened the stable door quietly and led her outside into the courtyard. The night was calm and cool with not a cloud in the sky. As if sensing my nervousness, Damia danced backwards on the tips of her hooves, arching her neck and snorting loudly. I cooed to her softly and she quieted. Mounting swiftly, I dug my heels into her sides and she leapt forward. I steered her toward the front gates and was extremely surprised to see there weren't any guards. Closing my eyes, I felt Damia's powerful strides as we raced across the earth. Her muscles bunched and released like a coil and spring, pushing us toward freedom. Finally, we sprinted through the gates and into the forest.
The wind whipped my hair back as I moved with Damia. I urged her faster still and I felt her strides quicken. Looking around us, I realised I'd never been this far into the forest. The trees blocked the light from the moon now; I could barely make out their dark shapes racing by us. Damia could see better than I, so I let her steer for a while. After a few more minutes I slowed her to an easy trot when I knew we were a good, safe distance from the castle.
Suddenly, the trees opened and revealed a perfect little meadow. Damia stepped into the moonlight and made her way over to the far end of the meadow, where a little creek trickled through a ditch. I stopped her and gently swung down from the saddle. Looking around, I noticed that the meadow wasn't very big and it was surrounded by enormous trees. I didn't even bother tying Damia up; I knew she wouldn't go far. I sat down on the grass and stared up at the cloudless night sky. The billions and billions of stars shone down on me, and I wondered what tomorrow would bring. I had no idea where I was, and I had no action plan. I didn't even think about bringing a map, I thought grimly, well that wasn't too smart… Curling my cloak around me I lay down on the ground and waited for sleep to take me.
A few hours later, I awoke with a start. The dawn was approaching; I could see the faintest hint of pink and yellow on the horizon. I yawned, sat up slowly and stretched my arms up over my head. I looked over at Damia, who was watching me with intelligent eyes. When she saw nothing of particular interest, she went back to grazing. I continued to take in the beauty of the morning when I heard the unmistakable sounds of pounding hoof beats in the distance, closely followed by men shouting. I felt my face drain of colour as terror spread its way through my body. They're coming for me.
I jumped up from the ground and hopped onto Damia. She shot forward before I could even instruct her to do so. As we weaved through the trees, I could still make out the distant sound of men and horses. My fear edged the mare faster still; I only steered her as she needed no other encouragement. Deeper and deeper into the woods we flew, until I felt Damia's breathing become shallower. But, bless her, she still wouldn't slow. I pulled on the reins gently letting her know that it was alright, and she slackened her pace. After a few more minutes, I completely stopped her. We were both as still as death; listening for the sounds of our pursuers. The only noise I could detect was the faint whistling of wind through the trees. I let out a sigh of relief. Damia's ears flicked backwards toward me at the sudden noise. I patted her neck and crooned to her on what a good girl she was. She shook her mane and we continued onward. For the next couple hours, we rotated between walking and trotting, every so often pausing at a stream so we could both drink and I could eat some of the bread I had packed.
Sometime before dusk, it had begun to drizzle. As we continued on the rain started to fall more heavily. I decided it was late enough anyway so we made camp underneath a humongous oak tree. I nestled into a groove in the trunk and closed my eyes. I listened to the pitter-patter of the raindrops on the leaves all around me. Somewhere a few paces away, Damia shifted and snorted softly. The wind started blowing fiercely and directed some of the rain under my tree. I shuddered as some water fell on me from the oak's leaves. This is going to be one long night, I thought.
I woke up to the sensation of warmth on my back. The sun was streaming through opening in the forest canopy, and birds everywhere were singing merrily. I rolled over to get up when my body ran into something. I looked up to find Damia standing over me protectively, her head up and alert. I felt a surge of warmth rush through me. I stood up and patted her on the neck.
"Thank you," I whispered to her. She was silent; gazing into my eyes with her big brown ones.
The next few days continued like this. We would travel for most of the day, only stopping to eat, drink and relieve ourselves.
It was around noon on the third day. Damia continued at a steady walk as I was dozing off on her neck. Suddenly, there was a rustle in the bushes. I felt Damia freeze and I was jolted up higher on her neck. She snorted, her muscles trembling. I moved to sooth her; it was probably an animal or something that scared her. But she would have none of it. She started fidgeting and I couldn't get her to stand still. In her panic she reared, and I, caught unprepared, tumbled off her rump. I felt my head crash into something hard. Wincing from the pain, I opened my eyes in a daze. I saw the faint outline of Damia prancing and tossing her head nervously. My vision clouded. The last thing I remembered before losing consciousness was seeing numerous shapes advancing towards me.
The first thing I felt when I came to was the agonizing throbbing of my head. I felt as though someone had broken my skull open with a rock. The swaying motion of the horse beneath me didn't help matters much. Then I became aware of low murmurs and whispers all around me. A pang of fear sliced its way down my spine. They've found me. It's over. What will Miraz do to me? Will he hurt Caspian and my father because of my recklessness? I have to get away. I fidgeted, and to my dismay, felt rope around my wrists and ankles. I groaned in pain and defeat. Silence.
"She's coming too," said a voice gruffly. More muttering. Groggily, I opened my eyes, and stifled a gasp. For in front of me, was a man's head, arms and torso. Was that even possible? I looked down and gasped aloud. The man's body was attached to a horse's. A centaur. Wait, where did that come from? Vague memories of my childhood, the professor teaching Caspian and I about the magical creatures that once inhabited our homeland… My head started spinning. What kind of twisted dream is this? This isn't real! I whipped my head around to find more strange creatures; tiny little men, no higher than my waist. Dwarves? And men that had the bottom half of a goat. Fauns! Fear trilled through me. This was no dream.
"Well, well, look who's awake," sneered one faun, "What's the matter Telmarine? Not cosy enough for ye?" They all broke out into loud guffaws. I felt my mouth drop open. They were talking. Laughing.
"W-w-what do you want from me?" I asked shakily.
"We want our land back!" snarled a dwarf, unsheathing his knife. My eyes widened in terror. "We want back everything that was stolen from us. This is our home!" He jabbed his knife at me, and was urged on by shouts and cheers from the others. "You wretched, filthy Telmarines! You should all be burned at the stake and have your insides ri-"
"That's enough, Boadin," rumbled the centaur that was carrying me. "She is just a girl. You cannot hold her accountable for the crimes of her people."
The creatures grumbled to themselves, but ultimately stopped talking. I could hear my heart pounding in my ears; I'd never been more afraid in all my life. What were they going to do to me? Where were we? Where were we going? I trembled atop the centaur, dreading the next few hours.
The creatures refused to acknowledge me after that, which was perfectly fine with me. We stopped at dusk to eat, or should I say, for them to eat. They didn't give me so much as a scrap. Only my centaur was kind enough to sneak some of his water to me.
We continued to travel throughout the night. I looked up into the night sky, and found myself wishing for Caspian. I sighed. Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to leave… Despite my terror, I somehow managed to fall into a restless sleep.
The next morning, we had crossed into unfamiliar lands. The spruce, maple and birch trees became pines and other evergreens. The path was starting to get wider, the sky opened up in front of us. I felt the ropes that bound my hands and legs starting to rub my skin raw. I moaned quietly.
"Shut up, you!" a dwarf growled as he made a move to strike me with the butt end of his sword. The centaur carrying me turned toward him and gave a warning grunt. The dwarf moved back reluctantly, watching me with a savage gleam in his eyes. I managed to stare back levelly, despite my trembling.
After a few more hours of travelling, I began to see a clearing in the distance. Then we came through the trees and a castle loomed over us. It was twice the size of the castle in Telmar! Its turrets stood tall and intimidating; a red flag with a golden lion embalmed on one side fluttered from the highest tower. Then slowly, I felt the smile of awe slide slowly off my face. I'd seen this flag before. In Professor Cornelius' books… A flashback of Caspian and I sitting in the professor's room, as he talked about Narnia and the Golden Age, the Kings and Queens of Old…. I felt my stomach heave. I closed my eyes and breathed deeply, calming my stomach and my nerves. This can't be happening, this isn't happening… But it was. I was here, captured by, I gulped internally, Narnians. And if they're here…that can only mean one thing. That somehow, hundreds of years later, their kings and queens have returned. This was bad.