Disclaimer: The Chronicles of Narnia is the intellectual property of C. S. Lewis and his estate. No money is being made from this story, and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Author's Note: This story was inspired by the 6/8/09 word #113 on the 15_minute_fic livejournal community. It's partly a character study of Jadis and her sister, and partly an attempt to build a coherent world and society around the few glimpses Lewis reveals of Charn. I hope to write a much longer story about what led Jadis and her sister to jointly destroy their world; this is an initial sketch of the background that would require.
This story has been expanded slightly from its livejournal form.
Summary: When Jadis and Cynara were twelve, they killed their older brother.
By the Sword
When Jadis and Cynara were twelve, they killed their older brother.
They thought they had covered their tracks. Jadis's spell dissipated with Mordan's last breath; the servant who had procured the sword died under Cynara's whip for a fabricated infraction. The sisters attended the state funeral with properly stern expressions, refusing to let their triumph show when flames wrapped hungry tongues around their brother's corpse.
Their father didn't even pretend to investigate.
The funeral consumed the morning and the afternoon. As the sun eased toward its bloody rest and the lesser stars began to show their faces around the Watcher in the darkening sky, drums still pounded in the temples, horns blaring at each new sacrifice whose blood and bones would pave Mordan's way to the sunless lands. The discordant music echoed through the palace corridors as Jadis and Cynara answered their father's summons, walking the eight prescribed steps into the small audience chamber from which Crown Prince Acernos enforced Queen Nekoris's orders and managed her household's security.
Acernos sat on his stone chair, an unsheathed sword across his lap and a death spell shining from the diamond hung about his neck; its light obscured his expression. "I fear I have been negligent in your lessons, daughters," he said softly. "To cause the death of a member of the royal family is treason. The penalty for treason is death."
Jadis straightened her back an impossible extra fraction, pulling her magic sharp and ready just under the skin of her hands. In the corner of her eye, she saw Cynara shift her weight into a more stable stance, fingers twitching toward her dagger. To attack their father was suicide, but they would die like queens, not sheep.
But their father made no move to strike. "You should not have worked together," he said, still without heat, as if the implicit threat of their magic and blades meant nothing, as if Mordan hadn't been the heir, the favored child who could do no wrong. Jadis clenched her hands tighter, waiting.
"The days when a shield-brother could be trusted are long dead and buried," Prince Acernos continued. "One of you -- either of you -- might have succeeded undiscovered. But magic and a blade? No. That was far too obvious."
Jadis burned cold with rage and shame. This was Cynara's fault. Cynara had begun their game of shield-sisters, of ancient conqueror queens. Cynara had beguiled Jadis into thinking they were stronger together, had lured Jadis into suggesting that they kill Mordan together, to seal their alliance in blood.
Jadis shot a hateful, sidelong glare toward Cynara, and seethed at seeing her betrayal reflected on her sister's face. She was the wronged one! How dare Cynara blame her?
On his granite chair, their father smiled. "You were not completely inept," he said, sheathing his sword and clenching his hand to veil the diamond's glow; behind him, the torches sprang to life, flickering ruddy over the stones. "You left no overt evidence. And eventually I will need an heir. Therefore, I will let you live... this time. But when you settle the succession between yourselves, do not make the mistake of trust a second time. You are dismissed."
"As you command, sire," Jadis said, Cynara echoing her half a beat behind. They bowed and withdrew in silence, and remained silent until they had returned to the children's wing of the palace and left their escort outside.
"So," Cynara said, as the heavy doors swung shut behind them. She eyed Jadis with a measuring stare, left hand resting lightly on the dagger at her side. "No alliance."
"No alliance," Jadis agreed. She studied her sister, cataloging weaknesses for a new reason now -- not as places where she could balance Cynara with her own strengths, but gaps at which to aim her strikes. Cynara had fooled her into believing she didn't have to stand alone; Jadis would destroy her in payment for the loss of that hope. But not yet. Not today. Cynara burned hot where Jadis burned cold; time would lull her into complacency.
"In place of alliance, I propose a truce until we come of age," Jadis said. "There is no sense wasting our strength on each other before either of us can rule alone."
Cynara tipped her head, acknowledging the point -- the more fool she. "To war, then," Cynara said. She drew her dagger, sliced a wound across her right palm. "I pledge this to you: no hand but mine will bring your death."
Jadis took the dagger from her sister's hand and matched her gesture, blood for blood. "Your death is also mine. This I promise, blood to blood, until the end of the world." She clasped Cynara's hand one last time, steel and magic pressed between them to seal their pledge like the shield-sisters of old. Together, they could have set the world aflame.
But that trust -- that hope -- had been nothing more than a dream. She had been wrong to listen to Cynara, to think her sister would never be her enemy, to believe Cynara's games and lies. From this day on, she could never spend an unguarded moment with anyone.
Jadis let the dagger fall, and turned away from her twin.
They had killed their brother. One day, Jadis or Cynara would kill their father. Then Jadis would kill Cynara, whatever the price.
She would win the world. And she would rule alone.
AN: Thanks for reading, and please review! I appreciate all comments, but I'm particularly interested in knowing what parts of the story worked for you, what parts didn't, and why.