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 5/17/10 word #139 on the 15_minute_fic livejournal community. It is another piece of my continuing attempt to create a coherent backstory for Jadis, and to build a world and culture around the brief fragments Lewis tells us of Charn. Book canon only.

Summary: "It is foolish to become attached to anything or anyone. We are all replaceable -- even the gods. That is the foremost of Lilith's teachings."

The Beginning of Wisdom

When Jadis was six, her chief nurse spilled tea on Crown Prince Acernos during his monthly visit to inspect his daughter's health. The ink-black liquid dribbled onto his white sleeve in perfect silence.

Carefully, the chief nurse set the teapot on its porcelain dish in the center of the table, and abased herself: hands stretched forward with her palms up to show her lack of weapons, and face pressed to the polished floorboards to show her unworthiness to receive the prince's gaze.

"Poison or the sword?" he said, looking across the table to where Jadis sat, her bone-white teacup held tightly between her small hands.

The nurse had dishonored royalty; she deserved punishment. But Jadis did not want her to die. She was not the prince's servant. She belonged to Jadis. And Jadis did not want a new nurse.

"Why not the lash?" she asked. "She keeps order very well, and it would be wasteful--"

"The sword," Acernos said, cutting through Jadis's hasty argument with as little care as the winter storms showed to those caught outside in their indifferent path. He lifted the dull knife from beside his plate, sharpened it with a word of power, and dropped it, point first, to quiver in the wood between the chief nurse's outstretched arms. "You may bid your mistress farewell if you wish. Do not stain the furniture."

The nurse stared at the knife in terror, then plucked it from the floor and stood on trembling legs. She glanced at Jadis, then away. "It has been an honor to know you, princess," she said. "Sheluith will serve you well in my place." She stepped back onto the stone tiles of the hearth and stabbed herself in the gut, pulling the knife up and to the side as she fell.

She screamed and wept for several minutes before she died.

The most senior under-nurse peered around the doorframe from one of the inner rooms, blanched at the scene, and hurried in to continue serving tea. Her hands shook slightly, but she did not spill.

Jadis and her father drank and ate in silence. Finally, as he rose from his chair, Acernos said, "Disposing of a failed tool is not wasteful. Waste is believing the tool is more cheaply repaired than replaced. It is foolish to become attached to anything or anyone. We are all replaceable -- even the gods. That is the foremost of Lilith's teachings."

He pulled the knife out of the nurse's corpse and cleaned it on her skirts. Then he left.

Jadis never forgot.


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.