And so Arneia's story continues, in Prince Caspian, yay!
The song quotes were harder for this story, but I think they fit alright...
And we know it's never simple, never easy,
Never a clean break, no one here to save me,
You're the only thing I know like the back of my hand,
And I can't breathe,
Without you, but I have to,
Without you, but I have to
'Breathe', Taylor Swift
I shifted my position slightly, ensuring I was completely out of sight in the shadow of the gap in the wall, as someone passed me. As he figure came to rest by a window, I recognised Miraz.
"For Aslan's sake," I cursed to myself. I hated being in a perfect position to murder the murderer when I knew I couldn't. I could hear his wife's screams from a nearby chamber. The screams were the only reason I was here. I had to find out first hand whether the child was a boy or a girl. I was already praying it to be a Princess...
The screams of the woman ceased, replaced by the cries of a newborn child.
"Lord Miraz," a voice called, and I froze. I recognised General Glozelle's voice. Miraz looked around.
"You have a son," Glozelle said.
I closed my eyes and let out my breath of hope as slowly and quietly as possible. The Crown Prince, Caspian, was as good as dead already.
"The heavens have blessed us…," Miraz sighed before turning to Glozelle. "You know your orders, General Glozelle."
Glozelle bowed his head. "Yes, my lord."
He strode away down the corridor. I waited. I could probably get to the end of the corridor without Miraz seeing but I wasn't going to risk it.
Finally Miraz moved away, striding back up the corridor, away from where I wanted to go. Without a second thought, I slipped out of my shadowed corner and raced down the corridor. Damn Miraz if he saw me now. He'd seen me before, I was a ghost in his dreams nowadays.
I ran down the quiet spiral stairs, and out of the castle into the silent courtyard. Across the cobbled stones, through the unguarded back gate and balancing along the wall. The guards didn't spot or notice me under my navy cloak as I dropped to the ground in the back streets. I slipped back to where I had left faithful Alrohar and mounted him. People were beginning to enter the streets to hear the news of Prunaprismia's son, but I didn't wait to hear the talk. I nudged Alrohar into a trot and we made our way through the Telmarine town as subtly as possible. A few shot us curious looks: a cloaked hooded rider leaving the castle, but I ignored them.
As soon as we were in sight of the drawbridge, Alrohar knew what I would ask him. He leapt into a gallop and we shot past the surprised guards who shouted after us.
"Go on, Alro," I muttered, my cloak billowing behind me as we left the Telmarine town behind us, galloping across the plains, through the shallow river and into the woods. I turned Alrohar once we were under cover and he cantered up the hill.
"Okay, boy, well done," I murmured, halting him on the crest. Alrohar snorted gently, as I watched the castle. Even from here I could hear the shouts of celebration, and suddenly the sky was lit up with strange bright lights crackling in the sky. Alrohar snorted again in disdain and flung up his head. I leant down and patted his neck reassuringly.
"So it has happened," a voice beside her confirmed.
I looked around, and pulled the hood off my head, revealing my sixteen year old face, long blonde hair and bright blue eyes. I looked at Glenstorm beside me, the huge dark skinned centaur.
"Yes, it's a son," I replied. "It seems the line of Caspian has ended."
"Or perhaps not," Glenstorm added, his voice bemused. I frowned and followed his gaze.
Below, crashing through the river was the Prince Caspian on his black stallion Destrier. He was riding as if for his life, which, I realised, he probably was, as the ten or so guards behind him rode desperately after him.
"What do we do, my lady?" Glenstorm asked.
I bit my lip. "I'll follow him, see what happens," I decided.
"No, let me go," Glenstorm disagreed. "We cannot risk you getting caught by those guards."
I smiled grimly. "No, Glenstorm, I'll go. I won't stay long. I'm heading back to the castle tomorrow anyway."
"Doubtlessly, a council will be held. Miaz has a son and his nephew, the Crown Prince, is missing. I mean to be there."
"Very well, but be careful Arneia," Glenstorm sighed and he cantered away.
I watched him go, before turning back to watch the bright lights bursting above the castle.
lt had been exactly one thousand, three hundred years since the end of the Golden Age. I had felt old after living one hundred years in the same body, but after the Pevensies had disappeared, I had slowly grown young again, into the sixteen year old who had watched Jadis begin her rule. I had remained existing for an unknown reason, leading the Narnians under cover of another rule. But I was losing my hold...
The Pevensies and Aslan were becoming a myth to many of the Narnians and I wasn't enough proof anymore. Nevertheless they followed me, if only because I was stronger and knew the land better than any other. I was simply Arneia now, timeless Arneia, the girl who knew never aged, who knew more about Narnia than anyone, who broke into castles to spy, who was odd enough to believe in the old tales. Few still believed the truth I stood by, and knew me as High Lady. Trusting Glenstorm was one. And I meant to hold his trust as long as I could.
Alrohar, my faithful old stallion, had aged alongside me and now I turned him and cantered him back the way we had come down the hill.
It wasn't difficult to follow the Telmarines. I had to learnt to read the signs and follow the trails, and anyone could have tracked this one. I directed Alrohar after it, turning him through the trees. But suddenly a noise filled the trees, the woods, my ears. Alrohar reared up in shock and I was jolted backwards in the saddle in shock. It was a sound I knew so well, yet had not heard in so long.
I ignored Alrohar's protests, instead pushing the stallion forward, until we came across a large glade where I knew Narnians llived and the trail ended. And I could see why.
Caspian was being dragged by his feet a small slope by two figure I recognised, a large badger and a Black Dwarf. They were puffing and tugging as they hauled the Telmarine towards their small underground den.
I paused Alrohar under cover of the trees, deciding not to startle them while they worked. Traces of the Telmarine soldiers were everywhere although they were no longe here. But I hadn't seen them returning. If truth be told, I was impressed that they had made it this far into the woods at all.
I looked back at the glade, it ws empty, all was silent. I nudged Alroha on and he trotte down towards the large piece of wood we both knew to be a door.
I swung off the stallon. "While I'm inside, could you just mess up some of these tracks a bit, Alro? We don't want more Telmarines finding their way here."
He nodded his head, tossing his mane and cantered back the way we had come. I turned to the door and, bending down, I gently tapped out the short sequence of knocks.
I heard footsteps and the door opened a crack. Whoever was behind it recognised me as they pulled the door wide and stumped back downstairs again. Nikabrik, the dwarf, left me to shut the door myself.
I entered, ducking, and shut the door carefully behind me. I nodded coldly to Nikabrik as I passed him, and he silently pointed to the bedroom without looking at me. The pair of us had never really got on. Instead I headed up to where he had directed me to find Caspian lying unconscious on the bed. The badger, Trufflehunter, was leaning over him.
"My lady, what are you doing here?" Trufflehunter whispered as he completed the bandage around Caspian's head.
I crouched down inside the den. "I was following him, and I wondered how he was?"
"Oh yes, the poor boy," Trufflehunter replied. "Took a nasty knock to the head. I wonder who is."
I sighed. Of course, they didn't know. There were few Narnians who would. I was one of the few who went near enough the Telmarines to recognise the Prince.
Trufflehunter shuffled back down stairs. I paused a moment and watched Caspian take a shallow breath, before following the badger.
"I don't care, all we need to know is that he's a Telmarine and we should have killed him when we had the chance," Nikabrik was grumbling.
I frowned disapprovingly at the Black Dwarf but he ignored me.
'Where's Trumpkin," I asked suddenly, noticing the absence of the gruff if good-natured Red Dwarf.
Trufflehunter sighed. "He gave himself up so we could get the boy in here." I swallowed. That was why the Telmarines left...
"What about the...horn?" I asked carefully.
"Oh yes," Trufflehunter said, taking full interest. He picked up a bundle from a stool and lay it on the table. Unwrapping the cloth, the badger revealed the perfect ivory coloured horn. I held my breath as I inspected it closer, I recognised every bit of it: the intricate lion detailing around the mouth, the 'SP' initials carved on it's side. It was, without a doubt, Susan's gift that I had watched pass from Father Christmas to the bewildered young Queen.
"Incredible," I breathed.
"It's ony a horn," Nikabrik muttered. I bit my lip to stop myself sniping at him.
"Nikabrik, could you be more insensitive?" Trufflehunter admonished. "It's Queen Susan the Gentle's horn, isn't it my Lady?"
I nodded slowly. "Without question. But how did- the boy come by it, I wonder..."
"The boy stole it no doubt," Nikabrik muttered darkly.
"I don't think so," I argued vaguely, still holding the horn.
"Well, either way, it's here," Trufflehunter said quickly.
"And he blew it?" I confirmed. Trufflehunter nodded.
"What will it do, what help will come?" he asked.
I shrugged. "No one will know until help arrives, but I've seen what this can do. This may just have the power to summon help from other worlds as well as this."
"The kings and queens?" Trufflhunter asked breathlessly and Nikabrik snorted. I nodded. I was so hopeful, yet I didn't know if it could be done. I had seen the horn do powerful things but never from another world. Could it happen?
"Maybe, or Aslan even," I agreed. "But we can't do nothing in the meantime."
"So what are we going to do now, Arneia?" Nikabrik asked.
"You keep this safe," I replied, passing the horn back to Trufflehunter. "Ask C- the boy about it when he wakes up by gently. I think we need a council."
"Dancing lawn?" Trufflehunter suggested.
"Best place, do you think you could round up some of the Narnians?"
Nikabrik nodded. "And they'll tell you that I was right wanting to kill the boy, badger."
"What about you my lady?" Trufflehunter ignored the dwarf.
"I'm going back into Telmar but only I briefly," I assured them. "And I'll see if I can find Trumpkin."
Everything was happening so suddenly, Caspian, the horn, the planets... But I'd been waiting a thousand years, I was going to be ready for it.