Disclaimer: Nothing is owned by me. Merely the characters, cities and names you do not recognise :) Other than that, C.S Lewis has dibbs.
A/N: Second chapter, or rather said. First. Things will be much clearer since everything starts here :) Thank you very much for your lovely reviews and support, I'm glad to see you guys liked it. Even though it is different than my other Narnia stories. I'm actually looking forward in writing this. Somewhat of a challenge ;) Hopefully you guys will like this one too! Enjoy:
P.S Remember, this chapter is BEFORE the Prologue :)
Crack In Their Armour
"We have to attack Tarsa!" Peter exclaimed loudly. He grabbed hold of the edge of the table, his knuckles turning white as he eyed members of the Narnian council. His blue eyes settling on the head of the table where Caspian sat. The High King; his brother-in-law. His dark eyes thoughtful and firm. He always was the less violent Telmarine of them all.
"Tarsa is a holy city! Besides, those walls have not been breached over thousands of years." Lord Maren exclaimed. Peter eyed the short, plump Telmarine. His dark hair had streaks of grey in it and his dark orbs were narrowed. Peter was prepared for opposition, however, Lord Maren always knew how to work on his nerves. Peter scrunched his eyes shut for a few seconds.
"Last I checked." Peter began viciously. "Holy cities do not plan an attack on Narnia. Nor do they have an alliance with Calormen." He narrowed his eyes at Lord Maren who sank back into his chair.
"Peter, do you have proof?" Susan's voice was mellow compared to all the other males in the Council. Peter turned to his sister and gave her a calculated look.
"Of course." Peter responded. "I have gotten word of one of our finest spies that Tarsa has agreed to forge weapons for Calormen. In a span of a few days Calormen's army will march to Tarsa, claim those weapons and attack Narnia."
"Attacking Narnia would mean they would have to cross the Great Desert and Archenland." Edmund retaliated. "That would constitute more of a risk to them than to us. It doesn't seem rational." Peter gritted his teeth loudly. Rational be damned. He knew this was true.
"And since when were wars rational?" Trumpkin piped up. "I say we attack Tarsa before they attack us." The dwarf put his hand on the wooden table and glanced at the High King before turning his eyes to Peter. Seeing the approval in his eyes gave Peter a new sense of courage.
"You cannot just march into Tarsa." Another voice piped up. A new voice. Lord Kevan. "Those walls were made to keep enemies at bay. You cannot breach the wall with one single army."
"There is a first time for everything." Peter answered coolly. "But right now we have no other choice but to attack."
"Hang on!" Edmund exclaimed. "Peter, you do realise that you only have the word of a spy. Can he be hold accountable when it turns to be a lie?" Peter dropped his eyes to the table. "Narnia will pay the price. I say we wait till Calormen decides to attack, at least we'd be certain."
"And die while they invade Narnia." Peter retorted. "That is not an option Edmund."
"We'd be fighting on our turf." Susan offered. "We'd have the advantage here. Waiting is the best option."
"Don't you see?" Peter exclaimed. He could feel the anger in his veins. The frustration. The lack of their support weighed heavily on his shoulders. "Attacking them now would catch them off guard. We'd have the element of surprise! We may not be fighting on our own turf but we'd be fighting them knowing we can win." He could see the frown colouring Susan's face.
"How can you be so certain?" She asked him sharply. "We've never had reasons to be suspicious about Tarsa before."
"And nor should we!" Lord Maren put in, showing his disapproval. "It is a holy city."
"Yes, we've established that, Lord Maren." Peter gritted out irritably. A smile tugged on Caspian's lip as he eyed Peter.
"That's beside the point." Edmund said. "Attacking Tarsa will mean open war." Edmund looked at Peter.
"I know." Peter looked at his younger brother who had managed to tower over him, despite the fact he was younger.
"And you still want to take that risk?" Edmund asked heatedly. "Peter, we can't just assemble an army that quickly, we need-"
"Well would you rather wait for them to kill us?" Peter snapped. "An advantage has been given to us. We need to use it, otherwise it'll be a massacre. And I'll be damned to leave Narnia open for attack." Peter turned his eyes to Caspian. He was surprised Caspian still hadn't said a word.
"You seem so certain that Calormen will attack us." Edmund spoke. "What if they don't? Then what?"
"We'll cross that bridge if we get there. But right now we are wasting time arguing about this." Peter ran his hand through his hair before putting his hands on the table again. He was standing now. He glanced at Caspian. "We are running out of time."
"You're far too eager to risk open war, Sire." Lord Kevan spoke up. "Calormen does not hold a grudge for Narnia. They never have."
Peter shook his head and pinched the bridge of his nose. "That's not true. Remember Prince Rabadash? Calormen was eager for war." Peter pointed out crossly. "This is merely proving the fact that Calormen is not to be trusted."
"Oh Peter, you do realise that, that was years ago." Susan reacted and she waved her hand in the air. As if brushing it aside. Her pale blue eyes were set on Caspian as she shook her head, already making her opinion known. "You cannot possibly hold them accountable for something that happened 1300 years ago."
"That is not the point." Peter responded agitatedly.
"Then what is?" Edmund continued. "Susan is right, Peter."
"Waiting for them to slaughter us isn't an option either! For Aslan's sake, listen to me!" Peter shouted. His skin tinged red and he realised that he had raised his voice. The decibel shocking everyone. "I will not sit here while they stake their claim at something that was never theirs in the first place. I will not let history repeat itself! Narnia will not be rendered defenceless. Now Caspian, you tell me. Do you not agree?" Peter turned his eyes to Caspian.
He couldn't read the expressions, he couldn't decipher them. In the few years they have all lived together Caspian was the one who always kept his emotions in check. Peter had to admit that this was probably the best thing to do. It was what made him brilliant as the High King of Narnia. And even though there was still that tinge of envy that would stab him in the back because of it, he had to admit. Caspian was doing a better job at it than he would ever do. He was just too bloody temperamental. Maybe that's why Edmund and Caspian always got along so well. Their tempers were the exact same.
It had been almost five years since Aslan had given them the choice to stay in Narnia. And Peter was relieved that this time they were given a choice and they had thoughtfully chosen to stay here. Knowing that if they left they would never return again. And they weren't willing to make that sacrifice. So years passed with Caspian as the High King. Susan's opinions mattered to Caspian the most. Partly because she was his wife and he always was smitten with her but also because he knew that she would be the only one thinking logically whereas the other councillors would think with their Y chromosomes as Susan had once put oh so eloquently.
Peter kept Caspian's gaze and finally he made some kind of reaction.
"What do you want me to do, Peter?" Caspian asked.
Peter narrowed his eyes. "I think it's rather self-explanatory." Peter responded. "Assemble our armies and march to Tarsa. Cut off Calormen's escape route. If we can control the city of Tarsa, Calormen would never be able to cross the Great Desert. After all, the only city in the middle of the desert would be Tarsa. We would could surprise them and not only take over the Tarsanian weaponry but at the same time stop the attack from happening at all."
"Do we even have enough men to breach the walls of Tarsa and attack the Calormen army?" Edmund asked sharply. "This is a massive risk we would be taking, Peter!"
"We've conquered a massive army with fewer men before." Peter pointed out to Edmund. "Why do you think we're still standing here?" Peter turned to Caspian again. "Caspian, we can do this."
Caspian dropped his eyes to the table for a few seconds and Peter could hear the anticipated sighs from everyone around the table.
"I say it's time to assemble our army." Caspian suddenly said. "It seems we have a long journey ahead of us."
"The Eastern wall has been breached. It'll only be a matter of time before the main gate will be taken over by those savages." Pari let out a sharp breath and turned her dark eyes to Afsaneh. "The walls of Tarsa have never been breached before. How is this possible?"He was looking at her with a serene expression yet she could see the panic in his eyes. His eyes reflecting the panic she felt, yet could not afford to express. She wanted to succumb to the constricting lump in her throat. Instead she straightened her back and took a deep breath, filling her lungs with oxygen. She couldn't deny that every breath she took felt like poison now the Narnians had invaded her city.
"It seems that there is a first time for everything." Pari said softly. She turned her eyes to the floor as her heart kept beating with the faintest underlying coat of dread.
Their voices were loud in the tall chamber. Its beauty normally shone in this light. But the second the sun had set she had felt knot in her stomach. As if something bad was going to happen, and she was right. Exactly two hours after the descending of the sun the attack started. Thinking it was impossible to breach the walls of Tarsa, Pari mostly kept her head cool, knowing that after a while the enemy would realise that Tarsa was not a city to be taken lightly, including its safety measures. But then the eastern walls were breached and it wouldn't take long before the city would be fully invaded by the Narnians.
"Do you think they're after the key?" Pari snapped her eyes to Afsaneh. He was a loyal friend and councillor, yet she could not voice her fears properly, not the way he could. She breathed out carefully.
"No!" She said earnestly. "Narnians were never interested in the secrets the key hid. Nor the power it could provide them. Besides, the key was disguised in fairytales. I am almost certain that Narnia was among those who believed it to be a fairytale. "
"But the Telmarines-"
"Are gone!" Pari intercepted. "Narnia belongs to the Narnians again and the Telmarines are gone." She said firmly. "I do not know what they want but it seems there is only one way to find out, Afsaneh!"
"What is that?"Afsaneh questioned. She glanced at him through the corner of her eyes.
"Await the arrival of the king." She announced. Ignoring the silence that had now fallen in the room.
She could hear the battle from a distance if she held her breath. The clashing of swords in the dark. The screams of victims. Her people. Her head spun with dread. Narnia had never shown any interest in Tarsa, nor had they shown any hostility but they had fallen so easily to her advances that she couldn't help but wonder their true purposes. She hadn't realised that it was so easy to plant that little seed of doubt in their heads. And they fell for it so quickly. But now, as she saw how they attacked her precious city, she knew that perhaps she should've thought about it before. Pari sighed and turned her head away from the window. It seemed that looks could deceive and that was most certainly the case with Narnia.
Perhaps it was true what was said about them. Narnians were savages.
But then again, where did it put her? After all, she sacrificed her own city for a cause not their own.
Her heart was beating loudly in her chest, reverberating in her ears. Every thump pulsed through her body like a beat of a drum. But those drums had long stopped, yet she still heard them, felt them. Their pattern so repetitive she had trouble with breathing. But this would end soon. It was only a matter of time and Narnia would realise they were here for something that did not exist and at the same time protect Tarsa from falling apart when Calormen would attack them. She was surprised that Narnia would truly think that Calormen would collaborate with Tarsa. Tarsa didn't hold alliances with anyone but themselves. Their loyalty was to their people. Yet here Narnia was. And she knew that somewhere in the distance Calormen's army was marching to her city. Ready to destroy everything she'd fight for.
Her feet echoed loudly in the corridor. She passed servants and maids and she quickly ordered them to leave as soon as they could. Their safety mattered to her, she was doing everything she could to quench the guilt that overtook her. After all, Narnia being here was her fault. She rounded the corner and ascended the stairs leading to the western tower. She had to reach the High Temple before the Narnians were inside her palace. The fabric of her dress felt heavy and she wondered if that didn't have anything to do with the fatigue that was plaguing her. She had to push it away though. Despite the fact her thoughts swirled together.
"Do you have it?" Pari cried out as she reached the High Temple in the Western side of the palace. She eyed her cousin Zara frantically and was relieved to see her holding the fabric that beheld the key. She grabbed hold of it and pulled out the knife shaped key. Its blade was rather blunt and wouldn't do any damage whatsoever, however, the hilt was adorned with heavy jewels like red rubies that only put the emphasis on its beauty.
And this was exactly the thing that Pari had to protect. With her life if she had no other choice. She looked at Zara. Her hair was pulled at the back and her eyes were filled with tears. Pari softened and put her hand on her cousin's cheek.
"I am sorry." Pair apologised. "If I had another choice you know I would take it." Zara nodded.
"I know Pari. Please, be careful though. You're more than just the Guardian." Pari dropped her eyes to the floor and nodded. Knowing that this was not the case at all. It was all she was. A guardian. The Guardian to the key. The one that kept the world's fate in its hands.
"You cannot tell anyone about this." Pari reminded Zara. "Not even Afsaneh." Her trusted councillor who was more of a father to her and he meant more to her than to anyone else. "I have to do this alone." Zara nodded.
"Do not worry. I won't tell." Zara assured her softly. "Now come, when are you leaving?"
Pari frowned. She wasn't quite sure when to leave. "When you'll least expect it." Zara stopped her movements.
"Pari, whatever you do. Do not leave now. You have to confront the Narnians before you leave. You wouldn't stand a chance." Pari nodded.
"I know. I am not planning to leave just yet." Pari told Zara. "However you have to help me. I need to keep the key hidden at all times. Even my chambers aren't safe anymore." Zara frowned.
"Do you have any idea who the traitor is?" Zara asked in a hushed voice. Pari shook her head.
"No. But I will. Soon." She promised and then she bend down and held up her dress as Zara strapped the dagger shaped key to her thigh.
"No one will notice." Zara told her. Pari smiled weakly.
"I hope so." Pari murmured softly. She let go of the dress and tried to ignore the heavy object on her leg. "Now go, Zara! It is best if they found me alone." The tears now brimmed over and stained Zara's cheeks. She wrapped her arm around Pari and Pari had trouble keeping the lump at bay in her own throat.
"Be safe." Zara whispered before leaving the High Temple in a pace that would be seen as fleeing. Pari took a few deep breaths before descending the stairs again. Her eyes swiftly scanned every corner she came across for foes that were supposedly hiding. She wanted to control her fear and the dizzying anxiety that came with it. But she had no idea how to control it. So she merely followed her instincts and hoped it would lead her onto the right path.
Pari was somewhat glad to see that the palace was practically empty. At least she wouldn't have to worry about innocents be taken down with her. As she walked down the corridor her eyes suddenly caught the vision of a massive lion. One that was painted on a shield. And that could only mean one thing. They were here.
Pari didn't know why she did what she did but she froze and her heart was telling her to run. And not for the first time in her life she did what her heart told her to do. She ran.
"Seize her!" A voice exclaimed and Pari moved down the opposite side of the corridor.
"But Sire, that is the princess." Knowing those words wouldn't make that big of a difference she held up the pace and quickly descended the stairs to the court yard.
Her eyes still focused on the fire that licked her feet made her blind to the danger ahead of us and she slammed right into a solid wall. Her head throbbed because of the impact and she felt an arm wrap itself around her waist as gravity beckoned her to come down. Her knees weak with fatigue influenced her movements and she struggled with the last bit of energy she had. Feeling triumphant with the exclamations of pains of the assailant that held her in his grip.
"Let go of me!" Pari ordered. "You filthy Narnian." She raised her head and her hands fell limp as she caught the look of the one person she had not expected.
Her heart now beating loudly again as her vision filled itself with the bluest eyes she had ever seen.
Peter knew that women weren't people to trifle with. Gods, his experience in London alone would've taught him this but growing up with two very dominant sisters made him see this at an age no other man before him. But having met the Princess of Tarsa he certainly agreed again. She certainly wasn't a woman to trifle with. He was surprised when she attacked him and he pulled her petite body against his to keep her hands from hurting anyone, himself mostly.
But then his eyes met hers and suddenly every thought faded away. She was not like any other woman he had met before. Everything about her was kissed by the sun. Her skin, like dark honey and her eyes, the colour of chocolate. And her hair, blacker than anything he had ever seen before. But mostly, the fiery look on her face. The one that said that she would never give up without a fight. That was what attracted him to her. But then she had to open her mouth.
"You filthy Narnian." Peter narrowed his eyes at her and tightened the grip he had on her, not realising that he was holding her far too close than what would be seen as appropriate.
"You better watch your tongue, princess." Peter spat. Resentment clear on his face. He was smug when he saw her face fall a bit but agitation made itself prominent again when he saw she was glaring at him.
"Peter, what are you doing?" Edmund's voice penetrated his eardrums and he quickly let go of the princess, not seeing she was making a move to escape again. She lunged to the dagger in his belt and he was shocked when he realised she had nicked it and was now pointing it Peter. He hated the fact he was slightly in awe when he noticed that she had no idea what she was going to do with it. He quickly took a step back.
Though he was certain she wouldn't use it.
"The lovely Princess of Tarsa." Peter muttered out loud. Hearing the slight scoff of Trumpkin as he stood next to him.
"What should we do with her?" Trumpkin asked. Peter noticed the way everyone's eyes lingered at the princess.
He should've known that she was beautiful.
"I think that belongs to me!" Peter said steadily as he held out his hand, motioning to the dagger. Her eyes flicked to his hand briefly and he took chance of grabbing her wrist tightly and pulled out the dagger from her loose grip. He turned around her arm, harsher than necessary and twisted her arm behind her back. "Lesson one, never let your opponent distract you." He whispered in her ear and he heard her sharp inhale of breath. A smirk tugged at the corner of his lips.
"Oh how proud you must be." Her voice made his skin tingle. He oppressed that feeling. "King Peter the Magnificent." She spat. "Invading an innocent city. What does your honour say about that?"
Peter narrowed his eyes and he dropped the grip on her wrist, feeling guilty when she spun around to face him, he didn't miss the look of pain as she rubbed her wrist. He hadn't meant to be this harsh with her.
"Innocent?" Peter scoffed. "An innocent city does not forge weapons with the enemy."
She scowled. "Tarsa has no enemies."
"Narnia does." Peter informed her sharply as he bent towards her. His eyes solely focused on hers. A sea of chocolate it seemed.
"Peter!" Edmund's voice pulled Peter out of the invisible grip the princess seemed to have. "Bring her to Caspian. He is waiting." Peter reluctantly pulled away his eyes from the princess and grabbed hold of her arm pushing her in front of him.
"I suggest you start walking." Peter said. "Princess." He added with a mocking smile and he found himself smug as her eyes narrowed in disgust before she turned her head away from him. Surrounded by Narnian and Telmarine soldiers made it impossible for her escape.
"Care to explain what just happened?" Edmund asked with a curious glint in his eyes, although the amusement was clear on his face.
Peter narrowed his eyes at his younger brother. It was so like Edmund to see things that weren't there.
A/N: Thoughts are thoroughly appreciated :) Leave me a review ^^