Caspian stood in the dark shadows of the How's main cave, watching as a crowd began to gather. He could see Susan standing in the middle, on top of a step. All eyes were fixed on her, and indeed, he couldn't take his eyes off of her glowing form either.
"Listen!" the Queen cried, and the din died down.
"I propose a Narnian game of old, a series of challenges. Challenge whom you wish to a battle of skills, and the winner will have bragging rights. The challenges will consist of races, archery, swordplay, swimming, and any others you can think of" She finished with a sharp look all around the room. The Narnians nodded in agreement, some even cheering.
Susan's eyes searched around the room, finally falling on Caspian.
"I challenge Caspian to a battle of all skills, do you accept?" She asked him, her strong voice cutting through the chatter. All eyes fell on Caspian.
"I do" He said, nodding to Susan. She nodded back, stepping down off the step. The crowd began to disperse, and the Queen made her way over to him.
"Are you excited?" She asked, blue eyes glowing. Caspian nodded in reply.
"I am" They both smiled, and Susan stepped forwards and did something she had never done before. She embraced him, pressing her face into his chest. He hugged her back, breathing in her scent. She smelled of chamomile and rain water.
"I will see you tomorrow?" She asked, pulling away.
"I hope so" Caspian replied, smiling. The Queen left, leaving Caspian staring after her.
The next morning dawned bright and early. Reepicheep informed Caspian that he was expected at the archery range, the little mouse's tail quivering in sheer excitement.
Caspian made his way out to the range, crossbow in hand. Some spectators had gathered, conversations buzzing in the morning air.
"Milady" Caspian said, acknowledging Susan as he walked up. She nodded back, and he took to checking over his crossbow, making sure it would work. The archery judge, a faun that Caspian couldn't remember the name of, called them to ready stances. A target was set twenty-five feet away, and Susan was given first shot.
She stepped forwards, selecting an arrow carefully from her quiver. She took her time aiming, lining it up perfectly. The red wood of her bow gleamed in the sunshine, and Caspian began to doubt his archery prowess.
Susan released her arrow, and it hit the center of the target with a satisfying thud. Two helper fauns removed the target, measuring the distance. Susan had hit the very center.
The target with Susan's arrow was put back into place, and Caspian took aim. Hushed whispers broke out over the crowd, and Caspian began to sweat.
He took aim with his beloved Telmarine crossbow, lining up the shot perfectly. He pulled the trigger, and the short arrow hit the target, miraculously slicing Susan's arrow in two. He looked around to see everyone in shock around him, and Susan's open mouthed expression. She looked angry. The crowds cheered.
"Set the targets further back" Susan said, and the crowd's cheers died down. The helper fauns pulled the arrows out and replaced the targets, setting them back another ten feet.
They went in the same order, with the exact same result. Caspian split Susan's arrow yet again. She called for another moving of the targets. Now they were at forty feet, and you could barely see them.
Susan took aim, and shot the bow, sending the arrow flying away. Caspian knew he was finished. When the word came in that it was the exact middle, perspiration began to run down his shirt. By now, it was midday, and the sun was bearing down on them.
Caspian took aim for the final time, pulling the trigger and praying it hit. A roar went up from the crowd as the announcer revealed that Caspian had yet again, split the Queen's arrow. Both contestants were in shock. Susan dipped her head in acknowledgement of her loss, and Caspian offered his hand to shake.
Susan took it, but avoided his eyes. Caspian felt a pang as he realized he had humiliated his Queen. This would not go over well with the others...
On the contrary, the Pevensie boys congratulated him on his victory at dinner that evening. Peter clapped him on the back and laughed.
"You have beaten one of the great Narnian Queens of old, don't feel so badly Caspian"
Despite Peter and Edmund's enthusiasm, Caspian felt a bit guilty.
He was getting a bad feeling about this contest...