The reason I had wanted to wait until the summer to write this one was because I wanted to have the chance to watch Voyage of the Dawn Treader and see if I could work the story around that instead. However, considering the transformation that occurs in dear James, which is integral to future developments of the story and which can only be 'rationally' explained by the situations offered by the original setting, I have decided to leave it almost as it was, with a few revisions and deletions. This was not an easy decision to make, and I'm still sore about it. I'll have to make a return trip some time and set it during book 5.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy it! Will be updating every few days.
Chapter One: In Dreams We Lose Ourselves
A day or so had passed since the recombination of all the incarnations that had been collected thusfar. Ames had used the time to take it easy and recover from all the magic it had taken to do so. Now, she sat in a wooden chair, one knee drawn up, silently watching the sleeping, seemingly floating Jack. James and Tia were with her—James in the armchair the lass seemed to like using as a bed, and Tia standing by the door—all silently staring, each lost in their own thoughts.
The poor Commodore had been unusually quiet. Ever since the binding ritual. It was as though he could never settle down—a tad jumpy, looking over his shoulder once in a while as if expecting to see some barnacle-encrusted, starfish-faced sailor-gone-postal with a lethal shiver about to attack him—always fidgeting, unable to sit in one place for very long. Right now seemed to be the first time since that he had been able to sit in peace, staring exhaustedly into space.
"Right then," the lass said after a long time, shaking herself from her daydreams. "How are we going to find out where the next manifestation is? I haven't had any dreams, like with self-confidence, and reading the stones and the claws is really not reliable. There are too many parallels for the same place."
"Haf ya recover all ya energy?"
"As much as I am aware of."
"Den I will show ya. Come." The two rose and followed her out. She led them to the divination table, where a sort of narrow wooden reclining chair had been set up.
"When did this get here?" James asked with surprise. Tia Dalma gave him a look. "Right. I keep forgetting not to be informed."
"De way we find out where is t'ru de Dreamin' process. De incantashun be writ on ya brow. Ya fall to sleep, and you dream. De dream show de answer." James and Ames exchanged excited, relieved expressions. "But be warn'," Teacher went on. "De ritual ver' stressful, an' take de mind to 'noder Realm—but wit'out de body. Dis separachun be dengerous ya menta' healt'."
"I'll do it," James volunteered after a few moments' silent debate with his aunt.
"No. It should be me. I don't want you to risk your sanity for mine what's nonexistent."
"Insanity—in its reality, mind you—is a very scary thing that I cannot let you experience. Besides, you'll need a sharp mind to maintain your magic. I am doing it." And to punctuate his point, he sat on the wooden recliner. The chair was very thin—no wider than he was—but years in a hammock prepare a man for these things, and he easily kept his balance where the girl may have fallen. Without giving the lass a chance to protest, he leaned forward to receive the symbol.
Tia Dalma dipped a fine brush in red-black paint, and proceeded to write an incantation on his forehead in an unknown language that bore a resemblance to those of eastern Asia, but which was not any of them. Then, in another alphabet, she wrote along his left cheekbone and temple. She did the same with his right, except in still another language. The process continued: down his nose, along his jaw, and around his neck (this last contained several alchemical symbols.) When finished, she sealed the magic of the original incantation with a gentle kiss, her lips pressed lightly against the symbols. James closed his eyes momentarily. Was he nervous? As if in response, the lines tightened against his face, biting into his flesh. His eyes snapped open, pupils constricting with alarm and anticipation. "Relax, commadore," she said to him with a hint of gentle laughter in her voice, lightly pushing him back to lie down.
"Well," he managed nervously, "see you on the other side, I suppose."
Tia Dalma murmured the incantation, in a language the lass could not identify, in a hushed whisper—like the voice of a spirit floating on the zephyr. In the ensuing silence, she leaned over him, perhaps invading his bubble, though he did not protest, and closed his eyes with her fingers in what might be considered a tender manner. Or perhaps poor Amy was simply being paranoid. With another tender touch, she rested her hand momentarily on his forehead, where the symbols burned, and he was instantly asleep. A quill was placed in his unconscious grip, and left to rest on a piece of parchment on the table beside him. Ames blinked in confusion, wondering what purpose it could possibly serve.
Several minutes passed, and the subtle twitches of muscles, which the lass had observed in the Warriors realm, became noticeable. He was dreaming. It had begun.
His expression was focused, brow furrowed, the incantations glowing a deep red. The general twitches of his muscles grew into more spasmodic movements; his hand was forced over the parchment, the quill making its marks as per. Soon, the spasms became violent convulsions, remarkably similar in appearance to a seizure. The lass cried out in fearful alarm, springing forward to try and help. However, Tia Dalma held her back, and they could only watch. The quill flew across the page, ragged strokes beginning to connect and take shape.
Just as Amy thought he was about to swallow his own tongue—for he was beginning to make a dreadful choking sound—Teacher calmly reached out and touched the spell on his forehead. He bolted upright, eyes flying open and emerald with excitement. His shoulders shook, and tremors ran through him as he panted hard, breathing ragged and uneven. Amy started forward to comfort him, but as soon as she was within range, a hand darted out and closed around her throat. "J...J... ..James?" Slowly, very slowly, he turned his head to look at her. She met his gaze, and her blood ran cold when she discovered a wild look in his eyes, unpredictable, the likes of which she had never seen. "Hey...are you okay?"
"Am I okay?" he growled. "Since when have you cared?"
"I—I care, James."
He chuckled, looking away. Then he looked back at her with real anger in his glare. Even hatred. "What are you to me? You are a child. Why do I follow you so blindly? What good have you ever been to me?"
His grip suddenly tightened, but Tia Dalma grasped his arm and pulled the lass away. "I don't understand — what have I done? What's wrong?"
"Him body awake, but him mind has not returned. Give 'im time ta recova', an' it may yet."
"May?" the lass repeated in panic. Teacher, however, made no reply, only smiled with a knowing glint in her eyes and nodded toward James. His breathing had begun to come more easily, and his shoulders still heaved. And though it pained the lass to see him in such a state, yearning to throw her arms around him and make sure he was all right, she could see that he was calming.
A hand went to his head, and he blinked his eyes open, where they had been squeezed shut, looking around the room in confusion. "Where am I?" he asked hoarsely. His gaze, still an icy green with the excitement, fell on the two women, and both sides stared at one another for several long moments before he seemed to recognize them. He gave them a weak, though triumphant smile and murmured, "It was beautiful." He slowly rose from the chair to observe the marks on the parchment. Ames hesitantly approached, until she was beside him, within view of the picture. "Since when did quills have multi-coloured ink?" she heard him muttering to himself.
"Well? What is de picsha of?"
"It... it's a lamp post," he announced incredulously.
"No," the lass corrected, plucking up the parchment. "Much more better. It is a drawring of a lamp post."
James scoffed. "Oh don't tell me you think you know where it is. How could you possibly know where that specific lamp post is? Wot's that all around it, anyway? Looks to be some sort of frame." It was as though he had never said those hurtful things. But if he wouldn't have said them, why did he?
"Actually, dear boy, it is the interior of a rather ornate wardrobe. See how the doors are opened toward us?"
"All right, I'll give you that. But I don't understand the connection."
"You know, you're a really good artist," she commented divergently.
"Yeah, when I'm having a seizure," he replied, before hastily getting back on-subject. "I mean, really! A lamp post in the middle of the woods? That could be anywhere!"
"But a lamp post that hasn't any paths leading to it?" Why would it be there in the first place?
"Well it's in a clearing." So it could be like any lamp post in a clearing.
The lass laughed. "James: one, Amy: zip. But that's about to change. How many places specifically have," and here she took a deep, preparatory breath, "a-lamp-post-in-a-clearing-in-a-forest-in-the-middle-of-winter-with-snow-everywhere-and-the-whole-place-is-inside-of-a-wardrobe?"
James pursed his lips in thought, unable to answer, and glared half-heartedly at her as she gloated. "All right then, All-Knowing-One, where is it?"
She raised her finger with a grin, all too happy to answer, and relieved that everything between them seemed to be back to normal, when an apostrophe hit her, and lightning struck her brain. An epiphany suddenly bloomed on her. She turned to the mystic. "Teacher, can you tell me something?"
"I can tell you many t'ings, chil'."
"Can you tell me, then, why all of Jack's emotions ended up in worlds that I am intimately familiar with?"
Tia smiled, as though she had been waiting a long time for the girl to ask. "Dat Eohippus fruit long ago—'t bound ya bot' t'gedder. You two are link."
A moment of reflective thought passed. "But... But if that's true, then why have none of his forms shown up in my world?"
The woman considered her for a few seconds, sage gaze holding answers to questions one could never conceive. "Dat, chil', is because you more connect wit' oder realms dan your own. Y'alweys t'inking of anoda' place. Ya heart is neva wit' you d'ere."
The lass's brows came together in confusion as she contemplated Tia's meaning. How could she not be connected with the realm where she had been born and raised? Could it have anything to do with the pending Dimension Convention (as she had nicknamed the Collision)?—would it speed it up or slow it down? Was it normal? She couldn't find an answer to any of these; could only respond to one question with another. "Where?" James finally asked, gently interrupting her circuitous tangent of thought. "Where must we go?"
She turned to him, blinking away the deepness of thought. "Put your armor on, James. We're headed to Narnia."
The two appeared in what James perceived to be a very small space. "I do not see a lamp post, pet." In fact, he couldn't see anything at all. It was black as pitch, and there were furry things crowding around him. "Are these coats?"
"Well it is a wardrobe, after all." He heard a rustling as she navigated her way through the clothing. There were a few moments of silence before he heard her excited voice. "Come on!"
"We are in a wardrobe," he reasoned as he climbed after her. "Where could I possible 'come on' to?"
"Come on, come on," her excited voice urged him from what sounded like a good distance away.
He hastened forward, pushing through the furs until... "Ouch—these aren't coats." Something had pricked him. Another something, invisible in the dark, caught his foot, and in his haste he tripped, bursting through several branches—yes, branches!—and faceplanted, right into something that glittered a dazzling white in the moonlight. With a grunt, he picked himself up, shaking the snow from his armor and wiping it off his muzzle. Muzzle? Wait... "Amy?" he called apprehensively, feeling positively not normal. He spied her some distance away, trotting briskly up what appeared to be a path through the trees. "Wait up!" He stumbled to his feet and took off after her. "Amy, there's something I don't—."
"It's this way, come on!" He raced after her, gaining some ground, before she suddenly turned and disappeared. He skidded to a halt there, and realized that the path made a sharp turn. His eyes sought out her tracks and followed them to their source, which now stood in a small clearing, staring up at a lamp post, which was lit and set all the snow around it in a warm, golden glow. He slowly approached her, preparing himself for an explosion.
He got down on one knee behind her, so as to be at her level, and gently tapped her on the shoulder. "Amy..."
"What, J—Oh my God!" she cried in surprise. She had not been expecting to meet the face of a lion upon turning around.
There was James, a lithe, fit, anthropomorphic lion that did not have a mane. His armor had been altered to a lighter, Narnian style. His hands were very pawlike—or perhaps his paws were handlike—and a cougarish tail curled around him as he gazed at her with concerned, intensely green eyes. "Is it that bad?"
"No way! You're fuzzy!" Her voice took on a Stitch-ish tone. "'Also cute—and fluffy!" Pause. "You're also huge. What are you again?"
"Lord knows," he said with a shake of his head, voice quaking with worry as he considered her and himself. "And I think it is more that you have become smaller than that I am big. Pet."
She looked down at herself. "Holy shnikeys, I'm three feet tall!"
"Two-and-a-half," he corrected her.
A green-haired elf? Her clothes seemed almost Tolkien-esque, a sword at her hip, and a bow and quiver slung across her back. Her skin had a rich golden tan to it. "New question: what am I?"
James bared rows of sharp teeth. "Why are we like this?"
She sat down on his boot, a finger going to her chin in thought. The answer soon came to her. "That's it; you see all this snow and ice? This winter has lasted a hundred years, due to the power of the White Bi—...that is to say, the White Witch. She calls herself the Queen of Narnia, but that's a lie. But there is a prophecy that two Sons of Adam and two Daughters of Eve would come to vanquish her. Two boys and two girls. Humans. Now, at the moment, there are no humans native to Narnia. The only ones here are four siblings who came through the wardrobe. They are the ones from the prophecy. So there cannot be any other humans here, or else the prophecy would be wrong. That's why we're like this." She rose to her feet and looked around her with a wistful smile. "I've always wanted to come here, you know?"
There was a sudden rustling in the bushes, startling them both—poor James's tail puffed out to an embarrassing girth—and they drew their weapons. "Traitorous trees!" she hissed, baring teeth that included canines definitely not human. "They have heard us speaking of the prophecy and must be sending for a means of our arrest!"
"Who would arrest us?"
"Maugrim," she growled. "And the other werewolves." If James were human, he would have paled. The fact that he wasn't made him uneasy. The fact that nothing else was didn't help.
And thus, the beginning of a new episode! Please leave a review on your way out!