"Are you sure about this, Lu?" Peter asked, forever the overly cautious older brother.
"Of course I'm sure, Peter," The Valiant Queen said. "She wants to meet us, so she will."
"But are we really thinking this through?" Susan asked.
"Oh, for Aslan's sake," Edmund rolled his eyes. Why did his older brother and sister always have to be so . . .you know what he meant!
It had been hardly a month since the Kings and Queens had been put on the throne.
On her dark brown gelding, Queen Susan the Gentle's horn hung on her saddle, and her bow within reach. High King Peter the Magnificent rode a white stallion, his sword Rhindon in its scabbard at his belt.
Queen Lucy the Valiant rode a dappled gray mare, her cape hanging over the horse's rump, and her dagger at her belt. Her brother, King Edmund the Just, sat atop a blue roan gelding, beside his little sister.
"Remind me again what we're doing," Edmnud said. "Why are we riding in the middle of nowhere?"
"Edmund!" Lucy protested. "They trees will think you're mean," Edmund rolled his eyes.
"Because, Ed," Susan put in, "There's a seer around here somewhere, and she wants to meet us."
"Why does she want to see us?" Edmund asked. "I mean, we've never met a seer,"
"Then now's as good a time as any," Lucy decided. She peered around her. "It should be around here somewhere,"
"What did the messenger say?" Edmund asked.
"To head four miles into the woods, and that she would find us," Susan said.
"And I have," a smooth voice like silk echoed around them. "Please, come in, and leave the horse outside. No harm will come to them."
The roots of a giant tree nearby untwisted to reveal a door.
The Kings and Queens dismounted.
"Who is this person?" Edmund muttered.
"Cool it, Ed," Susan admonished.
Inside the tree was very different from the world outside.
For one thing, the radius of the tree couldn't have been more than ten feet around, but the room inside was big enough to hold all four horses in addition to their riders.
The walls seemed to be made of roots, and in every nook and cranny among them, there was water pooled. The ceiling seemed to come to a tapered end, and the door swung shut behind the Kings and Queens. The room was filled with anything and everything. Books, paper, quills, ink, bark, acorns, leaves, rocks, picture frames, weapons, cups and bowls, and anything else.
In a table in the center sat a large bowl filled with water. There were five chairs, as though their host had been expecting them. One for her, and one for each King and Queen.
Their host herself sat behind the table, a white mouse on her shoulder. She was very beautiful, with her long dark hair and purple cat eyes. She had long ears tapered at the tips, and a silvery sheen of beauty around her. The woman wore a long white gown that seemed to shimmer as she moved.
"Greetings, Sons of Adam," She said to Peter and Edmund. "And to you, Daughters of Eve,"
The Kings and Queens nodded.
"Who are you?" Edmund asked, and Lucy elbowed him.
"Be nice," She hissed at him.
The woman smiled. "My name is Azasha Du Chandra, the last of the seeing elves of Narnia."
The Sons and Daughters of Adam and Eve looked at each other.
"You're an elf?" Peter asked.
Azasha nodded. She gestured at the chairs before her. "Please, sit," The Kings and Queens did so.
"Oh, he's adorable," Queen Lucy the Valiant cooed, looking at the mouse on Azasha's shoulder.
Azasha smiled, and gently picked up the white mouse.
"His name is Koeh," She said, passing the mouse to the youngest Queen. "He likes you," She noted as the mouse snuggled against the young girl. "I have never seen him take so quickly to a person before."
"But, he's a mouse," Edmund said.
"10 out of 10 for observation," Susan muttered.
"Yes, he is a mouse, Son of Adam," Azasha said. "But he has a pure heart, and his soul is cleansed of those that can make him evil."
Lucy looked at Azasha as she stroked Koeh. "You wanted to see us? Why?" she asked.
"Because you are my Queens and my Kings," Azasha said. "And I make it a point to meet anyone who needs my help."
"What makes you think we need help?" Edmund challenged.
"Ed—" Peter began, but Azasha cut him off with a raised hand.
"Elves have clear sight, Son of Adam. We are not of Adam and Eve, but of the world around you. My ancestors were the trees and the grass, the mountain lions and the field mice." Azasha said. "I am a seer, the last of my people. You need me, Sons of Adam, Daughters of Eve,"
"Fine," Peter said, "But how can you help us?"
Azasha held out a pale slender hand with long nails. "Give me your hand, Son of Adam," she said.
Peter reluctantly stretched a hand across the table and bowl of water. The elf gripped his forearm.
Azasha plunged the hand into the bowl, into ice-cold water. Peter cried out in surprise.
"What are you doing?" Edmund demanded.
Azasha took a knife from her belt, and sliced the forearm of the High King, who yelled.
"Stop it!" Susan screeched.
"No," Lucy said quietly. "Let her," she said, and her brothers and sister looked at her. "It's magic,"
"But it's hurting him!" Susan said.
"Life has pain," Azasha said. "Or else it would only be a dream," And she sliced the High King's arm again.
As the High King fought to wrench his arm away, the blood floated into the clear water. Azasha put the bloody knife on the table, and let go of Peter's bloody arm. His face contorted with pain, he clenched his fist as Susan grabbed his arm to examine it.
"He will live," Azasha said vaguely. "None have ever died at my hand,"
She examined the bloody water. Getting up, she searched the room for something, looking under and over and around anything. "Where did I put it?" She mumbled. "I know it was— here!"
She pulled out a small box.
Azasha set it down on the table next to the bloody knife, and opened it.
She thrust a roll of bandages at Susan, and then returned to rummaging around in the wooden box.
"A bit weird, isn't she?" Edmund whispered.
Azasha pulled a small bag out of the box, and opened it.
"What's that, Azasha?" Lucy asked. Koeh had climbed onto her shoulder, and was in the process of exploring the shoulder of his new friend's dress.
"Bones," She said, dropping each into the bowl of water as she named them. "From the ear of a griffin, from the tail of a mermaid, a piece of a horn of a minotaur, from the hoof of a centaur, and one last piece," Before dropping it into the bowl, she held it up. "A bone from the skull of a Son of Adam," She dropped it into the bowl of water and blood.
"I don't even want to know where you got that," Edmund said.
"Ed, honestly," Susan admonished, wrapping a bandage around Peter's arm.
Azasha looked down at the bowl. Her eyes widened. She grabbed the bowl and poured the water out of a window.
"This is bad," she muttered. "This is bad, bad, bad,"
"What?" Lucy asked. "What's wrong?"
Azasha sat down again. "I have been given a prophecy." She sounded a bit distressed. "And it is a terrible prophecy."
"What is it?" Edmund pressed.
Azasha took a deep breath.
"There are four, but Two will come,
Together there will be but six,
Then the time of peace is done,
One will be the King's beloved,
The Other to be the King's Heart,
But both to be free doves.
One will die while the other must live,
One of witch,
And One of white,
For the love of two Kings
To be lost or gained.
Narnia in danger,
To be overcome,
By the force who had died,
Through one of the Two,"
"You know that doesn't rhyme," Susan said, trying not to look shaken. Edmund slapped his forehead.
"It rhymes in Elven, and that's what matters," Azasha said. She turned to the two young Kings. "There will be two in your future, and they will be dangerous,"
"What can we do?" Peter asked.
Azasha shook her head. "One can't change their fate. They can change the path, but the destination remains the same." She got up, and rummaged around in the room again. "But I can give you something to help you,"
Edmund and Peter looked at each other. Should they be worried that the person about to help them had just predicted something that could end in doom?
No, probably not.
"Here," Azasha said. She held a large basket.
Setting it down, she pulled a kitten out.
"For High King Peter the Magnificent," she said, and passed him the kitten. "A white lion cub for power and strength."
She pulled another kitten out.
"For Queen Susan the Gentle," She passed a kitten to the Queen, "A black cat, to watch and wait in the shadows."
Her hands again disappeared into the basket. "For King Edmund the Just," She drew out a bundle of fur. "A white wolf cub, of the ice of memory, and the howl of a pack,"
She turned to Lucy, and smiled. "And for Queen Lucy the Valiant," Her hands dove into the basket to pull out another smaller animal. "A golden eagle for the golden-hearted,"
She passed the chick to Lucy, who cradled it.
Azasha told the young rulers of Narnia. "These are your guardians. Protect them and they will protect you."
Later, with their guardians cradled as they rode home, Edmund said,
"So do we keep them?"
"Of course we keep them!" Lucy insisted. "How can't we?"
"But, Lu, she did seem a bit weird." Peter said.
"She cut Peter, Lu," Susan said.
"To predict a prophecy," Lucy protested. "I like her. And I liked Koeh."
"What's the rat got to do with anything?" Edmund asked.
"It's a white mouse, Edmund, and it's darling." Lucy said. She changed the subject. "What will you call your guardians?"
Peter, Edmund, and Susan looked at each other.
"For my cat, I think Bast," Susan said. "She was the Egyption goddess of cats, you know."
"No, I didn't," Edmund said. "And I think you're weird."
"The feeling's mutual, Ed," Susan retorted cheerfully. "What will you name your lioness, Peter?"
The High King of Narnia shrugged. "I dunno. I mean, she's a white lion cub,"
"So?" Lucy said reasonably. "What color are her eyes?"
Peter looked down at the small bundle of fur that peered at him.
"Call her that, then," Lucy said. "And you, Edmund?"
"I dunno. A white she-wolf," Edmund shrugged. "What do I call her?"
"Well, her eyes are blue-gray," Susan noted. "Something from that, then?"
"Azure," Lucy suggested.
Edmund laughed. "Okay, Lu, I'll call her Azure. But you need to name your golden eagle,"
Lucy looked at the small, feathery bundle she cupped in her hands.
Too young to speak, she cheeped, and Lucy realized that all the animals given to them as guardians were female.
Why was that?
Was is coincidence, or would it matter later?
"Aurea," Lucy said. "It means 'golden'" And no one argued.