A/N: This is not my first fanfiction but I am still fairly new, so I hope you will enjoy this story as much as I enjoy writing it. I have been reading Chronicles of Narnia fanfiction for a while now and have been enjoying it (maybe a bit too much), so I thought I might give my imagination a go and see what I can come up with.
Please note that there are OCs included in this fanfiction, and they will be encountered starting in this chapter. So if you don't recognize a name, know that the character was added in by me.
The conflicts set in this fanfiction are created by me, and the fic is set in the movieverse – as such, Peter is about 20, Susan is 19, Edmund is 17 and Lucy is 15.
It would mean the world for a review!
Chapter 1: The Shuddering Woods
"Focus. Head up. Relax your muscles. Ease your strain."
The repetitiveness was effectively wearing Edmund out, and the growing annoyance in Oreuis' voice was not of help either. "It's not like I'm not trying," is the only thing the young king could say over and over, but Oreuis is Oreuis, and no special treatment was earned. Another swift movement of a bow Oreuis has lent him, and the arrow had cleanly missed the sack of grain it was expected to hit. "We've been at it for hours," he manages to say, as he lowers his bow for what feels like the thousandth time. "And the bow is Susan's forte, is it not? I'm a man. I am more suited for swords and shields and – "
"The weapon does not define the warrior, my king," Oreuis replies calmly. "His actions do. And a great warrior has a great knowledge of weaponry; thus, his high king has requested I tutor you on the many aspects of a bow."
A great clunk awoke the half-asleep training grounds of Cair Paravel as Edmund deliberately dropped his wooden bow. Edmind's dark eyes intensely met Oreuis' similar ones, and he said, with no air of tolerance in his voice, "These are Peter's orders?"
Realizing what he had revealed, Oreuis heaved a sigh and rested his great arm on Edmund's shoulder. "His Majesty has his ways, young king. I attempted to persuade him to perhaps continue your studies in swordsmanship, but he insisted I show you the many ways of harnessing a bow."
"But Susan can harness a bow!" Edmund complained, swiping Oreuis' hand off his shoulder. "And Lucy – what about Lucy? Where is she, then, if Peter is so scared that –"
"Do not think I did not protest his orders to prevent her majesty from studying weaponry," Oreuis said, his voice strong. "I hold the very strong personal belief that even she may need to fully master the art of swordsmanship, given the circumstances."
"And Peter?" Edmund demanded. "What about him? Why am I here, sweating and tired in the blazing morning sun, while he's lounging about the corridors all day –"
"My king," Oreuis interjected seriously. "King Peter is not wandering about the corridors all day. He is high king, is he not? He is enlisted to protect not only you and your sisters, but the kingdom and its allies, and at his frail age I assume he would rather be wandering about the corridors, but he does not – he looks to protect you, especially you, and given this most recent conflict –"
And that was where Oreuis drew his breath, realizing he had revealed a bit too much in their training session. And he picked up Edmund's dropped bow, and before Edmund could even begin to ask what conflicts Peter had been facing so early in the morning, Oreuis rode into the weapons room, leaving Edmund behind in the morning heat. "Aslan help me."
Her hair, now waist-length, fell like a water fall down her back in a luscious braid that only her closest ladies knew how to weave – she wore a beautiful gown of forest green, one that Lucy had persuaded her to wear to council the night previous. As she glided through the marble floors of Cair Paravel, graciously living up to her title, every living soul bowed before her, willingly offering respect.
"Her most gracious majesty."
"Queen Susan! Queen Susan!" a quick and sharp cry broke the steady flow of the greetings, and heads, including Susan's, turned to see the young messenger fox Myros running breathlessly in Susan's direction, stopping in his tracks immediately before the two could collide. "Queen Su – er, your majesty!" he quickly changed his addressing after noticing the dirty, misplaced looks that even Susan managed to notice being thrown at his direction. The little fox bowed before her and said, his voice shaky, "My most humbles apologies, your majesty."
Susan's stern look changed to that of a most gracious smile. "All is forgiven, Myros. You are doing well on your first day, and your father will be the first to hear it. Rise."
Myros rose, his posture steady this time, a satisfied grin slapped across his face. "Thank you, milady, very much indeed. I have come bearing a message from his majesty King Edmund."
"Edmund?" Susan proclaimed, the surprise in her voice undeniable. "I believe he is training with Oreuis, is he not? Why would he come bearing messages if Peter–"
"Milady, his most Just majesty departed for The Shuddering Woods not too many hours ago with a hunting party," Myros continued, looking even more so surprised that Susan did upon finding out Edmund had abandoned his training. "He has sent me to tell you he will not return until dinnertime, but I am afraid I am too late in delivering the message before he could leave…"
All of a sudden Susan's pale face grew even paler. Her gaze averted forward, away from Myros. "And Lucy," she said suddenly. "Where is Lucy?"
"Her most Valiant highness asked to accompany King Edmund and his hunting party," Myros continued on. "Oreuis suggested otherwise, but she is, after all, Queen of Narnia."
The latter was meant as a joke, but Susan could not laugh. She instead averted her gaze back to Myros and felt the blood rush through her body again. "Thank you, Myros. You may go. See to it that his Just majesty report to the council chambers as soon as his return."
Myros bowed, and trotted away from Susan and out of sight. And after she managed to gather herself up together again, she walked with the fastest pace a human could without running. Faces, continuing to greet her so early in the morning, went by as blurs and she neither smiled nor nodded back, but saw to it she reached Peter's chambers as quick as she could.
And when she arrives, Myros' father, the great fox who fought alongside the kings and queens in the Battle of Beruna known as Titus, paced back and forth in front of the velvet doors that led to Peter's bedroom.
"Good morning, Titus," she said sternly. "I wish to speak to the High King."
"His most gracious lordship has requested no visitors," Titus said, as if from recital. "I'm sorry, milady."
"Surely that does not apply to the Gentle?" Susan said, easing her face a bit. "I am, after all, family, am I not?"
Titus' face eased as well, and so did his whiskers. "I suppose, milady."
"I will to see to it you do not get apprehended for your inclination," Susan said, smiling at the graying fox. "And give Myros my commendations. He is doing well on his first day. Truly, he is."
Susan saw the familiar glint in Titus' eye as she walked passed him, smiling as she once again gave her thanks. The High King's was the largest in Cair Paravel, and the furthest away from Lucy's, Edmund's, and her own. It was two-roomed and tainted with red velvet and gold, with armors of previous Narnian knights guarding the door to Peter's study. His door was uncharacteristically swinging back and forth, unusually open, and when she pushed the door open with a single hand she saw his unmade velvet bed stacked with his own armor. The sight triggered memories of his old bedroom in Finchley, and she smiled – Peter may have led armies and fought battles, yet he still relied on the Cair Paravel staff to rearrange his bed into something decent.
With no sign of Peter, she made her way to the closed, guarded door of the council chambers, and knocked very audibly twice. "Peter? Open up, will you?"
"Come in," his weary voice replied, and Susan heaved a sigh and twisted the elegant door knob into his study.
Peter was standing upright in a desk meant for sitting. His eyes were fixed on the scattered, disorganized papers on the desk, his tawny hear uncharacteristically messy like Edmund's after a good day of sword training, dark circles evident under his pale eyes: as if he hadn't slept in days.
"Breakfast?" Susan interjects after a while, leaning against the door's opening.
"No, no, not yet," Peter muttered under his breath, stacking an alarming pile of leather books into an accumulating stack that looked like it was about to topple over at any given second.
"Peter," she says quietly, wanting to see her brother look upon her face properly for the first time in several weeks. When he does not respond, she repeats, this time loud, clear, stern and motherly: "Peter." He looks up this time, and now she has a perfect sense of the tiredness in his eyes. She steadies herself. "You'll work yourself to death. Come eat."
"I'm afraid the well-being of this kingdom is far more important than what I put in my mouth, thank you very much," Peter says, averting his gaze back to his uneven stacks of parchment. "Go find Lucy and Edmund, tell them I'll be there for lunch."
"I don't like it when you're like this," Susan finally says, crossing her arms.
Peter sets the stack he has in his hands down and heaves a sigh. "I'm sorry, Susan. But it's either me not getting a bite to eat or the people's alleviation. Just get Ed back from training and I promise, I'll be down by lunch."
It was Susan's turn to heave a sigh. "That's why I came here, actually," she said, as she took a step closer in Peter's direction. "Edmund's left for The Shuddering Woods. He's brought a party, but I still don't quite –"
"The Shuddering Woods?" Peter says sharply. "The Shuddering Woods?"
"I've just gotten the message from Myror, he's left training and he's brought Lucy –"
"Lucy?" Peter adds incredulously. "He's left for The Shuddering Woods and he's brought Lucy?"
"I don't doubt what Myror says," Susan says, the concern in her voice rising. "Don't worry, Pete, I'm sure they'll be fine. The Shuddering Woods – "
"Is south of Narnia," Peter finished, grabbing the nearest belt that rested on a nearby chair. "You're horn. Is it with you?"
"Wha – no," Susan said. "I've left it in the weapons room."
"Call off a search," says Peter, sheathing his sword. "Lend Oreuis you're horn. Have them scour every bit of those woods. I want Ed and Lu back by this noon."
With everything in place, Peter attempted to exit his study room when this time Susan's usually swift hand unusually grabbed his shoulder and stopped him in his tracks. "Peter, what's going on?"
Peter heaved a sigh, closed his eyes, and stared at the ground. "The Shuddering Woods are north of Archenland's borders," he says. He waits for Susan's eyes to widen. "And as of yesterday, we are at war with Archenland."
Which raises the question: why is Narnia at war with Archenland? And why is Peter having Edmund learn all this new weaponry?
To anyone wondering why I chose the Shuddering Woods as Edmund's getaway, I considered Lantern Waste but then remembered that is west of Narnia and that Archenland lies south. The Shuddering Woods' area is not specified, and thus, in this fanfiction, it is located south, not too far from the borders of Archenland (Feel free to correct me if I am wrong).
It will be explained next chapter why Edmund is in the Shuddering Woods with Lucy in the first place.
I would really love to know what you think, and I'll update as soon as I can!