Chapter 26

Evelyn stared at the Witch in fury. This plan, it was cruel. It was merciless. It was ruthless. It was malicious. It was sadistic. It was the Witch.

The Witch had made her back bleed again and dressed her in a snow white gown with no sleeves. Over that went an icy blue cloak instead of the fur wraps the Queen had always worn. On her hair, which had been washed and brushed out and pulled into a ponytail that spilled down her back went a tiara of iron. The tiara narrowed out at the back, and actually went under her ponytail, giving her hair a kind of lift so it looked like a frozen golden waterfall. Some of her hair had still been wet, and it was now frozen. On her feet went white fur boots.

Then she was tied to the pole, standing up. A savage looking knife was placed in her hand, and then the Witch stepped back. "Oh, yes. This will break the little King if I do not destroy him," she laughed. Then she dressed in a dress of white fur and gray chain mail. She swept her long white hair back and placed her silver war helm on her head. Evelyn thought it looked a little like antlers if they could be windswept. Either way, the helm was vicious looking. Add the twin swords the Witch carried, and she just looked vindictive.

The curtains of the pavilion were pulled back and Evelyn watched as the Witch stepped onto her elk drawn sled. She stood in it instead of sat like she would in the sleigh, and Evelyn was reminded of a chariot.

The army moved out, and Evelyn glared at the black snowflakes that flew on the gray banners. She listened to them leave, and she prayed to Aslan for her Kings and Queen.

This plan was cruel, Evelyn knew, and it was underhanded. If it didn't break the High King, it would break Evelyn.

High King Peter couldn't help but think how just how similar this was to Beruna. While it wasn't quite spring yet, the winter was weak here, leaving only a frozen dirt and grass battlefield and frigid air. Edmund was also with him, but today he rode Philip at Peter's side. Lucy was on the hill, leading the archers.

Narnia's army was also larger. They had four divisions with the army itself; cavalry, infantry, archers, and air. Cavalry was centaurs mostly, with the Horses, Donkeys, Zebras, Antelope, Gazelles, Deer, Elk, Moose, and anything like that. The front line of centaurs bore long spears, and the rest had their swords. The infantry was fauns and satyrs and some dwarves, along with other Animals like the great Cats, Dogs, Wolves, Coyotes, Foxes, and any others. The Archers were the majority of the dwarves, a few fauns, female centaurs, and a handful of Animals like Mr. Beaver. The Air division was made up of the gryphons, Eagles, Hawks, Falcons, and any kind of bird really. Some of the gryphons carried dwarf archers, and the birds carried stones to drop.

The Hawk from Evelyn's Patrol came soaring back, and dove to the High King's sword arm when he raised it. "They come, Your Majesty. She leads the army herself. They have several Giants, as well," the Hawk told him.

"Then it is a good thing we have our own," King Edmund. High King Peter nodded and then they heard the horns. They could only be described as cold sounding.

"Join your brothers," the High King ordered the Hawk, and flung his arm up. The Hawk pumped his wings and flew to the back of the hill. Then they turned their attention to the horns.

"Great Lion," Edmund swore softly as the Witch's army flooded the battlefield. Her forces nearly doubled the Kings' and both Kings realized that the Silver Witch was intentionally making this battle just like Beruna.

"Are you with me?" High King Peter asked, still watching the enemy.

"To the Death," Orieus replied, drawing his twin swords.

"Always, Brother," King Edmund assured him, drawing his own sword as well. Both Kings turned on their mounts to look to Queen Lucy, who raised her bow in her reply.

"How was my mother unable to beat them?" the Witch scoffed at the sight of her opposition.

"They had Aslan then," her Minotaur General Sinton reminded her.

"They do not have Aslan now. And as my mother said, I have no interest in prisoners. Kill them all," she declared.

And just as his brother Otmin had at Beruna, Sinton let loose with a bellowing cry and raised his axe over his head. The first half of the army surged forward, and the Witch watched with malevolent satisfaction.

The Kings watched as the Witch's army surged forward with terrible battle cries. King Edmund in particular was watching how far along the field they came, and Queen Lucy shouted, "Take your target!"

Suddenly, the front line went sprawling into the frozen grass. Instantly, it created a domino effect as the charging force piled in on top of each other. "Fire!" Queen Lucy ordered, loosing her own arrow. A volley soared over the red and gold army and came down in a devastating wave on the black and gray forces. Sinton himself took Queen Lucy's arrow in the shoulder, but he pushed himself up out of the mess and continued on. A second volley hit the army behind him, and Queen Lucy's arrow hit him in the other shoulder.

"Evelyn's trip wires worked," King Edmund said, shocked. He hadn't really expected such results. They had just wiped out a quarter of the Witch's force and seriously evened the odds.

"Look, my Kings," Orieus pointed to the black Minotaur General. They saw Queen Lucy's four arrows in his chest and shoulders, and watched him fall to his knees. A last arrow finally pierced his heart, and he went face down in the grass.

The Witch watched in astonishment as half of her first wave was destroyed. But she held back the second wave as the survivors regrouped and charged forward like the well trained brainless demons and brutes they were. She watched as the werebeasts in the wave surged forward to the front, and then a horn went up from the red and gold army.

She saw the foolish blonde king lower his visor and draw his sword. She saw him raise it to the air and let loose with a battle cry of "For Aslan!" His unicorn reared, and then the cavalry was charging forward. A few great cats came with them and met the werebeasts in the middle.

She watched the ridiculous white unicorn gallop straight into her force, the king cutting down beasts and demons on either side.

She watched in disgust as her force fell, and then she snapped the reins of her chariot. They'd been forced to change out the runners for wheels when the snow ran out. The elk let out their bellowing cries and heaved forward, and the second half of the army followed.

King Edmund watched his brother cut down enemies one after another, and then he heard one of the horns from the other side. He looked up to see the Witch start forward, and he raised his left fist, the free one. There was a shrieking cry, and then the gryphons and the birds were soaring over their heads. The archers held off, keeping the air clear, and the dwarves in the air peppered the oncoming charge.

Then a group of things rose from the Witch's force. Some looked like huge bats, others like winged monkeys. The King realized they were Unspeakables, a group of demons and beasts that were almost hybrids, and they were not natural. They were never loyal to Aslan, in fact, most couldn't speak. They came from the northern mountains of the Wild Lands, and had names no Narnian being could speak, hence their nickname.

The big Birds, like the Hawks and Eagles, went after the monkeys, while the gryphons without archers attacked the bat things. Some Birds came with the Unspeakables, ravens and crows and vultures, and the other Birds in the Narnian force went after them. King Edmund saw one of his falcons dive bomb a vulture, and he was proud.

He watched the cavalry meet the rest of the Witch's force, and then he raised his sword into the air. "For Narnia!" he finished the High King's battle cry, and Philip let out a fierce some neigh. The infantry surged forward as he charged forward at their head, and then the battle was on them.

At one point, he and Peter fought side-by-side on their mounts, and then it was Orieus beside him. He cut down enemies like he'd been training to do, and he fought back the cold that was rising in his chest.

Queen Lucy held back her archers with shouted orders as the two armies clashed together. She did not want to risk hitting her own soldiers.

But then she had to watch as Peter came face to face with the Witch. They stared at each other, and then the Witch threw a knife at Peter. She had to watch as her brother ducked and fell from the back of his unicorn, who reared and trumpeted furiously. The Witch stepped from her chariot and Queen Lucy swallowed her fear with difficulty.

This was what Evelyn had warned them to watch for. The Witch had challenged the High King.

When the Witch stepped from her chariot and challenged him, High King Peter braced his feet and moved into his fighting stance.

Then the Witch was on him. She slashed and stabbed at him with twin swords in a manner that suggested she had never relied on magic to do her fighting. Very unlike her mother, who had relied on her wand and used her sword as a secondary weapon.

But he was far more trained now than he had been eighteen months ago. He blocked and parried and dodged, getting in his own strikes between hers. Her eyes gave away her surprise, and he resisted the urge to grin. If he grinned, he'd give into the blind rage.

She managed to get the tip of one sword under his shield and rip it from his arm, and he drew his dagger before she could strike at his exposed side. He scored a hit when he sliced across one of her bare upper arms and drew line of blood. She reeled back and for a moment, their duel was paused. "You are going to die, Son of Adam," she hissed.

"Not before you, Daughter of Lithe," he told her calmly.

She snarled wordlessly and attacked again, trying to drive him back. But thinking of what this Witch had done to Evelyn gave High King Peter the strength and endurance to keep the upper hand.

That was, until the Witch realized it. "You fight for her," she laughed, and the duel became one of words.

"Of course. You broke her. To break me," he replied, narrowing his eyes. He had to be careful here. One slip up and she'd have the advantage.

"Do you love her, Son of Adam? Do you know what she has done in my name?" she asked, her eyes turning greener. When the High King gave no reply, she hissed a laugh. "She has learned for me. She has danced for me. She has sung for me. She has trained for me. She has fought for me. She has led for me. She has condemned for me. She has killed for me," the Witch told him.

"You groomed her to do those things. You forced her to think that you were right. And when she defied you, you branded her," he growled back.

"Did she tell you why she got them? Did she tell you that they never bled? Did she tell you that she was stronger because of them? Did she tell you that she was more beautiful because of them?" the Witch asked, "Did she tell you that she is mine? That she is my heir? That she will be the Queen of the Wild Lands? Did she tell you that you'll have to destroy her?"

"Did she tell you that her hair is gold because of Aslan's touch? Did she tell you that the gold ring in her eyes is because of Him?" he asked, and she faltered.

"That's impossible," she hissed.

"Actually, it is possible," he told her, and now it was his turn to attack and drive her back. He pushed her passed her chariot, and eventually she stumbled.

He stabbed at her chest, and time seemed to slow. The blade pierced her heart, and they both stared at it. Silvery red blood spilled from the wound, and he pulled it free. She fell, and the army turned to watch as she did.

The Kings and Queen had to cover their ears as horrid screams and wails rose from the scraps of the Witch's army. Then they turned and fled towards the north. The Narnians however, were having none of that. The archers shot down as many as they could, and when they were out of range, the cavalry and infantry gave chase. King Edmund galloped passed, and the High King waved him on.

He looked for his mount, the same white unicorn stallion he'd rode at Beruna, and was relieved to see him trotting through the warming field. He vaulted up, and then he searched for any of the nineteen prisoners. As if she had read his mind, Emmis galloped towards him, a quiver on her back and a bow in her hand. "Come, Your Majesty. I will take you to her," the centaur said, heading after the two armies. He rode at her side, only once looking back to see Queen Lucy descending on the field, her cordial clutched in her hand.

Then he looked forward and set his mind on his task. Find Evelyn. That was all he was going to do now. And Aslan have mercy on anyone who stood in his way.