Thank you all so much for the reviews and alerts and favorites! I just want to say a special thanks to rainpaint for the suggestion on the dialogue from the last chapter. Thank you for the help! :)
I'm not to pleased with this chapter. It gave me such a hard time to write and I don't feel I captured what I was trying to get across. If some of the characters are out of character, please forgive me. I tried my best, but Narnia just isn't my forte'. I hope you enjoy this chapter. :)
And NarniaGirl97, here it is so you don't have to be sad no more! :P
Special special thanks to croclover95 for putting up with me whinin' bout this chapter for the past week and for suffering through the first draft of it. :)
Disclaimer: The Chronicles of Narnia belong to C.S. Lewis and the directors and writer's of the movies, not me. Though I do claim Torus, I like Torus. haha :P
Chapter 2: Fearful Plans
The cavern was quiet as the wind died down, leaving behind nothing but dusty footprints to show where the three had been. Edmund could only stare in shock at the space Peter and Caspian had occupied just seconds before. Two swords lay discarded on the ground where they had fallen from their hands. Edmund let his own sword fall to his side before replacing it in its sheath.
"What is she going to do to them?" Lucy asked, her voice between a whisper and a sob.
Edmund just shook his head, not trusting his voice to answer. He knew the questions was rhetorical; they all knew the fate awaiting Peter and Caspian. The White Witch had never been one for prisoners. Edmund lowered his head and turned. A crowd had gathered at the entrance, Susan at the front. Her eyes were wide and he could see the fear on her face.
"What happened?" Someone, Edmund couldn't see who, asked.
"Where are King Peter and Prince Caspian?" Another asked.
Those two questions opened the floodgates and questions poured to fast for Edmund to comprehend. "Was that..." "Where are..." "Did you see..." "Why..." Edmund could feel a headache beginning and knew he had to stop the questioning. But what could he tell them? The news that two of their leaders had been kidnapped and an ancient enemy was back would send the Narnians into panic. And what of the minotaur and dwarfs and the other creatures who had sided with the Witch the first time? Suddenly Edmund had much more respect for Peter as High King for having to deal with these thoughts on a day-to-day basis.
He stood their in silence, the questions and talking continuing unceasingly. A hand slipped into his and he looked down to see Lucy. She had tears slipping down her cheeks, but she gave him a small encouraging smile and nodded slowly. Edmund tried to smile back, but he couldn't force one to his face. Looking over at Susan, he saw her nod as well and took a deep breath, knowing what he had to do.
"Quiet!" Edmund said. When the chatter didn't stop, he yelled, "Quiet!" Instantly the talking stopped. "Thank you. I know you all want to know what happened, but their isn't time to explain fully." Here he hesitated, glancing at both his sister's before finishing. "The White Witch has returned, resurrected by Nikabrik and two others."
Gasps and whispers followed that announcement and Edmund could see Susan holding back her tears, though a few escaped and rolled down her cheek. Beside him, Lucy breathed deeply, trying to quiet her sobs that had finally broken free. Edmund waited a few moments for the talking to cease before continuing.
"When the Witch came back..." he paused, steadying his breath. "She kidnapped High King Peter and Prince Caspian."
The crowd roared their denial and anger and Susan lost her battle against the tears, letting them fall down her cheeks. Lucy let go of his hand and slipped her arms around his waist, hiding her face in his chest. Edmund wrapped his arms around her, holding her close, but forced his face to remain blank. With both Peter and Caspian gone, he was the leader of Narnia and that terrified him, but he had to remain strong for his people. He could still feel the fear of the White Witch in him, and he couldn't help but remember his betraying Narnia the first time he had been there. Despite the inner turmoil, he succeeded in keeping his face calm and steady. He met the eyes of Glenstorm, his second in command. The centaur's face was voice of expressions and Edmund briefly wondered what was going through the wise creatures' mind.
"Prepare the council." Edmund said, his voice breaking slightly.
Glenstorm nodded and turned to do as commanded. Edmund watched him go, trying to ignore the sinking feeling in his heart as he looked one last time at Peter and Caspian's swords.
Peter and Caspian stumbled as they hit the ground. Peter managed to keep his balance, but Caspian tripped over his chains and fell on his back. The White Witch landed gracefully beside them, taking a deep breath of the fresh air. They had landed on the edge of a forest, just within the trees. In the open space before them, they could see the Howe, strangely still and void of the usual bustle of the average day of preparation. Peter turned to the Witch, shackles clinking as they rubbed together.
"What do you want with us?" He growled.
"How forgetful you are, my insolent little boy." The Witch replied, turning to study the Howe. "Have you so soon forgotten why we fought all those years ago? I've come to take what is rightfully mine: Narnia and the lives of you and the traitor!"
"Then why haven't you killed me?" Peter asked coldly, not missing the threat against his brother.
"I have other plans for you." The Witch answered, still not looking at him. "After all, why would I want to kill my servant?"
"I'm not your servant." Peter snapped, chains clattering as he moved forward angrily.
"Oh?" The Witch turned lazily until she was directly in front of Peter and met his angry eyes. "Kneel."
"I don't..." Peter was cut off as his knees seemed to give out and he fell, landing on his knees before the Witch. His eyes widened as he struggled to regain his footing, but was unable to. It was as if some magic kept him on his knees.
"Peter?" Caspian asked hesitantly, his shackles clanging as he moved forward.
"How?" Peter asked, ignoring Caspian.
"You willed yourself over to me." The Witch replied, grinning savagely. "One drop of blood for one life given."
"No!" Caspian exclaimed, uncertainty mingling into his voice.
His professor had told him a few stories of the old Narnia, but no story could compare to the cold-blooded terror that stood before him. The same cold-blooded terror that now held his life and Peter's life in her hands.
"Oh yes." The Witch turned on Caspian, who resisted the urge to shrink away under her gaze. "Now little prince, tell me: What enemy has successfully drove the Narnians into hiding?"
"Don't tell her anything, Caspian!" Peter shouted, struggling vainly to stand.
"Not another word!" The Witch snapped, rendering Peter silent. She flashed back to Caspian and barked, "Now tell me!"
Caspian fought not to say anything, but it was like there was another person inside him, forcing him against his will. He stayed silent for a moment, fighting vainly to remain silent, but in the end he had no choice but to obey.
"My uncle Miraz." Shame swept over him as Peter looked up at him in disgust and anger.
"Miraz?" The Witch repeated questioningly. She studied him closely, noticing his different armor and accent seemingly for the first time. "You are not Narnian. Where are you from?"
"My ancestors came from Telmar." Caspian answered. He met the Witch's eyes and held his head higher. "But I have lived in Narnia all my life."
The Witch looked down at him, bringing her hand back and slapping him across the face. The force of the blow forced Caspian's head to snap to the side and he bit back a cry of surprise and pain. Within seconds a red mark began appearing, throbbing uncomfortably warm, but he refused to admit it and kept his hands in front of him instead of reaching for his cheek.
"Tell me, Caspian," the Witch said coldly. "What is your uncle like?"
"He is cruel and selfish," Caspian answered, thankful that this time he wasn't giving away anything serious. "He cares for nothing but the Telmarine crown and will stop at nothing until he controls all of Narnia."
The Witch nodded approvingly, obviously liking what she was hearing. Caspian glanced over at Peter and saw that the High King was looking down at the ground, hands clenched tightly in front of him. Caspian looked back to the White Witch and his shame seemed to multiply. It was his fault that they were in this mes. If he had not gone with Nikabrik, not allowed the hag to perform the ceremony then they would not be here. He felt his shoulder's begin to droop and fought against it, though he wasn't sure why when all was hopeless.
"Where can I find this Miraz?" The Witch asked, breaking into Caspian's thoughts.
"I don't know." He answered honestly.
"Where would you guess?" The Witch asked, barely disguised anger seeping into her voice.
"The bridge." Caspian answered reluctantly. "They will come after the Narnians as soon as possible, but will leave their retreat open toward the bridge."
The Witch nodded and walked over to Peter, laying her hand on his shoulder. The High King glared up at her. The Witch just smirked, grasping his arm tightly and forcing him to his feet once more. She let him go and stepped away, studying her two captives.
"Now," she said. "I believe it is time I met this Miraz."
She held her wand up and, with a muttered word, wind and ice swept around the three and then they were gone.
Edmund looked around the brightly lit cavern, feeling out-of-place in the middle of them all. The council, with the generals and scouts picked by Peter, had gathered around the Stone Table quickly, leaving the rest of the Narnians to go back to preparing for the war. Several fauns, Glenstorm and another centaur, a bear, minotaur, wolf, fox, Trumpkin, Reepicheep, Trufflehunter, Susan, and Lucy all stood around him, watching him intently.
He finger the hilt of his sword, the only outward sign of his nervousness. He had never been comfortable being the center of attention and had gladly left most of the talking to Peter during their reign and since returning. He prefered listening to the others talk, offering his own advice when needed. To be the one to completely plan the rescue mission and, quite possibly, the battle to come unnerved him. The return of the Witch did nothing to help him, only causing him to be set more on edge as unwanted memories resurfaced.
Edmund took a deep breath, glancing behind him to Lucy. His sister gave him a small, encouraging smile, and he turned back to his men, squaring his shoulders and raising his head, pushing his uneasiness back down inside him.
"What are your orders, Sire?" Glenstorm asked, stepping forward slightly.
"We have to find Peter and Caspian." Edmund replied slowly, thinking his plan over one last time. "But we have to be cautious. If the Witch suspects us of being near with a large force she will kill them before we can get close. We need to send out several small scouting parties to find out where she is going and what she plans to do before acting any more."
"I will volunteer to lead a group of mice on an expedition, Sire." Reepicheep said at once, stepping forward with sword drawn and an overexagerated bow.
"Of course, Reepicheep," Edmund smiled. "Torus, I was hoping you would be willing to lead another."
"It would be my honor, Sire." The elder faun, Torus, said with a slight bow.
"Go and choose your men," Edmund ordered. "No more than six. If either of you find the Witch, follow but do not engage her whatever you do. Once you find out where she is headed, report back here immediately."
"Yes sire." Torus and Reepicheep both bowed and hurried out of the cavern to do as they were told.
"The council is dismissed." Edmund announced. "Until we know more there is nothing else we can do but continue preparing for war."
The council all nodded agreement and, with slight bows to the three monarchs, they filed out of the room. A minotaur hesitated as he bowed and met Edmund's eyes and, for an awful second, Edmund was reminded of the minotaurs in the White Witch's army.
"We cannot erase what our ancestors did, your highness," the minotaur said gruffly. "But we stand beside you now, all of us."
Edmund felt his heart lift slightly at that and he smiled, reaching out to grasp the minotaurs furry arm. The minotaur nodded, his hand dwarfing Edmund's.
"Thank you, my friend." he said, "I cannot thank you enough for that.
The minotaur let his hand go and walked away. Edmund let his shoulders relax and turned toward his sisters who both sat on the Stone Table. Lucy gave him a small smile, pride for him in her eyes. Susan didn't look at him, instead she stared at the ground, a thoughtful expression on her face.
"Susan?" he asked gently, recognizing that his sister had something on her mind.
"We don't even know if they're still in Narnia." she said quietly, looking up to meet his eyes. "For all we know she could have taken them to Archenland or the Lone Islands or somewhere far away."
"We have to trust that she didn't." Edmund answered, walking over and placing a comforting hand on her shoulder. "I don't believe she would. She wants the crown too much." He stopped gave her a small smile, squeezing her shoulder.
She smiled back, but the worry and fear remained etched in her face. Edmund let his hand drop and looked over at Lucy. Her eyes were red from crying and worry filled her face as well. She met Edmund's eyes and, for a moment, he wondered where his little sister had gone for the Lucy in front of him was a grown woman, not a little girl.
"What will she do, Edmund?" Lucy asked, her voice quiet and soft.
Edmund looked down and said nothing. He knew what she was suggesting and he knew it was true, no matter how much he had tried to deny it: of all in Narnia, save Aslan himself, he alone had prior experience with the Witch. Yes, Peter, Susan, and Lucy had met and fought the Witch, but only he had spent any amount of time with her. All those years of his reign, the last year in his world, he had tried to forget his experience with the White Witch. And now Lucy was asking him to remember.
Of all his siblings, only Lucy had never questioned his motives. She had always just been there for him, a silent post for him to lean on when he was troubled. Lucy knew how it bothered him and for her to suggest for him to remember showed how desperate the situation truly was. Edmund sighed and let his mind wonder over what he knew and had experienced with the Witch.
"She wants power." he said quietly, looking up to meet Lucy's eyes. "And the crown of Narnia. She'll do all she can to get back what we took from her."
"She would need an army to conquer Narnia again." Susan commented absently.
Edmund's eyes widened as a thought crossed his mind. There was only one place the Witch could find herself an army willing to march against the Narnians. "Miraz!"
"But she wouldn't, would she?" Lucy asked, catching on quickly, her own eyes widening. "Wouldn't she want her own army, not one run by another ruler?"
"She won't be able to raise her own army, not this time." Edmund explained, remembering the minotaur's words.. "She may be cruel and heartless, but she isn't stupid. She'll know that and will do all she can to have an army to defeat us, even if it means aligning with a foreign king."
Susan started to say something, but Edmund didn't give her time. He turned on his heel and ran for the entrance to the cavern.
"Glenstorm!" he shouted, surprised when the centaur appeared almost instantly.
"Your majesty?" the centaur said in greeting, confusion spreading across his face before he hid it once again.
"The Witch is going to align herself with Miraz." Edmund announced. He saw the surprise and confusion cross the centaur's eyes and was grateful when he didn't ask how he knew for sure. "Send a single scout to watch the river crossing for Miraz. If he sees the Witch in the Telmarine camp, he needs to return immediately and let us know everything he can."
"I will send Pattertwig immediately." Glenstorm replied, reffering to the talkative squirrel.
Edmund nodded his agreement and turned back to his sisters. He could see the fear and worry in their eyes and, for the first time since the kidnapping, he let his wall drop and his own fear and worry show. He looked down and fingered the hilt of his sword and the fear seemed to fade from him, replaced with a determination. Though the return of the White Witch had him terrified and he feared for the safety of his brother and friend, the stubborn determination that had made him the Just King shone through his eyes once more. He would rescue Peter and Caspian, even if it proved to be the death of him.
Welp, I hope you enjoyed the chapter. I have one final thing to say so please don't tune this note out. I have a deadline of December 21 for two Merlin stories I am writing and so I am afraid this story is going to have to be put aside for the time being. I will come back to it (no fear of that! NarniaGirl97 would have my head if I abandoned it for to long!) But with my other projects and Christmas coming, I just have to much on my plate.
I will be back with this story by January, so stay tuned! :)