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To The Ground

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Summary: Peter is confused, Susan graceless and Aslan not there. Buffy is someone else entirely and faith is hard to come by. A slow and quiet Prince Caspian rewrite.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Literature > Chronicles of Narnia(Moderator)FaithUnbreakableFR131773,06560247101,1177 Sep 0911 Nov 09Yes
CoA Winner

The God of Power and Lies

A/N: Gosh, people, you make me blush with all that praise. I greatly appreciate it. Just keep it coming. :)

+

Six,
The God of Power and Lies


+

By the time the stragglers found the sisters and dwarf, the camp was mostly set up. There was enough firewood to keep them moderately warm through the night and since they had no tents to set up, there wasn’t much else to be done. Susan had been gathering all sorts of berries and nuts throughout the day and the other two girls had added to her collection, so they wouldn’t starve. Although Peter wouldn’t have minded a proper meal at this point. How long had it been since they had come back to Narnia? A week? He didn’t think it was that long yet, but it felt forever.

Susan tried to fuss over his bruises, but he waved her off. He’d washed down by the river and he wasn’t going to die from a beating that he had, quite literally, begged for. He felt better than he had in ages, mellow, tired, worn out. Like he had done something useful. Like he’d gotten somewhere. After a year of standing in place, the feeling was amazing.

He also had a lot to think about after everything Asmira had told and shown him. She was amazingly fast and strong and had shown no signs of tiring even after almost an hour of fighting. He caught himself wondering if there were more of her kind and then shied away from the thought. The price was too high. The price she paid for gifts she didn’t want, the price for being as she was.

Still, or maybe because of that, he found himself wishing he knew what she’d been like before. She had a sense of humour, dry and sharp, even if she didn’t let it show often and under the blankness of her face, there were emotions. Well hidden, but there.

Somewhere inside of the cold shell she had fashioned for herself, there was the person she’d once been and he wanted to meet her, wanted to drag her into the daylight because Aslan would come – he had to believe that now, after Lucy’s fall and it felt good, so good to have proof and he knew that meant he was weak, but he didn’t care – and when he did, Peter wanted her to be able to look at the lion without hate.

He was sure, absolutely sure, that she was beautiful when she was happy and he wanted to see it. Hold on. He stopped himself mid-thought and tilted his head to one side. Where had that thought come from? Certainly not from his seventeen-year-old side. No, that had been the man speaking, the king.

Strange. Peter had thought the other side, the grown up part of him, was lost. He’d spent the past year looking for him, trying to be him, but he had failed. Like Susan, he’d been nothing but a child playing grown up and hadn’t fit in his own skin.

Shaking his head, pushing all heavy thoughts out of his mind, he turned to watch the girls. They had set up a makeshift target and started practicing, Su with her bow, Lu with her dagger. It had been Asmira’s suggestion to train and all three of his younger siblings had shot her down, saying they knew how to fight. They weren’t really children, after all.

“When was the last time you fought?”

Silence.

“In those bodies?”

After that they had all moved willingly to try and get used to their smaller bodies, Lucy in particular. She was used to being able to hold her own in a fight, but in her current body, any enemy could pick her up and fling her aside without breaking a sweat. They needed to adjust their fighting styles, as Peter had learned rather painfully as he’d kept misstepping and over extending himself during his earlier fight.

Edmund, without his usual sparring partner, sat around polishing his sword and checking for nicks in the blade, looking a bit forlorn but resigned and his brother remembered that Ed, too, had fought already in Narnia. He’d duelled Trumpkin after they had first met him and he had to have noticed the shortcomings of his own body.

But why hadn’t he said anything? Peter would have –

Would he? Would he have listened to his baby brother? Helped him? Sparred with him like they used to? The answer was the same to all questions and Peter hung his head in shame. Oh Ed, what have I done to you?

In the end Asmira, who had been borrowing Lucy’s dagger with an expression of bliss on her face, nudged the younger King with her foot and asked, “Wanna fight?”

Edmund looked up at her, confused, then turned to Peter. “But you already…”

Fought my brother into submission? Peter grimaced. His pride stung something fierce but he knew that he’d never really stood a chance against her. She hadn’t even broken into a real sweat. And her little plunge into the gorge had more than proven just how far beyond human she was.

She shrugged, “Yeah. But that was a warm up at best. I can go for days, literally. Super soldier, remember?”

Ed looked doubtful but he still nodded, eager to test his new limits. If he hated anything it was being a burden and not being able to fight properly made him feel like one. He never saw all the other things he brought to the table, never saw his own worth. It was the Witch’s last curse for Edmund. To never understand just how much his siblings and people cherished him, needed him.

Peter had forgotten, too.

He drew his sword quickly and whistled to catch his younger brother’s attention, before throwing Rhindon at him. The boy caught it smoothly and looked quizzically at its owner.

“You fight better with two blades,” Peter said with a shrug. “And so does she.”

He hitched a thumb in the direction of the blonde woman and sat back, honestly curious how they would fare against each other because their styles were similar. Fast, sneaky, never within reach but always close enough to land another blow. The only difference was that Asmira’s fighting style seemed more exotic somehow. A mixture of different styles, combined for maximum damage. Edmund had some fancy moves in his repertoire, but the woman could move her body in ways that should not be possible according to the laws of physics.

They both drew their weapons, one of them falling into the by now familiar position of one blade forward and one backward, while the other kept both his blades steadily pointed at his enemy, like Oreius had taught him over a thousand years ago.

And then the fight was on.

+

In the end, stealing weapons from Miraz’s army was a lot easier than Caspian had dared hope for. His uncle’s arrogance, it seemed, new little boundary. There were seven wagons filled to burst with swords and the long daggers that were an important part of the Telmarine fighting style. They would make good weapons for the smaller members of their army like the dwarves and the animals.

He told Glenstorm so and was startled to see something that passed for a smile cross the taciturn centaur’s face. Apparently, he’d said the right thing.

There was only one guard per wagon – the source of Caspian’s thought on Miraz’s arrogance. Apparently, the man was more worried about his own people trying to steal single weapons than about the Narnians robbing him blind. Good for them. Bad for him.

The twelve mouse knights, teamed up in groups of two, covered six of the guards and Nikabrik volunteered for the seventh with a bloodthirsty little smile on his face. They snuck up behind the guards, unnoticed for their size and took them out on a cue from Caspian, all at the same time. It was over in a matter of moments.

After getting the all clear from their scouts, the rest of the members of the raiding party rushed from the cover of the forest with bags and blankets to bundle up the blades for transport. Caspian meanwhile enlisted Reepicheep’s help in carving a message into one of the wagons. As anticipated, the little mouse got the job done much faster than the prince ever could have.

Within half an hour, several hundred blades were ready for transport, no-one was dead and the guards were staring to wake up. Glenstorm whistled the signal for retreat and the Narnians pulled back into the darkness of the forest.

Within seconds, the night was silent and still again.

+

Lucy couldn’t sleep. Which was annoying because she was dead tired after trying to keep up with everyone else on her blasted short legs all day. It was funny how everyone immediately saw her body as a problem when it came to things she could easily do, even as a child. Like fighting. She wasn’t stupid enough to think she’d be any use in close up combat, but Susan wasn’t the only one good at taking out enemy soldiers from a distance.

But they forgot. Peter, most of all, forgot. She was the littlest sister. The one to protect.

Somehow, though, they never slowed down to accommodate her shorter legs. She pitied the poor DLF because he had to be having a much harder time than she was having, still. She was grateful for Asmira’s suggestion to set up camp earlier that night, especially after crossing the river. All that climbing had been exhausting and they were all tired from the strain of the past few days.

Still, the gorge and what had happened on the other side had given her hope that maybe, now that they were back home, they others were starting to remember Queen Lucy, the Valiant, instead of just little Lu.

But she was being unfair. Ed had never forgotten who she was. He had been there for her in England when she had cried tears of frustration when her mother had sent her away for playtime. He had stood up for her when the dreaded sentence came, the one she hated as badly as she could ever hate anything. You’re too young.

Edmund had stood by her. And she loved him for that, so very, very much.

Still, no sleep.

She sat up with a sigh, looking around her, Asmira was sitting by the fire, wide awake, face blank as she watched the dance of the flames. Lucy didn’t understand that strange woman who claimed to hate Aslan. But Aslan was love personified, so that was impossible. Yet she could see the bitterness in her, the pain. She was so very sad and Lucy wanted to make her better.

Not tonight, though. Tonight was for sleeping, by the Lion.

Maybe she was just too cold to sleep. Yes, that was probably it. But the others had formed a closed circle around the fire with their bodies, so there was no heat to be found there. Quietly, Lucy stood and made her way around Susan and Peter, feeling Asmira’s silent, watchful gaze on her and, on impulse, sending the woman a bright smile across the fire.

She looked startled. Poor dear simply wasn’t used to nice people, it seemed. With a yawn, Lu decided to change that. It could be her new project, since she wasn’t going to be allowed to fight. She had the time.

She came to a halt between Peter and Edmund and for a moment she was torn. She had always gone to Peter for comfort but in the past few months, she had been sent packing more than once. Not through any malicious intent on her biggest brother’s side, but simply because his bad mood made her sad. Lucy didn’t like being sad.

And now she was afraid of putting Peter back into his bad mood by waking him. No, better let him sleep. Let him sleep and let Edmund know that he was not as useless and he always thought he was. He was just as good at coddling her as Peter was. At least. Maybe better because he could do it without treating her like a baby.

So she lay down next to him, her shoulder touching his, enjoying the warmth radiating from his body. After a minute or so he grumbled, rolled onto his side and wrapped his arm around her waist, pulling her into his chest with a grunt and a mumbled, “Lu.”

She smiled brilliantly into the dark and within minutes, she was fast asleep.

+

When Lucy woke, she felt a strange pull inside of her and, never one to disobey such feelings, she followed it through the forest until –

“Aslan!” She threw herself forward, never once hesitating or doubting, burying her face in the great lion’s mane. “Oh, I’ve missed you so much!”

She pulled back after a long moment, grinning, enjoying the fact that for once, she could say the words, “You’ve grown.”

The lion smiled. “Every year you grow, so shall I.”

Lucy giggled before her face suddenly fell. “Where’ve you been? Why haven’t you come to see us? It is because of Asmira? She’s so angry with you, Aslan. And she’s sad.”

The lion sighed and turned his head to the side. “I know, dear one. Your friend has reason to be upset. But remember, Lucy Pevensie, everything changes. Nothing happens the same way twice.”

Somewhere, a twig snapped and Lucy woke for real.

+

Glozelle watched Miraz’s retreating back as the man returned to the castle, far from the men he had just sentenced to death. For propaganda. For a lie. For power.

The General stepped forward and lifted the back of the wagon again to read what Caspian had carved into the boards. You were right to fear the woods.

Maybe, he thought, they should have feared the castle instead. Maybe instead of running scared from fairy tales, they should have feared the dragon in their middle, this man eating monster called war, called greed, called Miraz.

Too late now, much too late. His conscience should have spoken up ten years ago, when Caspian IX had still been alive. When there had still been hope and a proper King. But he hadn’t known Asmira then, hadn’t known to question orders, to think for himself. He hadn’t seen all he had seen now.

And this was the last straw.

He turned to the three men that had died in the attack. He knew all of them, had fought with them more than once. They were loyal, good men, with families, all three of them. To lose them in battle would have been a tragedy. To kill them in peace time for the sake of war mongering was too much. Too much for an already stained soul, for a man who had lost all faith.

They stood, shuffling their feet but meeting his eyes head on. Stoic, resigned. Why weren’t they running from him? Why weren’t they screaming bloody murder?

He knew why. They remained where they were because of him. They had fought all their lives under him. Their loyalty was not to Miraz, but to him. And they would die to protect him from the Lord Protector’s wrath.

His stomach turned. He swallowed bile. “Come,” he ordered curtly, and brushed past them, downstream and into the woods. And gods help him, they came. Like lambs they followed, willingly letting him lead them to slaughter. Senseless, useless slaughter on the altar of the god of power and lies.

They walked for fifteen minutes, during which not one of them made a single sound. All Glozelle heard was the drum beat of his own blood in his ears, mocking him. If he followed his orders, soon those men’s hearts would not beat anymore. Their families would starve. Their children would suffer. And he would never, never be able to look another human being in the face again.

“Sire?” one of the men, the oldest, finally queried when they had been walking too long.

Refusing to break his stride and turn around, Glozelle spoke as he walked. “You chased them as they retreated. You hunted them downstream for a while. Until here.”

He stopped and pointed at the convenient sandy patch by the side of the river.”They killed you savagely and threw your mutilated corpses in the river. We found only your weapons and blood.”

He grabbed the helmet of one of them, pulled it off, smacked it against the nearest rock, hard and then dropped it.

“We need blood,” he said, as he started trampling in the sand, to create the illusion of a fight.

“Sire, you will…” Get caught? Get killed? Lose your job, your life, your dreams? He almost laughed. His dreams were long gone, his hopes too, and his King was lost in the woods with only a single woman to protect him and no chance against Miraz’s well oiled machinery of war.

All he had left was his life and that would be worth nothing, nothing if he ever raised a weapon against his own men. He’d rather throw himself on his own sword and take his last smidgeon of honour with him to the grave.

“Not kill my own men,” he finished the sentence before repeating, “We need blood.”

None of the men moved. He stopped what he was doing, and whirled to look at them. “I will not kill you. Miraz may have my head if he so wishes, but I will not do this. Now help me and we may just get away with this.”

For an endless moment he thought they would refuse, would stubbornly insist that he take their lives to protect his own. Then the youngest – the one with the twin babies and a pregnant wife at home, Glozelle remembered – drew his dagger and made quick work slicing his hand open and squeezing the cut, bleeding on the sand. The others followed. They banged up parts of their armour and threw them around, carefully splashed water on the blood to make it look like more than it was. Two of them even dragged the third through the sand to make it look like the Narnians had disposed of their bodies.

Then, five minutes later, they stood in front of him, looking humble, scared and so impossibly relieved it made him ache even more. “Where do we go now, sire?”

They couldn’t go home. That much was clear. He answered without hesitating. “Find the Narnians. Find Asmira. She should be with Caspian. A blonde woman, a warrior. Tell her…”

-

”Shade without colour, paralysed force,” she whispered as she watched from the balcony of his room, the return of the new recruits from their first border skirmish. He stood next to her, taking in the drawn faces and lowered shields, the empty eyes, glazed with the horror of war. There was no glory in those victorious home comers.

“I beg your pardon?” he asked, unsure.

“It’s from a poem, called The Hollow Men.”

The title seemed fitting.


-

“Tell her I am without colour, too. And then tell her everything you know. I will care for your families until you can return.”

“The enemy, sire?” the oldest again, a man older than him, actually. He had less to lose than the others and he had fought for Telmar for too long. Betraying his country seemed a crime to him, even now.

Glozelle smiled bitterly. “The enemy is already among us and it is not Prince Caspian.”

The old soldier shifted and then nodded. He had been there when the old King died. He knew the truth.

They went. Glozelle watched the tree line on the opposite shore long after they had disappeared, wondering if he would see them again, but not for a single second questioning the rightness of his actions.

+

Caspian did not think very far ahead. When he saw a man – a human – with a drawn sword creep around an overgrown pile of rocks, apparently getting ready to attack Asterius, the taciturn minotaur, her simply acted.

He drew his own weapon, waited until the stranger was directly below him and then jumped him, sword raised for a decapitating blow. The man reacted like lightning, twisting sideways and parrying the prince’s stroke before attacking low, going for Caspian’s legs.

By the time Caspian noticed that the man was neither, in fact, a man, nor dressed in the drab Telmarine colours, it was too late and the fight already in full swing. He went for the boy’s head again, only to be met with the other’s sword in a move that almost disarmed him.

Both of them pulled back, breathing hard and then went at each other again, only to be jarred right out of the fight when a new set of blades suddenly caught both of theirs and stopped them dead in their tracks.

Both boys seemed to dumbstruck to move until the newcomer ordered, “Could you not kill each other?”

Caspian, startled by the familiarity of the voice, blinked and lowered his weapon, finally taking in the entire scene. He and his opponent were surrounded on all sides by Narnians and a small group of children who were quite obviously itching to go and check on the boy he’d fought. But they didn’t keep the prince’s attention for long. No, his eyes were fixed on the slight figure that had stopped the fight, a Telmarine sword in each hand, looking him with a familiar, flat, green gaze.

“Asmira,” he called, jumping forward to hug the woman, despite the fact that between them, they carried three unsheathed swords. “I thought you were dead.”

The woman kept her arms at her sides and her weapons away from him, but she held still for a few seconds before stepping back in an obvious plea to be released. Realizing just what he was doing, Caspian flushed and let her go.

“I apologize,” he said, not quite meeting her gaze.

She chuckled and shook her head, sheathing her weapons. “It’s okay. And for your information, in takes more than a few Telmarines to take me down, alright?”

He nodded.

“Good. Now,” she pointed at the boy he’d fought, “High King Peter,” she shifted to point at him, “Meet Prince Caspian. Prince Caspian, meet High King Peter. I’d appreciate it if you could refrain from loping each other’s heads off for the time being.”

She stepped back with a nod, leaving the two monarchs to stare at each other rather dumbly. Caspian wasn’t sure what to say.

In the end, High King Peter recovered first and sheathed his sword with a grin, “I heard you called for us.”

He nodded, looking around at the word ‘us’, realizing that the other ‘children’ he had spotted had to be Queen Susan, King Edmund and Queen Lucy. Oh dear. Oh. Dear.

He sketched a bow to all of them, receiving nods and curtsies in return. Dear. “I am glad you came,” he finally managed, although he wasn’t at all sure what use four children could be. Where were the legends of Old? The saviours of Narnia? These… the High King himself looked barely as old as Caspian. What could he say to that?

Nothing. He could say nothing. So he avoided them altogether by bending down and picking up his pack, untying a green piece of cloth from it and unfolding it to reveal it as a cloak. He held it out to Asmira. “I believe this belongs to you.”

She rolled her eyes and took it with a wink. “Afraid I lost yours on the way.”

Beside her, King Peter laughed.

+

Caspian refused to look at any of the siblings. Peter wasn’t sure why but he knew the prince wasn’t shy because he seemed to be talking to Asmira just fine. They were walking a few paces ahead of where they Pevensies had found their place among the soldiers and Caspian seemed to be making up for lost time.

“I remembered,” Peter could hear him say, “After we parted ways and I had time to think. I remembered all those times you came to my aid and I realized that I had never before notice what you did.”

She snorted and shook her head, “That was sort of the point. Keep you alive and not get noticed doing it. Although I think Miraz had his suspicions. I just kept popping up at the most inconvenient of times.”

“Why?”

She looked at him sideways, her face closed up again as it usually was and said, very carefully, “That is what I do. I keep you alive and I put you on the throne that belongs to you.”

“Oh,” the prince said, apparently lost for words and trying not to look dejected at realizing that he was a mission to be fulfilled. When it didn’t seem like Asmira was going to amend her words to something kinder after a few moments, he repeated his quiet, “Oh,” and sped up his steps to check the front of the column for trouble.

She let him go and Peter felt a violent surge of something at the fact that the blonde had not felt it necessary to explain to the prince what she had explained to him the day before.

He sped up his steps as well, ruffling Lucy’s hair as he passed her and Trumpkin and fell into step beside Asmira. He tried to think of something to say that would not sound goading or pleased and came up empty handed. Instead he asked, “How long have you been in this world?”

“Ten years,” she replied, with a shrug. “Long time, huh?”

It was his turn to shrug.

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