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Disclaimer: The Chronicles of Narnia and its characters do not
belong to me.
I'm just borrowing them for my and (I hope)
my readers' amusement only
have no intention of trying to make money off of them in any way, shape
Warnings: None to speak of.
Fandom: Chronicles of Narnia
Author: The RCK
Last updated: 9 September 2012
Written for edenfalling in the 2012 Narnia
Thanks to my beta readers, evalerie and my husband.
"This shouldn't take long," Miraz told Prunaprismia as he mounted his
horse. He looked down at her from the saddle. "One way or another, I'll
have Caspian's head."
Prunaprismia nodded. She came close and put a hand on his leg. "Stay
well, husband, for me and for Isidro." Accidents can happen in war, even one so
minor as this.
Miraz laughed. He leaned down to cover her hand with his own. "As you
wish, my sweet. Trust in your father's advice while I'm away." He
straightened and looked around, judging the readiness of his men.
Prunaprismia stepped back, retreating to the steps into the castle. She
stood, straight and proud, while the men mounted, formed up and finally
rode out. Why, oh, why couldn't the
wretched boy stay where he was meant to be? We were to be rid of him
quietly. Isidro's position was to be secure. Instead, men will die,
fighting monsters, all because of a boy who should have been got rid of
years ago. She watched until the riders were out of sight, then
turned her back on the empty courtyard and went inside. It's time to feed Isidro.
Miraz sent her news every day. She could tell he was glossing over
details. Questioning the messengers gave her more information than any
of her husband's dispatches. The men, she learned, were uncomfortable
fighting creatures out of legend. The animals weren't so bad. They were
too large, but they were animals nevertheless. That they could speak
didn't come up in the fighting. The dwarves could almost be mistaken
for men. Almost. They also weren't a problem. The real problem was the
centaurs, fauns, and giants. The men were whispering, wondering what
else was waiting to come out of the woods. Anything might be in there.
So she sent her husband private messages, full of news about their son,
and dispatches of her own, meant to be read aloud to whoever might be
by. She wrote of her certainty of victory, of the wives and children
waiting eagerly to celebrate the end of the fighting. She refused to
call it a war. That granted Caspian too much dignity.
The news of the twelfth of Greenroof completely blindsided her. She'd
already received the day's letter from her husband. In it, he expressed
the belief that it would only take a few hard pushes to completely
obliterate the old Narnians. "They have no reserves," he wrote. "We can
replace any man who falls. We have only to press without easing." She
read those sentences aloud to the court with satisfaction. My husband is King. He's going to
obliterate the last of the monsters. This is a country of men.
The rider came as night fell. Prunaprismia was walking along the top of
the wall, carrying her son. Taking walks every evening was part of her
way of showing that she wasn't concerned about her husband's absence.
Walking the wall provided the right combination of high visibility and
The rider came up the road alone. He wore padding as if he had once
worn armor. The padding even had rust marks. His horse was clearly
exhausted. It could only manage a sort of half-hearted trot that
brought them closer to the castle slowly.
Prunaprismia turned to one of her guards. "Go out to him. Find out who
he is. If he has news, bring him to me." If he has news, it won't be good. How can
there be bad news? Miraz promised. She handed her son to the
nursemaid. "Let us go inside. It grows late." She raised her head and
straightened her back.
They brought the rider to her in a small, private room. If this were
bad news, she didn't want to share it with the court until she'd heard
it herself and thought about what to do.
The rider knelt to her, going down on one knee. She recognized him as
Lord Orenz, a young man made knight by Miraz only three months before.
His family had supported Miraz since the early days. Caspian IX had
taken away lands that Miraz had then restored.
"Lord Orenz, what brings you here so? We fear the worst."
He kept his head bowed. "It is worse than the worst, your majesty. His
majesty has fallen, killed by treachery when undertaking single combat
against a man claiming to be King Peter."
Prunaprismia closed her eyes. She could barely draw breath. But I knew. When I saw him coming, I knew.
But he said worse. What could be worse?
Lord Orenz said nothing more for a moment. "That is not the worst, your
majesty. The forest walked. Our forces have been routed and have
surrendered. Caspian has won."
For a moment, she couldn't take it in. "Caspian won?" Her mind seemed
paralyzed. "How could he win?"
"Your majesty, the forest walked.
trees came to life and pursued our forces to the river, at Beruna.
The bridge was gone. The only choices were daring the river and
"You dared the river." Why didn't
others? Were they so eager to make peace with-- with-- whatever they
"Someone had to bring you word." He looked up at her for the first
time, his expression earnest. "You and the young king are in danger. I
expect their forces will take some time at Beruna, but someone will
think of you soon enough."
Prunaprismia clenched her hands in her skirts. Yes. We must flee. But where? "Our
options are limited." Too many
people know my face, and I couldn't live as a peasant. I could send
Isidro off with his nursemaid. Could I trust her for that? No, I barely
know the girl. Even if she did it, he'd grow up without knowing his
heritage, his birthright. Archenland is the other choice, probably the
best choice. King Nain has been neutral on the Narnian succession. He
wouldn't turn us away or, worse, send us back. Archenland is human. It
doesn't have all these hidden creatures that Narnia turns out to have.
"We'll be ready to go in half an hour." Somehow.
Prunaprismia did her best not to let Isidro know how much she worried,
how she feared each Narnian visitor might be the assassin. Caspian had
made no effort to persuade her and Isidro to leave Archenland. He'd
even gone so far as to grant them a small stipend. She knew better than
to think that, simply because Caspian was naive, the men-- and
creatures-- around Caspian were so foolish.
Narnia's current ambassador to Archenland was a dwarf named Laban. He'd
spoken to Prunaprismia once, to tell her about the stipend. She
suspected that he'd arranged for Lord Kester to offer to take her and
Isidro in. Separating them from the court at Anvard, sending them
somewhere out of the way, was basic politics. Prunaprismia didn't mind.
She'd never expected King Nain or the great lords around him to support
Isidro's claim to the Narnian throne, and living away from Anvard made
it easier for her to communicate with those in Narnia who did support
Isidro. Living away from Anvard also gave her more of what she
desperately needed-- time.
Living at Kester's Keep had another advantage. It was far cheaper than
living at Anvard. No one looked down at her for wearing the same
dresses over and over, and potential servants asked less in wages.
Isidro's nursemaid had only lasted six months before homesickness drove
her to quit. Prunaprismia hadn't argued. She'd sent the girl on her way
with a letter of recommendation and had hired a local woman, a widow
with five children. She thought the chance at additional allies worth
the divided attention. She just hoped Isidro wouldn't fall in love with
one of the girls.
Everything was harder than she'd imagined. She'd never had to dress her
own hair or mend her own clothes before. Fortunately, Lord Kester's
servants laid the fires and cooked the meals. She'd have had no idea
how to go about either task. She made an effort to learn how to care
for Isidro, just in case they had to flee again, and was appalled to
discover how much sheer work caring for a child involved.
Still, they settled into a routine. Isidro learned to walk and talk at
what his nurse said were the appropriate times. Prunaprismia had long
talks with him about his father and Narnia. She looked forward to the
time when he would understand her words.
She missed Miraz dreadfully. Her bed was cold and empty at night, and
she missed having an equal to talk to. She thought with some longing of
marrying again, but men of rank were thin on the ground at Kester's
Keep. Lord Kester was sixty if he was a day, and his sons seldom came
to the Keep. She suspected strongly that any sign of romance between
her and one of Lord Kester's sons would see her shown the door. She
didn't dare risk that. She also didn't dare risk a husband who would
When Isidro was three, Lord Orenz came riding in with letters from
Prunaprismia's family. "I can't stay long," he told her, "but the news
couldn't wait. Three weeks ago, Caspian sailed east from Cair Paravel.
There is no saying when-- or if-- he will return."
Prunaprismia set down the shirt she was sewing for Isidro. She folded
her hands in her lap to hide the fact that they were trembling. "Isidro
is too young to go to war." But a
chance like this might not come again.
"It shouldn't come to war. The Old Narnians believe that they're meant
to be ruled by a 'son of Adam,' by which they mean a man. They're as
worried that Caspian won't return as we are hopeful. They know as
little of the sea as we do. Indeed, of all the creatures, only a Mouse
was brave enough to accompany their king. Everyone else on board the
ship was a man."
Prunaprismia didn't see how that was relevant, but she nodded anyway.
"Surely it's too soon to try anything." She hoped it was and then
castigated herself for thinking that. Isidro
the throne. He does. But he is so very young. It will be many
years before he can grasp power as his father did, and, in the
meantime, we would depend on powerful men, men who might not want to
give up their power when he's grown.
Lord Orenz shrugged. "It is, of course, but if we don't plan now, we
won't be ready when the time comes. I came so that you would know that
we have not forgotten you, that we mean to make the most of this
I don't even know who he means by
'we.' So many left Narnia after Caspian won. The others-- They all
swore fealty to Caspian. None of her handful of correspondents
ever mentioned names. There was too much risk that her mail would be
intercepted, and trustworthy travelers seldom passed her way. She
gripped her hands together. "Who would be regent?"
"Caspian left the dwarf, Trumpkin, as regent. If we're to do this
peacefully, we'll have to accept him, at least for a time, until we can
discredit him," Lord Orenz said. "He's not a fool, so he'll be working
to discredit us, too."
And Isidro will be caught in the
middle. "He can't possibly approve of me," Prunaprismia said.
"I've tried to be circumspect when speaking of the Old Narnians and of
Caspian, but my views-- my husband's views-- can be inferred." I will not let anyone take Isidro from me,
not even to make him king. I'm the only one certain to have his best
interests at heart.
Lord Orenz nodded and looked sympathetic. "That is a difficulty. I
don't think Trumpkin would try to separate the king from you, not with
him so young." He didn't sound certain enough to reassure Prunaprismia.
"I think--" Prunaprismia did her best to put certainty into her voice.
"--Isidro and I will stay where we are until Narnia invites us home. I
won't put Isidro at risk by taking him to Narnia before we can be
certain of our welcome. I know there's a risk to that, too. Someone
else might take the throne." And
Isidro would be more at risk from whomever did. "I can live with
that risk." I have no choice. I'd
rather not take it, rather not wait. Still, if we cross that border
without official backing, someone will kill Isidro.
"I-- we-- hoped you'd come to Narnia. To gain support, we need to show
that his majesty is available to take the throne. The Old Narnians, in
particular, need to see him. Rumor for them might make him a monster."
Rumor certainly does his father,
Prunaprismia thought with some bitterness. Her mother seemed almost to
revel in passing on the stories. "We could go to Anvard for a while.
People could see us there." I'd
rather not go to Anvard. We're not welcome there. "Anvard is
close enough to Narnia for visiting. Just let me know when." Because we can't stay for long.
Lord Orenz nodded. "It will be enough."
It will have to be.
"I'll send you word through your father. No names, but if he asks you
to meet him in Anvard, go."
"I will." Prunaprismia rose to her feet. "I would like some names, just
to know who our allies are. I know those can't be put in writing, but
I'd like to know." That will tell me
how much to trust them. I'm sure to recognize the names.
Lord Orenz also rose to his feet. "I've spoken to General Ivander and
Lord Malchan personally. They mentioned Yepheth and Clotario. I'll see
what other names I can get for you."
Ivander doesn't care who's king as
long as the army is strong. I wonder what he thinks of non-humans in
the army? Prunaprismia nodded. "Thank you. I appreciate what
you've done. Isidro and I owe you everything." Malchan, I'm not sure about. I expect he'd
like to be near a young king, one he could make decisions for. I don't
remember Yepheth or Clotario.
She offered Lord Orenz her hand. He took it and bowed over it. "I've
only done my duty, your majesty. I take my oaths seriously." He
What about your oaths to Caspian? Or
have you evaded giving those? Even Caspian wouldn't be so foolish, not
even if he didn't know your family history. "Did you want to see
Isidro before you go?" That will let
you report that he's growing well, that he's healthy.
"I would be honored."
"He's gone for a walk with his nurse. They should be back any time
now." He has too much energy to sit
here while I sew. Getting him out to run around is the only way. He and
his 'sword' take up too much space once he starts swinging that stick
around. She hadn't objected to the toy sword, knowing that it
would help prepare him for the day when he picked up a real sword.
"This way." She led the way out of her rooms.
"Did King Caspian say when he'd return?" Prunaprismia asked as they
descended a staircase to the front hall. Just how good is this opportunity?
Like her, Lord Orenz was mindful of possible listening ears. "His
majesty didn't say. He took an oath to find out what happened to the
seven lords who sailed away all those years ago. That might take quite
a long time."
They never returned. He might not
either. And the ocean is vast. Finding one ship would be a matter of
impossible luck. If their ship went down, he'll never find it.
For a wild moment, she was tempted to pack Isidro up and head for
Narnia immediately. No. My reasons
to wait are still good. If Isidro were even a few years older-- But
he's not. He's three. Waiting a few months can't hurt. She
considered saying that she would pray for Caspian's quick return, but
she knew that no one would believe it. No need to give anyone reason to look at
us with more suspicion. Instead, she changed the subject. "Lord
Kester, our kind host, has promised to see Isidro trained as a knight."
She opened the door to the courtyard.
Isidro, his nurse and her two youngest children were just coming in
through the gate. "Mama!" Isidro said, dropping his toy sword and
launching himself at her.
Prunaprismia bent to catch him. She lifted him and kissed him on the
forehead. At least he's not wet or
muddy. She turned him to face Lord Orenz. "This is Lord Orenz.
He brought a letter from Grandmother and Grandfather."
Isidro regarded Lord Orenz seriously and silently, his eyes wide. He
ducked his head a little, bumping it against her shoulder.
He's so unlike his father. She
couldn't imagine Miraz as a shy child. He was always bigger than life. She
looked at Lord Orenz and shrugged a little.
Lord Orenz smiled. "I'm pleased to meet you, your highness." He bowed.
Prunaprismia frowned. Now is not the
time to tell him that no one calls Isidro 'your highness.' 'My lord,'
we can get, no more. "It occurs to me, Lord Orenz-- You might be
able to help me with a small matter."
Lord Orenz bowed again. "If it's within my ability."
"Isidro needs a tutor, one who knows Narnia. We can't pay a high
salary, and it would require living here, but I thought you might know
someone." Prunaprismia swallowed hard. The next bit is hardest. "The tutor
need not be human. A human might be more comfortable here in
Archenland, but that's not required." Please
me a human. Unless there's something to be gained from having a--
a-- whatever teach him.
"I'm sure I can find someone." Lord Orenz looked more than a little
I might have asked for something
truly hard. Well, Lord Orenz, three years here has taught me to be
practical. "I've hesitated to ask my father. His connections
aren't what they once were." His
connection with me drags him down, politically. Prunaprismia
cleared her throat. "The tutor need not know sword work. Lord Kester
has an armsmaster who will teach Isidro." Though heaven knows Kenelm isn't a
brilliant swordsman. We can worry about that later. Competence will do.
"That will make finding someone simpler." Lord Orenz bowed a third
time. "I really must be on my way, your majesty. I'm expected in
"Thank you for detouring to drop off my letters." Once again, she
didn't correct him on the form of address. I miss being Queen Prunaprismia. It's hard
to be simply Lady Prunaprismia. She shifted Isidro's weight to
make him easier to carry.
"It was no trouble at all." Lord Orenz looked, for a second, like he
was going to bow again. Instead, he nodded. "I see that they've held my
horse for me." He turned and walked over where a groom was walking a
horse back and forth. He spoke quietly with the groom for a moment,
gave the man a coin and mounted his horse.
"Let's go inside," Prunaprismia said to Isidro and Lysis, Isidro's
nurse. "It's time for a snack." I
won't dwell on the what ifs. Caspian might come back. He might not.
Isidro might become king. He might not. I can't do more, not safely.
All I can do is wait, wait and do the things I'd do anyway.
Isidro laid his head on her shoulder.
And after the snack, a story and a
nap. Just like always.
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