first: A Door in the Wall
Second: On the Other Side of the Door
…Perhaps you could find the help that you needed as well
Susan looked at Edmund, who was frowning. She looked at Lucy, who wore a smile which was at the same time hopeful and very confused. She looked finally at Peter, who was looking what she thought of as Kingly.
Help that they needed? What could it be that they all needed together?
Peter took a step forward. He bowed politely to the cat and cleared his throat. “Please,” he said, sounding so much like a schoolboy that it hurt Susan to listen. Who was this shy boy? “Where are we? And who am I speaking to?”
::You are in the southernmost corner of a nation called Valdemar, in a world that is not that which you were born on, nor the same world as your Narnia. And I am Tesnel. I am a Firecat, a representative of Vkandis Sunlord.:: The Cat – Firecat, Susan supposed – took a moment to groom herself. ::I was chosen to speak to you because of your affinity towards other catlike avatars of the gods. And… we need your help.::
Well, that was certainly an introduction. Susan, as she had so often done with Animals in Narnia, sat down on the ground to be closer to eye level with the Firecat. “What is it you need our help with? And, I’m sorry, but… do you have any proof?”
::Your time in both lives has made you cynical, Daughter of Eve.:: The cat did not sound as if she disapproved.
“Susan–” Peter began, but the cat cut him off.
::And I have brought some gifts for you that I believe may help you trust.:: The cat blinked, and a pile of objects appeared in front of her.
This was a magic Susan had not seen before, fascinating and strange. To make things appear out of nowhere! But the objects themselves — that was even more fascinating.
“Is that… is that my bow?” She knelt down, remembering at the last moment to wait politely for the others.
Edmund hung back, but, then again, Edmund had not received a present from Father Christmas all those years ago. Poor Edmund, Susan thought suddenly, to be reminded forever of what had really been one foolish, childish mistakes. As if none of the rest of them had ever done anything silly!
::Step forward, King Edmund. you have not been forgotten. Father Christmas, I am told, made a special trip for you.:: The Firecat nudged a package forward, wrapped in red paper with golden ribbons. ::Open it.::
Susan looked at Lucy, who was cradling her gifts. She looked at Peter, who was checking the line of his sword and posing. She looked back to Edmund, who was staring at the small package nervously.
::You were called the Just, and although it may not be fair that your gifts have waited so much longer than those of your siblings, it is just, for these gifts will serve you in much greater stead here in Valdemar.:: Tesnel pushed the package towards Edmund with a paw. ::Open it, King Edmund.::
Susan sat down next to her younger brother. “Open them, Ed. It’s okay.”
“You know why Father Christmas didn’t give me gifts when he gave them to the rest of you lot.” Edmund did not look at Susan; he was staring at the wrapped parcels. “I don’t deserve these.”
“I say,” Susan said, as firmly as she could muster, “that if Father Christmas says that now is the time for these presents, well then, you oughtn’t do him a disservice by ignoring them. Come on, Ed. It’s time.”
Edmund pierced her with a look, such an inscrutable look that Susan struggled not to gasp. “‘It’s time’, says Queen Susan. Then I guess it must be.” He opened the package, his fingers seeming to tremble on the wrappings.
::To be just,:: Tesnel seemed to whisper in their minds, ::you need both strength and understanding. The mace is an ugly weapon, King Edmund, that you remember that war is ugly and use it only when needed. And the vial, well, that offers understanding. One drop on your tongue, and you will speak any language. One in your ear, and you will understand any speech. One drop on your eyes, and you may read or write any language.::
Edmund managed a thank you that was rather stammered. To Susan’s eyes, he looked stunned. He touched the gifts again, as if reassuring himself that they were truly there.
::You will all have need of yours gifts soon, I’m afraid.:: Tesnel bowed her head. ::You have been called here because, as Narnia once was, Valdemar is now: they are in need of help. Soon, a companion will arrive to explain things to you. But know this, children of another land, kings and queens of Narnia: :: The firecat looked solemn and serious, in the way they had only known one other feline to look. ::This is not an easy road, but it is a necessary one. And it may be that you four are the only ones who can walk it.::
The firecat wiggled its whiskers, a gesture that should have been comical and was instead sad, and was gone, leaving the four of them standing alone in front of a strange forest.
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