Narnia Problem

Hi guys…

I am ~stuck~ on Narnia/Cat in the Closet. I have an entire nother chapter written, but I’m bored.

And if I’m bored, well, then I expect the reader (you) will be too.

So I come to you for help. Help? Advice? Anything?

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13: The Trees that Do Not Speak, a continuation of a fanfic of Narnia and Valdemar

first: A Door in the Wall
Second: On the Other Side of the Door
Third: The Call Comes Again
Fourth: New Travelling Companions
Fifth: Complications and then Complications
Sixth: Stranger Things
Seventh: A Change and Changes
Eighth: But Not A Return
Ninth: The Gods Not Tamed
Tenth: The Tiny Queen Arises,
Eleventh:The Gentle Queen Awakens
Twelth: The Terror of the Plains

The ride was an easy one, and they were not going at speed. Polla spent a few hours regaling them with tales of her exploits as the Terror of the Plains, tales which Susan suspected were lightly censored for ears she could not help but think of as young.

When they broke for the night, it was at a campsite, the first time they’d had a chance to “rough it” in this new world.

“Oh, let us get the tents,” Edmund chivvied. “We haven’t had a chance to in ages, and it’s always nice, like setting up a new house wherever you are.”

Half or more of the time, their ‘tents’ had been royal pavilions, set up by aides. Susan chose not to point that part out; she was fairly certain her brothers could set up a tent.

“Lu and I can gather firewood.” She looked around the forested area; their campsite had clearly been used thus before; it was set back from the road but in a clearing in the trees, there was a firepit made of stacked stones with a spit already set above it, and there was a wide smooth spot cleared of brush where the boys were already setting up tents. “Is there an axe or a hatchet?”

“…This, I was not expecting. Here, the hatchet ought to be small enough for even Lucy to handle comfortably. Don’t go too far from… ah.” Polla coughed as Susan swung her quiver onto her back. “Still, don’t go too far from camp.”

“We’ll stay within earshot of a shout,” Susan assured her. “What’s the biggest threat in these hills?”

“There are big cats — cougars and something a little smaller but a lot more nasty — and there are sometimes bandits. You’re better with the cats than the bandits, truth be told, because you can scare off a cat.”

“We’ll be careful,” Lucy promised solemnly. She hefted the hatchet thoughtfully. “These trees don’t talk, do they?”

“No, we’re not deep enough into the Pelgaris Forest for that. Still, it’s best to stick to deadwood, even here. None of that will give you any trouble.”

“Of course. Thank you.” Lucy bounded off, her eyes on Susan wide and happy. Susan could read in her sister’s expression what she wanted to crow to the sky: Did you hear? They have trees that talk!

She patted Lucy’s shoulder. “There will be time to explore, we can hope, when the mission is done.”

“I do hope so. This is different, it’s… in Narnia…” she dropped her voice to a whisper. “Anywhere we went, even the trees knew us. ‘Sons of Adam and daughters of Eve.’ And then we were their historical kings and queens, or we were Caspian’s old friends. Here, we’re strangers. We’re kids again. It’s strange not to be known when we’re not at — not on — not at home?”

Lucy, Susan knew, would always think of Narnia as home. “I know, Lu. But we’re going to help these people and do great things here, as well. And then maybe you’ll get to wear lovely dresses again,” she teased. “And give out largess.”

Lucy wrinkled her nose. “I’ll leave the pretty dresses to you. You’ve always been better at them.” She walked in silence for a moment. “And Peter’s always been better at the high diplomacy, and Edmund at the low.” She twisted around and aimed a mischievous smile at Susan. “I just like talking to people.”

“I seem to remember you’ve stopped two wars and started a third by ‘just talking’,” Susan retorted.

“Well, I’m very good at talking. It was… I think it was a little easier when I was little older. But at this size, I’m very good at listening.” She stretched out her arms and tested the hatchet, carefully, on a piece of deadwood. “We should have trained more.”

“We trained as much as we could. There was fencing class, and that archery we practiced. And all those long walks to keep our legs in the habit of walking.”

“But there wasn’t proper training.” Lucy swung her hatchet again. This time, the deadwood cracked and split. “It wouldn’t have done, I suppose. They’d have asked questions. They asked enough questions, about all of us. Peter and all his questions about the War.”

“Me and those awful girls at school,” Susan agreed quietly. “You and the time you split that horrid boy’s lip and made sure he blamed himself.”

Lucy glanced guiltily back at her big sister. “You weren’t supposed to know about that.”

“There are things you’re all good at. I’m good at knowing what’s going on. Like the way that the people in the bar were gossiping — did you hear? They were talking about the Young Prince and all the trouble he gets into. And then in the village, they were talking about King Roald, and they were fussing about him. So the Young Prince…”

“That’s who we’re looking for?” Lucy murmured. “And they think…”

“He enjoys partying, he likes to cause trouble. If he’s missing, it could be a prank.”

“Do you really think Aslan would have brought us here for a prank?”

Susan didn’t say the first thing that came to her mind — they had not seen Aslan. They only had the word of a cat that Aslan had sent them. “No,” she answered instead. “I don’t think he’d send us here to resolve a prank.”

“Then we should treat it as if it is real. Besides,” Lucy added, and although her voice was quiet, Susan could hear the edges, as sharp as the hatchet she was swinging, “we should be mindful not to discount someone, just because they’ve been known to prank before.”

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12: The Terror of the Plains, a continuation of a fanfic of Narnia and Valdemar

first: A Door in the Wall
Second: On the Other Side of the Door
Third: The Call Comes Again
Fourth: New Travelling Companions
Fifth: Complications and then Complications
Sixth: Stranger Things
Seventh: A Change and Changes
Eighth: But Not A Return
Ninth: The Gods Not Tamed
Tenth: The Tiny Queen Arises,
Eleventh:The Gentle Queen Awakens

They left the tavern on that solemn note. Polla, Susan could tell, was attempting to hide a limp. She moved until she was between the woman and the mass of the crowd, and smiled as she saw Peter flank Polla on the other side.

The woman, in turn, said nothing, but Susan noted that she let herself lean a little more heavily on her cane, and that she still sighed with relief when they had reached the inn’s stables. “You’re good kids.”

“You’re not the first war veteran we’ve encountered.” Edmund’s answer was casual, so casual that at first Susan thought he’d gone too far. “It’s hard to be out there with strangers seeing a weakness like that, right?”

Polla didn’t answer for a moment. She busied herself with the saddle on her dun mount, a small and flat saddle far less complicated than the ones the Pevensies had been using. There were not so many straps on it to take such time, and yet she was still working on her saddle when Susan had finished saddling her own mount.

“It is hard,” she agreed, so quietly that the jangle of tack nearly covered her voice. “And it’s frustrating. I am not weak, but that’s all they see. A limp, when I used to be the Terror of the Plains.”

“The Terror of the Plains?” Lucy asked, in her high child’s voice. Polla turned from her tack to look down at Lu.

“It was advertising, more or less. Telling everyone I was far bigger than I was. Telling them we were bigger than we were — my merc crew,” she continued, before they could ask. “We were tough and a little wild, but we were a small crew. So we talked ourselves up until we nearly believed it.” She swung herself up into the saddle. Seeing her there, her limp momentarily unimportant, Susan could believe her having been the Terror of the Plains.

Susan swung up into her own saddle. “I — we — know a bit about being seen as smaller and weaker than we are. It can make you want to throw rocks, can’t it?”

“Susan!” Peter was, of course, scandalized.

“Well, it can. It always has, Peter, whether it was you and Ed forgetting that Lu and I had brains of our own, or Mum and Dad thinking we were… we were just children.” She looked directly at Polla. “We’re smaller than we are, as Lucy once said. And so we know all about being looked at as lesser and… incapable.”

Polla caught it. She coughed. “Then the gods look favorably upon Valdemar after all, don’t they? You’re a sharp one — Susan, it was? You remind me of my old Captain.”

“Thank you.” Susan smiled broadly. “There are far worse compliments than to be reminiscent of a mercenary captain. Some of…” our best friends and finest warriors, my favorite lover, the ones that won that war for us… “We have known some fine mercenaries over the years.”

“I begin to think that your years are counted a little differently than your average gal-on-a-horse counts them.”

“We count every year twice,” Lucy put in, chipper and patently insincere. “That way there are twice as many birthday parties, and we can grow up twice as fast.”

Polla chuckled. “You’re quite adorable. But don’t think I don’t see how you sit your saddle, young miss.”

Lucy slouched deliberately and exaggeratedly. “Dunno whotcher talkin bout, lady?” She ruined it by grinning, which led to Polla barking out a laugh. Even Edmund chuckled, the quiet sound that he normally reserved only for family.

“You’re fun, too. Not sure I’ve ever met people that were clever and kind and fun.”

Lucy straightened up. “We’re still kids,” she answered innocently. “We’re supposed to be fun. And clever, well—” she shrugged. “We might be pretty smart. There’s a reason we were chosen, of course.”

“Of course. Valdemar does some pretty strange things though, young Lucy. And sometimes they are not the best chosen. You’ll forgive me for trusting my own judgement more than theirs, I hope.”

“Only as long as you forgive us for trusting ours.” Lucy’s smile was so bright, people often forgot to take offense even when she was being patently offensive. “We were brought here to do a job, but people seem very reluctant to let us do it. I think it’s making my brothers and sister a little touchy.” She stage-whispered the last as they walked their horses out onto the road.

“And not you?” Polla raised her eyebrows.

“Oh, no, I never get touchy. I’m the cheerful one. That’s what I’m called, Lucy the Sunny.”

“Valiant,” Edmund interjected, lazily but with a point hidden in all the silk. One again, Susan remembered how much she’d missed this side of her brother — and of her sister. “They called you the Valiant. And you earned it.”

Lucy blushed and ducked her head. “They did at that, sometimes,” she muttered.

Polla let the silence hang a few minutes, their horses’ hooves clopping on the cobbles as the only sound. “They,” she said, finally, the single word punctuated by a birdcall.

“They,” Edmund repeated, in the same smooth tone.

“You were brought here to help with our little problem.”

“We were sent,” Susan answered.

“Susan…” Peter began, but she shook her head.

“We were called for — and we were sent. The rest is a wee bit complicated, but we come from a long way away.”

“A long way away, hrrm? Well.” Polla smiled, a strange smile but not a bad one, “let’s hope it turns out to be worth the trip, then.”


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The Gentle Queen Awakens, a continuation of a fanfic of Narnia and Valdemar

first: A Door in the Wall
Second: On the Other Side of the Door
Third: The Call Comes Again
Fourth: New Travelling Companions
Fifth: Complications and then Complications
Sixth: Stranger Things
Seventh: A Change and Changes
Eighth: But Not A Return
Ninth: The Gods Not Tamed
Tenth: The Tiny Queen Arises,

This way turned out to be into a tavern and to the darkest back corner. Peter and Edmund were waiting outside the building — the Mended Drum — for them, somehow already looking as if they belonged there. Peter had always been able to do that, step into a scene and belong there. Susan had watched Edmund learn it over their time in Narnia, and then again when they returned.

It seemed to relax Soleck. He smiled sidelong at them and held open the door, leading them far into the back.

In a shadowed corner, a figure sat with hood up, nursing a thick-walled mug of ale. She glanced up at them — Susan had only Soleck’s use of the pronoun to go on, as the cloak the figure was wearing concealed everything — and nodded. “Herald.”

“Polla. We have a deal?”

“These are them?” Her voice was deep for a woman, or high for a man, and husky. Susan caught the woman eyeing her, and did the same in return. “Well, on Valdemar’s head be it.”

The insult was clear. Susan braced herself, hoping neither her brothers nor Lucy would take obvious offense.

Instead, Edmund flopped into the chair nearest the woman and grinned. “That’s the idea, no?” He held out his hand. “Edmund.”

Susan could not see the woman’s expression, but her voice sounded pleasantly surprised. “Polla.” She took Edmund’s hand and shook it; her hand was broad and scarred, the nails trimmed short. “And the rest?”

“Oh, this is my brother Peter, Peter, say hi to the nice lady, and these are our sisters, Susan and Lucy.” Something about the way Edmund said it made Susan feel like he wanted to add on their titles, the names Aslan had called them by. It made her bow a little more regal than it would have otherwise been.

“Pleased to meet you,” she offered. “You are to be our guide, then?”

“That’s me. Bonded and paid by… them that’s hired you.”

Well, on Valdemar’s head be it. Susan did not say it, but she thought it might show in her face.

That was confirmed, or nearly so, when Polla threw back her head and laughed. “This one, I like. She has steel in her spine. Tell me, Soleck-Herald, what brought these four to you?”

Soleck cleared his throat. “The SunLord,” he muttered.

“The SunLord?” Polla’s voice shifted, dropping down into a conversational tone, and she leaned forward. “Interesting. The gods do not so often interfere directly, do they? Especially not V’kandis, and especially not here in Valdemar. Well.” She nodded to all four of them. “This will be an interesting trip. You can ride, I’ve been told. And you can fight?”

Edmund started to lean forward, as if to speak, and then leaned back, nodding at Peter.

Susan raised an eyebrow but did not interrupt. She wondered if they had been doing some negotiating of their own, while she and Lucy had been off shopping.

Peter cleared his throat. “Ed and I are fine in close-quarters fighting. We’re good with a sword or a mace. Lu and Susan are good with a short-sword, but you don’t want to get between Susan and her target; she’s a wicked shot with a bow, and Lucy’s pretty good too.”

“Girls good on distance, boys close up. Check.”

“Are we likely to see much combat on this mission?” Susan hoped she didn’t sound like a ninny; it was an important question, but sometimes she found her information requests were met with disdain.

Polla leaned back. A smile was visible from under the shadow of her hood. “Likely? Depends on you four. Is it possible? Combat is always a possibility. Once I got jumped while I was eating soup at a tavern three hours’ ride from the nearest battlefront.”

Soleck cleared his throat. “There’s no need to frighten them.”

“There is every need to frighten them, if the idea of battle makes them quake in their boots. But I don’t think they’re frightened. I think they’re measuring me up, am I right?”

Peter cleared his throat. “If you’re to be our guide… then we should know you. This is a strange land to us, and Herald Soleck and his Companion are the only ones we know apart from you.”

Polla laughed, a deep and happy sound that echoed in their small corner. “See? HE’s a diplomat, too. I see why you picked ‘em for this mission. All right. When can you be ready to leave?”

“Immediately, if necessary,” Peter answered for them. “We have little in the way of luggage and our mounts have been rested.”

“Don’t talk half fancy, does he? Well, maybe it’s for the better. Let me settle up my tab, and then we’re off, me kiddos.” Polla levered herself to her feet; it was then that Susan noticed the walking stick by her side.

Soleck put a hand on Polla’s. “I will pay. ‘Expenses’ was said, no? This is an expense.”

Polla laughed again, shorter and more clipped this time. “If you’d been my client…”

“But I am the client now, and we cannot go chasing after last year’s chickens. I will pay. You see these children on to the road.” He bowed low to Polla, and then to Susan and Peter, to Edmund and Lucy. “Bring him home,” he murmured very softly. “Sunlord’s-gift, we are all counting on you.”

Susan stood. Next to her, she could feel her family doing the same. She nodded her head to Soleck, the words and tone of Queen Susan coming back to her. “We will do all we can, Herald Soleck, to bring him home safely to you. On that, you have our word.”

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The Tiny Queen Arises, a continuation of a fanfic of Narnia and Valdemar

first: A Door in the Wall
Second: On the Other Side of the Door
Third: The Call Comes Again
Fourth: New Travelling Companions
Fifth: Complications and then Complications
Sixth: Stranger Things
Seventh: A Change and Changes
Eighth: But Not A Return
Ninth: The Gods Not Tamed

The town they’d slept in this time was big enough to sport a proper inn, as well as a tailor and a dressmaker who’d been more than willing to put together another outfit each for the Pevensies. Soleck had paid for everything before handing over to Peter a full purse and giving him a quick explanation of the currency.

“I feel as if we’re travelling in state now,” Lucy murmured to Susan. “We have proper changes of clothing, we have coins for largesse…”

“Careful now, Lu.” She knew her sister didn’t truly need warning, but Susan couldn’t help but give the caution anyway. “We’re not royal, here.”

“We’re royal,” Lucy responded, her chin up and her jaw set. “‘Once a king or queen of Narnia, always a king or queen of Narnia.’” Her stubborn expression faded into one of longing. “We’re just a long way from home. Visiting incognito royalty.”

“On a secret mission,” Susan whispered. “Don’t forget that part. It’s quite important.”

Lucy giggled. “It’s very important,” she agreed. “Especially the secret part. Do you remember Tinderfoot, who could not understand ‘secret,’ no matter how many times we explained the concept? Or…”

“Herald Soleck.” SUsan talked over her sister with as much grace as such a thing could be managed. “Back from your shopping trip?” He’d taken off Edmund, in theory to buy him a more subtle weapon than Aslan’s gift.

“Yes, and may I say, your brothers knowledge of weapons is quite impressive. I did not expect… well, I did not expect that.” He cleared his throat. “Please, don’t let me interrupt you.”

“Oh,” Susan said brightly, with the cheerful spark that had led many in two worlds to label her frivolous or shallow, “we were just talking about home, old friends and the like. Nothing particularly exciting, I’m afraid.”

There was a look on Soleck’s face, but Susan did not think it was disbelief. More, she thought, something like disappointment.

Well, better he believe her somewhat shallow than he spend too much time worrying about her depth or her brother’s knowledge of weapons. He cleared his throat. “There is one who will guide you for a short time after you leave here. She would like to meet you now, if you would? If your reminiscences are not too dear?”

And that, Susan thought, sounded downright catty. She smiled brightly at him, cheerful and friendly. “Of course! A good guide is very important when one is as far from home as we are.”

She thought she might sound a little bit vapid, but Soleck did not seem to mind, or perhaps he simply had other things on his mind. A missing Prince, she mused, had to be putting quite a stress on those normally responsible for matters such as keeping that Prince safe and sound. She softened her smile a little bit, although he did not appear to notice

“Indeed. And I am afraid the territory we will be sending you into is not, perhaps, the safest of places. It is lucky that your brothers seem very familiar with weapons and tactics for those so young. And you?”

His eyebrows were up and he looked less than pleased. “I’m a fair hand with a bow,” Susan answered. “Lu can shoot pretty well, too, and you don’t want to get within reach of her short-sword.” She took a breath and met Soleck’s gaze. “The place we come from has been at war for many years,” she told him with complete honesty, letting the war show in her eyes. It might not have been where they learned to shoot a bow and arrow… but that was a complicated explanation. “We’re no stranger to battle, Herald Soleck, nor are we as green as you might think or wish.”

Lucy stomped her foot. “Your sun-lord and our… our god sent us. Why are you so worried?”

“Because, young miss,” Soleck answered, with quiet solemnity, “you, at least, look as if you should still be in the nursery, or running about Haven as a page. We do not train Heralds, even, as young as you are now. This mission will not be an easy one, and you are children.”

Susan set a hand on Lucy’s shoulder, but there was no stopping her. She had her chin out and a wild look in her eye.

“Do you doubt your Sun-Lord?” she demanded.

Susan wanted to protest, to scold, Lu, stop it, but she wasn’t going to interrupt. Her sister had the floor and she would honor that.

“He is not my Sun-Lord. But no, I doubt neither him nor his avatars the fire-cats.”

“I do not doubt the Lord we follow, either. And if he has said go into this place and find this man, that is what we will do.”

She sounded, high childish voice and all, much like Queen Lucy the Valiant. Susan smiled in lieu of an impolite cheer.

Soleck cleared his throat. He clearly was uncertain what to do with a child speaking like a queen. Susan wanted to tell him she sounded like that the first time she was a child, too, you know, but that would do nothing but muddy the waters and confuse the issue.

“You said there was someone for us to meet?” she guided him gently.

“Ah, yes. Yes, indeed. She is, ah, not what I am, not a Herald. But she is bonded as a mercenary and is known to be trustworthy.”

“I am sure she will guide us truly,” Susan agreed. She found she wanted to smooth things over with Soleck, and hoped this was the direction which would lead there.

“She and the SunLord,” he answered piously. “She is this way.”


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Posting Schedule

I’ve been trying – with some success – to keep my postings to some sort of schedule. I thought it might keep me on track if I posted said schedule here.

I may be off by up to a day on any given post.

Edally Academy
Weekend blog post

Patreon “Bonus” post – a flashback, something I missed from the month before, or just a story not yet posted for the month

Edally Academy
Buffy fanfic (or Buffy Fanfic)

Patreon – alternating weeks story & serial until serial is caught up
Throwback Thursday: a fic from “today in xxxx”, with commentary.

Edally Academy
Narnia Fanfic into Valdemar

Of course, other fiction will be posted as finished/as whim hits/as commissioned/etc.

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The Gods Not Tamed, a continuation of a fanfic of Narnia and Valdemar

first: A Door in the Wall
Second: On the Other Side of the Door
Third: The Call Comes Again
Fourth: New Travelling Companions
Fifth: Complications and then Complications
Sixth: Stranger Things
Seventh: A Change and Changes
Eighth: But Not A Return

The next morning found mounts, Soleck, Leffen, breakfast, and packed saddle bags waiting for the four of them. Breakfast, as laid out by Marna and Orna, was heavy, filling, and delicious. The horses were horses only, as far as Susan could tell, solid working beasts that seemed placid, easy rides. Well, Soleck had no way of knowing they’d spent a lifetime in the saddle, and these may have been the rides available. Susan hoped she wasn’t taking a beast someone needed to pull a plow.

“One more day I will travel with you, and then one more morning. After that, the sight of a Herald and Companion is likely to spook His Highness or cause the wrong rumors to go to the wrong ears. There will be other guides, however.” Soleck half-bowed apologetically. “We would not send you off into strange wilderness alone.”

“Wouldn’t be the first time,” Edmund quipped quietly. He cleared his throat when Soleck looked at him strangely. “We appreciate the guides. It’s a strange place, like you said. We’d likely get awfully turned around without some help.”

That, Susan thought, might be laying it on a bit heavily, but Soleck accepted it.

“There will be maps, of course. And there is a compass for guiding you. But maps and compasses can sometimes be tricky when you do not know if the road you are on is Center Street or The Grand Aisle, no?” He grinned, amused, and it was such an infectious expression that Susan found herself smiling back at him.

“Oh, certainly,” Ed agreed cheerfully. “It does no good to say you’ve got seventeen leagues between Caer… between one place and the next if you’ve got no idea where you are in relation to either place, or even how to recognize either place when you get there.”

“Indeed. And so we will do what we can to guide you, and make certain you know where you are on those maps when your guides leave you. There are better solutions, I am sure…” He hesitated as Leffen tossed his head, but whatever the Companion was saying, he was not sharing it with the rest of them. “…other solutions, certainly, but this is the solution we have.”

None of them questioned that, for what could they say? They rode in silence instead, and for Susan’s part, at least, she studied the countryside, its farmlands and its rolling hills so like places she had been before, and so different.

“Look,” Lu would say, from time to time, “a kestrel,” or “Look, a squirrel,” and she was as excited about both, so Susan knew her sister’s thoughts were along similar paths as her own.

The boys were quieter, but once in a while, Ed would point out a road sign or some curiosity, or Peter would point out the slope of a roof or a way the rocks were put together in a wall. Nobody said remember when we saw this in Narnia?; the habit was too ingrained in all of them. But it was writ large, even in the way they wore their tunics and breeches and split skirts, even in the way they sat on their placid, easy mounts.

Susan noticed, too, the way Soleck was looking at them. She’d catch him looking at Edmund and Peter discussing the strategic importance of a specific wall, or Lucy humming thoughtfully about the the flow of a particular creek. She’d catch him looking at her studying the people walking down the road or riding in carts or carriages.

“You four are… interesting,” he said, slowly and ruefully, when he realized he’d been caught out watching. “I begin to understand what it is the Sunlord would see, to bring you here. You are right, you Edmund, that people will see what they do of your stature, and they will not see what they should of your nature.”

He sounded, Susan thought, a little bit sad. She kneed her horse a little closer to Leffen and looked up at him through a fringe of hair. It was a tactic Lucy had decried on more than one occasion — but on more occasions than that, it had gotten Susan quite far. “Is something amiss, Soleck?”

“Amiss?” His smile was even more triste than he had sounded previously. “This world, I believe, is amiss, that we would send children such as your brother and sister into such difficult situations. I see that the SunLord had his reasons, but the reasons of those above are not for ones like me to question.”

“He’s not a tame SunLord,” Lucy muttered.

“No,” Soleck answered, sounding more than a little bit confused, “tame he is most definitely not.”

“It’s a, a thing we said about our… our god, the one who sent us here,” Susan managed to explain, but that did little, if anything, to wipe the lost and unhappy look from Soleck’s face.

She supposed there were not that many people who could say, as she and Lu could, that they had ridden on the back of the Lion of Narnia, that they had cuddled the mane of their god.

She cleared her throat and, rather than attempting to explain what she imagined might be impossible to make clear, she changed the subject. “You mentioned maps, but what of the lay of the land. That is… we are in Valdemar. You said you were a Karsite. That is a part of Valdemar or another nation?”

“Oh, another nation, most definitely.” He looked startled at the question. Interesting. “To the south and the east of Valdemar, not all that far from here, as such things go.”

“And Is Valdemar on a coast? What other nations border it?”

“Truly these are things you do not know? But you must have come from somewhere…” Soleck shook his head as Leffen danced in place, not “speaking” such that they Pevensies could hear, but being quite clear on his opinions nevertheless. Soleck coughed. “Ahem. So. Rethwellen borders Valdemar peacefully, and…”

By the time he was done, Susan found herself wishing for maps and a pad in which to write this. How had she ever learned all this, back in Narnia? More importantly, by the time she was done, the angry and confused look had vanished from Soleck’s face.

“Thank you for the briefing.” She bowed formally from horse-back, only to see Soleck flushing again. “It does make our job easier.”

“And you, in turn, make mine easier. Thank you.” He sounded confused rather than grateful. Susan wondered what was bothering him.

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But Not A Return, a continuation of a fanfic of Narnia and Valdemar

(It’s friday somewhere? *innocent*
first: A Door in the Wall
Second: On the Other Side of the Door
Third: The Call Comes Again
Fourth: New Travelling Companions
Fifth: Complications and then Complications
Sixth: Stranger Things
Seventh: A Change and Changes

“It seems like they’re used to Heralds coming through,” Peter whispered into the dark. Marna’s friend Orna had put them all up in a broad sleeping loft where, she told them, her sons had slept before they’d left the house.

“And as they’ve not come back with wives and children yet, well, the space is open and someone might as well sleep there,” she’d continued, fussing over all of their protestations. “And there’s food for the eating, and the clothes fit you two well enough, and…” And on she’d gone, but she hadn’t turned down Susan and Lucy’s offers of help in the kitchen, nor Peter and Edmund’s offer to split wood for the coming winter.

“Even our age, or younger. Soleck had to explain a couple times that we hadn’t been Chosen, whatever that means. Seems like these Heralds do a lot more than just pass messages,” Edmund offered.

“If the Horses – Companions – are that rare here, it would make sense. You might team a messenger up with a talking Horse if you had them, or for a very urgent message…” Lucy had skill in keeping her voice very quiet, and yet sounding excited and ready to jump from her bed, as she did now.

“I heard them ask Soleck for a judgement on a small matter,” Peter murmured. “And he sounded as if he was used to such things. It seems reasonable that he might be empowered to send us on such a mission as this.”

“The question is,” Susan put in, “the mission itself. Not only ‘can we do it’, but should we? I mean… we can assume that Aslan sent us here, and if we assume that, then yes, we should do the mission. But…”

“But a cat is not a lion,” Peter agreed quietly, “and there are times when others pretend to speak with Aslan’s voice. I say… I say we go along for the time being, and do our best not to stumble too badly.”

“At least until we can find out what a stumble might mean, here.” Edmund sounded thoughtful. “I mean, will we end being turned to stone, or, well…”

“Causing a major diplomatic incident by wearing the wrong veil,” Susan filled in. She had made her own mistakes, back in Narnia, back on Earth. “Or simply irritate an ambassador by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“We should tread carefully and make friends,” Lucy agreed brightly. “It’s a nice world, so far. The people are nice. The houses are nice.”

“I do miss Mr. and Mrs. Beaver,” Susan admitted softly. “But this is a nice house. And everyone’s been so kind so far.”

“Perhaps there’s a war.” Peter sounded distant. “Lucy and Ed are right. We’ll have to tread very carefully indeed here. We’ll have to remember that this isn’t home – and that this isn’t home, either.”

“But we can find their… but we can do this mission, yes?” Lucy was nearly leaning out of her bunk. “It sounds like quite the adventure!”

“We can take the mission, yes.” Peter sounded like himself again. Trust Lucy to remind him he had a heart. “Something brought us here, after all. We should find out what, at the very least. And the best way to do that is to play along.”

Susan curled in her bunk, trying to ignore the cold feeling in her chest. She had often been the pragmatic one in their little team. Why, now, was she fighting it?

She wrapped her arms around her knees and made herself sound bright as she backed Peter up. “I’m sure we can learn much more about them than they’d expect. As Ed said, we look younger than we are.”

“We are younger than we are,” Lucy laughed. “I wonder how long we’ll be here, this time…?”

“I’m sure we’ll find out. Just don’t leave any pots on the boil anywhere,” Edmund joked.

“But for now,” Peter put in firmly, “we should sleep. We’ll have a long day ahead of us in the morning.”

Susan closed her eyes. An old verse of Narnian poetry came to her mind, and she recited the words silently until she could make herself sleep.

My love, I but stepped out a bit; my love, I but to the fence did flit.
My love, ‘twas just a moment gone. I swear I would return anon.


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A Change and Changes, a continuation of a fanfic of Narnia and Valdemar

(Last Friday’s post, whoops)
first: A Door in the Wall
Second: On the Other Side of the Door
Third: The Call Comes Again
Fourth: New Travelling Companions
Fifth: Complications and then Complications
Sixth: Stranger Things

The ride – or walk, for Peter, Edmund, and Soleck – was not difficult, and it ended far sooner than Susan was ready for it to. They rode into a small village which seemed to grow out of the side of the hill, or maybe, like children’s toys, to have been tossed down along the slope. Leffen had no more trouble with the steep slope than he had with any other terrain, climbing up it as if it were a flat meadow.

When Susan slid off after Lucy, it was with great reluctance. And it seemed that Leffen understood that, for he nuzzled her as she patted him. ::This will not be our last ride, Queen Susan:: It seemed as if the Companion thought only for her ears, as it were. ::And, I assure you, this is far, far from your last ride on Valdemar soil or on the back of a Companion. But we must all do what we must, no?::

Susan took a breath to steady herself, and indulged herself for a moment. She pressed her face to the side of Leffen’s face, and breathed in his horsey, perfect smell. “We must all do what we must,” she whispered back to him. “And never let it be said that Susan Pevensie did not do what was needful.”

Leffen nosed into her hands and then stepped back, letting it seem as if Susan had chosen to rejoin her family. She looked around; Soleck was speaking politely to a few older people, while nearby children waited to see the Companion.

The garb on the people here was different from what they were wearing by quite a bit, although Susan should not have been surprised by that. It was also notably different from Soleck’s white vest, white shirt, and white breeches, although mostly in colors.

Susan looked down at her old dress and looked over at the women speaking to Soleck. The foremost was wearing trousers and a vest that looked made for durability rather than fashion; the two behind her, both with braided hair in steel-grey and white, were wearing what looked to be long skirts to their ankles with boots showing underneath. They would certainly stand out here for their clothing, if for no other reason. Susan patted her hair nervously.

Lucy was smiling at the children, waving at one nearly as old as her. She was in her element. Peter had joined Soleck and was negotiating, and Edmund had begun talking to a boy nearly his age. Susan… had been wool-gathering. She turned to find something to do. There had to be something.

“And you must be the leader of this group.” A matron in middle-age, the grey just starting to touch her temples, bustled over to Susan. “And you look as if you’ll either freeze or scorch, depending on which way your trip is going. Trust a Herald to think of everything except clothing. My name is Marna, hello dear. We’re to get you outfitted properly. Come this way.”

Susan blinked in the face of such efficiency. “Aah – I do believe Soleck, Herald Soleck said that he would be getting us more appropriate clothes,” she offered, as she found herself pulled along in Marna’s wake. “But I do thank you.” She looked down at her poor dress again and offered, “we were not dressed for travelling when this – when this mission was presented to us.”

“Dumped on you, more like it, and barely over children yourselves.” Marna stopped dead, turned around, and looked at Susan sharply. “But not children anymore, are you?”

Susan resisted the urge to blush and look away under the strength of that gaze. She lifted her chin and allowed herself a small smile instead. “It depends, ma’am, on how you measure childhood.”

“And a tidy ‘none of your business’ returned, and polite at that.” Marna’s smile suggested she was not truly offended. “You come with a Herald bringing you on a mission, so I trust you have good reason to be here. Now, you may be past childhood or near it, but you’re the same size as my daughter Astiansa before she went off to the capital to be a Bard, and your wee sister there is not so much smaller than my niece.”

Susan allowed herself to be fussed over, the vests and skirts heaped in her arms. “And a cloak, there, because it can get cold in the hills even in the midst of summer. And Orna down the street will see to a place for you to stay for the night, and she’ll have something for your brothers, too. And what Herald thought it was a good idea to let you walk around half-dressed…” Marna tutted. “It’s not my business, and I know that. But still!”

Susan found herself smiling. “I’m sorry,” she apologized, although there was nothing wrong with smiling in and of itself. “You just remind me very much of…” Of Mrs. Beaver “….of someone I used to know.” Her heart ached for a moment. If they went back through the door, here, when they returned would Marna and all her village, too, be centuries dead?

She swallowed and found her smile again before Marna had noticed it gone. “And it’s very nice of you to be helping us. Thank you for the clothing. I’ll be sure to retu—”

“You’ll do no such thing. Astiansa has her Bardic blues now, and my niece has outgrown these. They are a gift, and you’ll do me honor by taking them.”

Susan bowed, though her hands were laden, and did not smile at that. “I thank you, madam. It is very kind of you.”

Marna’s expression softened. “And it’s only what should be done. Come on, we’ll see to your bedding and clothes for your brothers. Boys that they are, someone must be letting down their hems every other week, aren’t they?”

Susan lost herself pleasantly in the domestic chatter, mending and feeding and following after teenaged boys, who were never done growing. She remembered, deep in her heart, when Peter had reached his full growth, and Edmund soon after. She wondered how many times she would watch them grow, and Lucy too. She found she was looking forward to it again.


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Stranger Things, a continuation of a fanfic of Narnia and Valdemar

first: A Door in the Wall
Second: On the Other Side of the Door
Third: The Call Comes Again
Fourth: New Travelling Companions
Fifth: Complications and then Complications

Leffen had a steady, comfortable gait, the sort Susan imagined must be lovely on campaign, when one spent so much time in-saddle that one’s saddle sores had gained their own landscapes and maps. She found it quite soothing, and an interesting contrast to Soleck’s story.

“The Prince, Sendar, he has been having trouble around the Palace. Nothing large, but these things sometimes happen to young nobles. They get involved with people who are not the best choices, they allow themselves to be taunted into things they shouldn’t…”

“Like the time, remember…” Lucy began, and stopped. “That is, young people do that everywhere.”

Soleck wisely did not smile at this coming in Lucy’s small, chirping voice. “Indeed. Our Prince has made some choices that, perhaps, he would not have made were here somewhat older. And he is not listening to older or wiser counsel, or, that is, was not listening before he disappeared.”

“Kidnapped?” asked Peter.

Soleck coughed. “No. That is, we do not believe he was kidnapped without his own willing consent, although how willing he might be now is up to some interpretation. The problem we are having is, he has stopped listening to Heralds or to Companions save his own, and his own Companion, who should know better, is not speaking with us. He…” Here Soleck coughed again, and took a moment to look quite embarrassed. “He will not speak with anyone he considers an adult or an authority.”

“So we’re perfect,” Edmund pointed out cheerfully, “because we don’t look like adults or authority figures at all.”

Susan eyed him thoughtfully, but Ed didn’t seem upset by this revelation. It had been an adjustment for all of them, getting used to their childish bodies yet again, but it had seemed hardest on him and Lu. Now, though, Edmund was grinning. “It’s practically being incognito. I remember things I thought I’d lost forever, I can still just about swing this mace properly, and everyone is going to look at me and see a kid.”

“When did you get interested in espionage, Ed?” Peter teased. “I thought you were more direct than that.”

Susan remembered it differently. She remembered Ed smiling brightly and coming home with his pockets full of secrets. “I think it’s brilliant. That is, once we’ve gotten clothes that don’t look so much like we crawled through the rag-bag and not the closet to get here.”

“You do not look rag-bag,” Soleck protested gallantly. “You look foreign and strange, that is all. Exotic.”
“Exotic!” Lucy exclaimed. “I like that. Like the time when we went to Madrid, and we were the strangest thing around. We’re exotic, Susan!”

Susan thought, from the way that Soleck looked at her, that he thought exotic was a very good thing indeed. She ducked her head and smiled, pretending it was just at her sister. “Well, we’re in a strange land again, Lu. It’s been a while since we could say that.”

“You are not so different in coloration than many of those here in Valdemar,” Soleck offered. “But your manner is, perhaps, a little different. As is mine.”

“Yours?” Peter tilted his head. “Are you strange, then, to those who know you?”

::Not to those who know him,:: Leffen inserted, ::but to those who will not see.::

Susan took a long look at Soleck. Her first impression had been of a Calormen who had been in the sun for quite some time. His white clothing hung on him as if tailored to him, and matched the Leffen and Leffen’s tack too much for it to be an accident. He was handsome, she thought, with a square chin and a pleasant smile, but that could be its own curse.

He shifted from foot to foot. “I am dark and strange for one of Valdemar, yes. There are darker, of course, but none of them look so… so Karsite as I do.”

“Karsite?” Peter asked.

Soleck shifted again. “It does happen. Not often, but the Companions Choose who they will.”

“It’s not that.” Edmund was carefully neutral. “What’s a Karsite?”

“Oh, yes.” He looked startled. “That is not why you were looking at me, then. You are truly not from around here.”

“We are from – practically another world,” Peter answered carefully.

“Two other worlds, really,” Lu pointed out. “But that’s okay. We’ll be perfect for your mission that way.”

Soleck gave Lucy a long, thoughtful look, which he then turned on Peter, then Edmund, and then Susan. “You are strange, too, then. I see. It is possible that this mission will succeed.”

Susan didn’t think she was supposed to hear what he said next, but she had a habit of hearing such things left over from a time long-gone in a world long-locked. “It is possible,” he muttered, “that I am not the strangest thing here anymore.”


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