Disclaimer: I think that you know what I own. Everything that I don't own, yeah, that goes to C.S. Lewis. I'm not making any money off this.
Chapter Twenty-Three: Stephen
I swallowed hard and walked forward to where the knife lay wedged between the door and its hinge. The throwing of the knife caused enough of a scene for even the drunkards to look around, yelling all sorts of obscenities.
"The kid's done thrown his knife!"
"'e's never done it before!"
"All he does is whittle away at the thing…what did the lil missy do to 'im?"
I placed my hand on the hilt of the wooden knife and with a hard tug tried pulling it from the door. It was stuck hard as both Emily and I tried with all of our might to loosen the blade from its place in the door. Several moments later, I felt a breath down the back of my neck which sent chills down my spine.
"Move aside, but don't think you're going anywhere," he growled in my ear and both Emily and I moved aside obediently, watching as the young teen slid passed us and with one fluid movement up then downward removed the blade from its place.
A buzz was sent through the drunks as they started to move up from their perches in front of the fire. As if sensing what their next movement was, his eyes shot over to them as he tucked his knife away into his pocket," Stay where you are."
"What's got you so hyped up this evening?" one of them yelled after downing another jug of whatever alcohol lay inside.
Under his dark eyebrows he glared from them to me," Politics," he grumbled, grabbing me by the arm as he walked to the back of the inn.
"Emily, come along," I whispered to her, not wanting to anger the knife boy by fighting against his grasp.
"Not. Her," he told me sternly, stopping dead in his tracks.
"She's coming, whether you like it or not, sir," I told him with probably a little too much pride than I should have.
Swiftly, he grabbed his knife from his pocket and threateningly placed it roughly against my throat," She stays."
"Deal," I gulped and looked at my companion apologetically.
She looked around at the men who were already making all sorts of jokes amongst themselves about their drinking to even bother with her. She nodded at me understanding and made herself comfortable, standing on the opposite side of the room from the men, arms crossed over her chest as she watched me be dragged to the back of the inn by the mysterious boy.
As we left, one of the drunkards yelled," Sounds like Stephen's gonna have some fun tonight!"
With that, this "Stephen" let out a groan as we walked down the narrow, wooden hallway that led to several of the service rooms that held supplies for the small inn. He dragged me to the back of the inn before tossing me into the room that appeared to be where they stored all of the blankets and such.
"Why are you here?" he immediately demanded, hardly giving me any time to think as he shuffled around the room, lighting candles as he went.
"I'm on a mission," I told him honestly," A mission you should be rather grateful for, in fact."
He laughed mockingly at this," That I should be thankful for, huh? I would be much more thankful if you stayed in Telmar and actually did your job!"
I looked at him incredulously," Excuse me?"
"You know what I'm talking about," he said directly as he lit the last candle then looked straight at me," Ever since those slime balls moved in to take you over it seems as though the only thing you can do is hide and slinker under their 'mighty' control. Give me a break and to think that you were the one Caspian chose to marry."
Anger stirred inside of me and I could, once again, not stand for this," If you are insinuated that I am not fit to run this country, then you can take that up with Caspian, but if I remember correctly had it not been for both my husband and I, this land would still be run by Miraz, if not my father."
"It sure would be a hell of a lot better than it is now," he told me with a smirk," You've a lovely brother, by the way."
"Listen, I'm doing all that I can to keep this country from falling to pieces. If you only understood what it was that I was doing running away-"
"Oh, please, do explain," he interrupted, trying to put on a welcoming face," I don't intend on letting you out of here until you give me one good reason why you're not up there trying to bring down your tyrant of a brother."
I furrowed my brows," You know, I haven't much knowledge on exactly what I am doing out here either, but I'll tell you one thing for sure is that the only reason I didn't stop to be killed by my brother's men was because of Narnians like you who deserve a better life. I'm out here searching for your King, my husband, but not only that I am out here searching for the origins of my brother, Jacob's army. Our only lead as to where he is getting al of his men is that it be where he started all of the supernatural rumors. Above all, I'm out here searching for a new horizon. A new Narnia. The Narnia that we all deserve."
"Said like a true politician," he said with another one of those crooked smirks that seemed a little overly cocky, in my eyes.
"I'm not saying this from the eyes of a politician-"
"You can't help it. You're always going to have a way of making everything sound more dramatic than it is, simply due to the fact that you've been around overdramatic people your entire life and have probably never gotten a chance to experience the real life that we farmers live every day," he said matter-of-factly, crossing his arms over his chest as he examined me.
I raised a brow at him," Have you not heard any stories of me and Caspian, boy?"
"You seem mighty young to be calling me boy," he fired back.
"I'll take that as a no," I said, curtly before beginning my tale.
Emily tried to keep her distance from the men on the other side of the room by busying herself with the photos that were hanging crooked from the rusted nails in the white walls.
As much as she tried to focus on these photos; however, she couldn't seem to keep her mind on that of a black and white cow for much more than two seconds. Seeing as though she would not be hearing from Rosalie for a bit, she saw that the desk the boy that took her occupied was empty; she decided to do some sneaking. She knew that, at some point, she would need to go back and try to figure out what he did with Rosalie, but for now, she had decided she needed to figure out as much about him as she could…without attracting much attention from the men on the other side.
"Oi! Tommy, so tell us a lil bit about the one time…." the men drifted off into story telling and much laughter.
Silently, she maneuvered herself to where she was sitting in the same chair that the boy had been and noticed the many wood shavings lying all over the place.
This kid must be quite the whittler…she thought to herself before she started looking through the papers strewn about on top of the desk.
All of the papers seemed to be nothing of importance, they all appeared to be some sort of contract that allowed for citizens to stay in one of the rooms. Some of the rooms would be rented out for many nights, even weeks at a time, while others would only be booked for a single night.
Emily found herself becoming bored with this very quickly and tried to find something a little more nitty-gritty. She opened one of the side drawers and found only more knives.
Creepy…she thought once more to herself before continuing on her little search throughout the desk.
Another drawer, more disappointment. The cycle seemed to be repeating itself until she opened the bottom drawer on the right side of the desk. Deep in the back of the drawer lie a letter that seemed to be shredded to pieces. She pulled it out with some struggle as it seemed to stuck to…some sticky substance that she would have rather not felt. Just as she opened the letter to read it; the men yelled to her.
"Sweet'eart!" one of them called, causing her head to shoot up," C'mon over here. Don't want the Stephen to catch ye snooping 'round over there. C'mere we won't 'urt ye none."
Hesitantly, Emily moved to her feet, not wanting to cause a ruckus. She tucked the letter into the pocket of the inside of her cloak. Slowly, she made her way over to the men, knowing the risk she was taking by walking over to them.
"I guess it can't hurt any to meet some fine gentlemen such as yourselves," she said charmingly, trying to stay on their good side.
They ate up her comment with great pleasure and made all sorts of comments.
Awkwardly, she walked into their banter and tried sitting down next to one of them, but before she could even think; one of the drunk men pulled her onto his lap. Emily had never been handled so roughly before in her entire life and even let out a small shriek. All of them laughed hard as the one that had a tight grasp on her waist whispered into her ear," Dontchu worry none, I'll make sure that ye stay nice and safe."
For some reason, the sound of this fat man's voice did not make her feel anymore safe and made her regret ever walking over. Something about a drunk man's promises just wasn't very assuring. While she was walking over, however, she thought that perhaps these men, seeing the vulnerable state they were in, may be able to prove her of some use to figuring out Stephen.
"So, you all come here often?" she asked, feeling the man's hand clasp tighter onto her hip as she tried to ignore it.
"Every day, every night," one of the men, probably middle-aged, told her with a toothless grin.
"So, you must know quite a bit about that Stephen character?" she asked, smiling right back at them.
A roar of laughter erupted from the men as they all said numerous different little comments about the eccentric boy.
"Poor kid's never been the same since the old man passed away," one of the men chuckled, downing another jug of whatever it was they were drinking.
Emily raised a brow at this," How long ago was this?"
"Two, maybe three years ago," the same fellow replied with a burp, his words were very separated and staggered.
"Good for the boy to finally see a woman!" the man clutching onto Emily said, chuckling after every word.
"We were starting to get scared there for a bit that he may be-"
Emily found herself sitting through another one of their little raves as they continued going on about the status of the tall, lean, dark headed Stephen. She couldn't help but feel some sympathy for the boy…if his father really had died.
"What else do you know of him?" she tried after the banter had calmed down briefly.
They all looked at each other in drunk confusion as they thought aloud. After several moments, a younger one finally spoke up," I 'eard 'e knows Jacob Sopespian!"
Silence rang through the room as the name was said.
Emily was suddenly glad that she was in that place, sitting on that man's lap, listening them spill all sorts of secrets that they would never dare sharing sober.
"The Jacob Sopespian?" Emily asked with a raise of her brow," Why do you think that?"
The man hiccupped and burped once or twice before answering," Jacob lived 'ere for quite some time, boys? Remember? He sat 'round 'ere with us and drank his life away. That was when 'e 'ad his gimp leg. He's pretty bitter about that sister of his taking a wacking away at 'im. Wadn't he boys?"
They all agreed in loud chorus. None of them knew that the girl Stephen had taken to the back was Jacob's sister, whom they had, undoubtedly cursed at along with the same Jacob that was ruling the country as they spoke.
"Jacob was a bitter ol' bloke; that be fer sure!" one of them exclaimed," Never 'ave I 'eard o' a boy hatin' 'is sister so much."
"What did Stephen do for Jacob?" Emily asked, before any tirade could be started over Rosalie.
"Stephen was the one who found Jacob out in the wilderness," one of the more sober men told me, he was rather younger," He brought him here and bandaged him up a little. The two seemed to be the best of friends for quite some time. They were inseparable and it was good to see Stephen with a friend who could help him to cope with his father's death."
Emily noticed that this man's word really did seem to be more believable than any of the other ones. As the others made comments over this, being the same loud and boisterous crowd that they were, she zoned in on him; wanting him to tell her more.
"Stephen never really talked to girls or anyone, but after Jacob came along…that changed. The little hotel manager turned into quite the little socialist. He would go out and talk to all the people around town; he was totally different. Then…something happened. No one really knows what, but one night Jacob left, setting half the town on fire as he did. Stephen went back into his little 'no talking' time. That little tirade he just threw was a shock."
It surprised Emily how sober this man, this one little man stuck in the midst of all these men was able to retell this story. She looked at him sincerely and thanked him for his help. With that in mind, she had to inform Rosalie somehow of what was going on with Stephen. Even if he had not been on the best of terms with Jacob as of late, he still was friends with him at one time which made him dangerous.
As the man that clamped on to Emily's tiny frame downed another jug of, what she found out to be whiskey, she tried easing her way out of his fingers. Just as she had released herself, he realized that she was gone and grabbed her by the wrist, throwing down his jug.
"Where do ye think yer goin'?" he grumbled at her while she fought hard to break his grasp.
"I'm not staying here. That's for sure," she replied, looking directly into his clouded eyes.
"Not without givin' me a lil sugar," he grumbled, pulling her back to his lap," C'mere!"
"Emily!" a voice cried from behind and the desperate servant girl looked up to see her friend, Rosalie, exiting the room with Stephen by her side, unharmed," Put her down, now."
The man, startled looked back to see Rosalie yelling at him. Angered, he dropped Emily harshly to the floor and glared to the small, dark headed, tanned skinned girl who appeared to be yelling orders to him," Who are you to tell me what to do, missy?"
"Who am I to tell you?" she returned, crossing her arms as Emily scampered over to her side," I am someone you do not want to anger."
Rosalie knew that even though they would probably not recognize her as their queen, she still needed to lay low.
The big man growled at her, trying to come up with something to say back, but before he could move any closer; Stephen pulled another knife out and pointed it to him.
"You don't want to try anything," he threatened, motioning for the man to sit back down," She's with me and should you do anything to her; I promise you'll regret it."
Emily was quite confused by this change of events. After hearing the story that the man had just told her, she was convinced that this Stephen was probably rotten deep down, but it appeared that Rosalie had convinced him to trust her…the servant girl questioned her judgment.
Slowly, the large man took his seat and began grumbling about how some people "took things too seriously". Emily was relieved to be out of his clutches and looked to Rosalie with a sigh.
"Stephen's going to get us a place to stay tonight," Rosalie told her with a smile as the same, cold boy that had taken Rosalie away the first time was now grinning and being…friendly?
"Rosalie-" Emily started to question, but the young queen merely shook it off.
"Don't worry, I've talked it out with him," she assured her servant, but Emily tried once more.
"We need to talk," Emily told her seriously, her eyes wide.
Rosalie titled her head at Emily and chuckled," I assure you, we're safe now…but whatever you say. As soon as he gives us the key."
As if on cue, Stephen handed Rosalie a small, golden key and then whispered to her huskily," We'll leave early tomorrow."
"Right," Rosalie said with a nod before grabbing the key and leading Emily up the stairs, to the room that Stephen had earlier directed her to.
Walking up the creaky stairs did not give Emily any comfort, for as she looked back down the stairs, she saw Stephen sitting at his desk, whittling away once more and the men drinking even more than before. She assumed they would be passed out all over the floor the next morning, but Emily didn't know how long she wanted to stay there.
Something was most definitely amiss.
Author's Note: So, what do you think of Stephen? Is he good or bad? Let me know, drop a review! :)