Disclaimer: I own very little of this story and what I do not own is the property of C.S. Lewis.
Chapter Twenty-Seven: Making Amends
Emily and Stephen both had just watched as General strolled right passed them, his slew of men spilling in all around, making an even bigger mess of the place. Emily and Stephen had just dumped the contents of their tall glass onto two passed out drunks in the back of the tavern, but had hardly much time to even think about making their way back to Rosalie before General had made his grand entrance.
Havoc seemed to be breaking lose all around as the savage men that followed General started yelling and literally tearing apart what little there was in the dinky tavern.
Emily wanted to do something to protect Rosalie, but Stephen could smell trouble and instantaneously grabbed Emily's hand and started pulling her toward the door. All sorts of drunks were filing out of the tavern; in fact, General was encouraging the people to go out of the tavern it seemed. Emily looked at Stephen, wanting to fight and go to Rosalie, but he shook his head.
"It's too dangerous!" He told her through the loudness in the room.
"What are we going to do?" She cried as he started to exit the tavern; she couldn't help but look back to see Rosalie being dragged to the back of the tavern by the strange bar owner. "We can't leave her!"
Reluctantly, Stephen dragged her out of the tavern and was successfully able to pull her around side of the tavern without anyone noticing," We're useless to her right now, Emily. If we try and do anything, that man is going to be all over us. Plus, all of those men look like crazed maniacs and I wouldn't trust any of them with a butter knife…not even to mention the swords they were swinging around in there."
"They could kill her!" Emily argued, trying to wiggle herself out of his grasp.
He only chuckled," She's the Queen of Narnia. Plus, she doesn't seem like the type that's just going to give herself away-"
"You haven't seen her lately. She's been acting-"
"My point being that she should be smart enough to buy us some time to try and plan what we're going to do. If they discover her, they won't do anything to her. I can almost guarantee you that her brother will want something to do with the destruction of her," Stephen spoke over Emily's interruptions and by the end; she was listening.
"Now," Stephen spoke a little more gently," We won't be able to do much until morning, which actually isn't too far away now. Let's think this out, okay?"
Emily looked at him blankly and gave him a small nod. He pulled her around the back of the tavern and started toward the forest that surrounded the small town, away from civilization. After traveling a safe distance away from all the ruckus, Stephen dropped his hold on her and tentatively started pulling things out of his sack.
"Don't look at me like that," Emily said to him," You're treating me like I'm a child!"
He rose a brow at her through the dark," I'm making sure you don't run off and try to do something stupid as a child would."
"I-I" she stammered to find a response, but merely only sat down on the dark, dirty ground and crossed her arms over her chest.
He laughed again as he started searching for spare sticks in the ground, going solely off of moonlight, which was easy to come by since there was a full moon out that night. After looking around the bushes, he was able to come by some decent sticks and some dry kindle off spare leaves. In a matter of moments, a small fire was sparking to life.
With a groan, he sat down on the ground next to Emily, watching the little fire spit and spark until it was finally roaring.
Moments of silence passed as Emily stayed cross legged and arms folded over her chest as she stared blankly into the fire. Stephen couldn't help but laugh with a dark undertone at her after several moments.
"What's wrong with you?" She asked him after waiting for him to get over himself.
"Oh nothing," He laughed," You should just catch a glimpse of your face. I think you need to relax a little."
"Relax?" She asked incredulously." You're one to talk Mr. Laid Back. Most of the time your face looked like you just found out your-your cat died or something. Plus, I can't believe we just left her!"
"My cat died?" He asked with a shake of his head, acting as if he hadn't even heard her last sentence. "That's the best you could come up with?"
"J-just don't talk, okay?"
He shook his head and let out a sigh, not saying anything more for quite some time. The only sound that could be heard was the breathing of the other and the distant sound of men yelling from the town several hundred feet behind them over the ridge.
The expression on Emily's face never changed; it was always worried. Always serious.
"You really care about the little queenie, don't you?" Stephen asked, almost in a whisper.
There was something about Stephen that still spelled out trouble, but Emily needed someone to express her feelings to. She took his question as his invitation to start talking again, even though she wasn't exactly happy with him at the moment.
It always surprised Emily when Stephen spoke because he seemed like such an introvert. He seemed like someone that really wouldn't be overly talkative and would mostly keep to himself. It seemed awkward for him to try and start a conversation.
"I do," She answered gently, staring intently into the fire. "She's my master. If I lose her, I may as well lose hope of ever going back to the life I had at the castle."
"You don't seem like a servant to her," Stephen said quietly, looking at Emily. " You both seem like sisters, honestly."
A smirk came to Emily's face as he said that," I think that's what Rosalie wanted as soon as she became Queen. I grew up as her attendant and was able to talk to her some, but as soon as she got back from fighting against Miraz; she was different. She was interested in learning all about the servants and making them feel like people and not just attendants. We're all family up at the castle…or at least used to be family."
Stephen pondered on what he was to say next. He was surprised at how much she had actually said to him. He honestly thought she was going to say something smart or get offended or something, but she didn't. She was actually talking…like a normal person. A bit of him wanted to feel sympathy for her too.
"That's why you're so worried about her? You think that if she's captured or killed then you'll never have the life you used to have?" He questioned, trying to pry deeper into the life of this unusual servant.
She nodded her head vigorously," When Miraz was King, it was awful. We had so many rules and the torture was set so high that we could hardly blink without getting a good lashing. I was merely a baby when the first Caspian, Rosalie's husband's father, was King of Narnia, but my parents say that he was generous as well since he allowed my mother as long a break needed when she had me. Caspian and Rosalie have been just as wonderful as everyone said that his father and mother were."
"You were born into servant hood?" The dark boy asked, not trying to be rude, but obviously very curious as to what her history was.
For the first time, she looked him in the eyes and said," Yes. It's all I've ever known. Rosalie gave me a chance to actually express a personality. Express an opinion. Even with the first Caspian, they were cordial with the servants, but my parents still told me where my place was and that I wasn't to share any opinions with them. And if I was asked my opinion, I was to say what was expected. A positive answer."
"So, I can blame Rosalie for you stealing my property and giving me an extremely hard time?" He teased, but her pleasant expression turned dark quick.
"Too soon?" He asked with a smile, but she still continued to glare. " A simple 'yes' would have sufficed." He said and embarrassedly looked away.
She couldn't help but let out a small chuckle a couple moments later.
"It's okay, Stephen," She laughed, looking at him out of the side of her eye. " That was actually kind of funny."
She continued chuckling for a couple moments before Stephen spoke again, a smile on his face.
He wanted to help Rosalie, but didn't know how they would at the moment. He really didn't think the men would do anything to her, but he couldn't exactly pinpoint how he and Emily would get her out of this situation either. Either way, he couldn't let Emily think he didn't have a plan because it could have crushed her spirit. This wasn't exactly the way he had planned their conversation going, but there wasn't anything he was going to do to stop it. Obviously, this girl was heartbroken and even though he didn't know her...he could at least be semi-cordial, right?
"It's too bad Rosalie had to have Jacob as a brother," Stephen grumbled under his breath, folding his hands, leaning against a stump behind them and placing his crossed hands on his stomach. Memories of Jacob came back to his head and he tried to shake them out, but they kept coming back. Haunting him.
"Why do you say that?" Emily asked him tenderly, seeing this as an opportunity to learn more about Jacob. "He was your friend, right?"
"Because I've never met a more hate-filled person than Jacob Sopespian. If there was anyone that he didn't like, it was most definitely Rosalie. It's bad when someone doesn't like you, but even worse when your family doesn't," He said with a sigh. "And he used to be my friend. I don't know if I can safely call him that anymore."
Emily nodded," The only person that Rosalie has from her family now is her sister, Penelope. She hardly ever experienced love from her father or brother for long."
Secretly, she wanted to know more about what had happened between Jacob and Stephen, but waited for the opportune moment to ask him.
"No mother?" He pried, trying to learn more information about the young queen.
"Died at the hands of her husband, Rosalie's father," Emily answered, her voice cracking a little as she did.
"Ouch," Stephen commented, shaking his head. "How could that-"
"It's better if I only say that her father was willing to do anything to become King," Emily explained, not wanting to tell the entire story. "And her last 'father figure', who was like family to her, died at the hands of Jacob. His name was Cornelius and he was her professor for the entirety of her life."
"Queenie's gone through a lot then," Stephen said, more to himself than Emily.
"That's an understatement," Emily said blankly. "There has been a lot more too. I know that Caspian's really important to her, obviously, and the simple fact that she hasn't seen him in so many months now…it's been emotionally draining on her."
Stephen shook his head, seemingly in disgust," That pig's getting what he wants."
Emily furrowed her brow, taken aback by his comment," What do you mean?"
He ran his fingers through the dirt that they sat on, picked up a handful and slowly allowed it to drop through the spaces in his hand as he contemplated," As you know, I knew Jacob Sopespian rather well and it's just that-I had my suspicions before, but now that you tell me all about him and what he's done to Rosalie…it makes me upset. It also makes me upset to think that I ever supported him."
Emily looked at him with a very puzzled expression on her face. He looked at her, sighed, and realized what he was going to have to do.
"You want the whole story don't you?" He asked, looking at her directly. " You've only seen part of it in that letter."
She nodded her head, eager to learn more.
He swore he wouldn't tell the servant. He told himself that he would tell her nothing more, but there was something in her hurting eyes that made him feel awful for her and the queen. It was as if a piece of his heart was being cracked open and something above him was telling him to tell this servant girl what he knew about Jacob.
To tell her the truth.
"It all started a little over a year ago whenever Jacob had just been attacked by Rosalie. I was running my father's inn at the time and I was bitter, to say the least. My father was my idol. I went everywhere with my father and did everything with him because for one, I didn't have much else of a family and two, there weren't many kids in town. I didn't really get to experience him for much of my memorable childhood, but what little time I did spent with him made such an impact on me.
"He died on one of his hunting trips. It was one of his own little getaways I guess that helped him to cope with the death of my mother. I went every once and a while with him, but I could tell that he needed to be alone that time. He needed to think. My mother, she had died in childbirth with me. Apparently, people tell me that they, my parents, were inseparable and loved each other so much. I can't really prove that just simply because I wasn't around, but anyway… when my father died…it was rough on me. I moped around for a good nine years and you could say that I still am. I was eight when my father died and seventeen whenever I found Jacob.
"One of my jobs as owner of the inn is to keep the supplies fresh, so, I was on my way to one of the larger towns to check up on an order that I had placed for fresh eggs or something like that. Point being that something drew my attention away from getting the eggs. I saw something moving in the brambles, went over to see a young man sprawled out, moaning under a bush with a leg that I hardly thought would ever be walk-able again. One of the most gruesome sights I've ever seen…never did I know that was Jacob Sopespian, brother of the newly crowned queen.
"I had one of the men traveling to the town finish up my errand for me and carried this strange, wounded person back to the inn. After using up almost all of my medical supplies, just on his bloodied up, infected, leg, I found that I had made a new friend. He wasn't bitter at first, in fact, I rather liked being around him. His personality was fresh and bright despite the circumstances. He fooled everyone in town to think that he was this outgoing, loving person. Everyone was in awe of how he could be so cheery. It was easy to say that he was a town favorite. He was a way for me to not have to mope around think of my father's death all the time. He was what the town needed, a breath of fresh air.
"It wasn't until roughly a month of using bucket loads of medical salves on his leg to be able to have him put pressure on it again, but whenever he could walk again…I found out some new things about Jacob. I found out that he was royalty and in fact, he was the brother of the queen. No one in town had anything to bother with Rosalie and Caspian, that was...until Jacob came around. His bitterness toward his sister was…so strong. Whenever he spoke about her, it was like he turned into a darker version of himself. Such strong hate. Everyone was starting to turn against her just from listening to him go on about her.
"He explained his side of the story and spoke of how unfair she was. How selfish she was. At the time, I had only heard one side of the story, but it was all I needed. I was convinced that Jacob's way was the way. So, we started planning his revenge, while at the same time convincing town folk of how awful the royals were. They thought the world of the both of us and in the process of our planning; he started searching for assassins. At first, he was all for the idea of someone else killing her because he didn't want her blood on his hands. Then, he changed his mind and decided he wanted to kill her, but he needed help. He needed to get her weak and by getting rid of Caspian for a bit; he could do just that. That was when the "ghost stories" were first brought up. It wasn't long before he started speaking with this General character, who was supportive of us. Obviously, this was before Caspian had found him and-"
"Wait, this wasn't the first time you've seen General?" Emily interrupted for the first time in the whole story.
"Oh, no. I've met with General several other times. All those times Caspian thought General was out 'patrolling'. Heh. No way. He was out planning out these 'ghost stories' with Jacob and I. He was planning to overthrow the monarchy just like we were," Stephen answered; however, Emily was still unsure of him. Unsure of how close he used to be with Jacob. She wondered what Rosalie would think of him...
Emily shifted uncomfortably," Oh no…you're not-"
"Calm down," Stephen growled at her. " I may have aided in all of their little scare stories and even aided in the forming of their army, but I couldn't hate them any more now."
"How can I believe that?" Emily asked, raising a brow.
"Emily, if I really was still with Jacob and General, would I have dragged you out of that tavern? Seeing General was the reason why I got you out of there. He may just kill every single person in that tavern with the exception of Rosalie; she's much too valuable to him right now. Plus, you would have never seen that letter to Jacob if I was still on his side," the boy explained, picking up one of his knives out of his sack, setting it down briefly before grabbing his knife and whittling away. " I would have left you back there and rejoined them had I still supported them."
"What-" She was still obviously confused.
Aggravated, he shot her a look and said," I would have actually sent the letter therefore you would have never seen it. It wouldn't be sitting in my desk. You never considered that though because as soon as you read it you assumed that I was in cahoots with him."
"No, I-" She started, but stopped herself abruptly. " Okay, so you're right about that, but what made you change your mind? You said in your letter that you couldn't pull yourself to kill the Queen of Narnia, but I have a feeling that wasn't the entire story. You knew she was Queen when he told you about her."
He sighed and stared into the, now struggling, fire," I was all for the coup at first. Trying to overthrow the monarchy sounded like a dream, but the more I thought about it…the more unrealistic it sounded. The more I thought about it, the less faith I had in this brute, Jacob, that comes out of no where planning to take over all of Narnia and as I said in the letter, I had already told him where to go for his army, that being right here. I started thinking about how much everyone would not only hate him, but also hate me. That letter was one of many that I drafted…trying to word it right, but I just never could get it right.
"Not only did the plan seem ridiculous, he wanted to destroy all of these other little towns just to make a scene for us. After he had put together his little army, he wanted to come back and tear apart my hometown. I already had my suspicions, but when he tried to get me to destroy my hometown. I was set over the edge. I told him that he was crazy and that even if his psycho army did manage to kill the queen, they would have to kill the king too otherwise he would never stop searching for them. Caspian would be the number one person trying to hunt us down. I wasn't ready to be an outlaw. The thing that infuriated me most was that the people in that town were like nothing to him. All of us were useless and I'm so thankful that I realized how unvaluable I was to Jacob before I took down the monarchy with him. He would have thrown me out to be destroyed. It didn't seem to affect him much; however, because whenever he started on his little tirade he set my town on fire as he went to attack Telmar for the first time with his...suicide mission."
"You called him your friend in that letter," Emily pointed out.
"Yeah, well I wrote that letter whenever I was still confused. Like I said before, I've written about a dozen of letters and never was able to word it right. Besides that, I would have had no idea as to where I could have sent it to. There was a lot of things that happened between Jacob and I that I wish not to say even to this point because I think by now, you get the jest of the story. He's not my friend and never will be. Espesically, not with that mental army of his."
Stephen spoke with such confidence that Emily truly did believe him. He hadn't shown any signs that would suggest he was lying. Something in her instinct told her to believe the boy. It honestly looked like it pained him to re-tell the events of this story. There were still questions that Emily wanted answers to however.
" Mental army? You've described them as being insane or whatever, but didn't you say that it was you who told Jacob where to find them?" Emily asked with a raise of her brow. "No disrespect intended, but…you said that you told him where to go. You just told me that and you say that in the letter, why would you tell him to get mentally insane troops? And how would you even go about getting them? Plus, you said they were here. You told him to come here? I'm confused, Stephen."
Stephen laughed for a brief moment, his laughter the only sound that could be heard in the silent forest along with the monotonous sound of his knife scraping away another layer of wood from the knife," You remember those ghost stories?"
"Yes, Rosalie told me that spirits came down from the mountains and seemingly wiped out the entire town. Not to mention, what two or three entire troops of Caspian's men? How does that answer my question?" She asked, still intrigued by all of this information he was giving her.
"Those "ghosts" or "spirits" that seemingly killed all of the King's men? They're real. The stories may be fabricated briefly, but the spirits in that are real and they are how I found these "mental" soldiers," He started, looking directly at Emily. "Jacob was serious about finding an army and I was serious about helping him. I started doing my research and after finding some history books, I discovered that the White Witch used to take this land here as one of her many camp grounds. They say that there was still a group of her followers that lived in this area and I told Jacob it was worth looking into. They were never caught and never would be, for they were 'spirits'. These followers would have been our best chance at having someone who would be willing to support us in our mission. Once we got here, we found a bustling town. The same one that you see today. I was thrown aback, but still determined to find these followers for they were described as being spirit-like. With a name like Cruels, we were sure that they would be willing to get the job done for us or at least aid in our quest.
"After some serious interrogation of the tavern owner, he spilled easily. He broke under Jacob's...brutal...interrogation tactics. It took very little time for the man to explain that these spirits were contained to the abandoned camp that lay underneath the town, deep in the ground and away from the bustling town above. Jacob wanted to know just what these Cruels did for the tavern owner told us that anyone who had dared go down there either died or came back 'brainwashed'. This was when Jacob realized that General needed to move his 'patrolling' out West. Since General had the trust of the king by this time, which we found extremely humorous, he moved them out to the town. Afterall, he had to 'patrol' Narnia to make it 'safe'.
"Yes, I told Jacob where to search for an army, but never did I think he would build his army in the manner that he did. Never did I think that the Cruels really were a band of spirits that haunted the undergrounds of that town. I merely thought that the Cruels would join us, but they created our army. They created our totally psychotic army. Jacob liked the sound of this 'brainwashing' and found that the troop of men that General preceeded over would be the perfect experimentals. We were all a little wary of this at first, but it was worth a shot. General ordered the men down to the depths of the underground world where the Cruels waited for them. The men, whose loyalty lay with Caspian, had no idea that they were being lead to the most painful experience of their life. Hearing their screams for the next three days straight was enough to make any sane person sqeamish. On the fourth, we sent the tavern owner down to see what had happened, to see if they were brainwashed.
"A couple moments later, he gave us the okay. The Cruels were seemingly gone, but that didn't mean we weren't still shaking a little as we travelled down the stairs. The screams of those men replayed in my head several times as I tried to seem strong. To Jacob's delight, when we reached the bottom, in front of us stood an entire troop of completely clueless, beaten, savage men who would have believed anything anyone told them. In a matter of hours, Jacob was already building the first of his army."
Emily felt as though she had just been hit hard with a heavy load of information. It took her a couple of moments before she finally said," So, you're telling me that through your research, you discovered that these spirits called Cruels still lingered in one of the White Witch's old campgrounds?"
"Yes," Stephen confirmed with a nod of his head.
"You thought that perhaps the Cruels could be a source of an army?"
"Yes," He nodded again.
"So, curiously, you take Jacob here and are baffled at the sight of a busy town. After questioning the tavern owner, you find out that the Cruels do exist in the campground; it is merely hidden underground?" She asked again, making sure every detail was straight in her head.
"Jacob decides that in an attempt to experiment with just what these spirits can do, he will send the troop of Caspian's men, that General is controlling, down into their territory and find out just how they react?" She asked, her voice careful not to stumble over her words.
"General takes Caspian's soldiers out here, doing 'patrolling', which really isn't even patrolling because he was leading them to be brainwashed, but that didn't matter because Caspian was under the impression that they were just 'protecting' Narnia. Anyways, they, not knowing any different than to follow the orders of their leader, go down into the depths of the ground and experience these spirits or Cruels, rather. You all block the exit and listen to these 'spirits' tear apart these men," Emily paused for a moment and allowed for a gasp, "In theory, Jacob's using Caspian's men against him. Jacob's army is really Caspian's army because all of the troops that Caspian sent out to 'investigate' with General...General sent down to be brainwashed. They had no option than to join Jacob."
"Yes, exactly. And technically, when General said that these troops were being 'killed'...he wasn't really lying. Those men weren't killed physically, but mentally..they will never be the same again. All it took was him to fabricate a couple other details of the story in order to have Caspian and the rest of the council completely fooled that this town out West was possesed by demons. No one would allow the actual king to come out and see for himself and anyone who actually did come out here wouldn't make it very far without being sent down to the Cruels," Stephen explained even further.
Complete and utter shock flooded Emily's thoughts. She was hardly able to think of anything other than what Stephen had just explained to her. All of this was so-genius. It was also a matter of luck. It was luck that Jacob had stumbled upon these "Cruels". It was a matter of bad luck that Caspian had chosen to trust General, of all people. Emily wished that Rosalie was able to hear all of this; there was still so much she was unaware of.
After she was able to completely process all of this information, Emily looked at Stephen again.
"We have to get Rosalie out of there."
A/N: Any new feelings on Stephen? This chapter was extremely hard for me to plan out and I promise that 'Cruels' are in fact a real creature from Narnia. I didn't make them up. I couldn't find much information on them other than that they are "spirit-like" and a follower of the White Witch. Although, I am kind of adjusting them to fit into my plot since there isn't much to go off of with them. And I promise that if this chapter didn't clear all of it up that the next chapter DEFINITELY will explain EVERYTHING about these Cruels and everything else having to do with the West.
On a side note, anyone like Harry Potter? I saw the new movie, which was totally epic, and have thoughts of an HP fanfic in my head. I've read all the books (and am in the process of re-reading the series) and have seen the movies so it would be exciting to start that after I'm done with this, but I'll probably do another poll and see what ya'll think about that. I have a couple other ideas too. :)
Thanks for the support guys! Love you lots!