Tomorrow Can Wait
Disclaimer: I own almost nothing. It goes to C.S. Lewis.
Chapter Thirty: Tomorrow Can Wait
"Aslan," Both Caspian and I whispered, seemingly at the same time.
"Hello, my dear children," The lion spoke in the ever-calming voice, slowly raising off of his haunches and walking toward us.
Stephen and Emily seemed to be in awe, still being held tight in each other's grasp. Out of the side of my eye, I watched as color rushed to both of their faces and they quickly broke away from their embrace. Stephen cordially nodded at her and she did the same to him before joining Caspian and I. The most humorous part of this was that they had no idea I had seen.
Neither of us knew what to say, everything was at a sudden peace. No more screams, no more earth quakes, no more nothing, except for a majestic lion coming toward us with an aura around him so strong it could have been glowing through the darkness in the caverns.
"Aslan, I must apologize for not being a better leader-" Caspian immediately started pouring out his apologies and breaking the silence, but Aslan shook his head.
"You had no control over this, Caspian," Aslan said in a very comforting voice, shaking his head.
I felt it necessary that I speak as well," And I dragged my feet for much too long, I'm sorry-"
The lions eyes glanced over to me, "You need not apologize either, Rosalie," He spoke directly to me, his eyes shining brightly even though the rest of the cave.
"Someone is to blame for this ever happening-" Caspian started again, obviously feeling very guilty for all of this.
"And that person is Jacob. I promise that the both of you will not be held accountable for this. He is the one that has destroyed Narnia and turned it into a complete madhouse. He has done this by reviving creatures that I have banished for many years. These nymphs were never suppose to be visited again. Never. Their lifestyle is vulgar when they are living amongst men. That is why I forced them to be isolated so that they could have a second chance at a pure life. Obviously, that did not work and I apologize that you have been abused in such a manner, my child," He spoke directly to Caspian, who stopped arguing after Aslan said this.
"If you don't mind my asking," I started, looking from Caspian to the lion," How are we going to go about defeating him?"
A smile came to the lion's face as he allowed for a chuckle to escape his lips," Child, I cannot help you any further. I know that all of you have the intelligence to figure that out on your own, but remember that you will never be alone for I am keeping a rather close eye on all of you. I must be leaving soon, but you will not have to worry about any more nymphs getting in your way. I have scared them enough to make sure they don't return while you are here. As for now, worry about getting the rest of your men out of here. Then, get back to the village and get those people out of the captivity of the Cruels, they are another civilization that I never wanted to be disturbed again. I have already said too much, but take the trail that you took to get out. Take the trail that Stephen lead you along and you will not be disappointed."
Stephen seemed to be shocked at the mention of his name.
"Aslan, you really can't tell us anymore?" Caspian asked, searching for more answers from the lion.
The lion shook his head," I have given you this much, Caspian. I have given you what you need, now restore Narnia. I must not interfere much with this. You are their King. They put their faith in you to come to their rescue."
Before either Caspian or I could object, the lion was already turning to leave.
"Stephen, I must say that your knowledge has been most helpful. I have been very impressed," Aslan said before he could get too far away. Stephen smiled a crooked smile and nodded acknowledgement to the lion. I saw Emily watch Stephen as Aslan was complimenting him. I couldn't help, but smile and just as I thought Aslan was leaving; he spoke to Emily," And Emily, your courage has proven to be most admirable. It takes quite a lot of boldness to stand up to one's master, but you did what you had to out of love. There is no greater respect that I could give you."
Color rushed to her face again as a smile grew on her lips," Thank you."
"You are welcome, child," He said with a smile on his face.
And with that, the lion turned and as he walked further away from us, he was gone. Vanished for good.
It didn't take us very long to gather together all of the men for they were mostly gathered together in the one room that Emily and I had located earlier. We found that many of them were very confused by the sudden disappearance of all of the nymphs. There wasn't much that we could have explained to them other than simply saying: Aslan.
Apollo showed up eventually, but had we not had the help of Caspian; we would have never found him. Apparently, he was hiding in one of their typical hiding places whenever we were on our routine search. They had found one little hole that was so well hidden behind several large rocks that I would have never spotted it on my own.
After Apollo had embraced all of us merrily and introduced himself to Stephen, Caspian found that it would be necessary to plan out what we were to do next. After much discussion, we decided that we would spend one night longer in the caves, simply because it would be one place largest enough to house all of the men and awake them early the next morning in order to get back to the village by evening. It would have been useless to try and travel with many confused, beaten, and tired men. It was much too late.
Several hours passed as the men were able to celebrate (mostly just by conversing with one another) and everyone was able to mentally prepare themselves for what was to come. Caspian didn't need to tell them what was to come for it seemed as though they were already preparing themselves for taking the castle over again. He had been able to speak with them briefly; however, they had very little attention toward him before they were able to be merry again.
In this time of celebration, Caspian and I were able to slip away from the crowd.
I felt as though I was dreaming whenever I walked beside him. For so long, I had been without him and now that he was there with me…I could hardly think straight. There was so much to tell him that I hardly knew where to begin.
"Should I even ask?" Caspian started, looking at me tentatively as we walked down the deserted caves.
I looked at him, a confused look on my face," What do you mean?"
"Should I even ask how mad you must be with me?" He asked and I suddenly realized what he was talking about.
He was referencing the whole plot to get me out of the castle. I remember how betrayed I felt. I remember feeling as though I was the odd one out. So much had happened between then and now that I hardly remembered much of it. I had thought at one point that whenever I saw him again; I would be blazing angry with him, but there was a sort of peace that was in me. That small part of me that wished to be angry with him was being overshadowed by a different part. A part that was willing to forgive him. He had angered me greatly, but there were many other things to put my mind to. Other things that forced me to take my eyes off of myself.
There were others that had it much worse than I did.
Like Stephen. He grew up with little, he grew up without a mother and only a father. They didn't have that much, but his father was most of what his life consisted of. His father died. He literally had nothing. At least, I still had people who loved me, who were like family to me…
Or the people who's homes were destroyed in Narnia. They were left with absolutely nothing.
There were so many other things to be mad about…that being mad at Caspian seemed very small in comparison. It was childish for me to pout just because I was left out of a plan that really was for my own good and looking back on it, it really was only for my own good.
In order to show him that I was not upset, I stopped and turned to look directly into his brown eyes," There was a time where I was very angry with you. So angry, that I didn't even want to come on this quest to find you. So angry that I questioned my love for you and your love for me," I let the words linger for a moment before continuing," But now, I can look you in the eyes and say that everything you did for me, you did because you loved me. Seeing people, who had nothing made me realize that I was being rather childish. There are some with no family, no home, and no one to love them. My pouting is rather embarrassing in comparison to that. There are other things that I can be angry about and actually make progress in getting them fixed, but I could never be angry with you. In fact, it would be rather pointless for me to be…because I love you, Caspian."
He looked me straight in the eyes before turning his head away. In silence, he started walking again, but I stayed behind…watching just what he was going to do. Was he going to say anything? I stood several feet behind him as he paced, contemplating to himself what he was to do.
He pressed a fist into the wall of the cave before uncurling it softly. He leaned against the wall, in frustration as he placed his other hand firmly on the wall," You're much too kind to me, Rosalie. I treated you like a child. I didn't treat you as my equal. I've been withering away for months up here, trying to think of ways to get you to forgive me for being so selfish…and you come here with such a warm heart when you have every reason to despise me."
I slowly approached him and placed my hand atop of his. Slowly, he turned his face to mine once again and I begged him," Please, don't dwell on this."
"I've no good reason for treating you so badly. I don't deserve your love. I didn't want you hurt, but its foolish for me to try to decide what you can and can't do. Your sister tried to tell me and I was selfish. I was-"
"Caspian," I said his name firmly, for his voice was cracking. He had so much guilt built up inside of him. I can't say that I blamed him, for that was all he had to think about for the last few months in captivity; he needed time to heal, but he didn't have much. I had to assure him that he was worthy to be loved. "There is no one more deserving of forgiveness and love than you. Don't make our journey sound as though it was done in vain."
After struggling with himself for several more moments, he looked at me for a long hard moment," You really aren't upset with me?"
"No," I shook my head as a smile came to my face. "I love you and I've missed you incredibly."
It was as though he was searching my eyes for an answer. He had a hole and he needed something or someone to fill that hole because of all the guilt he felt. For seemingly ages, we stood there as he hung his head in shame, but I kept my hand planted atop of his, reminding him that I was there for him.
He finally pulled himself away and started to walk away, but before he could get too far, he looked back at me and a tear fell down his face as he said," I love you too," and that was all he needed to say for it was then that he broke down.
Never, had he completely broken down in front of me, in fact, he was always my strong tower. It seemed as though our roles were reversed. The King was struggling to find who he was again. He had taken a break and now...and now he was confused. I knew that he would be weak, but I never though that I would watch him struggle so much with himself.
I wrapped my arms around him and pulled him close as I felt tears fall from his eyes. His arms were clamped tight around me as he let all of the pent up feelings out. Being trapped by these monsters for several months would be enough to make anyone…even a king, a little emotionally insecure.
Several moments later, I slowly moved my hands back up to either side of his face as his hands sat at my waist," We have to stop him, Caspian. Look at what he's already done to us; we must stop him."
He pressed his forehead against my own," I know," he whispered hoarsely," I've a feeling that Narnia is going to be a much different place."
Slowly, I weaved myself out of his embrace and took his hand in mine, leading him toward the entrance of the caves. I sat him down at the Spring of Revival, where the water's seemed to be a glowing a lovely, teal color. The waters were so clear that one could see all the way to the bottom from where we stood. I sat down and took off the shoes I had been wearing for the majority of the trip.
He took this as an invitation to do the same and slid his feet into the water alongside me," You're right, Caspian. It is a much different place. A much more savage place."
He swallowed hard; I kept my hand laced in his," I figured so much," he muttered, mostly to himself.
"But you and I both know about what lay over the horizon," I said several moments later after I had thoroughly felt the rush of the chilled waters tickle my feet.
His expression turned serious as he looked at me," You really were there. Weren't you?"
The vision I had, just the night before, was something that I had kept in my thoughts. It may have been brief, but it was just enough. It was enough to remind me that not only did I have a future in this country, but I had a husband and a daughter that did as well. Our child's brilliant green eyes were permanently engraved into my head. The feel of her swinging in my arms, even if only in a dream, was enough to make me want to fight for her. I knew this was what he was speaking of.
"Yes, I was," I answered simply. "It hasn't been able to leave you alone, has it?"
He ran his thumb over one of my knuckles before saying," Every night...it has never left. I think it was Aslan's way of keeping me from going completely insane, but it has rather done the opposite. I sometimes wonder if it's merely just a tease."
I shook my head," I don't think that he would do such a thing to you, Caspian. Even if it seemed bad, you have to know he's looking over you."
"I know that now of course," He told me, staring into the waters. " But you don't know the type of pain I felt every time I opened my eyes from that dream. You don't know how badly I wanted to go back and hold our little girl one more time."
Silence hung over the both of us as we sat at water's edge. I tried thinking of just what I was to say to that for I did not want to sound too harsh or inconsiderate. The truth of the matter was that I had only seen her one time and wished to be with her again; Caspian had been with her several times and I could only imagine the desire he had to meet her in person.
"She's one of the only things that kept me going on," I said to him seriously, trying to cover up my own emotions. " I thought of her the entire way I was on my way to you. Her life depends upon us as her parents."
"I know this, but it's so hard to try and fight for a cause that you've been seperated from for so long. To try and fight for a country, that you don't really understand anymore..." He spoke, his voice so tender and soft; much more tentatively than I had ever heard him speak before.
I knew that he was struggling emotionally, but he needed to know all that had happened. I thought that by telling him everything that had happened…he would feel inspired to change things. He needed something to make him realize that Narnia needed him to be strong, desperately. That I needed him to be strong.
I was stepping out on a limb by doing this to him, but I had to risk it. He had to know.
With a sigh, I spoke.
"They've destroyed Telmar. The homes are swept away and the streets have been badly damaged. All of the vendors have disappeared, but left their abandoned carts for rot. None of the people are cheerful; its rare to see a smile on any of their faces. We didn't stand a chance, Caspian. The giants came and did most of the damage; therefore, the few forces we had at the castle were not able to keep them off. It took three days for them to destroy our home," I explained to him, as tenderly as I could. "There is seemingly a thick gray cloud that hangs over Telmar, indefinitely. Jacob came in and assumed the throne through me. He forced me to lie to the people and has held almost everyone in the castle hostage."
Caspian had been staring into the clear waters with a rather blank expression, but his expression quickly changed as I watched him tense up," That is not surprising."
"Innocent people were killed. His men are savage and maniacal. They show hardly no mercy because they are under a psychotic leader, not only Jacob, but also General. General has been working against us the entire time, Caspian."
I expected Caspian to be surprised, but he merely shook his head and swore under his breath," This shouldn't surprise me, Rosalie. That was completely my fault. I thought I had his word, but I should have listened to my advisors. They were suspicious of him from the first day, but I assured them that he was safe. I assured him that he would have the dedication to keep Narnia the way it had been after the defeat of Miraz. You needn't tell me much more of him."
"B-but I do, really," I insisted, looking at him as he continued to stare into the water," Jacob was going to use me as a pawn, Caspian. He had the people convinced that you were dead; I had to open the casket to prove to myself and everyone else that he was wrong and not only that, but he wanted me to marry General after they were all convinced that you were dead. General tried to get me to view him in a more positive light by-"
Caspian was gritting his teeth and before I could finish; he looked directly at me with a look of infuriation on his face," Please, tell me he didn't."
Knowing what he meant, I nodded," He tried," I whispered, embarrassed at the memory of it.
The young Telmarine shook his head in absolute disgust, but had no idea what he was to say to that other than," Continue, please."
I was pleased to see that there was the slightest bit of emotion in his voice and actions.
"Luckily, he tried all that near the time that your plan was about to come into action. I didn't have to spend much more time around him after that. I was lucky that they got me out of the castle when they did because had it been a moment later…we would have been caught. Somehow, they discovered what we were doing in one of Trina's evening visits."
"You got to Cornelius's alright, I suppose?" He asked curiously.
"Yes, and that was when he explained all of this to me. He also gave me the letter you tried to write, which obviously I understand why you couldn't finish it now, but there was very little to go off of. We originally thought you would be in giant country, had Cornelius not sent me off to check out what was going on in the West; Emily and I would have been nice little delicacies for their feast at this time of the year," I told him, debating on how I was going to tell him about Cornelius. "Caspian, they found us at Cornelius's cottage after Emily and he had explained most of the details to me. The protection wore off just as we were leaving and-and Emily and I watched as the cottage was basically destroyed. H-He didn't come out."
Almost all of the color that had come back to Caspian's face was drained and I immediately regretted telling him this. I feared it was going to be five steps back in the wrong direction, but it seemed as though he was trying to shake it off," That's unfortunate. He-he-"
"I know," I assured him, grabbing his hand tighter," He didn't die in vain, Caspian. He died for Narnia."
Caspian looked at me and with a growing confidence said," He did. Everything he did, he did because he loved us and he loved Narnia. We could all learn a lesson from Cornelius…but please continue, there isn't much time for grieving."
I was shocked. He seemed to already be developing the bravery I knew was in him," If it wasn't for Emily, Caspian, I would have been killed. I didn't want to go on. I wanted to die with Cornelius, but she assured me that I had a country who needed me. It wasn't until we reached one of the villages on the path to the West that we finally had a sense of direction. That was whenever we reached Stephen, who actually worked with Jacob and was good friends with him. The point of this being that he's changed now because of the tactics in which Jacob chose to form his army by."
Caspian looked at me with a cloud of confusion," How did he form his army? I've always wondered…"
I took in a deep breath and pondered exactly how I was to explain this. I started," Do you remember whenever General told you that spirits destroyed that little town out in the West?"
"Yes," He answered, eyeing me curiously.
"There really are spirits out there, Caspian and they are called Cruels. That's what Aslan was referencing whenever he said that we needed to rescue those men, actually, but before I get ahead of myself….you sent several different troops of the army out to patrol and every time all of the men were 'killed'.
"They weren't actually killed, but rather brainwashed by these Cruels. Jacob found that he could lock someone away with these Cruels for four days and they would come out with a clean memory, no recollection of anything whatsoever. Stephen witnessed this on a couple different occasions and said that the screams are enough to cause nightmares…but your men were being sent into these Cruels and being mentally 'killed, so to say. After they came out, all it took was him, General, and Stephen to do some training with them and they were ready to fight. He's been using your own men against you in addition to followers he has been able to acquire from the outskirts of Narnia and the giants."
Caspian shook his head, hardly believing anything I was saying," That's barbaric, but very intelligent. I would have never thought that he had it in him. This is quite the shock. I suppose that he just made up the other details for more measure because no one could prove him wrong. Anyone who was sent out there would become another member of his army."
Just as I opened my mouth to speak, he continued on with what he was saying.
"That's why we have to get back to the town, isn't it? He's sent more people down there. Is that why, Rosalie?" He asked, catching on very quickly and showing a rather extreme change of emotions.
I slowly nodded my head," I've seen the town and the tavern where the entrance to these Cruels is located. In fact, General almost caught us, but the tavern owner, who was a former companion of Jacob's, was able to get me out the back door before General could get a hold of me. Stephen and Emily were able to get out early with plenty of time to spare. As I was leaving; however, his men blew up the tavern and almost every other establishment in the town for that matter."
"That's too bad about the town. There must be a reason for it, though. You think General discovered that the tavern owner had betrayed them?" Caspian asked, raising a brow.
I shrugged my shoulders and kicked my feet about in the water," It's a possibility. I would have thought that they would have wanted to keep the building there…just to keep the entrance to the Cruels covered."
Caspian nodded his head," Or, since he knew that no one could come out to that town anyways…having a bunch of rubble laying atop of the entrance could have worked in his favor."
"We'll never know until we face him ourselves, Caspian. In fact, he may not even tell us and we would never know. All we need to worry about is getting those men out; we have two days to get back down there," I told him, looking directly into his eyes.
He released a sigh," More fighting?"
I nodded," If we want to finish him once and for all Caspian, then we must."
A humor-less chuckle was released from his lips as he looked away," Do you think we honestly stand a chance Rosalie? Our men are confused and emotionally beaten down. Could they ever be an army again?"
Tentatively, I placed a hand on his knee and forced him to look at me once more," I can't foresee the future, Caspian, but I do know that everything happens for reason. I know that Aslan guided us here; I know that he brought us Stephen to bring us to you; I know that he kept you from being killed in these last few months, and lastly, I know that he saved us just moments ago. He's obviously got something planned. We have to go through with it."
"And if we're killed in the process?" He asked, scrutinizing my face.
"Then we were meant for death," I whispered to him. "And we died together, fighting for justice."
"You make that sound much too poetic," He whispered back to me as he wrapped an arm around me, pulling me closer. Softly, he moved his lips close to my ear," But you're right."
I looked up at him and smiled. He most definitely was not going to stay down for long. All of the men had aged greatly, and it was at this moment that I noticed the signs of age on my own husband. His hair seemed to be outgrown, more than it usually was and, unless I was mistaken, his eyes were showing some small signs of age with deep bags underneath them. The clothes he wore seemed to be tattered and torn up and down. One cut sliced the side of one of his eyebrows and smaller ones lay up and down his arms.
I couldn't help but laugh as I placed my hand on the side of his face. He had developed quite the beard while in captivity.
"What?" He looked at me, innocently trying to figure out just what I was laughing at.
My fingers grazed over the stubble on his face as I chuckled again," You must do something about this."
After a couple seconds of glaring at me, he released a chuckle along with me," I haven't exactly had much of a choice, you see."
At sunrise, we would be in danger again, but for the moment…we were safe. For the moment, we were together.
Author's Note: We're building up to the final show-down, but there is still quite a bit that has to happen now that I think about it. I know that you all really want to know what's going to happen and I'm going to do my best to finish up before August.
On a side note, please let me know what you think! You all have been great :D