Farewell and Surprise
Disclaimer: Though I wish I did, Narnia and nearly all that are in it belong to C.S. Lewis.
Chapter Thirty-Four: Farewell and Surprise
Just as my first foot was outside of the tent and I was able to catch a glimpse of the night outside, the first sight I saw as I turned my head to the left was Stephen, sitting on the ground with Emily close beside him. It appeared as though they were still trying to talk out everything even though Stephen was not as upset as he had seemed to be before.
Even if he was better, this plan they had developed was still wrong. She shouldn't have to risk anything for this. I watched the somber scene as Stephen couldn't seem to take his eyes off of the inn, or rather where it had once stood.
Guilt pinged through me.
This entire journey I had felt little regret for being the sibling of Jacob because I assumed that everyone knew that I was obviously not associated with him. However, at that moment, as I remembered Stephen falling to his knees; I couldn't stand it.
My brother, my own flesh had brought so much turmoil onto this country in such a small amount of time. What if I had just…informed Jacob of my plans whenever I left to find Caspian nearly two years ago? What if I hadn't left him with my father as I left to find Caspian? I was lucky that Penelope was able to be strong enough to not fall under the influence of our father, but with Jacob, I hadn't been as fortunate.
I remembered Jacob reading all sorts of strategy books when we were younger and doing all sorts of things with father. He always wanted approval from father and maybe I couldn't have done anything to change his mind, for he would have preferred to be on father's side, but the thought continued to torture me. It really should not have been a surprise that he was evil, but I still couldn't help but feel the guilt of this.
This raid, this whole situation was not a matter between Emily and Jacob. It was a matter to be settled between Jacob and I. He may have not liked Caspian either, but Jacob had made it clear that he developed an even stronger hatred for me. This hatred was a driving force behind his actions to overthrow the royalty which I couldn't help but feel somewhat responsible for.
Not bearing the sight of Emily and Stephen any longer, I turned on my heel and re-entered the tent.
Caspian and Apollo looked up at me with blank look on their faces.
Before they could say a word, I announced," Send me in her stead."
Caspian's look immediately turned intense as he shook his head," You know that's not plausible, Rosalie."
"Caspian, this needs to be solved between us and Jacob. Emily is just an innocent girl and I won't allow her to place herself in such a position of danger. I'm taking responsibility for this and should he discover her; he would have no regret in killing her for she is just a traitor in his eyes," I explained, trying to stay as composed as I could while I stepping forward. "I can't let you send her."
Apollo looked at Caspian and just before Caspian could open his mouth, Apollo looked at him and nodded his head. The adviser looked directly at me before saying," Emily is much more than just some girl, Rosalie. She's a Narnian and she's in contract with her country at the moment. And for that matter, who's to say that Jacob wouldn't view you as any other traitor, kill you on the spot, and show no regrets? Who's to say that any person is really qualified for the job? Who's to predict just what he would do?
"If you must know, we narrowed the list down to certain individuals that we could trust with the job and decided that some of them were much too vital to the task force, such as Caspian and yourself. You should know that we insisted Emily stay here-"
As if on cue, Emily stepped through the tent," But I told them to let me go."
I shot Emily a very confused look as she started to explain herself," I'm the least valuable, Rosalie. None of you can risk being found and they can't just let any soldier go in there. They don't know the secret hideaways like I do. I won't let anyone else do this. You may think it's just your problem, but this is still my country as well and I'll go to whatever length needed to protect it."
I couldn't believe the words that were coming out of her mouth until I remembered who it was I was speaking with. This was Emily. This was the girl that had no fear and prevented me from doing some very illogical things before this journey even began. I looked to Caspian for confirmation that this was true to which he responded with a small nod. My eyes were averted back to Emily who was staring hard at me. There were many things I wanted to ask her, but something in my heart told me to back off.
A strange peace entered me at that moment as she looked directly at me.
"He understands," she whispered to me, referring to Stephen, I assumed.
With that she placed one hand on my shoulder, squeezed it tight before walking over to the table in front of Caspian, placing both of her hands on the table to get down to business.
"When do you want me to leave?" She asked solemnly.
Who was I to stop her?
Who was I to say "no"?
It seems as though the next day when we were to leave came much too quickly. Stephen was almost back to normal the next day, surprisingly. I assumed that he was trying to mask his emotions best he could since Emily would be leaving that day.
We traveled, but traveling hardly seem to take my mind off of what was about to happen. The evening before, Caspian and Apollo had sent scouts ahead to see just where we could stake our position to where we were not obviously seen from Telmar. The clouds hung thickly over the sky as we walked all day before meeting the men at where they had deemed safe. Once there, they claimed that we were still about an hour's trek from Telmar. We were a safe enough distance away to where none of Jacob's men would even realize we were here. Emily; however, was going to have to figure out just how she would enter on her own accord.
Darkness came upon the land quickly, once more, and just as it became dark, Emily and Stephen had entered the tent in which Caspian, Apollo, and I were standing.
Caspian addressed her," Emily, I wish there was more that I could say to you, but I trust you enough to say that you know what to do. You know what has to be done. We're all…depending on you."
"Find Penelope and Trina first and then go from there," Emily said, more to herself than anyone else.
"You're still sure you want to do this?" Apollo asked her, the question had run through my head as well, but I found it would be pointless to ask.
She looked at him and nodded vigorously," Of course."
"Very well then," Caspian said finally. "You may leave for the castle after you've said your farewells."
Once again, she nodded at him before looking at me. In a matter of seconds, she threw herself in my arms and squeezed me tightly," Thank you so much. For everything, Rosalie."
I squeezed her back before placing my hands on her shoulders and looking directly at her," You're welcome, but I should be thanking you as well. You've taught me quite a bit about self-sacrifice and I'll always thank you for that. You're going to do a great job, Emily."
She smiled largely at me before turning away from me and embracing Caspian as he spoke to her," You've always been one of the most loyal friends we've ever had. Thank you, Emily. I have complete faith that you will succeed."
She beamed wildly at him before moving on to Apollo who said," You're doing absolutely tremendous work, Emily. A note needs to be made on your bravery tonight."
Just as she was about to move on to Stephen, Apollo said one last thing to her.
"Won't you release a burden from my wife, Emily? Let her know that I'm alright and that I love her," he said very seriously, a little color coming to his face as he said the last part.
She smiled and nervously said," Of course, sir. And thank you for your kind words. I will make sure to tell her that."
A smile came onto his face," Thank you."
I then watched as Emily approached Stephen and with a meek smile, hugged him tight. As they broke apart, Stephen looked directly at her and spoke very softly," You're going to do wonderfully. No matter what happens. Be strong as you've been this entire time."
He smiled at her and with one last squeeze of the hand, she said in humble whisper," I'll try."
And with that, she looked around to the rest of us one last time before exiting the tent.
We all took this as an invitation to follow her. Caspian came up beside me as we exited the tent. For a moment, Stephen didn't seem to move at all. Just as we were leaving, I asked him," Don't you want to see her off?"
As if coming out of a daze, he bit his lip hard before saying," Oh, yeah. Of course."
I smiled at him reassuringly, but all he simply did was nod to me before exiting the tent.
Caspian and I lagged behind as other soldiers seemed to congregate in a line, following the cloaked servant-girl as she moved toward the forest line.
"This is just as painful for him isn't it?" Caspian whispered to me as we came closer to the forest.
"You could say that," I whispered back as we watched the boy saunter along. " I think that they're trying to sort out emotions just like we were not so long ago."
A grin came to Caspian's face," Have they admitted it yet?"
Caspian was hardly one to make note of someone's emotions.
"What are you thinking?" I asked, scrutinizing his face as he wrapped an arm around my shoulders just as the group stopped just behind the tree line.
"Oh nothing," he replied nonchalantly with that same smirk on his face as we turned our gaze to the feeble servant girl, who was stopping to look at us one last time.
Overhead, I noticed there was still a thick cloud coverage, but it appeared as though pieces were breaking up ever so slightly. Stars were peeking out here and there as Emily was about to start her journey.
Before she could leave, she turned to us one last time," I just want to say thank you…to all of you. F-for everything. I've been most inspired by you all. I-I just wanted you to know that."
I watched her intently as she hesitated to turn away. As soon as she turned her back to us, Stephen was fighting his way through the thick sea of men. My heart skipped a beat as I watched the scene unravel in front of me.
"Emily!" He cried, pushing his way through.
Instantly, she turned around to see him coming toward her. She looked as though she was going to break down in tears. He moved toward her as he broke through the last line of men. There were now no men stopping him from going toward her. He delicately walked toward her; his eyes set on her the entire walk up to her. Finally, he stood face-to-face with Emily in front of the entire army of men watching intently.
"Here we go," Caspian whispered to me, at which I hit him lightly.
I didn't know if either of them were going to say anything for the longest time or rather just stare at each other. It may have not been a secret that Emily and Stephen were rather close friends, but what happened next was completely out of both their comfort zones.
"Yes?" She asked, tears brimming in her eyes through the moonlight that was peeking through the thick clouds.
"Be strong," he whispered again as he stepped closer to her. They were now standing even closer.
Rushing forward, like a thief in the night, he placed both of his hands on her face and pressed his lips against hers passionately. We watched their embrace as conversation passed through the crowd of men, shocked. I couldn't help but feel a certain light-hearted happiness flooding throughout my entire body. They were so sweet; I couldn't help but feel so happy for the both of them and even a little scared. Emily was still at risk. This could make their time apart even more painful, but I was hardly focused much on that.
"Can't say I didn't see this coming," Caspian whispered to me again, finding quite a bit of humor in this.
I looked at him with a serious look on my face and said," It's adorable, don't make a mockery of it."
He laughed under his breath," Too late."
"Caspian!" I scolded, hitting him again. "You did almost the same thing if I do remember correctly?"
"Surely it wasn't that obviously?" He asked, trying to stifle his laughter.
"You're completely ruining the moment," I said to him, shaking my head and trying not to smile.
"My apologies," he answered, still smiling like a opossum. I hardly think he meant it.
After my husband had finished making the very sweet moment into a comedy, I turned my attention back to them as they broke away.
Color was rushing to the both of their faces, but before she could turn away; she said to him," I love you."
He grabbed her hand, squeezed it tight and said," And I you."
With that, she turned on her heel and left our sight, into the dense, dark forest. En route to the castle.
Emily couldn't exactly place her feelings. She felt a certain fear running through her veins as she pulled her hood over her face and trotted through the thick forest, but then again the tingle was still on her lips from where Stephen had kissed her. She felt as though she could float away, but at the same time she knew that she had a mission to do. She couldn't think about Stephen for that would only make her become unfocused. She remembered how hard it had been to tell him this and how she was not going to be stopped just because of her emotions.
This journey was much bigger than just her. This journey was a matter of life or death. For the entire country.
With every crunch of the sticks that lay under her feet, she felt as though she was stepping closer to her destiny that lie inside those castle walls. She could picture them perfectly inside her head as she passed through the dense forest. She could picture the brick walls surrounding the castle and the towers that stood so proudly. In her mind, she was walking inside the castle again. It was back whenever the days were peaceful and children could be seen frolicking through the courtyard. Though it may have been a brief period of time, it still happened. It was still real, even though it was not the present situation.
She quickened her pace as the memories came flooding to her head. They spurred her even more to want to get to the castle. She still did not know for sure how she was to get inside, but she thought that the least heavily guarded route would be through the stables. She would need to make many more decisions, but that was for her to worry about later. She allowed her mind to wander to other thoughts as she continued on alone. It appeared as though she were making decent timing, but she had no evidence of this. All it was, was just a mere assumption.
Even though she knew she was alone in the forest, she couldn't help but look back every once and a while to be completely sure. After checking several times and making herself feel very paranoid, she stopped in her tracks. There was a break in the thickness of the trees and she stood looking everywhere.
She jumped, but merely started to take another step.
Something was most definitely following her. She couldn't have been that crazy. There were more cracks all around of something or someone moving closer to her. Quickly, she grabbed her weapon and pointed it all around. She was standing still once more.
Then, suddenly, breaking through the silence, this "something" pounced on her and knocked her to the ground. Reacting fast, she tried rolling over to trap it, whatever "it" was.
"Get-off-of-me!" A muffled screech came from underneath her as she felt a sharp prod in her underside.
Confused, Emily pulled away from the thing under her. She looked around from her place on the ground and saw many…mice pointing their tiny swords at her. A smile came to her face as she looked down at the mice that had attacked her. There was a small cut on her abdomen, but it hardly hurt for she was now in good company.
"How dare you roll on a mice of my rank? I will have to inform King Caspian himself of this!" The fiery mice climbed to his feet and pressed the sword right into Emily's face.
"Reepicheep?" She asked, rather confused to be finding the mice and his troop here. They should have been with Caspian's men all along. In fact, she was sure that those back at camp had assumed that the worst had happened to them.
"Y-yes, I am that, but you will not be treated as-" The mice paused and looked into the girl's eyes," Wait, how did you know my name?"
Emily pulled herself to her knees," I'm Emily. I'm one of King Caspian's servants. King Caspian's formed an army and has sent me to sneak into the castle. I'm on your side."
"Emily?" The mouse asked incredulously scrutinizing my face. " Well, why didn't you just say so? You are the personal servant to Queen Rosalie herself, are you not?"
"Yes, I am," she answered, a brilliant smile coming to her face. " And I haven't much time to talk here, but if you are willing to assist me in sneaking into the castle…then we can talk as we travel."
"Why, if what you say is true and Caspian has formed an army, then we would be more than thrilled to help the cause! I assume you are getting into the castle to plan your attack before actually going through with it," he spouted off before he looked around to the other mice and gave them a nod of the head," We're all clear men. Now, we are to assist Lady Emily in sneaking into the castle. No danger here."
I stood to my feet and looked down at Reepicheep once more," Let us be on our way then."
She felt a comfort in not being entirely alone, but still wondered just how the mice were alive and why they had not been with Caspian that entire time.
"You must understand that we mice are not phased by the vulgarity of nymphs and found it unnecessary for us to stay around. We found that if we were to try and make our way back to the castle then perhaps we could get them the help they needed. It was until recently that we were being held in captivity as well. Having made it all the way back to the castle, a very cruel man spotted us and found us to be quite the entertainment as he set his cat upon us. He was rather shocked when he found his cat was no match for us mice, you see," Reepicheep explained to Emily with joy as they continued to travel through the dark woods; the moonlight overhead was now fading once more behind the thick clouds.
"So you saw the defeat of Caspian's army?" Emily asked tentatively after several moments.
"Oh yes, and quite awful it was. I wouldn't be surprised if he never wish to speak of it again. We might have stood a chance had they not come upon us in the night, breaking all etiquette of battle. Very few men were actually prepared for battle, unlike what some others may tell you. It was very embarrassing indeed and though the men tried to get to the weapons; Jacob had already infiltrated the weapons and was, in fact, using them against us.
"I don't really know how he produced such a large force of men, but he seemed to have done it. It didn't take long for Jacob to enter Caspian's tent and announce his taking over of the throne. General was able to hide himself well enough that time, but I saw him for the traitor he was. I suppose that Jacob didn't want Caspian to know right away that General had betrayed him."
Emily nodded along before saying," Well, we've actually found out a lot about Jacob in the last little bit."
"Have you now?" The mouse responded, very interested as they moved onward.
And thus she continued to explain all that had happened over the last few weeks. From the death of Cornelius to the destruction of the spirit town.
"That is quite the story you've got!" Reepicheep exclaimed, several minutes later as they pressed on still surrounded in complete darkness.
"It really is quite unbelievable," Emily commented as she recollected on how intriguing the story really was while also noticing that the trees were not nearly as thick as they used to be.
"But not surprising I must say! It is very like that scoundrel Jacob to conjure up something as dire as brainwashing poor, unfortunate souls. How appalling!" The mouse exclaimed as Emily noticed they were now climbing a ridge. She rather enjoyed having the company of the mice. They, especially Reepicheep, were quite entertaining. She assumed that she would soon be reaching Telmar, however.
"Ah! So it appears we have reached the castle once more, men!" The mouse exclaimed to his followers, but Emily saw no castle. All she saw was a steep ridge that they were still climbing, with sharp rocks here and there. It was still quite the incline.
"Castle?" Emily asked as she watched the mice run far ahead of her to the peak of the ridge.
She tried to quicken her pace and just as she reached the top of the ridge, Reepicheep pointed," That castle, my lady."
Just enough moonlight was breaking through the clouds for her to see that the castle was standing tall in the darkness. The towers were just as prominent as before, though as she looked closer through the dull moonlight, she saw that severe wounds had been inflicted upon the castle. There were several large chunks that seemed to be missing from the castle. Not only that, but the houses toward the outside of town were nearly destroyed completely, nothing was left but the frame of the farms.
Emily couldn't help but put a hand over her mouth to stifle her gasp.
"It is rather…unpleasant," Reepicheep said as the mice lined up along the top of the ridge.
"Whenever I ask you which way would be the best to get into the castle, which would you tell me, Reep?" Emily asked, after several moments of staring in shock.
She wanted to receive a second opinion.
"The stables," the mouse answered after contemplating for several moments," I would say that there is little need for horses with Jacob in command."
"I haven't much of a plan, Reepicheep, but I do need to get inside the castle to meet with Trina and Penelope. Should I need a diversion-"
"You needn't worry about a thing," the mouse assured her and with that, they traveled down the hillside toward the castle.
Author's Note: So, originally, I had planned for this chapter to be Emily's sneaking into the castle, but I realized that we needed to re-meet Reepicheep again. Sooo, it really only means good things for you guys, but more work for me! Haha, I'm joking, of course.
Anyway, I feel like I had to put in the Stephen/Emily moment. And some of the humor with Caspian, as well. I hope you guys don't despise me too much for sending Emily...
And I'm going to set a goal. Though I know we are still quite far away, I think it would be cool to get 200 reviews before this story is over. You guys can do it because, quite frankly, you're awesome! :D Thanks a lot guys and I truly mean it.