Preparations for Battle
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Chapter Thirty-Eight: Preparing for Battle
"If you think that I'm going to tell you anything, then you're a fool," Penelope spat at Caspian just as I entered into the tent. Not wanting to cause much of a scene, I slipped in and placed the medical supplies in the corner before joining Apollo near the chair where Penelope had been tethered down. I had to come to terms that she was not the same person and that would be much easier if I tried to not be involved.
"What do you know of the Cruels?" Caspian growled at her, coming closer to her face.
"All I know is that they mess with a person's head, okay?" She spat back at him. "That's all I'm going to tell you."
"Jacob sent you to destroy Emily's mind, didn't he?" Caspian questioned, still hoovering over her, hungry for answers.
"So what if he did?" She shot back.
"Just answer the question," Caspian demanded; his patience obviously running thin with my teenage sister.
She released a sigh before saying," I was, alright? Are you happy now? I don't see how that helps you any."
Continuing on as if she had said nothing," You're a traitor, you realize that, Penelope? Whenever you came to me many months ago, nearly a year ago, you told me that everything you would do then you would do it with my permission and under my surveillance. You did a mediocre job of it before, but this is nearly intolerable. Giving away Penelope? Allowing for Trina to be locked away in prison? Have you stood up for anything against Jacob?"
Caspian knew that Penelope was brainwashed for I had passed on the information that Reepicheep had given me. I think that he was asking her these questions just to see if she remembered anything. He wanted to have evidence that she really was a new person and couldn't remember a single thing that had happened before. It was a smart logic, something I probably wouldn't have thought to do.
She furrowed her brow at him, deeply confused. This look alone would have been enough for me to know that this girl was definitely not my sister in mind, but only in body," Are you mental?"
"That doesn't answer my questions, Penelope."
"I'm not a traitor, alright? I've been on Jacob's side the entire time! I thought you all would have known that. I've never supported you and I never will, in fact, you may as well kill me now if you actually insist on resuming your title as King," she rambled on, insulted that we would ever mention that she was ever one of us.
"Enough!" Caspian finally yelled, causing her to quiet briefly before continuing.
"You and Rosalie were the worst thing that ever happened to this country. Just go ahead and ask anyone in Telmar," she cut her eyes over to me.
I felt a jab in my heart as I met eyes with my sister. It broke my heart that she had no knowledge of what she was saying. Had she been in her right mind, she wouldn't have even dreamed of saying any of those words.
"Penelope, I wish you could understand-" I started meekly, but this merely fueled her fire.
She struggled greatly against her binds as she screamed at me," SHUT UP! I understand everything perfectly fine. He told me that you would try to tell me plenty of things that weren't true…"
I shook my head and kept a level head," Penelope, you don't. He's got you under his spell. Just a year ago, you were fighting against him. You were on our side."
I found that it was rather useless for me to say anything else and Caspian shot me a warning look. Releasing a sigh, I turned away from the sight of my deranged sister and started to leave the tent. I could hardly stand to see her like that, but just before I could leave she yelled at me again. I considered continuing on walking anyways, just to seperate myself from her, but her words were severe.
"You think that by going back to Telmar that everything's going to be peachy again, Rosalie?" She screamed at me, causing me to stop in my tracks. "You think that the people actually want you? You think they want the very person that crumbled when trouble came? You think they want the person back who left them out to dry?"
I allowed the words to process in my head. I felt my cheeks get warm, and a piece of me knew that she was right. Moments later, I heard Caspian say," Rosalie, don't listen to-"
"Don't listen to me?" Penelope challenged. "Even if I am brainwashed, I know what I've seen at Telmar. Should you go back to that city, the people will riot. The people may even take Jacob's side. Why would they-"
"SILENCE!" Caspian roared, a tear slid down my cheek because I feared that she was right.
I hadn't stood up to Jacob when he first came. From the outside, it would have appeared that I abandoned them out of fear. It would have appeared that I lied to their faces, escaped, and then left them for the worst. Caspian may have been sick of hearing what she had to say, but I could sense some truth in what she said which was what only made listening to her all the more painful.
"Now, onto something else-" Apollo tried to ease the tension, but Penelope was not cooperating.
"And there's no way you'll ever defeat the giants. When Jacob finds out what you've done to his men, he will summon the giants. I happen to know that he will show no remorse in having the giants alone cream your little army."
Caspian started to move toward her, but I was trying to breathe in and out to calm myself. I had to remember that she was not in a stable mental condition. I should have walked away.
"What say you to that Rosalie? See all your hard work go down the drain? Everything you've done wasted," She growled at me as I thought about grabbing my knife. "Seeing that little whore beat up for nothing-"
Before she could even finish her phrase, I had already pulled out my knife and pounced. Instantly, I found myself looming over her with my knife aimed right at her chest. I didn't care that she was my sister. I didn't care that she was out of her mind. Stephen was right, we should have finished her. The sister I had was probably gone forever. All I knew was that she was someone whom I had little interest being around.
And then, as I stared directly into her eyes, I saw one thing: fear.
"Rosalie," Caspian said tentatively, placing a hand on my shoulder.
I think that everyone in the room was in shock that I was holding a knife to my own sister's throat. In fact, I had nearly surprised myself.
"I swear that if you ever use that word to describe her again, then I will slit your throat with no remorse. I was giving you grace at first, but you are slowly convincing me that the sister I once had is dead along with the rest of my family. Don't think for even one second that I will condone this and allow you to live. To be honest, I look into your eyes and see a stranger," I spat at her with a shaky hand as I pushed the knife into the holster at my waist.
She didn't dare say another word. I gulped before shooting a glance at Caspian. His eyes were widened as he watched me leave the tent.
I knew that I had overreacted to Penelope, but I couldn't stand for her to sit there and bully us as if she owned the place. It was a mere matter of chance that Jacob had chosen Penelope, of all people to lead the troop to escort Emily. As I sat at the edge of the camp, pondering the events of the day, I was beginning to wish that he had sent anyone but her. She hadn't ever done anything other than be loyal to Caspian and I...she didn't deserve to have her mind taken away from her...
At that moment, I was convinced that there was no hope for my sister. I pressed my head against my knees as tears spilled out of my eyes. The sadness was a mixture of all sorts of emotions. Emily, Stephen, Caspian, Penelope, Trina…the list seemed to be endless of events that had gone wrong.
I wanted to blame myself for this all happening again, but I knew that in order to stop Jacob that I couldn't do that. Several tears later, I realized that everything that had happened, obviously happened for a reason. Aslan was in control of everything that was happening. Surely, he would not have let all of this happen in pure vain?
Then again, I had to remember that sometimes the pain was what caused us to rely on Aslan even more. Sometimes, the pain couldn't be explained as anything more than a time to grow in faith.
Hours passed as I ran many different thoughts through my head over all different sorts of topics. Several men passed here and there, the camp was very busy for the rest of the morning and afternoon. Some of them may have spoken to me, but I was in such a daze that I hardly noticed anyone passing. I forced myself to not even think of Penelope anymore and from there on out, all my mind was focused on was how we were going to finish Jacob once and for all.
Just before dusk, my thoughts were interrupted and I heard someone come and join me.
I looked over seconds later to see Caspian taking a seat beside me.
"Penelope cooperated after you left," he said after several minutes of silence. "She's going to lead Apollo and some other men to find the giants. Apparently, they are most vulnerable when sleeping. We had very little problems getting her to talk."
I glanced away, looking out to the darkened treeline," You trust her?"
Caspian sighed as he ran a hand through his hair," Had you asked me that earlier, I would have said no, but I think that after she spoke with you….she realized that we won't tolerate anything other than the truth. She knows the dangers of what would happen should she lead us astray."
"I hope you're right," I said with a small smile. "Has she...well...come out about being a traitor? Or do you think that she-"
I looked at him, not wanting to finish the phrase. He seemed to understand what I was asking and shook his head feverently.
"She hasn't a clue of anything, Rosalie," Caspian hoarsely whispered to me. "I asked her even basic memories from our childhood and she had no recollection of any of it. I thought that she was lying at first, exaggerating the truth, if you will, just to cover for Jacob, but now I am convinced that she truly has no memories from her childhood or early adolescence. The only things she is useful for is the current situation we've got on our hands. I can merely only view her as a captured enemy now, Rosalie. I hope that you will be able to do the same because...the thought of her will torture you."
I knew that he was right. I needed to cut off any emotional connection I had to Penelope because her ties to me had already been severed. It was pointless for me to mourn over her anymore. She was simply a captured enemy now...just like any of the other men that we had caught. She was no different than them. I had to repeat the mantra in my head several times before I could actually start to believe myself.
"You've a couple hours to get ready before we pack up camp and head out," Caspian added gently, after several moments of allowing me to think.
When I had realized what he had said, I furrowed my brow," What do you mean?"
"We're finishing this tonight, Rosalie," he told me firmly. "Jacob suspects something, but he must have felt comfortable enough to send away his sister for a two to three day journey. Tonight's the night. I think that he would want her around if he suspected we were on the move. This may be our chance t get him while he's weak."
I could hardly believe him. It was an incredible logic and I knew that we would have to leave soon, but I had thought that the next day would be soon. Immediately, I jumped from my spot on the ground and looked at him, wondering just what his plans were. This was all very last-minute, but also very exciting. Instead of merely thinking about all of this, it sounded as though we were about to make it happen.
"What do you want me to do? What are the plans? Are we-" I started rattling off, trying to prepare myself for the hours to come.
He shook his head as a smile played on his lips and he shushed me," Rosalie, please just leave it to me, but if you must know, then Penelope is being closely supervised by Apollo and a good chunk of our men. They are going to go and make sure that the giants are distracted enough to where they will not be summoned. While we, storm the castle. Reepicheep is going to be leading a troop of mice into the castle to open the gates for us. From there, I don't know what we'll do, but I say that we storm the throne room as quickly as possible."
"So it is to be like last time? The raid with the Pevensies?" I asked him, forcing all logical questions to the back of my head.
He nodded," Yes, essentially, but pray tell that it will go better this time than it did that time."
"Of course," I said with a nod and he turned on his heel to walk away, but not without looking back at me once more.
I couldn't help but still feel a ping of guilt at the way this was going to end with Penelope. I tried repeating the mantra to myself, but it seemed as though Caspian could see right through the facade I was placing to make him believe that I really didn't care for Penelope anymore.
"What's on your mind?" He asked softly, stepping back toward me.
"Penelope and all those men. Penelope's my only family left and those men, they've all got families too. I-Is there any cure? Do you know how they could ever be restored back to normal after all this is over?" I asked him just as tenderly.
He looked away before looking back to me," I don't know yet, but I think there's a possibility we might be able to return them to normal. I can't make any promises though. And Rosalie, just because your sister may be gone, doesn't mean that she has to be."
His words made absolutely no sense.
He clarified himself and pointed a finger to his chest, right above his heart," She may not remember the time you spent together, but you will always have them tucked away here."
"Thank you," I said quietly, looking at him with gratitude.
Before I could say or ask him anything else, Apollo came sprinting around the corner, asking for Caspian urgently. Caspian bid me farewell before disappearing around the corner of the tent. I sighed as he left, but then felt a sort of fire burning in my stomach.
That night would be the night that we would face Jacob once and for all. That night would be the night that he would be confronted. That night would be the night that Caspian and I would be returned back to our rightful place as King and Queen of Narnia.
We may not have had a long, manicured war plan, but we had something worth fighting for.
"Alright gentlemen, here we stand," Caspian said, several hours after the sun had set with nothing but torchlight hanging about for us to see one another. He was standing atop a makeshift platform that we had been able to craft out of some of the tables in the tents.
I stood near Caspian, watching as the clouds overhead came together. They were quite ominous and it appeared as though we were going to be doing this raid in the midst of a thunderstorm. This could have been an advantage to us since the visibility would be much more limited from the castle, but it also meant for a much nastier battle with the mud, water, and such.
Caspian started his spiel on what was to happen. I listened to bits and pieces, but my mind was elsewhere. My mind was thinking back to hours ago whenever I had walked into Emily's tent to see her struggling to grab her own gear to fight alongside us. After some heated debating, I convinced her that it would be foolish for her to engage in any sort of physical challenge.
I remembered coming out of that tent and watching as they dragged along Penelope from Caspian's tent. Her wrists were bound together, a gag shoved into her mouth, and ankles tied together loose enough to she could still walk. I wanted to feel sympathy for her, but those feelings disappeared soon. She was not the same sister that I had known my entire life. She may have been in her body, but she was not the real Penelope. I remembered what Caspian had told me and that was enough for me not to break down at the sight of her.
I watched them mount their horses and leave for the woods. Apollo bid us all a farewell before leading the troop out to distract the giants, under the guidance of Penelope. Penelope; however, knew that should she lead them into any trap, then the consequences could be dangerous for her. They had left just after the sun set. That had been many hours before we had finally gotten ready to leave. I also remembered the look on her face as she looked at me one last time before being thrust upon the horse. It was almost a look of...remorse.
I focused back on Caspian.
"…Reepicheep and myself have been around to help inform you of what we insist on doing this evening. Archers, you know that your job is vital to our entire force. Swordsmen, you know that this is the night where all of your hard work will pay off. Tonight is the night that we take back Narnia!-"
The men roared at the sound.
I remembered back to Emily again. Just after I had urged her out of her war clothes, I had spoken with Stephen briefly trying to get him to do the opposite of what I was urging Emily to do.
"You must assist us in this Stephen!" I begged him, standing outside of Emily's tent, just before the men had started to disassemble camp earlier that day. "You're one of our best soldiers and we need you for this to work."
"Rosalie, as much as I would love to…Emily needs someone to stay with her. I have no doubt that the rest of you will be completely fine without me there. I have to keep her safe now," he told me, having no interest in changing his mind whatsoever. I had a feeling that this young man was falling head over heels in love. "I've done what I can do for the task. Should you desperately need me, then I will come, but I think you have it covered from as far as I can see. Plus, I've already spoken with Caspian, who was worried of Emily's well-being, as well."
I remember wanting to fight him more on this matter, but seconds later, a pale Emily emerged. She was wearing the same dress I had provided for her earlier. Smiling at me, she latched an arm in Stephen's.
"I tried getting him to agree to fight, Rosalie," she said meekly. "He's quite the stubborn one."
Stephen smiled, slightly embarrassed at her words. He moved his other hand and placed it atop Emily's that was clenched tightly around his arm. He looked at me seriously," I won't leave her again. Not anytime soon, at least."
Knowing that I would be unable to convince him otherwise, I said," Where do you plan on going?"
"Caspian's provided me with a horse to take back out to the countryside. He said that though it is still dangerous there, it would be away from the action that is to take place tonight. He assures us that it will be safe there," Stephen answered as the men started to take down the stakes that held us Emily's tent.
The servant girl added reassuringly," Whenever Telmar is safe again, then I will be back, at your service once more. We've...both agreed on that."
The two of them looked at each other and smiled as we started walking toward the meadow where the horses had been roaming for the length of the day.
"And we will be glad to welcome the both of you back," I assured her, watching as Stephen called over one of the horses, the horse that Caspian had provided.
Caspian had not informed me that he was providing them with a horse, but whenever I saw which horse was coming toward them, I felt as though they deserved better. Granted, that horse would have been fine, but I wanted to be sure they were in the best hands, or hooves rather, possible. And with that, I placed a finger in my mouth and whistled loudly.
Stephen looked at me, confused as to what I was doing. Before he could utter a word, I watched as Kingslee, my own brown horse that I was so fond of came galloping toward us. Whenever she reached my side, I stroked her softly before handing her over to Stephen. This could have very well been one of my last services to them, if things were to take a turn for the worse. She was a smart horse and could easily keep both Stephen and Emily out of harm's way. I would have loved to ridden her into battle, but I knew that she would be a blessing to the both of them should trouble find them.
"Rosalie, we could never take her," Emily argued, shaking her head reverently. "She's your horse. She belongs in the action."
I looked at Kingslee and it was, as if, even though I was human and she was horse, we were thinking the same thought. We had done this plenty of times before, but never this strong.
Keeping eye contact with the horse, I said to Emily," I insist. And, I think she does as well."
Emily opened her mouth to argue once more, but before she could say anything, Stephen was assisting her onto Kingslee's back. He climbed on shortly after and placed a hand protectively around her waist.
"Thank you, Rosalie," he said to me genuinely, "For everything."
"Yes, thank you, Rosalie. I could never thank you enough for all that you've done," Emily said somberly as Stephen kicked Kingslee gently. "Goodbye for now!"
Feeling as though words would not have been appropriate for the moment, I merely nodded before looking at my horse one last time. That could have been the last time I would have ever seen Kingslee, but I could hardly be selfish. There were no other people with whom I trusted her more. Assuming that all would go well, I would have been able to see all of them again soon.
After replaying all of this in my head, it hardly occurred to me that Caspian was still in the middle of his address to the army. He looked over at me, as if to see if I was paying attention. Assuring him that I was with a smirk, he turned back to the crowd to finish what he was saying.
"Tonight, I know that emotions are running high. I know that each and every one of you want to finish Jacob just as badly as I do, but have peace in knowing that we've got Aslan on our side. Have peace of knowing that good will conquer evil! Maybe not tonight…maybe not tomorrow…maybe not even in our lifetime, but whatever happens tonight, whatever the result; it happened for good reason. Stay strong men! And remember that this…is for Narnia!"
With many loud cheers and war cries, we lead them into the woods and it started to rain.
We arrived at the ridge. The final ridge that stood in our way before we could finally see the castle, before we could finally look upon our home. Whenever we stood at the peak of the ridge, rain pounding in our faces, lighting striking all around, we all could hardly think much of anything other the simple thought of restoring the city that we all knew and loved.
The sight we saw was not the sight of our home. It was the sight of a destroyed home. The lightning strikes were vicious and bright enough to show us glimpses of what Telmar had become and that alone was enough to make my blood boil. The castle appeared to be missing plenty of bricks, adding to the look of being run-down. Entire chunks seemed to be missing from the castle, as well as other pieces of the roof. It appeared as though Jacob never took time to repair what the giants did the first time they came through.
The city of Telmar, apart from the castle looked dark and dreadful. I hardly wanted to go down there for the streets seemed to be overrun with all sorts of trash and grime. Houses were just as astrewn as the castle appeared to be, only worse. It was obvious that the style of life in Telmar had gone down in our absence.
"It's awful," I said loudly to Caspian, over the roll of thunder.
"It's a shame! Telmar should be treated much better than this!" Still in awe of what had become of our home.
After waiting for the entire army to make their way to the ridge, I finally asked Caspian what his plan from this point onward was to be.
"When do we go? I want to finish this," I said to him firmly, staring straight at him as his gaze was fixed directly on the castle.
After several more moments, he looked at me, rain whipping about everywhere," I'm sending out the archers now."
I nodded my head and turned my eyes back to the castle as Caspian began yelling orders to the troops.
I hoped that Jacob was ready.
I hoped that he would see what was coming for him.
I hoped that he would see his destruction right before his very eyes.
Author's Note: I know you guys are ready to see what happens to Jacob and everyone, so I PROMISE that in the next chapter, there will action and more importantly, drama. Figuring out how to end this story has been even more of a challenge than I orignally thought, haha!
Anyways, YOU GUYS ROCK! 201 reviews! Awesome! I'm so proud of you guys and thank you to everyone who has reviewed/alerted/favorited this story. It's been so much fun to write this story and to see how interested you all have become in it.
Since we reached 200 reviews, I am going to try my absolute hardest to get the next chapter up by tomorrow. I'm already working on it and will continue to work on it as soon as this is posted. Thanks again guys!