Once and For All
Disclaimer: I own very little. Narnia and its inhabitants belong to C.S. Lewis.
Chapter Forty: Once and For All
It didn't take long for the doors to the throne room to be thrown open by a very slender, red cloaked, dark headed woman. This had to have been the woman whom Emily had spoken of. If she really was a part of Jacob's deal with the Cruels, then there was no doubt that she was of great value to him. As she strolled down the middle of throne room with a certain pride to her walk, she shot a look at both Caspian and I before moving to Jacob's side.
"You summoned me?" She purred, her voice heavily accented.
"I did," He whispered back to her. "Now, I'm going to explain this to them. Sit, as I do so."
He got up from the throne as Natalia pulled her cloaks tighter to her body and took a seat in his place. I looked at her, carefully, trying to see if I had ever met her earlier in my life. The cloaks, the hair, the skin, the voice…nothing. She was not familiar. A complete stranger. In fact, I think she was wearing my cloaks. This may have been a petty detail, but it simply added to my already disliking of her.
"There is a detail that Stephen obviously forgot to tell you about the Cruels. However, I don't know if forgot would be an appropriate choice of word because he may have never known from the begging. Anyways, that aside, you are correct when you say that he found them and is basically the cause of my entire army, but what he did not tell you was the state at which we found the Cruels," He said to me; his voice calmer then than it had been the entire night.
"They were never meant to be disturbed," I snarled at him, watching my brother closely as he paced around me once again.
"No, you see I view it as they were being…starved," He said silkily to me, pausing ever so slightly. "They needed to be feeding on something and Aslan starved them of that for many, many years. Is this accurate, Natalia?"
He turned his head to the woman sitting on the throne with a rather bored expression on her face. When addressed, she put away the blank expression and immediately lit up," Many, many years," she nodded her head in agreement, trying to look as pathetic as possible. "The White Witch treated the Cruels with at least some respect."
My mind was spinning as to why she really was so crucial and how someone such as her, appearing innocent, would have so much knowledge of the origin of the Cruels and how they had been treated for so long. The days of the White Witch had been quite a long time ago and the fact that Natalia would be able to remember such a thing was nearly impossible. She didn't look that old.
"The White Witch-" I started to question, but was soon cut off by Jacob.
"I made a deal with the Cruels, Rosalie," Jacob said shortly. "I knew what they could do, but I wanted to ensure that I had their trust. Going down there for the first time was, shall we say, quite nerve racking and rather dangerous, but the risk, as you can see, was very worthwhile."
"What did you do?" I asked, slightly scared as to what would happen.
"We made an exchange. I summoned their leader with the help of your dear friend, Stephen, and told him that I would be willing to keep him supplied with many, many humans to take care of their appetite. In addition to that, I would provide a certain number of women for every certain number of men brainwashed. Every time that we took a troop of men, did not mean that a woman was required, you see. There was very little time that Cruels did so desire blood and the blood of women was much more appealing to them than that of men's," Jacob explained to me, very gently and very kindly as if nothing was wrong between the both of us. "In exchange, they would give me the men I needed to form an army, but there was also another little detail that the leader of the Cruels tossed in."
"And what might that be?" I asked, still glaring at him severely.
"He was on my side the entire time, Rosalie. He rather liked He knew that I was going to be struggling to win over the attention of many Narnians. He told me that should I succeed in removing both you and Caspian from the castle, then he would provide me with an additional gift that would help my reign to last, if I was willing to give up part of my soul."
"What do-" I tried, but he merely interuppted and continued.
"Now, before I delve in and give you all the details, you should know that this gift was going to be the key to my reign continuing on throughout many generations. The only way that I would receive this gift was should I get rid of both you and Caspian. If I remember correctly, then I tried to use you in stead of this gift, but not directly," He said to me, looking straight into my eyes as I looked at him with a confused look on my face. "Think about what I tried to make happen, Rosalie. Think about what you nearly killed me for."
"You told me to lie to the people," I stated bluntly at which he smiled.
"But what else happened? What else did I try to get you to do? There was something much more...offensive."
I recollected my memory as to what else happened. The thought of General came back to my head and then, instantly, it all seemed to come together. Well, most of it anyways.
"You made General try to come onto me. That was your plan, now I remember it. You wanted to keep the people of Narnia satisfied, so you thought that you could do that by keeping me as Queen and doing your dirty work through General, who would become my husband. You faked the death of Caspian, took his wedding band from him after placing him with the Cruels and had me believe that he was dead. Had I not observed the casket closely on the day of the funeral, I would be unhappily married to General. That was what happened, but I don't see how that would have helped you to keep your reign going throughout the ages. After the lot of us died, then your little power over the blood line would-" I cut myself off as the puzzle piece seemed to fit together. "You wanted the children."
Jacob smirked and I took this as an invitation to continue on with my thought.
"The whole reason why you wanted me to believe that Caspian was dead was so that I would never have a chance to produce an heir with him! It was in order to protect your own skin; you needed someone to produce an heir for you and you knew that you couldn't come out and kill me, for the people would riot, but you could still use me in getting an heir that way the people would still trust me while I was being controlled completely by you," I shook my head at the brilliance and ridiculousness of that plan. Never before had I thought of that, it was absolutely disgusting, but it quite possibly could have worked had Penelope and Trina not broken me out that night. "You're repulsive."
"You're right on all accounts, Rosalie. I won't deny that, but you see your little friends put a loop in my plan whenever they broke you out that night. I had my suspicions of Trina's loyalty, but that night was what put me over the top with her and I decided to lock her away for good. She was of little value to me which was the reasoning behind her death sentence. Penelope, on the other hand, I simply didn't trust and since I already had an allegiance with the Cruels, I figured that killing Penelope was not an option; she was my sister, but brainwashing her…that was not off limits.
"Over that next week, I locked away Trina and put her children away, as well. In addition to that, I took a trip out to see the Cruels. With you gone and the castle mine, I could finally receive this 'gift' that would allow me to keep my reign going through the generations. Whenever I arrived, their lord approached me and asked me if I was still willing to give up a piece of my soul. I answered with another deal and asked if he would be willing to make an exception to the men-only rule. He said that he would, but it would be very risky for the blood of women is very tempting for the Cruels, but I told him that it was not a problem. If she died, it would not be on my hands. In addition, I told him that I would then be willing to give up a piece of myself for this gift.
"You've heard the story of creation and how woman came from a part of man. The only way that I can describe this process is like a darker, much more painful version of that. I do not necessarily understand in whole what happened, but all I knew that after the pain of having a piece of my spirit ripped from me had wore off, then, standing before me was a beautiful woman. Her father reminded me that she was a living proof that I was to remember the deal I had with the Cruels. Should I choose to neglect them, then she will be the death of me and not only that, but they would return Penelope back to her rightful mind. Natalia is a gift from the Cruels to Narnia. She is the reason why I am going to continue to have an impact well after I am gone because of the heirs we will produce together. Granted, I never knew that he was taking the whole 'rein for generations gift' literally by giving me a woman, but nevertheless, we were both in a winning situation."
I stared at him in complete shock. This story…this account…it was too risky. It was dangeorus and completely neurotic, but it seemed to have worked flawlessly for Jacob thus far. He nearly killed Penelope! I burned up nearly at the thought of that. He was placing his trust in those mentally unstable Cruels to keep her from dying! Preposterous!
Sitting upon the throne, still, was this beautiful woman, whom he had just told me the story of. I could only imagine how tortured a soul she must have had; however. She was part human and part Cruel; that was not a very pleasant combination. These two species despised one another, and she must have had plenty of emotional battles because of that.
"She can't be entirely human; however, that would be nearly impossible," I said after his entire spiel was finished. I was hardly thinking as I spoke, but merely thinking aloud. "That would mean she is only a half-blood."
"Half-blood?" Natalia questioned angrily from the throne, taking my comment as a direct insult. "Is that what she just called me, Jacob?"
Jacob turned and immediately put a calmed look on his face," Natalia, dear, she doesn't understand-"
"HOW DARE SHE!" The woman screeched as she rose to her feet, giving me a glare that spelled out death. Instantly, she charged after me, but Jacob caught her halfway and growled to her.
"Natalia, we spoke about what we were to do should this happen. You need to let me take care of this," He said, placing both hands on her shoulders.
The enticing face that she had worn before was seeming to warp. Her body was still a human's body, but her face was in between stages of changing between her normal self and that of a Cruel. The image itself was quite frightening and I had no idea what to make of it, slowly, seeing as the both of them were distracted I moved backward looking for any type of weapon I could find, but it seemed as though I was out of luck. She released a blood curling scream, very similar to the sounds we heard from the Cruels before. Her body began shaking and she seemed to be calming down.
Moments later, she seemed to be changing back to normal and I watched as she took a deep breath in and apologized to Jacob, quietly. He nodded, understanding and kissed her softly on the lips before guiding her back to the throne. I knew that upsetting Natalia was dangerous, but it seemed to distract Jacob quite a bit…if only…if only I could manage to do that again. Perhaps, I could distract her again enough to where I could get a better look around the place. That was, assuming Jacob would calm her down again.
"You dare offend the love of my life?" Jacob growled, a certain darkness to his voice as he came walking toward me, I noticed a long sword in his hands. It wasn't just any sword; it was Caspian's sword. Caspian's original sword. The King of Narnia's sword.
"The love of your life? She is not the love of your life, the love of your life is power!" I shot a glance up at Natalia to see if this had any effect on her, it seemed to have very little, but she did narrow her eyes at me. "Don't you realize that, Natalia? Look at what your father did …he gave you away like a piece of property. You were just a part of a trade to your father and to the 'love of your life'."
This seemed to have much more of an effect on her. She began gritting her teeth and sitting on the edge of the throne. I watched as she bared her teeth at me and started turning into a nasty creature once more. This time, Jacob didn't turn around to stop her. He merely kept coming toward me with the blade tight in his hand. I swallowed hard and realized that this was probably one of the most foolish things I had ever done. There were plenty more questions that I would have loved to have answered, but for some reason I had a feeling that they would probably never be answered. The look on the both of the their faces was enough to tell me that the end was growing dreadfully near.
I looked over at Caspian, seeing if he could provide any light on the matter, but he had struggled too much for it appeared as though the man holding him was now holding him tightly around the neck.
"It's all going to be over now, Rosalie. The servant girl being whipped, saving your little husband, sending all these men in here to defeat me, killing father, it will have all been done in vain," He said to me, pure evil coming from his lips. "I will finish you once and for all, but first, I want you to see your loved one, killed. I want you to feel the pain that I felt the day father died."
His voice was starting to shake and he was nearly trembling was anger as he advanced toward Caspian. The bulky man holding Caspian handed him over to Jacob, who immediately curled his hand into a fist and punched him straight to the ground. Caspian, already weak, lay face down on the ground and Jacob kicked him over.
I charged forward to somehow help, but before I could get anywhere near, Natalia had appeared behind me and grabbed me tight. I struggled against her, but had little control over what was to happen next. Still, I wanted to think that this wasn't over and that it couldn't end like this…but the cries of the men and centaurs dying outside wasn't much of a comfort…nor was the sight of the true king of Narnia, my husband, my best friend…on the ground about to be killed, a pleasant sight either. As much as I wanted to stop it, there was no way that I could.
"You're just as pathetic as she is! Just as weak and cowardly as her! You may be the real king of Narnia, but who would follow someone as dismal as you?" Jacob growled, standing over Caspian with his sword held high.
"Jacob, you don't understand what you're doing if you drop that sword. If you kill me then-"
"Then things are going to be a lot easier. Narnia will be run properly!" He roared, but just as he lifted the sword back, Caspian spoke again.
"Properly?" He spat back incredulously. "Have you seen the people out there, Jacob? Have you taken a good look at Telmar? It's in ruins and if you don't get control of those trolls out there then you may as well deface the entire castle! You're starving the nation of its full potential, not helping it!"
Jacob was silent, as if he was actually thinking about what Caspian said, but he merely shook his head and proceeded to pull the blade back farther.
"Jacob, please," I begged him, hardly able to stand the sight of Caspian nearly being killed at his hands. This wasn't how it was suppose to end. "Please."
Jacob acted as though he had heard nothing and in one fluent motion, brought the sword up and over his head to kill Caspian. The blade never touched Caspian. It never harmed him for before Jacob could ever meet Caspian's body with the blade, the doors to the throne room were thrown open once more, but this time it was no one that was on Jacob's side. Before Jacob could murder Caspian, a knife came flying through the air and caught Jacob square in the shoulder. The blow was not enough to kill Jacob, but merely to throw him off balance. Natalia, shocked, loosened her grip ever so slightly, and I was able to shake loose of her.
I looked over and saw Stephen and Trina coming into the room with two or three other men behind them. At their feet, Reepicheep and his troop of men. A smile came to my face to see that Trina was alive and well. I hardly had time to look at who else was there for I was set on getting the sword and finishing this once and for all. Just as I was able to retrieve the sword and grab my injured brother, pinning him against the wall; I was interrupted.
A lion's roar erupted throughout the entire throne room, just after more battles had broken out around the room. Instantly, everyone stopped what they were doing and turned to look at the majestic lion sitting on its haunches at the back of the room. He looked so peaceful, sitting there, but I knew that there must have been something that was displeasing him for him to show himself to us.
"Rosalie, release him. I will allow you to finish this, but first there is a lesson that needs to be taught," Aslan commanded me, his voice still calm, but stern as well.
Reluctantly, I stepped away from Jacob, who was wide-eyed with fear looking at Aslan. I loved Aslan and respected him greatly, but what exactly was he planning on doing here?
Slowly, the lion walked forward toward Jacob and continued walking until he was standing directly in front of him. I was well out of the way and was very interested to see how this was going to go over.
"My son, what have you done?" Aslan asked, shaking his head with a look of disappointment on his face. "You have killed innocent Narnians, fallen into the sins of greed, lust, power hunger, you have forsaken your family, but most of all…you have experimented with creatures that I never intended for you to touch."
"A-Aslan, your highness, your majesty, y-your-" Jacob stuttered, but Aslan merely shook his head to silence him.
"You do not know me, Jacob, therefore you need not refer to me by such titles. You have had plenty of chances to come back to the light and follow me again, but have deliberately refused them to follow your own path to destruction. I will not stop Rosalie from killing you for she is doing it out of concern for others and her nation, but I would be breaking my word if I did not give you one last chance to change."
"A-anything-" Jacob started, but Aslan shook his head.
"Do not make promises so soon for the price you need to pay is very high. I want you to go back to the Cruels and apologize for your disrupting them. Not only that, but I want you to reverse the dark magic you have placed upon this 'army' of yours and your own sister. That type of magic is not to be-"
"You don't understand them," Jacob interrupted, finding a new courage somewhere deep within to say such a thing to the creator of Narnia.
Aslan seemed taken aback by this," Jacob, they have deceived you into believing that they have been starving all these years and that is the very reason why I banished them down there long ago. It was the White Witch who re-discovered them and it is my fault that I did no relocate them to a more desolate place where they, like the nymphs could live in peace."
"They were dying without human intervention. You were…you were ignoring them!" Jacob exclaimed and I was in absolute shock at how forward he was being with Aslan. He had no respect for the lion whom had given us everything.
"Jacob, I do not ignore-"
"You are lying!" Jacob cried and unless I was mistaken, he sounded as though he was getting emotional, as he backed away from the lion. "I needed help and they gave it to me. They needed help because you wouldn't give it to them!"
I watched Aslan carefully. He was not becoming angered or upset, but he stayed calm. A placid aura still hung about him even though the emotions were running high. Regretfully shaking his head, the lion spoke again," Then you leave me no choice, son of Adam."
Jacob was about to start breaking down into tears, or so it appeared, as the lion took in a deep breath. I hardly knew what the lion was doing, but I stopped predicting what he was doing a long time ago. He raised to all four legs and taking in one deep breath, he released the loudest, most powerful roar that I had ever heard in my entire life. The ground, castle, forest, and all of Narnia must have felt the blow, so loud and powerful.
It felt as though we were experiencing a major earthquake for the trembling never stopped, but in the midst of the commotion, there was a woman's scream. I looked to my left and saw that Natalia, the half-human, half-Cruel, "hybrid" ( I didn't even want to think of calling her a half-blood again…), was screaming and writhing about. Jacob was staring at her with wide eyes, his heart breaking as Natalia seemed to be stuck between two the two breeds. Her torture didn't last for long because within seconds, she simply disappeared.
Jacob was too in awe to say much of anything. We were all stick in absolute shock from the tremendous roar to look at anything other than the lion standing before us. Seconds later, I saw someone standing at the doorframe. I didn't pay much attention at first until a group of people swarmed behind this one person at the door.
I forced my gaze over to the door and saw Penelope, standing with a hand on her hip and a glare on her face. All of the men standing behind her seemed to be Jacob's entire army. Next to her stood Apollo, who looked just as serious. Confused as to what was going on, I started to say something, but was soon interrupted by Penelope's yelling.
"HOW DARE YOU! YOU FILTHY SLIME OF A BROTHER!" She exploded, walking hastily toward him, pointing a finger and giving him the absolute look of death. "SHOULD YOU EVER EVEN SPEAK TO ME AGAIN, I SWEAR THAT I WILL-"
"Penelope!" Aslan said severely, causing her to stop in her tracks. "I know that you are upset by this, but I must ask that you leave the situation be for the moment."
She folded her arms over her chest and glared at him for another good minute before actually turning back around to stand at the door frame. Aslan turned his gaze back to Jacob," Do you understand what it is she is upset about?"
"She knows…she knows what I did to her…" Jacob said, putting his head in his hand. "You killed Natalia!"
"They all know, Jacob," Aslan said calmly. "And I did not kill her, but simply sent her back to her original form. Your army that you've created has been destroyed for their minds have been set back to normal now. The magic has been reversed. I do not tolerate the mistreatment of Narnia, Jacob. You should know that now, after I leave, no matter what happens that you had the opportunity. I'm sorry that it must be this way."
And without another word, the lion turned away and walked toward the door. The men started to part ways for the lion to allow him to leave, but before he even reached the men; he seemed to be gone.
Everyone was quiet.
Caspian stood up to break the silence," Rosalie, now's the time."
I nodded to him and grabbed Caspian's sword tight once more. I moved toward Jacob, whom everyone seemed to be glaring at, and looked right into his green eyes. Looking into his eyes, I saw the same boy whom I used to sit on our mother's bed with play stories with. I remembered the same boy who used to help me with archery. Then, I remembered the man he had turned into and realized the boy who I loved was gone forever. Involuntarily, tears started coming to my eyes as I clutched the sword tight.
"There's one more person you need to apologize to," I said to him, fighting the tears.
Jacob looked at me, a blank look on his face as I summoned Stephen to come closer. Slowly, he walked toward me and looked at me with concern in his eyes. He reluctantly looked over at the man who had taken nearly everything from him. He swallowed hard before looking back to me and asking," What is it you want?"
"I want you to apologize to him. You may have wronged me, but I would go so far as to say that you wronged him just as much, if not more," I said severely to Jacob, looking at him closely.
Jacob made eye contact with Stephen briefly before looking back to me," I've nothing to say to him."
"Then you shall die in vain," I said simply, feeling my face heat up once more.
I wanted so badly to finish him, but the memories of us as children were too much. They kept on hanging in the back of my head whenever I looked into his eyes. He resembled father so much both in appearance and in actions. I didn't want to kill the Jacob that had been my brother and friend, but the Jacob that sat in front of me with a nasty scowl on his face was not someone that I ever wanted to see again. By killing him, I was keeping true to the promise that I had made to our nation. It was my duty that, should the opportunity arise, then I was to sacrifice myself for the good of the people.
I breathed in deeply and brought the sword up over my head. I remembered Cornelius's home going up in flames. I remembered seeing Emily's battered body. I remembered seeing Caspian in the hands of those awful women. I remembered the screams from those being captured by the Cruels.
This man was not my brother.
I was not responsible for him.
Without hesitation, I brought the blade down over my head and plunged the blade deep into his midsection. He twitched slightly as all color drained from his face. I pushed the blade deeper into his body as blood spilled over his lip before whispering," For Narnia."
Author's Note: So, there you have it!
Something I struggled with was deciding who should be the one to kill Jacob. I struggled a lot about if it should have been Rosalie or Stephen because they were both directly impacted by Jacob's actions. I ended up choosing Rosalie because I feel like she was much more emotionally impacted by the thought of having her brother do so much harm toward her. It felt more climatic for her to be the one to do it, as well, haha. Anyways, tell me what you think. I actually originally wrote it with Stephen killing Jacob. Do you agree or disagree with the final decision? I'd love to know! I would make a poll, but I'm that lazy so telling me in a review is fine :)
Thanks for reviewing! I love you guys! There's going to be one more chapter and an epilogue :)