Author's Note: As much as I'd like to say that I own all of C.S. Lewis's brilliant-ness (not a word, I know), I don't. I'm in no way, shape, or form making profit off of this. The only thing I own is the names you don't recognize.
Chapter Thirteen: Training
Even though the palette of blankets in the How wasn't the most comfortable sleeping place I could think of, it was better than the damp cell floors that I had been sleeping on. After being given a new set of clothing and freshening up in the stream, I made my way out to the field in front of the How. The field had turned more into a training field and I could have assumed that they had been training hard since early in the morning. I hadn't awakened until nearly midday, so I assumed that I had missed quite a bit.
I didn't know what to expect as I sauntered out to the line of Narnians standing opposite of each other. It appeared that they were having some sort of dueling lesson. I noticed that Peter was walking down the middle of the lines, giving some sort of spiel. Caspian was standing off to the side observing.
"The Telmarines are going to be quick, skilled, and relentless," I heard Peter's voice call over the group of Narnians with their swords drawn," Now, there's a certain art to sword fighting…"
A yawn escaped my mouth as I stood at the end of the training line and crossed my arms. Caspian stood beside me, but I said not a word to him. I felt his eyes on me for a brief moment, but they soon shot away. Peter continued on his lecture about how to hold a sword and such, something I had heard from my father and brother countless times while learning to swordfight. I wouldn't say that my mind was wandering…but…okay so perhaps it was.
"Rosalie, nice of you to join us," I heard the High King's voice say as he apparently just noticed me, interrupting my daydreaming," You're just the person I need to see in order to properly demonstrate a sword fight. Come now, take a swing at me."
I shot my head over to see him smiling at me. So he had known that I wasn't paying attention. My face was sure to have looked utterly shocked as he approached me with a sword in his hand.
"Oh," I chuckled, trying to talk myself out of the matter," No, I don't know the slightest of sword fighting. You're just being nice."
"Oh no," he argued, persistently" You're being modest. Now, come up and let's set an example for these soldiers."
My eyes narrowed at him. Was he really challenging me to a re-duel in front of all these men? I debated whether or not to go. My heart was telling me to step up and show him that I really could beat him in a duel, but part of me was wary of it. I most definitely did not want to lose again…especially not with an audience.
I took a step forward and finally said," You've got another sword to spare?"
A smirk grew on his face as he turned to the men," Who's willing to give up their sword briefly?"
I heard a chuckle run through the creatures as they whispered to each other. Finally the dwarf, Nikibrik stepped forward, handing his sword to me," This should be good," I heard him mutter.
I glared at the dwarf as I held the blade tight. The soldiers stepped back and formed a large circle around the two of us. I guess none of them had really seen my dueling skills, unless they witnessed my first duel with the High King.
"Now, you always hold the sword with a strong grip," he explained to all of them, and I made sure my own blade was tight in my hands," Think of your sword as merely an extension of your own body, something you would not want to lose."
His blue eyes met mine from across the circle, we began slowly circling each other.
"Would you like to add anything?" he asked me as we continued circling.
My mind raced with all sorts of different things that my father had told me about sword fighting. There were so many different things that I could say, but I chose the one that came to my mind first," Keep your eyes locked on your enemy's," I said, not breaking my glance from Peter.
"Very good point," Peter replied," Go ahead…make the first move."
I held the blade tightly and continued circling slowly, planning my first attack. Realizing that over thinking it would only make me slower, I ran at the High King with my blade drawn. I struck up high and he blocked me quickly. Our blades clashed several more times.
"Now," Peter added, his breath quickening between strikes," You want to do exactly what Rosalie just did. Think briefly about what you are going to do, but don't spend much time contemplating because most likely you will be dead before you can full think out your attack."
He charged at me again, striking near my midsection I took a step back and blocked his shot and forced his blade away.
"Again, very good. Always make sure to get the blade as far from you as possible, if possible," he added.
I felt like the more we fought, the less we were actually dueling and the more he was just adding in his own commentary. I was giving my all, but he was only giving half of his effort. There were plenty of times where he would break away from the action completely turn his back to me. Had he been a Telmarine, he would have been dead fairly quickly.
He was only showing a presentation…but I still wished that he had given more of his all.
I played along with his little instruction clinic for a while, but my irritation and desire to redeem myself became too strong. It wasn't that I was angry with him…I only wanted to prove myself.
Our blades clashes and as he held his blade at a stall with me, he looked over to the men and broke his glance with me. As he started to shift his eyes to them to say something else, I quickly hit my sword to his, sending it flying through the air. It landed in the ground right at the feet of the soldiers, who all began applauding.
Peter's face looked awestruck as he looked back over to me.
"That's the most important rule," I said to them all, giving Peter a taste of his own medicine, as I walked over to pick the sword out of the ground," Never take your eyes off of the opponent."
I smiled at the King as I offered him his sword back. He wore a serious look at first, he did not appreciate being beaten in such a way, but he had to force a smile. He knew it was true and he knew that I would take any advantage to beat him," Well," he paused ,taking the sword," I'd have to agree."
He put his sword back into his belt and kept looking at me.
"That'll be all for today," he announced to the men and they began to disperse around us.
I raised my brow and nodded at Peter, respectively, before handing Nikibrik back his sword and thanking him for allowing me to use it.
As I turned to go back to the How, I noticed Caspian watching us. His face looked cold and hard as he watched me intently walk by him.
Over the next two days, we continued our battle sessions and war preparations. Every morning we would meet in the field to practice archery and then by midday we were mostly dueling. Caspian would teach the men of how the Telmarines would fight and at times, when asked, I would as well. Mostly, Peter would continue to use me as an example in a sword duel, only after the one incident; he actually tried.
There wasn't a day that went by when I wasn't thinking of the Telmarines getting closer to us or my mother and Penelope trying to find their way through the woods. I imagined that the Telmarines would arrive any day now, well-armed and ready to demolish us. I wish that I could have said that we were ready, but we were far from it. The training had become more intense, but the leaders of the battle were still rather lost as to what they were going to do.
Whenever the long days of training were over, we would make our way back into the How where the soldiers would practice all that they had learned, and the "leaders" (just the Pevensies, Caspian, and myself) would go into the Tomb to try and strategize.
Strategizing was rather difficult, however. I remember Edmund telling me during our jailbreak that he and Lucy had wanted me to come back in order to help the communications between Peter and Caspian. I can't really say that I helped the matter any. In fact, if I did anything…I made it worse. I tried to stay out of the conversation as much as possible because I found that whenever I would try and give input only more rounds of arguments would begin. Strategizing was being done, but slowly and very slowly. Had the Telmarines really began training the night that I left, they would be on our field ready to fight soon.
The person who I probably spent the most time talking to was Peter. As much as it surprised me, I thoroughly enjoyed being around him. What really surprised me was that I actually found myself becoming nervous in his presence…not a bad nervous, but a different sort of nervous I guess. The feeling was new to me. Ever since Peter had come to talk to me after Caspian and I had our blowout, my view on him had changed and Peter had been a nice companion for me since I no longer had Caspian. I couldn't believe that I had ever despised him in such a way before. We had so many similarities that had been unknown to each other before.
While I was enjoying Peter's company, I still couldn't put Caspian out of my head. Now, granted, I lied to myself and said that I had put him out of my thoughts…but I never had. It was tragic that we had grown so far apart, but what more could I have done? Both of us were too proud to come anywhere near each other and try to apologize.
One evening, though, while I was traveling to my quarters in one of the tunnels; I happened to stumble upon Susan and Caspian speaking in hushed whispers. I knew that I should have walked on past, but I couldn't. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to hear just what the two were discussing…because it could have involved me.
"Caspian, I think that you are over thinking this," I heard the Gentle Queen's voice whisper.
I heard the prince sigh," Susan, you don't understand."
There was a pause before she said anything else," I may not, but I am trying to," she said softly.
Caspian let out a groan of aggravation," She is just so stubborn! Why doesn't she understand? Why doesn't she care to understand? She prances around ignoring the both of us like nothing has ever happened!"
"Give her time, Caspian. Would her confronting you again do us any better really?" she tried to reason with him.
"You deserve an apology from her," he told her, his voice more calm.
Susan sighed this time," I know, Caspian…but try to put yourself-"
"No!" he fought back," You deserve that much from her."
I was surprised to hear that Susan was trying…trying to defend me. I felt rather guilty about thinking badly of her. Caspian really was the one who was angered with me. Furious, actually. She was at least trying to make a case for me. It wasn't convincing enough to make me consider giving her an apology, but the thought did come into my head.
It just didn't make any sense to me, but I had been eavesdropping on only part of the conversation. I couldn't really be expected to understand everything, I guess.
"Give her time," Susan said softly once more.
I then heard Caspian speak even softer and had to lean in closer to hear what he said next because it was so hushed. Her words seemed to have actually sunk in.
"I love you," Caspian said ever so quietly.
For some reason, my bitterness toward him turned into a hard ping through my heart as he spoke those words to her. I could feel my heart droop slightly even though I wouldn't accept it myself. I just stood there, blindly listening.
"And I you," she replied just as soft.
There was a pause for a moment. It didn't take much for me to figure out what was happening. I took a step away from the wall in which I was eavesdropping and started to walk by the entry to the room that they were in. I wanted to walk by briskly, but as I started to walk I found myself caught in the middle of the entry way looking at the two of them.
Memories started flooding back from my childhood. I remember first seeing Caspian at that dinner table, dressed in his best clothes, laughing with me. I remembered the first time we rode horses together. I remembered sneaking around the castle with him. I pushed the memories away because he didn't care for me anymore. His lips may have told me that he did in that Tomb just days ago, but now his lips were pressed against those of the queen. I shook my head and continued on my journey to my quarters, not really surprised, but hardly believing what I had just seen.
As I prepared for bed in the small quarters that I shared with the Pevensie girls, I found Lucy sitting with a mirror in her hand. I guess my face looked rather awestruck for she asked me," Rosalie, what's happened?"
I tried to shake myself out of it. It wasn't suppose to bother me. I didn't care for him anymore. I didn't care for him anymore. The only thing that didn't make sense to me was if I didn't care for him so much…then why did it pain me to see him kiss her? Why?
I didn't even bother to take my hair out of the knot I had tied it in earlier and I hadn't even bothered to cleanse my face as I sat down next to the Queen, preparing for bed.
"It's nothing for you to worry about, Lucy," I reassured her, trying to force a smile on my face.
She scrutinized my face for a long hard moment before shrugging her shoulders," If you say so."
That next day went the same as every other day before battle went. We trained all day and tried "strategizing" later on. It had been hard enough for me to stand in the same room as Caspian and Susan before, and that day it was a whole new level of difficulty. Nonetheless, I continued on with my life best as I could.
Instead of staying in the How after we had finished for the day, I noticed that Peter had mounted his horse and was riding down toward the stream in the woods. Finding that I had nothing else to attend to for the day, I had decided that it was my chance to sneak up on him since all these other times; he had snuck up on me.
I rode as quietly as I could in the moonlight and right as I reached him I said," Going for an evening ride?"
He shot his head behind him, obviously startled," Oh- oh yeah," he replied.
I smiled at him," I thought that it was my turn to sneak up on you."
Kingslee strutted up beside his own steed, making it easier for Peter and I to talk," You couldn't have chosen a more perfect time," he told me, but his voice sounded a little unsteady.
"I'm glad that I could book a time with you," I joked with him as our horses trotted along," You're quite the busy man here lately with all these war planning and such."
He tilted his head and looked at me," You're kidding, I hope."
A laugh escaped from my lips," Why of course I am!"
He turned his head away and smiled, but his tone was rather serious," You do have a point though."
"Why's that?" I asked him, my smile disappeared as I could tell this conversation was going to be taking a more serious tone, which was understandable. There had been a lot of pressure as of late.
"Because when you are the leader of an army and you haven't the slightest where your enemy is lurking or just when they are going to attack; it causes a great deal of stress," he admitted to me," I don't know how it's going to go this time around."
This must have really been bothering Peter because I had never heard him be this solemn before, in the time that I had known him. I could only imagine all of the things he had to put up with during the day though with the growing anticipation of battle.
I waited for a moment, preparing my words," You're going to do great. You've fought this type of a battle before and I'm sure that you will do just as great this time as you did last."
He avoided my eyes as he answered," It just bothers me, Rosalie. Last time, I knew that Aslan would help us. I knew that Aslan was there to protect us. I knew it for a fact. This time in Narnia…it hasn't been so simple. I haven't heard a single thing from Aslan. Not one. I don't know where he is and I don't know if he's even out there anymore."
As soon as he mentioned that, I remembered the horse speaking to me and what he had told Edmund and I about Aslan. I thought that perhaps, by mentioning this it would be somewhat reassuring to the King, even though I didn't know for sure what I believed.
"You know that Aslan was the reason that Edmund and I even made it back here alive, don't you?" I asked him quietly as our horses walked over the ridge that led to the stream.
He nodded his head," Edmund explained that to me. He told me all about it," he let out a sigh," That's grand that Aslan has presented himself to you through the horse. It's grand that Lucy claims to have been able to see him, but I have nothing to go off of."
"You're saying that you don't believe because you personally have not seen him?" I asked him, dismounting Kingslee.
He hesitantly nodded his head while he bent down to fill up his canteen. I could only imagine how hard it would be for him. Relying on Aslan, but never seeing him… I didn't even know for sure if he was real, I mean, I had never seen him before.
" I believe in him and all, but," and he trailed off," just sometimes it can be hard. You probably don't want to listen to me complain like this. I'm sorry, we can talk about-"
I bent down and slowly placed a hand on Peter's arm, interrupting him," Peter, no, please allow me to ask you something."
"Yes?" he replied, looking right at me.
"When you believe in something," I began," It means that you are having faith that it will be there. You don't know for a fact that Aslan is there. In fact, all I have is word from this flying horse that Aslan was the one that sent him to our rescue, but take into consideration the lives of all these Narnians fighting for you," I told him, making sure that I was making myself clear.
I didn't know where these words were coming from, but they seemed to be flowing from my heart. I wanted to be there for him and I wanted to be able to provide the same comfort for him that he had done for me.
He watched me intently as I continued speaking," You can't guarantee them that they will win this battle, but look at you. You stand up there every day and you encourage them. You talk to them as if they are going to win. Guaranteed. You're having faith that they are going to win," I said to him. I felt like a mother teaching her young boy a lesson as I continued talking.
"Where are you-?" he tried to interrupt, but I stopped him.
"Listen to me," I commanded," I can't tell you that Aslan is real either, to be honest. I can't tell you for sure that he is there watching…because I don't know, but there is one thing that I can tell you. If you are going to have faith in something, which you have said that you believe in him, don't just have some faith in it, put all of your faith into it. Right before I left that horse, that 'messenger of Aslan'; he told me one thing and do you know what that was?" I asked.
"What?" he whispered.
"To trust my heart," I said, patting my chest where I felt the pound of my heart," Because it's never wrong. You've got to have hope that what you're believing in is going to be there. I'm trusting your word that Aslan came before and I'll continue to trust you, but you can't give up hope."
He swallowed hard before standing back up and placing the cap on his canteen. I stayed kneeled down by the water, feeling as though I had failed in trying to encourage him. He didn't say another word to me for quite some time and I thought that perhaps he had left because it had grown so quiet.
I soon saw a hand reaching down to help me to my feet. When I took the hand and pulled myself up, I found myself face to face with Peter.
There was a silence and my heart was pounding from all that I had just said. I felt my palms starting to become sweaty as I was very close to the Peter and neither he, nor I, seemed to be pulling away anytime soon. And then I felt his hand slowly move up to the side of my face. I wouldn't have let anyone touch me in such a way before, but I did not protest as he looked me right in the eye.
"And what happens when that hope runs thin?" he asked, searching my eyes for an answer.
"Peter," I looked away from him for a moment," If you don't have hope then you may as well give up the cause. I have to have hope every single day that my sister and mother will return to me, when really I am scared to death that I will never see them again, but if I give up that hope that they are alive, then I may as well take my own life because I would never be able to live with myself knowing that I had left them to die."
I had never seen this side of the King before. He had been so strong and caring for me before, but I was now seeing a more vulnerable side of him. I could see where he could feel this from, but I guess I had never really gotten the chance to talk to him alone about all of this.
Peter continued to reveal many different sides of himself to me.
I placed my hand on top of his to be a comfort and smiled up at him, but the moment was soon cut short.
A scream pierced through the night air. The same scream that had desperately called for me to come back to her before. Penelope.
Author's Note: Sorry for the wait guys. I hope you liked this chapter and I hope that everything still makes sense. In the next couple chapters, we're going to hear more from those Telmarines again-so stay tuned because we've got a battle coming up! Thanks for all the reviewers thus far. :)