Winner of the Napier LIbraries Fan Fiction Competition
The small row-boat glided swiftly across the lapping water. The silence was broken only by the splash of the paddles as they were dipped into the crystal clear depths. From her perch in an apple tree, Rosanna could see that the boat was being manned by two Telmarine soldiers. If she had had her bow and arrows right now, they would have never have gotten this far out. They would have been admitted to the river’s depths forever.
Across the other side of the river, she noticed four figures on the sandy shore. Two boys and two girls, she thought. They were all garbed in magnificent finery. She wondered if they had stolen it from the ruins of Cair Paravel.
Her attention was turned back to the soldiers in the boat. They had begun to squabble over something. As she watched them more closely, she realised that they had a prisoner dumped on the damp floor of the boat. She had no idea who it was, or what they had done, but she knew that he was going to be drowned. And, for her, anyone who was an enemy of her uncle’s Telmarine army, was generally a friend of hers.
As the soldiers began to pull the prisoner over the side of the boat, there was a loud shout. One of the girls whom she had noticed before had drawn her long bow and aimed it at the boat. “Drop him!” she cried, angrily. Rosanna nearly laughed at her ridiculous choice of words. Of course, they would drop him… in the water!
She released the apple she had been munching on thoughtfully and edged to the furthest part of the tree branch. There was a resounding splash as the Telmarine soldiers did what the girl had demanded of them. The prisoner began to sink to the rocky depths of the river. Rosanna prepared to dive. She wouldn’t stand for such cruelty, and neither, did it appear, would the children. The girl with the bow let fly her arrow. It struck one of the soldiers in the chest. Screaming in agony, he fell backwards into the river. A second arrow had embedded itself deep in the boat’s side. The girl had missed, but the petrified soldier wasn’t staying to see if she would do it again. He leaped, arms flailing, into the water.
Rosanna was just about to dive, when an arrow buried itself in the tree trunk, just above her head. The shock caused her to topple from her perch and land painfully in the water. There was no time to resurface. She could just make out a figure slowly sinking to the ground. Kicking her powerful legs, she reached him. Grabbing the rope that bound his hands, she pushed herself up, kicking forcefully against the rocky riverbed. They shot up to the surface. She gasped for air, as she made her way closer to the bank.
Finally, she reached the shore. A young girl, about twelve, rushed forward and cut the prisoner’s bonds. Rosanna sat up and gazed at her suspiciously. She ignored her. As Rosanna turned her attention to the prisoner again, she realised with shock why they had been trying to kill him. He was a Narnian. A dwarf, in fact. Rosanna gasped. She thought that all of them had died, or been killed by the cruel Telmarine soldiers.
But they were still alive! Rosanna smiled wickedly to herself. So, the Telmarines had failed in destroying them after all. She wondered what Lord Miraz would have to say about that. He would be furious, for sure. But that served him right. It would do that evil man good for something not to go to plan for once.
The cry of voices turned Rosanna's attention back to the strange children on the beach. The two girls were next to the dwarf, slicing through his bonds with their small daggers. The other two were wading through the deep water, dragging the Telmarine boat behind them with the lead rope. They were still fully dressed and dripping wet, their damp hair clinging tightly to their foreheads.
The dwarf began to wake, spluttering astonishingly large amounts of salty water from his mouth. He sat up quickly and looked around curiously at the five faces that stared at him. "Drop him!" he raged, standing up slowly. "You could already see they were going to drop me! Who are you anyway?"
The four children exchanged amused glances. It was obvious that the girl who had been shooting the Telmarine soldiers in the boat was annoyed. "You could say thank you, at least," she retorted, slinging her bow into its place on her back. The eldest boy stepped forward. "My name is Peter, and these are my sisters, Lucy and Susan. He's my younger brother, Edmund." He motioned to each person as he introduced them. "And what about her?" asked the dwarf, looking over at Rosanna. Everybody stared at her and she wished she could sink through the ground. "I don't know," announced Lucy, thinking hard. "Do you think she got caught up in the magic at the train station?" she asked, tugging on Peter's arm. "Hush, Lu," he answered, pulling away from his younger sister. "Will you tell us who you are?" he asked suspiciously, coming closer, his hand on the hilt of his sword.
Rosanna looked around in bewilderment. "I am Princess Rosanna," she muttered finally, kicking the yellow sand with her boots. "Princess?" retorted the dwarf. "Look more like a runaway servant to me." It was true that with her dripping, dark curls, sunburnt face and cut, bruised arms, she did look rather dismal. And her ripped red tunic and battered doublet didn’t make her any better a sight. But that was no reason to talk like that. She made a face at him and turned her attention back to Peter. "I haven't heard of you before," he said curiously. "I haven't heard of you before either," she answered back sullenly. Edmund laughed. "You haven't heard of us? You must be joking! We're the Kings and Queens of Narnia!"
Rosanna started. “But- but you’re dead. Years and years ago! How have you come back? And so young, too,” she stuttered. “Years and years?” asked Susan. “Why, we’ve only been gone for hardly a year! Surely you must be mistaken!” Rosanna shook her head vehemently. ’Oh, no, you really have been gone for ages! The dwarf will agree,” she protested. The dwarf looked scornfully at her. “I do have a name just like the rest of you, you know. It’s Trumpkin. And yes, the girl’s right about you.”
The four siblings exchanged surprised glances. “I guess time goes differently in Narnia?” said Lucy, trying to find a conclusion to all this mess up. “Oh, never mind all this, let’s just hurry up and go!” said Edmund, also bored by this conflict. “We’ve spent enough time here already!”
Peter shook his head. “We have to find out why we were called here. Besides- Hey! Where are you going?” he cried, spotting Rosanna tramping quietly to the cliff-side, where the ruins of Cair Paravel stood. They all ran up to stop her. She turned sharply and angrily. “I have wasted enough of my time here already, so, if you please, I’ll be leaving. Thank you!” she said determinedly, trying to break away from the ring of children.
As she took one step away from them, a long sword swung ahead of her and blocked her path. The hot sun dancing on the blade burned her eyes. Slowly and deliberately, she turned to face Peter, who was holding the sword at her chest. With one finger, she gently lifted the blade out of the way. Peter moved the tip to point at her eye level. “Are you threatening me?” she asked, looking right into his face. “No. Of course you can go. But first you must tell us who you are and what you’re doing here.” She opened her mouth to say something biting, but choked it back down. She gazed back at him with narrowed eyes. She rolled her eyes and turned her back to him. Then, quick as a flash, she drew the silver sword from Edmund’s belt and turned on her heels, striking Peter’s blade deftly away. Peter looked at her in bewilderment. He had certainly not expected this, especially from a girl who looked much younger than him. He had not wished to hurt her, but it seemed now that a duel was his only choice.
He swung at her legs, but she jumped effortlessly over his blade and lunged at him swiftly. He had only enough time to block that near-fatal blow before she struck another. Rosanna could hear Lucy and Susan yelling at Peter to be careful, but he ignored their loud protests and cast another blow at her. Rosanna blocked it as easily as if this were just a game. Peter felt annoyed, both with himself and with her. It was obvious that he had expected to have her weaponless and trembling on her knees in a few seconds, but, evidently, this was not the case. Blows thundered down like heavy rain on a stormy evening and the click of metal against metal rung harshly in both their heads. But still, the fighting carried on.
“You’re very skilled,” said Rosanna, striking his blade with incredible speed. ’Who taught you?” She could never keep quiet for a moment, not even it the middle of a dangerous situation. Besides, it helped her keep her temper in check. “I taught myself,” cried Peter, ducking away from a vicious blow to his head. “What about you? Since when did Narnian princesses learn the art of warfare?” Rosanna waited several moments before answering him. “I taught myself too. One day, I’m going to fight in an epic battle, where we’ll slay all the Telmarines in this land and reclaim it for Aslan!” Telmarines! Who are they? thought Peter, but he ignored the question for a while. He had to concentrate on avoiding Rosanna’s deadly sword right now. “I don’t doubt you will,” he answered. “You’re an excellent fighter!”
The battle continued for several more minutes. Both children were quickly tiring out, especially Rosanna, who was by far the smaller of the two. But, in their pride, neither would admit defeat. As they fought, Rosanna had to fight back the red mist that threatened to impair her mind. When it descended, she felt as though she had no control over her actions and would not be able to stop herself from dealing a deadly blow. It terrified her and yet, she continued valiantly.
As the two wore out, their fighting became less and less impressive. Eventually, it reduced into nothing but a mock battle, each throwing slow, lazy strikes at each other. If either of them had wanted to, they could have easily injured the other, catching them off guard. However, neither of them appeared to want to. Even Lucy satisfied herself in watching admiringly and Susan finally put away her bow, assured that Rosanna was not going to kill her brother.
But Rosanna was a wily fighter and when she sensed Peter was beginning to wear out gradually, she began to deal her fast, dangerous strikes once again. She wanted to make sure he knew who she was. Poor Peter was forced to keep up with her, though his arms were like iron led and his head throbbing wildly. He just wished he had let Rosanna leave.
But just as he was about to admit defeat, Rosanna’s right foot fell through a hidden hole in the sand and she was thrown back heavily onto the compacted ground. Her sword was flung from her hand on impact and it fell several meters away. She scrambled to get up, as Peter closed in, his own weapon grasped tightly. She threw her head back and she shut her eyes a little, pretending to be in pain. She tried to rise fearfully, looking as though she couldn’t stand. Then, just at the right moment, she flew up and lunged at Peter, grasping his sword arm, and twisting it back tightly. He cried in pain, as Rosanna jarred the sword from his hand. He stumbled back, rubbing his sore wrist, half-thinking that his end had come.
He was pushed back, with no weapon to defend himself. He pressed himself against the rock-face, his eyes closed tightly, waiting for the fatal blow to be dealt. But it never came. Instead, what struck him was a small laugh. Peter opened his eyes a little to see what had happened. Rosanna was standing in front of him, grinning broadly at him, her sword still pointed into his chest. But she flung it skillfully into the air, where it turned several summersaults before she caught it deftly, the hilt now pointing towards him. Uncertain, he grasped the pommel and Rosanna let go. “I guess I lost,” he said, unable to think of anything more sensible to say. Rosanna shook her head. “No. You’ve just got a lot to learn, that’s all. Besides, that wasn’t a fair fight,” she explained, going and picking up Edmund’s sword from its resting place in the sand.
Peter looked at her ankle. “I hope you didn’t hurt your ankle,” he said, noticing she was limping a little. Rosanna laughed. “Oh, that! I hardly noticed it. I’ve certainly had worse injuries in my time.”
There was the sound of running feet and Lucy flung herself on Peter. “Oh Peter, are you all right? I thought she was going to kill you!” Lucy looked at Rosanna shyly, and the older girl smiled back at her. The others also came and gathered around Peter, asking if he had been hurt and was he all right? Rosanna stood outside the circle, looking on thoughtfully. When they had quietened down, she went up to Edmund and shyly handed him back his sword, apologising quietly. He took it stiffly and crammed it back into its sheath at his side. He was still annoyed at her for stealing it so easily from him and turned away. “But who are you?” asked Susan, swinging around to face her.
Ignoring her, Rosanna went to Peter and held out her hand. “I’ll tell you everything,” she said, ’if you’ll let me come with you.” Everyone looked at Peter to see what his answer would be. He grinned at her. “We’d be honoured to have you accompany us,” he said, shaking her hand. She smiled back. “So, we’re all friends, then?” He nodded. “Friends!”
The blazing sun was beginning to set over the far away hills. “We’d better make a fire and get something to eat,” announced Peter, looking over the calm bay. “It’ll get dark shortly.”
The six companions scrambled over the small cliff, yelling at each other when they were too slow and pushing when they dislodged small rocks. Rosanna did as Lucy had requested and climbed next to her to catch her if she slipped or fell. She already adored the small girl, who seemed so shy and afraid compared to her siblings. She smiled to herself sadly. They seemed so alike in many ways, and yet, so different.
Trumpkin, Peter and Edmund went off to collect wood for the fire. This was rather an easy task, as plenty of magpies and crows had built their nests in the fallen towers and crevasses. Sticks and twigs were scattered all over the stony ground. In fact, it was almost impossible to walk across the path and not see or step on one.
Meanwhile, the three girls scouted along the tree line, chattering companionably, looking for edible fruits, or anything else that might be of interest. Lucy climbed the apple tree she had discovered earlier and threw down hail storms of the ripest, biggest fruits she could find. Susan and Rosanna caught as many as they could and placed them carefully into the girls’ hats.
Finally, Susan yelled up to Lucy. “Lu, you can stop now! We’ve certainly got more than enough!” The young girl scrambled down, tearing her dress in the process, holding a small red apple in her hand. She munched it thoughtfully, while they explored the rest of the ruins.
“I wonder how Cair Paravel got ruined,” asked Lucy, throwing her apple core away. Rosanna looked grim. “I can tell you,” she said, staring out to the mountains. “It was a long time ago. Hundreds of years, in fact. The Telmarines were seeking a better future for themselves. A better land to live in. Then, one day, a child stumbled across a secret passageway to Narnia. When the Telmarines heard about it, they were thrilled. At once, many families packed up everything they owned and went through.
“Of course, the Narnians hated the idea of strange foreigners moving into their beautiful lands. I certainly don’t blame them. Many of them just moved further into the woods, hoping the Telmarines would just let them be. But the bravest Narnians gathered together an army, and led by mighty Aslan, they went into battle against the might of the Telmarines invaders right here at Cair Paravel. But, they lost. Until then, most of the Telmarines had lived at peace with the Narnians. But this revolt angered many people, and they set out to destroy them forever. And it continues to this day. Forests are being chopped down or burnt. Narnians are being imprisoned or killed. It’s terrible. And yet there’s nothing we can do about it.”
Lucy and Susan exchanged glances. “So that’s who these Telmarine people you keep talking about are. Invaders?” said Lucy, feeling that it was impossible someone would want to destroy a land this beautiful. “What about Aslan?” Susan asked curiously. “Surely he could do something about it!” Rosanna laughed sadly and sighed. “Aslan hasn’t been seen since the day his armies were crushed by the Telmarines. The worst thing is, no one even believes he exists any more. He has been turned into legend. Just like you lot and the Narnians.” Susan protested at once. “But we’ve only been gone a year! Not all that could happen in a year, could it?” Rosanna shook her head sadly. “No, you’re right. There’s much more to the story. But I think we should go join the boys now. It’s getting darker and I believe they’ve got a fire going.”
The trio rushed down the desolate cliff-side to where the boys had lit a cheery little fire. “I’m sorry,” apologised Lucy, handing Peter their hats full of fruit. “It was all we could find.” Peter patted his little sister on the head affectionately. “Don’t worry, Lu. We’ll make a fine, merry feast out of this!”
So, the happy group sat, toasting their frozen feet near the fire and finding out what a smoked apple tasted like. “So, Rosanna. You never really told us who you were,” began Peter, swallowing a mouthful of warm roasted apple. She smiled at them. “No, you’re right, I didn’t. Well, I’m not getting out of it this time, so I had better begin.” Everyone sat back comfortably, ready to hear the girl’s story.
Rosanna did the same, putting her hands comfortably behind her head and gazing up at the twinkling night sky. Everything, her entire life, returned in a mind-blinding flash. How, when he heard of the new heir to the throne, her cruel uncle, Miraz, had kidnapped her, and imprisoned her for nearly thirteen years. How he had, without any doubt from his small conscience, thoughtlessly signed his own niece's execution papers after the death of the King, so his usurped throne would be secure. How she had only just escaped her untimely execution using her quick wit and skill with a sword and, most importantly of all, how she had learnt that she had a younger brother, a true heir to the throne at last.
And thus, her tale began.