day 3: over and done

Gathering Circle
Lantern Waste

Peridot’s eyes follow his toward the tent and then go back to the Prince. She bows again. “Thank you, your highness. I want to do my part for their Majesties as well. They have been good to us beasts.”

Cor says, “I’m sure we — I’m sure we all want that.” He takes a breath. “Lord Peridan might be better to talk to.”

Peridan ducks out of the tent, rubbing his forehead for a moment before straightening his shoulders and walking toward the fire where the others are gathered.

Aliyah sits at the edge of the camp until the crowd starts to grow bigger. She makes her way towards the more familiar group and offers a nod of greeting.

Peridot’s ears prick toward the tent as the doorway rustles. She bows to the human and backs away from speaking distance with the Prince to remain on standby in case she is needed.

Cor glances over his shoulder when the Unicorn bows, and moves so that there is space on the log where he sits.

Megren stands over near the cookfire, a big basketful of lamb’s quarters in her arms, which a Faun is making good use of.

Caileana pads towards the gathering.

Lanisen is near Megren, holding an armful of late fresney and wild kale.

Peridan bows to the Prince and then looks around at each of those gathered near. “Good day, all of you.”

Skarlieth soars towards the circle from far overhead, landing on the outskirts of the gathering.

Peridot nods to each beast and person who comes to the Gathering. She remains quiet and waiting.

Bracken notes that Megren is preparing to cook and walks over to her. “My cousins brought fresh pork as well, or we can keep that for supper.”

Aliyah overhears Bracken and pads over. “Did you say pork?” She tries to offer a half-hearted grin to lighten the somber mood around the place. “Pretty sure all meats should be cooked and consumed with haste,” she teases.

Megren says, “Oh, good idea.” She straightens up to gauge the Beasts gathered there. “It seems like every morning more people pass by to ask for news. Rillus?” She looks at the Faun who is doing the bulk of the cooking, and he nods and inquires after where he can find the meat.

Kurl scratches his underarms, nervously minding his own business.

Lanisen steps back, out of Bracken’s way. He ducks his head to the dwarf.

Bracken looks at Aliyah with a wry grin. “Yeh wanted ta sample Madder pork.”

Caileana’s ear flicks from where she stands somewhat on the outskirts of the large group, with a few other Beasts. She catches Aliyah’s comment and makes a face at the idea of cooking meat.

Wilfry enters the clearing from the tree line, picking his way through the underbrush.

Skarlieth turns his head to examine the group as he picks his way around the edge. He pauses every once in a while to speak with other Beasts.

Qualmurk walks sullenly into the clearing and towards the gathered crowd.

Aliyah grins. “that I did, and since you said to not go there on a whim, what better place to try it than here.”

Chiltic buzzes around the nearest collection of flowers, happily feasting upon the nectar within.

Lanisen watches the Hummingbird curiously, his forehead furrowed slightly in confusion at the sight of flowers blooming in late Firstfall. His eyes shift to the Apple and Cherry dryads sitting nearby, and his face clears with comprehension.

Megren elbows him to point out a Centaur. Centaurs have not been /especially/ rare in the camp, nor were they at the castle, but apparently some things don’t get old.

Peridan stretches out his legs with a sigh and then takes a moment to look around the clearing, surveying those gathered beyond the circle near the fire.

Drune lopes towards the circle from the cliffs, fur matted with sweat. Upon seeing those gathered he slows and scans the crowd.

Lanisen follows Megren’s glance, then grins and glances away to avoid staring. “I wonder where the one who loaned me the cloak has got to,” he murmurs, turning to see if he’s anywhere near.

Wilfry pauses just inside the clearing and stands still with his neck drawn up long. His ears twitch this way and that as he assesses the activity within the camp.

Darrin ducks out of the councilling tent and looks around before wandering over to Megren and Lanisen.

Skarlieth notices Drune as he approaches. In a brief burst, he takes off and flies towards his friend, landing again nearby. “Drune. I had heard you were in the Waste.”

Wintermoor makes his way into the campgrounds, pausing first to get a sense of the camp and those milling about.

Bracken leaves Megren and Lanisen after telling them where the pork may be found. He walks over to sit by Peridan, eyeing him appraisingly.

Aliyah leaves Bracken and the humans to their cooking and wanders to her packmate’s side. “What have you been doing to get in that shape?” She looks curiously at his sweaty fur.

Peridan nods to Bracken in acknowledgement. “All provisioned?”

Megren follows his gaze. “What did he look like?”

Peridot polishes her horn against her flank.

Lanisen says, catching sight of Wintermoor, “Oh, there’s, that’s him over there by that oak.” He turns to ask Rillus where to put the greens, then says, gesturing at the tent, “I’ll just–”

Wilfry finishes scanning the crowd and walks toward the fire.

Drune’s ears flick towards the eagle as he lands nearby. “Skarlieth. ” He nods. “Indeed. I arrived a little after the… ” he pauses, frowning. “Disappearance.” Then to his packmate, he snorts. “I’ll worry about my ‘shape’. I have been searching. ”

Bracken says, “Yeah, we’re set for a few days yet if need be. My cousins brought some pork up from the holt along with other foodstuffs.”

Skarlieth dips his head. “Indeed… I expect you have had little more luck than Ulfden?” He nods towards Aliyah as well.

Aliyah snorts, trying not to laugh. “So you ran the entire waste then. Good job.” She turns serious. “Still nothing then?” She tilts her head, sighing.
Aliyah returns Skarlieth’s nod.

Megren does as he does so that she can follow after him and get an introduction. The route puts them quickly into Sir Darrin’s path.

Kurl asks, “How now? We’ve been just running about looking? Where’s the organisation? Is anyone heading this search effort?”

Peridan nods again. “Do thank them for me. Will they stay here tonight, or return home?”

Cor screws up his face at the Ape.

Darrin catches Megren’s eye and falls into step with her and Lanisen when he sees they’re moving with purpose through the crowd. “What’re we doing?”

Megren says, “Meeting a Centaur.”

Lanisen says, “Um, he’s– I borrowed a cloak from him, yesterday, I’m just gonna get it and return it.”

Bracken says, “They’ll head back. We can send a message if we need more from them.”

Aliyah nods, agreeing with him. “Petria and I went to the gardens where the castle used to be the other day too. Nothing there either. I don’t know what to think, but I’m not liking this at all.”

Drune shakes his head, frown deepening. “I have scoured the edge of the Moors. ” he snorts softly at Aliyah’s remark. “Nothing. No sign of any evil. ” he shakes his head. “It make no sense… ”

Cor asks of Peridan and Bracken, “Are we expecting to stay like this a good deal longer? All camped out here?”

Leon wanders into the clearing, but keeps near to the treeline, watching the assorted Narnians and humans.

Skarlieth nods. “And I have scanned the whole of the Waste, and some of the surrounding lands as well. I have seen nothing…”

Kurl says, “If there’s to be an, ahem, organized, search, then I think we’d better stay camped out here. It’s not central, I’ll grant, but it’s where we can have the best representation of all the interests.”

Darrin seems enthused by this idea.

Cor frowns at the Ape, who he didn’t ask.

Drune looks between his packmate at his friend before looking over the crowd. “I have half a mind to venture into the moors.” He pauses, as if considering his own suggestion. “I know it well enough.”

Wintermoor moves into the camp and begins to look for someone in authority. He notices the son of adam from the previous night and nods to him, if such a greeting can be seen in the hustle and bustle of the camp.

Megren follows Lanisen and Sir Darrin to the Centaur.

Skarlieth shakes his head slightly. “I would have seen them, unless they rode hard north. It was the first direction I scouted. I take it someone checked for scents at the mouth of the cave?”

Leon continues watching, only recognizing a few familiar faces. He waves a little to Aliyah and Lanisen if they ever happen to look his way.

Kurl says, “Perhaps before we set off anywhere, we should lay out, in short order, areas thoroughly searched.”

Aliyah looks between the two, frowning at the suggestion of traveling to the moors. “If you do that, you are not going alone. I know I don’t know them, but still. You are not going alone. Tempest would probably have the mind to kill you if you went there again.” To Skarlieth, she says, “I did not. I am not sure about others.”

Kurl hops up on a little rock, and says, “We should leave searching the Waste and Narnia proper to the locals, some of slower folk. You with speed and knowledge of the further lands could strike out in pairs. Flying folks, eagles, you know, could run messages.”

Darrin looks up at the centaur Lanisen is leading them to with interest.

Peridan is about to answer Cor when the Ape speaks, and then again. He pauses, then says firmly, but calmly, “We shall remain camped here until the messengers return with word from Curiate Tumnus. I expect that shall not take more than one or two more days. We shall continue to search, as we have been, in the meantime.”

Cor looses a breath, nodding. “That’s sense,” he agrees, though he seems a bit restless.

Leon pipes up, “I, ah, concur… Tumnus will know what’s best.”

Caileana parts from her conversation partners and wanders over to the Winterden Wolves.

Lanisen ducks into the tent and emerges again with Wintermoor’s cloak. It’s been brushed down and neatly folded and is in good condition. He heads toward the Centaur to return it, ducking his head politely in greeting and extending the bundle. “Thank you for, for lettin’ me use it last night, sir.”

Drune chuckles wryly, eyes still wandering those gathered. “No doubt, Aliyah. ” He pauses. “I just came from the mouth of the Cavern. Nothing. It is maddening. ” Seeing Caileana approach, he offers a nod. “Caileana.”

Aliyah dips her head in greeting to the Ulfden wolf. “Afternoon.”

Peridan nods in agreement with Leon’s words. “And as he is Their Majesties’ appointed regent when they are absent, he has the true authority to make such decisions.”

Caileana nods in return. “Hello Drune, Aliyah.”

Skarlieth also nods towards Caileana as she approaches.

Caileana says, “Skarlieth.”

Wintermoor nods to the two sons of Adam and daughter of eve. “You are welcome Son of Adam. I hope it was helpful to you.”

Lanisen confirms, ducking his head again, “It was, it’s real warm, sir. Um, these are my friends, Squire Megren and Sir Darrin.

Megren exclaims, “Morning!”

Kurl says, “It’s fine if we are to wait on the judgment of Tumnus, but there ought to be, ahem, contingency plans.”

Drune sits. “I take it you have little more news than the rest of us?” He asks somberly.

Darrin bows to the Centaur, a friendly smile on his face.

Kurl realizes no one in particular is listening, and hoots a little groan to himself.

Aliyah finally notices Leon and waves a paw in his direction. Her focus then returns to the wolves and eagle.

Caileana exhales. “Aside from what we found the first day, nothing new. Even those tracks are long gone by now. And I can’t find any clues roundabout where their trail originally vanished.”

Peridan holds up his hand in a calming gesture. “Peace, friend Ape. Much has been discussed, but we must not be hasty.”

Wintermoor takes the cloak back, bowing to bowing to the daughter of Eve and to Sir Darrin.

Skarlieth nods, expression grim.

Wintermoor says, “Good Morning, Daughter of Eve.””

Aliyah looks at her paws. “I keep traveling the same paths repeatedly thinking there might be something… Anything we may have possibly missed as well.”

Megren grins.

Caileana says, “We’ve had all our trackers on it, Hunters and Scouts alike, but nothing.”

Leon steps further into the crowd, seeking a good place to sit. He nods to the son of adam with blonde hair, as he settles on a log.

Wintermoor nods to Lanisen, congenially, “That it is. I am glad to hear that it was of use to you.”
Wintermoor looks to the sons and daughter of Eve, “Do you mark the stars in their dances in the celestial heavens?”

Megren’s brows lift, and she glances at Sir Darrin. “I don’t think like you mean. Sometimes we watch them.”

Darrin says, “I’m afraid I only have a very basic understanding of astronomy, sir.”

Skarlieth overhears just enough of the Centaur’s words to glance that way.

Drune lets his gaze fall. “The whole mess reeks of dark magic. ” he shakes his head. “It is the only thing that makes a sliver of sense to me. If they were taken, the youngest of both Ulfden and Winterden’s scouts would have picked up on it. Much more the veterans of both. ”

Kurl ape-crawls towards the wolves, his advice rejected by humans, just in time to hear Drune’s last remark.

Lanisen rubs his elbow and looks apologetic.

Caileana says, “I don’t know about dark magic, because it all seems tied to that Stag, and I didn’t get the feel of dark magic about him. But as far as what the signs would look like if they’d been taken, that’s what I’ve been saying all along.”

Leon turns to look over toward Drune. “On the contrary, I do not think that it is dark magic we are dealing with…”

Aliyah sits, her hackles rising a bit at the mention of dark magic. “I agree with Caileana… The way things became quiet and peaceful when the stag was near does not sound like dark magic to me… Though I am not sure what exactly it was.” She frowns and then notices the ape out of the corner of an eye. She turns her head and gives him a wolfish grin.

Kurl says, “So we’ve got two theories. Magic, not magic. If it’s not magic, Drune is quite right that one of you canines would have at least a vague notion.”
Kurl says, “But you mention that odd peace you all felt. Now I think all I felt was exhaustion, as apes have very weak chests, but it makes me wonder. Wasn’t one of the fauns playing his pipe at just that moment? Pipes and magic could go together.”

Peridan turns away from the broader conversation to ask Cor, quietly, “Have you eaten yet, Your Highness?”

Skarlieth’s attention is torn now between the Centaur and the discussion. “Not all magic is dark…” He stops when the Ape continues, eyes narrowing slightly.

Caileana says, “It’s hard to forget the feel of dark magic.” She glances at the approaching Ape, tilting her head.

Leon stands up suddenly. “Aye, t’was me. Are you suggesting *I* spirited our monarchs away with… With… *Dark magic*?!?”

Wintermoor nods to the replies of the three before him. “I do not fault you. Of late have been constellations in the skies, the Hart and the ship. There were those of us within the counsel who believed the signs to be signs of prosperity. But now the ship draws near to the Hart, even mingling, and as such I have begun to reconsider these signs, for I fear they may speak of our present time and of the vanishing of their Majesties.”

Caileana looks up with a frown. “Peace, Leon. No one who knows anything about Fauns would accuse one of you of such a thing.”

Kurl says, “No no. Just that two things happening at the same place and time often have a similar cause. Perhaps someone *else* used your pipes for magic.”

Skarlieth’s attention switches fully from the Ape and Faun to the Centaur, and he takes a few steps in that direction to hear better.

Peridot snorts at the discussion of evil magic and paws the earth with a hoof.

Cor shakes his head distractedly at Lord Peridan, his concentration on the conversation going on nearby. He looks nervous and a little agitated, and he ducks his head when the Faun rises suddenly to raise his voice.

Kurl asks, “And the raptor’s right about magic. It’s not all bad, though my experience with the good sort is rather smaller than the other way. Have we anyone versed in good magic who could do a sort of, say, magical investigation?”

Aliyah now catches the centaur’s words and glances that way uncertainly. She remains silent.

Drune eyes the Ape as he approaches, his frown deepening a hair. “Indeed, once felt it is rarely forgotten. ” His eyes dart between the growing number of being chiming in. “Though, I find it hard to chew that our Kings and Queens would be pulled away from their Kingdom by anything other than foul magic. ”

Megren frowns, and she glances at her companions again. “…What do you mean, sir?”

Darrin glances at Megren, a brow raising with interest. “The constellations I know of, but not what their appearances might portend.”

Leon hmmphs. “I don’t know about that. I have been playing for decades. Never had anyone use my music for anything… Evil, before.”

Lanisen asks, “They can, they can mean different things?”

Kurl says, “Perhaps it’s no good to bother about what sort of magic it was? If the wolves can’t smell it, it’s magic. But weren’t they brought here by magic, from Spare ‘Oom? Perhaps they thought that the foul magic.”

Caileana tells Drune, “I don’t think we can be sure that they aren’t in the kingdom. What if they caught their prey and just, wished to be invisible and away from the pressures of ruling for a time?”

Kurl says, “Well, that’s fair, Leon. I don’t know things about magic, or pipes, or barely about fauns.”

Peridan presses his lips together as the talk of magic grows. After a moment, he stands, lifts his hand again, and says, a little louder, “Friends.”

Drune looks over to Caileana, expression turning doubtful. “I mean no disrespect to that notion, but certainly you know well enough the prowess of both Ulfden’s and Winterden’s trackers.” He pauses. “It would be an impressive feat to say the least… ” His ears perk up at Peridan’s voice.

Skarlieth focuses on Peridan.

Kurl looks to Peridan, and rests on his knuckles.

Caileana is standing beside Aliyah and Drune, in amongst all the rest of the crowd.

Lanisen half-turns away from Wintermoor and his friends to see what Peridan is about to say.

Aliyah glances from Peridan to the centaur and back again.

Leon is seated on a log in the midst of the crowd.

Pheeobe walks into the gathering circle with her ears pressed down to her head. She makes her way over to Caileana and sits.

Peridot gives Lord Peridan her undivided attention.

Cor frowns again and looks up at Peridan.

Peridan keeps his hand lifted and his voice calm but firm as he says, “None of us, at this time, can say what has happened, and yet we are concerned, both for Their Majesties and for ourselves, and so our urge is to try–by guessing, if no other means is available–to know better. But I would beg you to use care as you do so, for your words, when spoken without knowledge, have the power to cause fear and disorder among your fellow creatures. And I believe–indeed, I hope–that very few of us have experienced enough of the magic of evil to speak with knowledge on that count. So again, I beg you, take care.”

Drune’s expression reveals little at Peridan’s words, save for a nod. At hearing the Fauns speak though, his muzzle twitches as he frowns.

Kurl mumbles “I’m … with you … the magics. … … things.”, to Drune.

Wintermoor nods to Sir Darrin’s reply and Lanisen’s question, “Yes, Son of Adam. As ships pass from harbor to harbor bringing goods, so the constellation may portend prosperity for the land. The constellation of the Hart has not been seen in many years. And when it last was, the stag appeared.” He pauses to see if they mark all that he is telling them.

Megren says, “So if it’s meeting with the ship, wouldn’t that be a good thing? The stag brings prosperity, then.”

Caileana’s muzzle wrinkles slightly.

Peridan, in the general quiet after he has finished speaking, is able to overhear some of the Centaur’s words. He turns and then stands still as he listens.

Pheeobe listens to Lord Peridan carefully and then looks to Caileana with a frown.

Darrin nods to show he’s following the Centaur’s explanation.

Lanisen looks back to Wintermoor, listening with a small frown.

Leon watches the centaur.

Bracken addresses the centaur. “What happened last time the Stag appeared?”

Drune’s eye dart to the Ape as he mutters something to him. He pulls his head back, eyes narrowing and expression darkening as he once more looks the ape over. “And what might /you/ know?”

Aliyah smiles at Pheeobe but does not speak. She listens to the centaur closely.

Kurl mumbles, this time to himself, and retreats a half-step.

Skarlieth glances towards Drune at his tone, glancing between the Wolf and the Ape.

Leon looks at the ape.

Wintermoor says, “So thought many, Daughter of Eve. Yet as ships come into harbor, they also depart. Such is the legend of one such ship who sailed past the edge of the world bearing those who would not return. It has come into my mind that some may have read the signs awrong.”

Kurl mumbles “… … dabbled in a … magics, … know. … anything really spectacular.”, to Drune.

Leon can’t help but ask, “Are you suggesting this was foretold?”

Kurl chuckles awkwardly, then coughs, paw to chest.

Megren’s smile falls, and she looks more cautious now.

Darrin’s eyes widen.

Lanisen’s eyes sharpen with recognition and he looks quickly at Megren.

Peridan’s face grows grave, and he begins making his way slowly through the crowd toward where the Centaur stands.

Aliyah takes in a sharp breath.

Pheeobe ears prick at the words of the centaur and her eyes widen.

Peridot’s ears prick forward toward the centaur.

Drune’s expression darkens further, his jaw clenching as the ape continues his muttering. He looks between Kurl and those closing in on the Centaur before uttering a harsh mutter in return.

Bracken walks at Peridan’s side.

Wintermoor turns to the other who have now gathered to listen, “It is stated that the stag did indeed bring grant wishes to those caught him.” He address the Dwarf’s Question.

Drune mumbles “… … a fool”, to Kurl.

Skarlieth shifts from one foot to the other, casts a last look towards Drune, and focuses on the Centaur.

Wilfry shuffles his hooves nervously in place.

Caileana keeps one ear swiveled towards the conversation between Drune and the Ape, but most of her attention on the Centaur speaking and those flocking around him. She glances at Pheeobe in return.

Wintermoor turns to the Faun, “There was no record of it being fortold, Master Faun. Nor has any centaur in living memory. No, I am– I am more concerned about what it foretells yet. What it indicates about the lack of tracks left, and what it implies about the time until their return, should they even return.”

Kurl mumbles “… now? I … … this is going. … … Magic …”, to Drune.

Drune’s mouth opens a bit at the Centaurs last words, concern crossing his expression as he mumbles something to himself before shooting the Ape a glare.

Leon frowns, not liking that too much. “Thank you… Surely they will return, though.”

Drune mumbles “Lion help us if … … … return…”, to Drune.

Bracken pales at these words. “‘Should they even return?'” he sputters.

Skarlieth grows very still.

Cor stands up, looking at Sir Peridan, his mouth hanging a little open.

Aliyah lets out a puplike yip in surprise.

Lanisen rubs a hand over his mouth, his face crumpling a bit.

Peridan’s jaw tenses, but he holds out his hand to indicate to Bracken to be still. He watches the Centaur carefully as he assesses the meaning of his words.

Peridot drops her head. Her leonine tail slows to a halt.

Bracken clasps his hands behind his back.

Kurl scratches his underarm.

Megren’s expression registers a pale shock.

Leon sighs despondently.

Pheeobe eyes drop to the ground and she begins shaking her head.

Peridan clears his throat and speaks to the Centaur. “You said you are concerned, friend. How certain are you of your new reading of these stars?”

Darrin swallows, his eyes flicking from Peridan to the Centaur.

Drune clamps his jaw shut, eyes locked on the Centaur as he listens.

Megren mumbles “… … story, the … doesn’t return until the … of the …”, to Darrin.

Lanisen lowers his hand and glances at Megren, picking up enough of this for comprehension. He looks silently devastated, and his eyes dart from Narnian to Narnian.

Wilfry’s posture grows rigid and he is perfectly still, save for the frantic twitching of his ears.

Bracken notes the whispering of the Archenlanders, but waits silently for the centaur’s response.

Kurl says, “Since guessing was ruled out a few minutes ago, I’d say he’d better be rather certain.”

Darrin nods to Megren.
Darrin mumbles “That’s, yeah, … think …”, to Megren.

Leon clasps his hands together, his normally cheerful demeanor no longer evident. He watches the Archenlanders briefly, before turning his attention back to the centaur.

Cor replies to the Ape with a little shortness, “It’s hardly the same thing, I should think.”

Pheeobe looks back up and transfers weight from one paw to another.

Lanisen glances back at Cor.

Aliyah lets out a soft growl, glaring at the ape.

Aslan’s round and deep voice fills the clearing. “Peace, dear ones.”

Skarlieth’s head whips around towards the voice. His eyes get wide.

Peridan snaps to attention and turns in the direction of the voice.

Wintermoor looks at the Narnians assembled with sorrow in his eyes mixed with his usually grave manner. “I have spoken with fellow members of the heard…” He stops as Aslan appears, bowing deeply.

Kurl bites back his harsh words for the son of Adam, and awkwardly cranes only his neck to look at the lion.

Drune’s ears flicker towards the Ape again, his claw extending and digging into the ground as he hears his him speak. His hackles are now slowly raising and it looks like he is about to lose his temper when a voice knocks the breath right out of him. His hackles instantly lower and his ears flatten as his head whips around to see the source.

Peridot’s head snaps up and her leonine tail wags with joy. Her ears are perked up.

Leon looks toward the voice, breathing in sharply.

Lanisen draws a quick, almost painful breath at the voice. He turns, searching desperately, and reaches out for Megren. When he finds the Lion, he goes very still.

Pheeobe’s eyes dart to Aslan and her tail begins to wiggle a bit as her eyes well.

Aliyah relaxes, though her eyes widen at the appearance of Aslan. She lowers her head.

Peridan’s shoulders relax again almost instantly, and he breathes in quiet relief, “Aslan.”

Bracken draws in his breath, then drops to one knee.

Caileana’s ears stand up straight at the voice, and she turns her head to find it, going very still when she sees who it belongs to.

Cor stands up immediately, turning in a circle to find the source of the voice. He stops when his eyes land on the Lion, looking a little shame-faced.

Wilfry skitters awkwardly backward and to one side so that he can see.

Darrin gets a joyous smile on his face as he recognizes the voice. He turns, bowing deeply.

Leon immediately scrambles up to his hooves from his seat on the log, and bows low, reverently.

Kurl scratches his underarm.

Peridot gracefully dips her head in a low bow, lower than even what she had given the Prince. Her tail still wags in excitement, spoiling the nobility of her gesture.

Megren is much more confused than Lanisen is, not having known the voice. She turns to find the source of it and then she takes a step backward, brows rising. Seeing the knight bow, she quickly does the same, letting Lanisen have her arm even as she does.

Skarlieth bows like the others, glancing up as if to confirm what he saw in the middle.

Pheeobe bows down very low.

Aliyah rises slowly to her paws in order to offer a proper bow.

Lanisen, quietly and a little shakily, gets to his knees.

Drune follows the others, bowing deeply.

Kurl squats his knees to the ground, looking vaguely off to the side, measuring the distance to the wood.

Peridan bows together with those around him.

Caileana finally catches her breath and hastily bows her head.

Wilfry eventually notices those around him bowing and bends his neck toward the Lion.

Aslan walks through the crowd, touching his nose to some of those who seem weary and afraid. His warm breath seems to carry in it strength and calm. As he walks, he speaks softly, “Rise, all of you, so that we may talk. Who can tell me the prophecy which foretold your Kings and Queens?” His voice is low and deep, almost a purr.

Wintermoor rises from his bow, “Hail Aslan.” There is a look of love and fierce pride on his normally solemn face.

Bracken rises and clears his throat. “I can, Sir.”

Skarlieth’s beak moves, but he doesn’t actually make any sound as he straightens, now staring at the Lion.

Drune slowly rises, his wide eyes never leaving the Aslan. His mouth remains shut.

Aslan inclines his head to the Dwarf in invitation. “Son of Earth.”

Peridot rises from her bow, standing straight. Her tail still wags as though she can’t contain her excitement.

Lanisen gets back to his feet with some difficulty, shivering with pent-up joy and fear. He doesn’t look away from the Lion, even when Bracken speaks.

Aliyah stands to her full height and remains silent. Once again, she is in awe.

Leon feels refreshed and calm, and he stands, watching Aslan with awe. The faun feels almost inspired to play his pipes, but refrains, out of respect for the moment.

Bracken clasps his hands behind his back again, possibly in an attempt to hide their shaking. Where before the posture made him appear martial, he now looks like nothing so much as a reciting schoolboy. “When Adam’s flesh and Adam’s bone sits at Cair Paravel in throne, the evil time will be over and done.”

Megren reaches down to help Lanisen up, her hand trembling under his elbow.

Pheeobe smiles widely and wipes away her teary eyes with her paw only to look back at Aslan with warm eyes.

Cor rubs the back of his head, eyes on the ground.

Peridan straightens and listens quietly as Bracken speaks with the Lion. As his aide recites, he smiles faintly and dips his chin in acknowledgement.

Kurl winces as the words are recalled, but then opens his eyes and sighs.

Wilfry lifts his head again and watches Aslan’s progress with much excitement, if not much understanding.

Caileana presses against her packmate comfortingly, watching the interaction between Bracken and the Lion.

Aslan rumbles, “Yes. That is the one. I see many of you are familiar with it. Tell me, then, do you trust it?”

Wintermoor listens the Dwarf repeats the prophecy well known to him.

Leon ventures to reply, slowly, “I trust it…” He looks around a little, after he speaks.

Bracken’s bushy brows push together. “Well yes. I mean, they came. The Witch’s reign ended. It’s not much trust anymore when it’s already happened though, is it Sir?”

Skarlieth whispers the last few words to himself a few times before bowing his head.

Kurl looks at the ground while he throws a paw in the air. “I trust, it too, if you please.”
Kurl says, “”Seeing, as the dwarf points out, it’s happened, and all.””

Aliyah nods slowly, her tail wagging lazily behind her.

Drune nods after a beat, swallowing.

Caileana’s nod verges on being more of a bow.

Lanisen watches silently as Aslan speaks to the Narnians. He reaches without thought for Megren’s hand.

Wintermoor speaks slowly. “Sire, how can it but be anything but true. It was you who brought myself along with many others back to life that had been turned to stone. I cannot doubt it.”

Peridot tilts her head in a questioning way, “Hasn’t it already been fulfilled? It isn’t hard to trust history we saw happen with our eyes.”

Peridan looks up at the Lion and is still for a moment as the others speak. Then he repeats, quietly, “Over and done.”

Skarlieth looks towards Peridan and nods, still wordless.

Pheeobe looks at everyone as they talk and then glances back at Aslan.

Leon nods again.

Megren closes her fingers over his.

Kurl nods.

Aslan’s gaze shifts over each of the speakers, solemn and unchanging. He stops on the Lord Peridan, and he dips his head to acknowledge the implication of his repetition. “And have you not lived in a time of great peace? Has King Peter not secured your borders and waylaid those that would attack you? Have King Edmund and Queen Susan not given you good allies and great ships? Has Queen Lucy not sown among you honesty and gladness? Why does your talk portend further evil?”

Drune’s ears to flatten further, if that is even possible and he almost seems to shrink at the Lion’s words. A look of shame crosses his expression.

Peridot ohs softly as she gets it. Her eartips blush.

Aliyah rests her head on Drune’s back becoming a bit teary.

Leon smiles at mention of Queen Lucy. He nods his head as the Lion speaks, listening intently to His words.

Pheeobe smile fades as her ears grow pink.

Bracken tilts his head slightly, as though he knows he’s offering the wrong answer. “Because we’re worried for them, Sir.”

Darrin looks at Megren and Lanisen, and then out over the assembled Narnians before turning his gaze back to Aslan. He cannot seem to help smiling with his eyes upon Aslan.

Lanisen shifts slightly and swallows. He looks relieved when Bracken speaks.

Cor asks, “So, they /are/ coming back, then, Sir?”

Peridan draws a sharp breath, but is quiet, watching Aslan, as he waits for an answer.

Leon shifts his glance toward Cor when he speaks. “I believe they will,” he says softly, more to himself than anyone else.

Aliyah looks to the prince with an unreadable expression. She mouths the words ‘I don’t think so’ without realizing it, though it’s more to herself than anyone else.

Pheeobe glances at Aliyah and then to the prince.

Wintermoor waits as well for Aslan’s answer.

Aslan breathes, “Ah.” His great eyes grow sad, and he looks at them each in turn again, seeming to feel with them their hopes and apprehensions, and the pangs of their great love for the good monarchs so lately departed. “No,” he replies. “No, they will not return, not in your time. They have done their part for Narnia, and now they must go on to other tasks outside of this World. I do not say you should not mourn, for I see that you loved them well, and it was right that you did.”

Skarlieth closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, wings tightening against his sides.

Bracken presses his eyes shut, hard, against the words, but only for a moment. The need to keep his gaze on the Lion seems to overcome any other urge.

Peridan lets his breath out and looks down, closing his eyes for just a moment. But then he nods and breathes in again, steadily, lifting his head and squaring his shoulders.

Wintermoor bows his head at Aslan’s words, “So it is true then.”

Drune releases a breath, looking as if he just got kicked in the stomach. He eventually finds his composure and simply nods, looking between his fellow Narnians now.

Pheeobe leans a little on Caileana as her eyes well with tears again.

Aliyah’s ears flatten at these implications, and she looks down for a moment trying to regain composure.

Megren pulls her lips in and her hand tightens around Lanisen’s, a tear rolling down her cheek. She looks as if she would like to speak, but seems unable to open her mouth.

Wilfry’s neck droops, but he tilts his head so he is still looking up at Aslan, sad and confused.

Leon nods his head, his shoulders sagging. But only for a moment. He looks up, gazing upon the Lion once more.

Caileana sits down heavily at this news. She noses Pheeobe, her golden eyes a well of surprise bordering on incomprehension.

Peridot touches her flank against the closest creature to her, seeking comfort in the closeness and bows her head, unable to cry just yet.

Lanisen’s eyes well up. He bows his head and covers his mouth with his free hand, drawing a difficult breath. His grip on Megren’s hand tightens in return.

Kurl scratches his underarm.
Kurl asks, “If you please, then, then how will there be any order, with no kings or queens?”

Leon shoots the ape a sharp look. “He has His plan, my friend ape. That I am sure of.”

Darrin reaches for Megren’s other hand, swallowing hard.

Skarlieth glances towards the Faun and says quietly, “That does not mean He will be angered by the asking.”

Peridan looks around at those gathered, and then back to the Lion. “What should we do, Aslan?”

Aslan replies to the Faun and the Ape and the Son of Adam, “King Peter and Queen Susan and King Edmund and Queen Lucy have given you peace, and prosperity, and good counsel, and many honest Narnians have lived to see what makes a wise and kind ruler, and what makes a wicked one. You are now your own people and it is yours to choose how you may be governed yet.”

Leon nods at the eagle, briefly. “True enough, I suppose,” he agrees… The faun looks upon the Lion once more, and he nods again. “Yes, sir.”

Caileana gathers her courage. “Sir, does that mean you want us to choose our own Kings and Queens now?” Her voice wavers slightly, but she keeps her head held high.

Aliyah looks from Caileana as she speaks and then back to Aslan.

Pheeobe lets the tears fall freely but she waits for Aslan’s response while taking quick glances at Caileana.

Bracken has released his hands from behind his back and stands now with them clenched at his sides. His expression is bleak, but he still drinks in the sight of the Lion.

Lanisen swallows and swipes away an escaped tear, fixing his eyes again on Aslan.

Peridan clasps his hands behind his back and nods his head once.

Aliyah moves to Pheeobe’s other side, leaning against the other wolf.

Leon is himself relaxed and calm now. The faun is not quite smiling, yet he seems to feel a certain thrill at being in Aslan’s presence.

Pheeobe glances at Aliyah and leans back appreciatively.

Peridot’s ear flick. She raises her head to ask. “Govern ourselves like the herds and packs do?”

Cor sinks back down onto his seat, looking tired and homesick and sad.

Aslan inclines his head at the Wolf. The mist of the morning, which never fully lifted, seems to sink down again and hold them. “If you wish for guidance in the decision before you, look to what you loved in your kings and queens, and seek it out in your new rulers. Look to what you found ill in the witch, and deny it power.” His voice grows lower and rounder at the end, rumbling deep, almost reverberating.

The mist closes in, and the whiteness of it rolls in with Lion’s yellow brightness, swirling in a glorious splendour which gathers all together and embraces the scattered company, and then is gone. Overhead, the autumn sky is crisp and blue. The air is chill. The clearing is silent.

Caileana stares as the mist shifts and Aslan vanishes before their eyes.

Lanisen draws a breath and takes a small quick step forward before Aslan is quite gone. He ducks his head and swallows painfully.

Skarlieth watches as the mist swirl in and stares at the empty place for a few moments.

Bracken falls to his knees with a soft cry, as though a cord holding him upright has been cut. His head drops onto his chest.

Leon sighs, almost dreamily, as the mist gathers, and then Aslan disappears. He is still, for what seems an eternity.

Wilfry blinks at the mist, and then the brightness, and then the spot where Aslan stood. When he shifts, his legs are wobbly, like a fawn’s.

Skarlieth bows his head, lost in thought as he picks his way to the edge of the gathering.

Pheeobe’s ears rove around following her eyes, searching for one last sight or ringing note from Aslan’s voice. After a moment, it hits her that he is gone and she begins to cry quietly into Aliyah’s fur.

Aliyah digs her claws into the earth as a shudder courses through her body. She bites her tongue to keep a mournful howl from emerging.

Peridan closes his eyes and presses his lips together, standing still.

Leon eventually stirs from his spot, blinking as he looks around, as if seeing the others in the clearing for the very first time.

Peridot’s tail stops swishing once the Lion departs, going still. She drops her head to cry, at last able to. Her green eyes weep crystaline tears.

Darrin inhales sharply when it becomes clear Aslan is, indeed, gone. He puts a hand over his mouth.

Bracken’s shoulders shake with silent sobs.

Megren’s hand slips from Sir Darrin’s hand to the small of his back, her other hand still in Lanisen’s, though it is outstretched now, to remain so. Her face twists with uncertainty, and she looks between her companions to assess their conditions.

Peridan opens his eyes again and places one hand on Bracken’s shoulder. He remains quiet as he surveys the others within the camp.

Bracken lurches to his feet at the touch as though scorched and dashes his hand across his eyes. He looks around the camp and draws several unsteady breaths.

Cor looks down at his hands on his knees, and then with a breath he rises to go meet Peridan. He clasps the Lord’s upper arm, and looks out across the rest of the camp, most of the Beasts gathered there people he does not know. He stops at a group of courtiers and exchanges a few quiet words with them, and then goes off toward where the Faun had prepared the vegetable and pork stew. Silently, he begins to dish up portions of it into various bowls and hand them out to those who look able to concentrate on eating.

Aliyah turns to Pheeobe and Caileana, placing a paw over one of Pheeobe’s as she does so. “I did not know I could miss those I have barely known,” she says softly.

Lanisen turns slightly to face his friends, his head still lowered, and looks at them from under his shaggy fringe. There are tears in his eyes and he is still trembling, but there’s an odd sort of light in his face, gladness mixed in with pain. He squeezes Megren’s hand and reaches out to Sir Darrin as well.

Peridan nods once in approval at Cor as he passes. He watches the Prince set to work, and then turns to check on Bracken. “All right?”

Bracken shakes his head. “I need something to do. Tell me what’s needed.”

Darrin leans into Megren’s hand and reaches back to squeeze Lanisen’s outstretched arm. He looks…not off balance, entirely, but certainly thrown into a confused mix of emotions.

Megren mumbles “We should let them mourn among Narnians.”, to Lanisen and Darrin.
Megren mumbles “… should … … … … Narnians.”, to Lanisen and Darrin.

Lanisen nods. He glances back to the place Aslan disappeared, and to Prince Cor.

Caileana rubs a paw at her face. “I have not known any other rulers in my lifetime,” she tells Aliyah softly. “I don’t know what to make of a Narnia without our Kings and Queens.”

Leon looks around. He seems at peace, if sad, as he makes his way toward Cor. “Do you require any assistance, young Prince Cor? Certainly if two dish it out, the stew can be served that much faster.”

Darrin mumbles “Probably, yes, might be best.”, to Megren and Lanisen.
Darrin mumbles “… yes, might … best.”, to Megren and Lanisen.

Megren looks at the Prince as well, uncertain.

Peridot lips the grass at her hooves, but has no appetite. She starts to head to the southern end of the Gathering Circle, weaving around those likewise grieving. She stops near Lanisen to look up at him with tears falling down her long muzzle and nods to him. She says something to him in a low whisper and then continues on.
Peridot mumbles “Even if you doubt what I told you, the Lion doesn’t lie.”, to Lanisen.
Peridot mumbles “… if … doubt what … told … the Lion doesn’t …”, to Lanisen.

Caileana watches Pheeobe go, her gaze troubled.

Cor nods to the Faun, handing him a couple of bowls and starting a kind of assembly line in that way, with Rillus joining them to dish out the stew, and the Prince and scarved Faun going back and forth between stew-pot and Narnians.

Peridan nods once more. “Gather the messengers still within the camp. Many here will tell their herds and packs what has happened, but the Guard and other Narnians who live near must be told.” He breathes in and out and continues, “And we must send word to Cair Paravel, or if they have already begun a journey here, meet them on the road.”

Aliyah paces in tight circles.

Lanisen turns toward Peridot as she nears them. He meets her eyes, bewildered and searching, then lowers his head to her.

Peridot says, “I will tell Un’Aireken herd, Sir.”

Bracken nods and turns away, then hesitates and turns back to Peridan. “Sir…”

Leon fills one bowl after another, and starts handing them out, to whomever has an appetite.

Peridan says to the Unicorn, “Thank you.” He seems about to say something else, but then stops and asks Bracken, “Yes?”

Bracken is clearly still struggling with emotion, but he draws close to Peridan and lowers his voice.

Caileana perks up her ears as the blond lord talks about who needs to be informed, and she gathers herself, giving a shake of her fur. She looks to Aliyah and Drune. “I should – I should go find the Alphas. They need to know.”

Bracken mumbles “… know we’re all … … … thinkin’ … yet, … least … … but I’m … if … … ta go telling … right … … Before we have … plan. … There’s the … to … … … be … … … … the … … … … … we’ve … enemies, to … nothing of … … … panic from … people. … I … … … … … folk … but…”, to Peridan.

Aliyah nods. “And Drune and I need to discuss when we need to head back to Winterden… Though right now, I personally do not feel much like traveling. Sleep still isn’t going to come easy for a while, is it.”

Megren tugs Lanisen’s hand and gives him a searching look.

Peridan leans down to listen to Bracken and then nods, straightening and speaking loudly enough to address the camp. “My friends.”

Caileana sighs, nodding at Aliyah in agreement. “Yeah, for me neither. Let me know what you two decide, all right? I’d like to say goodbye before you go.”

Leon turns, his attention on Peridan now.

Peridot bows in the direction of the Lords, about to depart for the Cail. She pauses to hear what Lord Peridan has to say.

Aliyah responds to Caileana, “Of course. There are some I’d like to see before we go as well.” She sighs. “For now, I think I’m going to go to the thicket where it is quiet… Be alone for a bit.”

Lanisen turns back to Megren. He nods.

Megren starts to pull both Sir Darrin and Lanisen away, but she hesitates when Lord Peridan addresses the group again.

Caileana nods her understanding to Aliyah. “Rest well, then, when you can.” She glances over to the lord when he seems to be preparing to speak.

Aliyah starts to head away but stops when Peridan addresses them.

Peridan says, “You will most of you, I have no doubt, have friends and kindred you must speak with, now, of this news. Many have been worried, and we will need the help of all to determine what we must do next. I will urge you only to remember what Aslan has said to us–all of it–when you speak with your fellow Narnians. We must help each other now, and continue to do so after word reaches Cair Paravel and the rest of Narnia. If there are questions, or fear, or doubt, please tell those you speak to that I and others will be here if they wish to come and speak about what has happened. And if you or they need help, send word to us.”

Leon nods. “Sensible, certainly.”

Bracken presses his lips together as though this is not what he would have had Peridan say, but he turns and begins gesturing to the messengers to join him a little space away.

Aliyah nods absently in response to Peridan before walking away with her tail down.

Caileana bows her head and weaves her way over to speak to Peridan briefly.
Caileana mumbles “… lord. Caileana of Ulfden. … will take … to … … of my pack of … events, but … … who I should … … available … … I’m afraid … don’t … … …”, to Peridan.

Megren takes a breath, nodding, and then tugs at her companions again.

Leon makes his way toward Peridan as well. “I suppose I can carry the news to Bergdale… T’will be a sad day there, I think.”

Lanisen follows, glancing back, but unresisting.

5 to 10 minutes

Wilfry’s head droops just a little, but he nods. “Yes, Sir. I saw them before, the night of the hunt. I’ll tell them.”

Leon nods to Peridan once again. He looks the son of adam over carefully. “I am curious, sir. Do you work at Cair Paravel?”

Cor starts walking toward his tent.

Lanisen breaks off from his companions before they are quite out of sight and doubles back. He hesitates on the edge of the camp, searching, then begins after the crown prince, jogging a little to catch up. “Your highness?” he asks softly when he is near enough.

Peridan says, “Often, yes. I have command of Their Majesties’ army, so when the army is at home, I am as well.”

Cor turns to see who’s calling him, and looks surprised and relieved to see Lanisen. “Hello, yes?”

Bracken sighs. “Than you Wilfry. I’m sorry. You’ve perhaps the hardest task.” He looks into the sky, after the Eagle he has sent to tell Tumnus, and shakes his head.

Wilfry straightens up again. “It’s all right, Sir. Don’t worry. I’ll do well for them.” He dips his head, and then turns and bounds off into the forest.

Lanisen says, “Hey, hello.” He looks like he hasn’t really thought this through, and bows. “Do you want to come with us, your highness?” he asks, tipping his head toward the path south. “If, if you want to be alone I quite understand that, but…”

Leon nods once again. “It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, then, Sir… Despite the circumstances.”

Cor says, “Oh, I,” He looks over his shoulder at the others, uncertain, then looks back to Lanisen. “I, yes, all right, I would like to, if it isn’t any trouble.”

Peridan says, “And yours, friend…?”

Lanisen says, shaking his head quickly, “No, of course not.” He pauses, studying Cor. “If you’re wantin’ to stay, I’ll stay with you.”

Leon says, “Leon, of Bergdale. Though I frequently reside in Sted Cair with my uncle Cornelius.”

Cor speaks distractedly, still, glancing around at everyone else. “I’m not –” he hesitates, and then confesses, “I’m not sure what I should do.”

Peridan says, “Well met, Leon of Bergdale.” He offers a nod, and then moves off to attend to others with in the camp.

Leon takes up his satchel, and looks around. “I don’t think anyone really knows what to do,” he says, to no one in particular.

Lanisen nods, following his glance. “I think–” He pauses. “I think there’s not much you can do just now, your highness,” he finally says. “I think this is… I think they need some time, right now. I think you do too.”

Peridan approaches Cor and Lanisen and bows to the Prince. “Your Highness.”

Cor rubs the back of his head, nodding and looking a little lost. He turns when Peridan approaches. “Sir.”

Messengers deployed, Bracken presses a knuckle between his brows, trying to stave off a headache.

Lanisen straightens slightly as Peridan approaches. He bows, keeping his eyes down.

Leon doesn’t quite know what to do with himself at the moment. So he sits on another log, looking lost, just watching the others. “Headache?” he asks Bracken.

Bracken looks to Leon and nods. “Thank you for the music. I don’t reckon there’s many here who’ll soon forget that.”

Peridan studies him. “You have done good work today, Sir–work to be proud of–but I beg you will rest a little now.”

Lanisen relaxes slightly.

Cor nods again, a little more confidently this time. “I will, Sir.” He looks at Lanisen.

Leon shrugs, looking down at the ground. “You think so?” The faun sighs, seeming melancholic again. “I feel as if I played my best for my Queen, Lucy.” He looks up again. “I shall miss Queen Lucy the most.”

Peridan bows again to Cor and nods to Lanisen before continuing on through the camp.

Lanisen hesitates. “Do you need to sleep, your highness?”

Cor says, “Um, I don’t — maybe. I wouldn’t, maybe.”

Bracken nods. He opens his mouth, then shakes his head and turns away.

Lanisen pushes his mouth to the side and reconsiders his approach. “Do you want to be with people or do you want to be by yourself?” he asks gently.

Leon yawns now, as he stands, and makes his way toward the Archenlanders.

Cor says, “People.”

Lanisen nods, accepting this. He tilts his head to the south again in invitation and steps back to begin that way.

Cor follows after him.

Lanisen puts his hands in his pockets and walks beside Cor down the path to where Darrin and Megren are waiting.


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