Another cliff-hanger, for those of you who like them.
I’m actually rather proud of this part. The next one. . . Well, it was trickier, but I think it turned out alright.
Catania’s Forest: The Little Drummer-boy in Narnia ~ Part Eleven
“You know, Catania,” Tyre began again, to the elf walking beside him. “I have not been happy with the stars lately.”
His young companion drew a deep breath. She had not really known any centaurs in the city when she was young, and it was only in talking to Tyre that she had discovered how much significance they attached to their practice of stargazing. Catania thought it quite silly.
“Why? What’s the matter with them?” she asked distractedly, glancing anxiously at the city’s towering bulwark, and wondering what he would say if she suggested making a loop through the trees and meeting him at the tower.
“I cannot say for sure what they mean. In fact, I should say they did not mean anything, if that were possible. There has been nothing out of the ordinary—nothing helpful— for months.”
“They are stars, Tyre,” Catania broke out, forgetting the looming city in annoyance. “Maybe they are of use at sea, but not here! Since when did they help you?”
“What would an elf know about the stars!” the centaur scoffed. “They care for nothing above the canopy of their precious trees! ‘Twas the stars, Catania, that told me of the humans coming, and their cunning, and their deceit! Were it not for them, and my faithful watch, the treacherous creatures would have caught me at unawares as well.”
Catania bit her tongue; she needed his help. This is no time to argue.
“They are the gift of the Creating One to his servants!” Tyre continued without her encouragement. “They are his prophets. They told me of the coming of Man, the fall of the city. But now they are silent! Dead! Still. It is as if. . . they wait for something.”
“Maybe they mean that nothing is going to happen now for a long time—Tyre, what would the stars be waiting for?”
At that moment five men came around the corner of the road. The sun flashed off their steel caps, and the leader’s red cloak swished around his metal-tipped boots as he walked. Catania’s sharp eyes took in everything at once: No shields, and no armor but for their light helms—they were not the king’s soldiers that accompanied Lord Daniel then. But they had swords—they must be some lesser lord’s body guards. Most likely Lord Nightseer’s, as they had already passed both Tyre and Nightseer’s towers, the only places a lord in the city would possibly send his servants outside the walls. They were most likely headed for the city gates.
The young elf gasped and drew back automatically. “I can’t be seen,” she gasped.
“They’ve already seen you,” Tyre snapped. His cool arrogance was gone—he was in earnest, stern, dead serious. “You have to stay. I am a local landowner going home, you are a simple slave. There’s nothing to suspect.”
She could lose them if she darted into the trees. Have I not had enough of a scare today? She hesitated, but defiance hardened her quavering mind. Something in her begged to show him she was not frightened. And was she half afraid of putting him in danger—as no doubt he would be, if he was seen speaking with an elf who turned and fled at the first sight of a human?
Heart pounding, she fell in step with him.