The heavily-laden boat was making poor headway through the
Chillthaw Marsh--which was only to be expected, with wind
and current both against it. Not without reason were the
boat's two human occupants chosen in part for being young--and
light in weight. The vital cargo made hard enough going for
those who were providing most of the propulsion while wading
in water almost a fathom deep: Ironbulk the Talking Elephant
pulling in harness from in front, and Lady Riddlechaser the
Centauress pushing from astern.
"Wouldn't this all be easier if the King simply had flying
creatures carry everything over the ice wall?" asked
eleven-year-old Elsima. The excitement of her first inclusion
in one of these missions had worn thin after several hours of
hard work. Though Ironbulk and Riddlechaser were providing the
raw strength, Elsima and her fourteen-year-old brother Shandorf
were kept busy helping as they could with boat poles, and
wrestling occasional tree branches out of the way.
"Most flying creatures can't carry enough weight to do any
good for this business," Shandorf replied. "Besides, there
aren't many left who are on our side. The White Witch has
always made a special effort to kill any intelligent flying
creatures who wouldn't serve her."
Riddlechaser spared the breath to say, "Your brother speaks
truth, little foal. The accursed Jadis is always in fear that
some Griffin, Winged Horse, or Talking Bird will fly to Aslan's
country and tell Him of the evil she does in His realm of
Narnia--causing Him to arise in wrath and come over the sea to
punish her. Which only proves that Jadis, thinking herself to
be wise, is yet a fool. If Aslan were not already aware
of all that Jadis does, He would not extend His sovereign power
from afar to render her magic ineffective south of Narnia. You
may be sure that she would conquer Archenland as well, if she
could; and yet she does not seem to realize that the limit of
her power's range proves that she reigns anywhere only
by the Lion's sufferance."
"So why doesn't He ever come and stop her from reigning?"
demanded Elsima. As a well-taught Archenlander, she would not
have spoken so doubtingly of Aslan if she were not irritable
from fatigue; the Centauress, understanding this, answered her
"If Aslan always did everything for us directly, how would we
learn to practice virtue for ourselves? He will make an
end of Jadis when His Almighty Father commands it; but in the
meantime, we must show that we care for those who suffer
in the endless winter."
Shandorf took over at this point, so that Riddlechaser could use
all her breath for work. "Life isn't as simple as bedtime
stories, Elsima. In stories, people can sit down to a dinner
that simply appears on their table from nowhere. But in real
life, unless Aslan grants a very special miracle, food has to
come from someplace. With no spring, summer or autumn in
Narnia, they can't grow any crops. That means that Jadis could
starve all Narnians--or have them eating each other in
desperation--if we didn't smuggle food to them. Aslan
didn't leave us normal weather and rich harvests so that we
could ignore our hungry neighbors while we have all we need.
"In fact, the Witch's own magic actually works against her here
along the border. The ice wall that marks the edge of her magical
winter is always melting off on the Archenland side because of
the warmer air touching it. The water from that melting ice is
what created the Chillthaw Marsh, filling all parts of the
borderlands outside the mountains; and the Marsh helps us to
sneak up to the border with boatloads of food for Narnia. The
water flow is against us as we move north; and so is the wind,
because of something about the way cold air pushes in under warm
air (Centaurs understand that better than I do); that's why it's
such hard work moving the boats. But it's our duty to help."
Shandorf glanced ahead at their Narnian Elephant friend. "Which
reminds me--I think it's time poor Ironbulk had a dose of the
The boy, already an accomplished swamp-sailor, climbed
skillfully from the boat's bow, over the towing harness, onto
Ironbulk's broad back, bringing with him a covered jar. In this
jar was a potion concocted by a great wise man of Archenland,
having the power to help living things endure extreme cold. Any
creature not made to dwell in cold water needed this potion to
perform at length such work as Ironbulk and Riddlechaser were
doing. Siphoning half of the jar's contents with his trunk, then
emptying his trunk into his mouth, the huge beast (equal in size
to a non-talking bull elephant, something unusual for the larger
types of Talking Animals) soon felt sufficiently comforted and
refreshed to utter the first words he had spoken in more than an
"Thank you, Shandorf." His voice was deeper than deep, yet
strained with weariness. "Do you suppose Breezebeak will rejoin
us before we offload? I'm beginning to think he's decided to
wait with Zubgunch." Breezebeak was the third Narnian refugee
in this team bringing relief to Narnia: a Talking Thrush, whose
roles were scouting and message-bearing. Zubgunch was a
Black-Haired Dwarf, the informal leader of all remaining Dwarfs
within Narnia who still believed in Aslan; a longtime friend of
Riddlechaser, he was usually in charge of receiving and
distributing the food rations covertly provided by Archenland.
Shandorf replied in a very quiet voice, which elephant ears
could still easily hear: "I'm afraid that he might have been
caught by something." He didn't want his sister to hear such
an alarming suggestion; she was very fond of the adventurous
"Aslan forfend, but that is undeniably possible," rumbled
Ironbulk. "I suggest that you and Riddlechaser make sure your
bows are ready for use. And have Elsima watch the sky. If
Breezebeak has been captured, something less friendly
than he might come flying our way." Shandorf scrambled back
on board the boat and began inspecting the bows and arrows as
inconspicuously as possible.
The supply boat continued forcing its way through the marshy
maze. The sun was almost halfway up its climb to noon; before
long, they should be in sight of the rendezvous point, where
Narnian Badgers and Beavers years ago had dug a hidden tunnel
through the ice wall to facilitate the smuggling operation.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Breezebeak the Thrush was indeed with Zubgunch the Dwarf at
the rendezvous point, under a great jutting rock that was
partly merged with the ice wall. Zubgunch, however, was not
as happy with the bird's company as might have been expected.
This was in part because the Black Dwarf and the Narnians in
his reception party--four Talking Goats and a young Unicorn
as bearers, plus a girl Faun named Fironia to help with
sorting and loading--were all in chains, with Talking Wolves
of Queen Jadis' secret police hungrily standing guard over
them. It was also because Breezebeak, with a triumphant air
extraordinary for so small a creature (though bigger than a
non-talking thrush), was happily perched on one horn of the
massive Minotaur who was in charge of the arresting squad--a
squad which Breezebeak had alerted.
"How soon will the Queen bestow my reward upon me?" chirped
the feathered betrayer.
"As soon as these rebels, and any of their friends whom we
can take alive, have been publicly turned into stone," said
the Minotaur. "The very next spell Her Majesty casts after
that will be to transform you as you desire."
Fironia, her pleasant face wracked with despair, cried out,
"Breezebeak! How could you turn against us this way?"
The disloyal bird angled his beak upward, much like a man
lifting his nose in disdain. "I grew tired of being
unappreciated for my true worth. None of you big folk ever
accorded me any dignity; that stupid girl Elsima considered
me cute! But when my outward form changes to match
my superior spirit...when I grow larger than any eagle,
more magnificent than any peacock...then I will be
"Respected!" snapped Zubgunch. "Not by me, you presumptious
horsefly!" In return for this defiant outburst, he was
clubbed unconscious by a Dwarf of similar appearance to
himself, but a Dwarf loyal to the White Witch. This Dwarf
then caught the eye of the Minotaur, and said, "Your
pardon, Captain, but you are the only other one in our
squad with hands. Would you please help me get Zubgunch's
hat, cloak and boots off of him and onto me? We don't want
the Archenlanders realizing it isn't him greeting them
till it's too late for them to escape."
The Minotaur consented to do as asked. Meanwhile, one other
squad member was moving toward where the melt-off streams
emptied themselves into the marsh. This creature had no
name that it would reveal, and it made even the commanding
Minotaur a little nervous. It was not a native of Narnia,
but a monster conjured from somewhere by Jadis: in form
like a very large and very ugly snake, but able to live
comfortably in cold conditions that would incapacitate any
true reptile. It could also breathe water as well as air;
submerged, it would play a crucial role in the ambush of
Lady Riddlechaser's party.
Fironia, meanwhile, made one more attempt with Breezebeak:
"Dear Thrush, do you really think size and outward splendor
are everything? Can you honestly think for a moment that
Ironbulk has ever looked on you, or me, or Zubgunch as
inferior to himself because we are smaller then he? Why,
as for that, Aslan Himself manifests Himself in a form
physically smaller than some creatures, but --"
"No more talk about the Lion!" shouted the Minotaur.
"Serivolk! Give her a nip as punishment!" This command was
addressed to the Talking Wolf nearest to the Faun.
Fironia braced herself to take the pain without giving the
Minotaur the satisfaction of hearing her scream; but to
her surprise, her guard hissed in her ear, "Cry out as if
bitten!"--then faked biting her on one arm--an arm
that was not in the Minotaur's view.
Fironia obligingly screamed...and noticed that Serivolk,
before stepping away, loosened her bonds with his teeth
behind her back, whispering, "Wait for your chance."
As she waited, with new hope welling up in her, Fironia
remembered a story said to have been passed down from the
legendary King Frank. It was said that King Frank and
Queen Helen had told their children and other Narnians
many true stories of the world of Adam and Eve. Aslan
had walked among the people of that world in the form of
a man; and while He had so lived among them, a friend of
His called Judas had turned against Him. But later,
another man named Saul, who was Aslan's bitter enemy, had
changed in heart and become Aslan's faithful follower.
"It seems to be happening that way here," Fironia
reflected. "Breezebeak deserts good for evil, but this
Wolf is deserting evil for good--unless it is another
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"No one in Archenland ever blamed the Talking Elephants
for fleeing Narnia once the Witch-winter set in," said
Elsima. "Aslan didn't create them to bear such cold.
There are other large beasts who could endure the
Chillthaw Marsh much more easily than Ironbulk; so why
does he insist on doing this work?"
Shandorf glanced admiringly at their pachyderm comrade.
"He feels guilty for living safely in Archenland while
other Narnians are suffering under Jadis. And, as
Riddlechaser would say, the motivation in his heart is
more important to our work than the suitability of his
"Riddlechaser also says that it will be children of
Adam and Eve who finally overthrow Jadis. So when will
we have the power to do that?"
"She doesn't mean us humans in Archenland and the
remote countries. It's to be children from the
world of Adam and Eve. They'll appear when Aslan
brings them. In the meantime, our job is to help Narnia
A tree branch ripped Elsima's jacket, worsening her
mood further. "Well, what is Aslan waiting for?
Is He waiting for human beings to be killed off in
Archenland as the Witch killed them off in Narnia? Why
doesn't He bring those children to us now?"
Lady Riddlechaser spoke once more: "I believe that
Aslan waits in order to give time for people's true
character to emerge. By people, of course, I mean all
thinking beings. When Aslan does put things right, no
doubt all Narnians will hasten to say that they
were faithful to Him all along; but it will have been
their conduct in the time of trial that proved them
"We're almost there!" grunted Ironbulk. "I can see
Zubgunch waving us in. By the Lion's mane, I'll be
glad to unharness!" His boat-pulling rig had a release
catch at his chest, so designed that he could free
himself with one movement of his trunk. Willing worker
though Ironbulk was, it was always a blessed relief to
pull that catch at the end of a delivery trip.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The traitor Dwarf, disguised as Zubgunch, had moved a
little way along the shore, stepping over several
melting-ice rivulets, to help ensure that the boat
crew would not be looking in the direction of danger;
now he gestured vigorously for them to hurry in. The
traitor Thrush flew conspicuously about, cheerfully
twittering, to enhance the illusion that all was
well. And under the icy water, the nameless monster
was moving in for a surprise attack upon the most
formidable opponent in the Archenlandish party,
timing its approach to attack when Ironbulk was
almost out of the water, so there would be no chance
of the boat escaping. Now the snake-thing was thirty
yards away from Ironbulk...twenty-five yards...twenty
The Wolf Serivolk noted that his five lupine
comrades, and their hulking commander, were fixing
their attention on the boat; so he turned toward the
captive Unicorn, who was bound much more heavily than
the Talking Goats, because of course even a
half-grown Unicorn was more dangerous than a Goat.
Barely loudly enough for the other Wolves to hear,
Serivolk growled, "You Unicorns think you're so
much better than the rest of us; well, I'll only
grant that you taste better than we do--and we
will ask the Empress to let us eat you alive, rather
than waste you as a statue!" He made a great show of
sniffing the captive up and down, as if in cruel
anticipation of that feast. Then, not loudly
enough for any but the Unicorn to hear, he added,
"But not all Wolves have forgotten their Maker. Hold
still, and wait for your chance." And his fangs tore
the Unicorn's ropes, by forelegs and hind legs, just
enough that the Unicorn's own strength should be
able to break them. Then he moved back toward the
water, as far as the Minotaur was permitting any of
the squad to go, trying to see how near the boat had
Fironia had noticed what Serivolk was doing, without
showing any reaction that would give him away.
"Does he mean for us all simply to flee," she
wondered, "or does he plan to fight his companions?"
She glanced about to see if there were anything at
hand that she could use as a weapon. The most
promising thing in sight was a large loose icicle on
the ground nearby.
Whatever Serivolk was planning, the Dwarf Zubgunch
precipitated events. The Minotaur had had to untie
him to get his cloak for the other Dwarf--and had
not bothered to bind him again, since he was
unconscious. But Zubgunch was not as unconscious as
the Minotaur thought; and while Ironbulk, with the
boat in tow, was still some fifteen yards from land,
he suddenly sprang up, dashed out into plain view,
and roared at the top of his lungs:
"Riddlechaser, look out! The enemy is here! It's
a trap!" That was all he had time to shout,
before he was knocked down by the hairy weight--of
"Pretend to be dead now!" the Wolf said through
bloodthirsty-sounding snarls, closing his jaws over
the Dwarf's neck without biting through. Zubgunch
had not become a leader without the benefit of a
quick mind; instantly understanding that he had a
new ally, he compliantly pretended to have been
killed--but aimed his "lifeless" eyes in the
direction of the enemy, so he could choose his
moment to jump up again.
The four Goats, however, believed their leader to
be slain in reality, and all went into a panic,
vainly struggling against their bonds. The
Minotaur and Wolves paid them no attention; but
the Unicorn, who had just freed himself, was
tripped up by their thrashing and rolling about,
and so could not immediately take any action.
Fironia seized her icicle--but with no surety of
help, hesitated to join battle. It was no boost
for her courage when she heard the Elephant
trumpeting--not in rage but in alarm.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
As soon as he heard Zubgunch's warning, Ironbulk
slipped off his harness, shouting, "Children!
Push back!"--meaning that Shandorf and Elsima
must use their poles to move the boat away from
the icy shore, so that Ironbulk and Riddlechaser
would be free to help Zubgunch's party. The
Elephant had scarcely uttered that command,
before something like a tremendous cable coiled
itself around both his left legs and began to
pull him under with terrifying strength.
Trumpeting once in momentary fear, Ironbulk
regained his wits just in time to suck in a
vital breath of air before his head was
submerged. The water churned wildly as the
Narnian beast struggled with his unnatural
Shandorf, seeing a Minotaur and Wolves emerging
onto the beach from the vicinity of the tunnel
exit, quickly handed Riddlechaser her bow and
quiver before throwing all his effort into
poling the boat back down-current. The
Centauress rapidly shot three arrows at the
Minotaur; all struck their mark, but the
Minotaur was wearing thick leather armor which
partly stopped the arrows, so that he was not
fatally wounded. Riddlechaser then tossed her
bow back onto the boat's deck. Drawing a
dagger as she plowed forward through the
water, she began trying to help Ironbulk
against the snake-thing, whose coils flashed
into and out of sight amid the splashing.
That left the human Archenlanders to their own
As soon as the boat reached a stretch of open
water, still in sight of the shore, Shandorf
said, "Keep moving away!" Then, taking his own
bow and quiver, he leaped into the nearest
tree, climbed up, and took stock of the
situation. Ironbulk and Riddlechaser seemed
to be holding their own against the
snake-thing, and there was nothing the boy
could do about that fight; "But I'll give that
blasted Minotaur something to think about," he
promised himself, and began shooting arrows on
a high trajectory toward the leader of Jadis'
His second arrow fell onto the "dead"
Zubgunch, who at that moment was getting up
with a rock in each hand to attack one of
the hostile Wolves. Wounded slightly in the
side, the Dwarf yelped, then scrambled to
join Fironia and the Unicorn; these three
engaged two of the Wolves in a battle to save
the surviving Goats. (One Goat had been freed
by a slash of the Unicorn's horn, only to
have his neck broken by the Minotaur.)
Serivolk, meanwhile, had put one Wolf out of
action with a surprise crippling bite to a
leg, and was now fighting the two remaining
Jadis-loyal Wolves. The mortified Shandorf
corrected his aim, and his fourth arrow
plunged perfectly into the Minotaur's neck.
All the arrows launched at the horned monster
had so far prevented him from giving much
help to his Wolves; but even the neck shot
failed to kill him. Seeing where this shot
had come from, the Minotaur drew a heavy axe
from his belt...and threw it the entire
distance to Shandorf's perch, where it
severed the whole tree-limb, dropping
Shandorf into the water.
Seeing her brother's peril, Elsima let go of
her boat-pole and dived in to save him. The
steely cold of the water almost paralyzed
her, but she found the will to swim for
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The Faun with her ice-dagger, the Dwarf with
rocks (ignoring the discomfort of his
bootless feet), and the Unicorn with hoofs
and horn, managed by necessity to coordinate
their efforts enough that they could hold
off their Wolf antagonists. But the Wolves'
persistent charges gave them no time to cut
loose the Goats, who could otherwise have
helped in the fight. Unwilling to abandon
their bound friends, the three defenders
could only hope for more aid to reach them
before the Minotaur closed in.
Instead of help, though, the traitor Dwarf
came--causing Zubgunch for an instant to
wonder if Aslan had forgotten them. The
evil Dwarf, seeing Serivolk slaying one
Wolf opponent, had stabbed him in the
back; and now, with Serivolk's other
opponent, was hurrying to assist the other
Wolves. The Minotaur was busy stanching
the blood from his neck wound; but even
without him, the tide was turning against
One Goat, seeing the worsening odds, cried
out, "Fironia! Get away! Save yourself!"
But of course, neither she, nor Zubgunch,
nor the Unicorn would abandon their friends.
The defenders made a last valiant
counterattack--in which Zubgunch had the grim
satisfaction of breaking the traitor Dwarf's
skull with a great stone--before they were
all pinned down under the paws of the three
Wolves. Only the discipline of Jadis' secret
police kept those wolves from tearing their
throats out at once.
"Good, lads, just hold them there," bellowed
the Minotaur; "the Empress shall yet have
some new statues. I must see to retrieving
the boat;" and he waded into the water,
staying clear of where Ironbulk and
Riddlechaser were still battling the
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
With Elsima's help, Shandorf was able to
drag himself back on board the boat, though
his bow and arrows were lost. "Th-th-th-the
p-p-potion!" he gasped. "We have s-s-s-some
left. W-w-with no d-d-dry clothes, we'll
f-f-freeze to death if we d-d-don't
d-d-drink some n-n-now!"
Elsima searched for a potion jar among the
barrels and other containers on deck.
Neither she nor her brother noticed that
the boat was no longer drifting any
farther down-current. Still less did they
notice the reason for this: Breezebeak the
Thrush had flown out, found a trailing end
of Ironbulk's harness, and wound it around
one of the swamp trees, tethering the boat
"You d-d-drink f-f-f-first," insisted
Shandorf. Elsima did so; then, as she was
handing the jar to her brother, a
feathered missile knocked it out of her
hand, the precious contents pouring onto
the deck. Elsima barely had time to
realize disbelievingly that this was her
friend Breezebeak, before he flew into
her face and began trying to peck her
eyes out. "Come on, Captain, I've got
them!" the treacherous bird screeched as
he attacked. Shandorf lunged to his
sister's aid, to have his own face
attacked in turn by the dangerously
Meanwhile, only a bowshot away, Ironbulk
and Riddlechaser were finally getting
the best of the snake-thing, after
minutes of the most desperate fighting
Elephant or Centauress had ever
experienced. The creature seemed
impossible to grasp and hold, yet able
to entangle them at will; and its teeth
had drawn blood from them both. But at
last Riddlechaser had gotten in a
telling rip with her dagger, weakening
it. This presently enabled Ironbulk to
get a foot planted on part of the
snake-thing's body, and his trunk
around its neck; after that, the two
Narnians shortly made an end of it. Not
waiting to take a better look at the
monster, Ironbulk headed for the boat
to see to the children's safety, while
Riddlechaser started for shore to
rescue Zubgunch's party if possible.
On the boat, Breezebeak's attack on
Shandorf allowed Elsima to lower her
bloodied forearms from her bloodied
face. Seeing her cold-weakened brother
vainly swatting at the wicked bird,
the girl made a bold grab and caught
Breezebeak before he could notice and
evade her lunge. He shrieked in fury
and bit her savagely, but she retained
her grip. "What are you doing,
Breezebeak?" she sobbed. "We're your
friends! Has the Witch cast a spell
"The spell comes later," thundered the
Minotaur, who had just reached the
boat and was climbing aboard. "My
revenge for my wounds comes NOW!"
Shandorf dragged himself between Elsima
and the Minotaur. "I'm th-th-the one
who sh-sh-shot you! M-m-my sister
d-d-didn't do anyth-th-thing to you. Let
Terror of the Minotaur caused Elsima to
lose hold of Breezebeak, who fluttered
up out of reach and perched on a box.
"Think you're brave, do you?" he jeered
at Shandorf. "Well, my friends have
tortures to use on you that'll have you
begging them to torture your sister
instead! Then you'll quit
giving yourself grand airs! Then
you'll stop chuckling behind my back,
making light of me!"
"Wh-wh-what are you t-t-talking about?"
cried Shandorf. "I always adm-m-mired
you! And how c-c-can J-J-Jadis'
monsters b-b-b-be your f-f-friends?"
The Minotaur grinned, an expression even
more hideous than his anger. "The little
fellow knows who his true friends are--the
friends who have taught him to love
himself properly!" Breezebeak flew down to
perch on the Minotaur's left arm, as that
creature's other arm began reaching toward
But their enemies' concentration upon the
boy had given Elsima a moment to act.
Scrambling aft, she had grabbed
Riddlechaser's discarded bow and one of
its arrows. The bow was too large for the
girl to use in the normal way; but
setting her feet against the bowstave,
nocking the arrow and pulling the string
with both hands, she took hasty aim,
whispering, "Aslan, please--!"
The arrow flew straight...straight
through Breezebeak's feathered body, and
into a seam of the Minotaur's leather
armor. Roaring with pain, the horned
horror staggered back four paces with
the already-dead Thrush pinned to his
chest...then lurched forward once more,
determined to kill the children whether
he himself lived or died--
But this wish was denied to him, as a pair
of tusks longer than his horns reached
over the railing to impale him from
behind. With a last hateful bellow, the
Minotaur perished. Ironbulk flung him
into the water--and with him, the traitor
Thrush, who had wanted so much to be an
awe-inspiring creature, but departed this
life almost unnoticed, to face the
judgment of Him Who notices all.
"Oh, thank you!" gasped Elsima, looking
at once for another jar of the
cold-thwarting potion. "But I need to
help Shandorf; he's freezing to death."
"There should be another jar over behind
that flour barrel," said the Elephant.
"You'll be safe here for the moment; I
must go and see if Riddlechaser needs me."
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
All was settled on the shore by the time
Ironbulk arrived there. Lady Riddlechaser
had rushed the three enemy Wolves at full
gallop; turning to face her, they had lost
control of their captives; and in the ugly
combat that followed, Riddlechaser and the
Unicorn had both suffered fresh wounds,
but the three Wolves all died. The only
hostile creature still alive was the Wolf
whom Serivolk had disabled early in the
battle. Serivolk himself, mortally hurt
by blade and fang, had lived long enough
to see Finoria bending over him and
weeping for him. To her he said, "I have
a mate and cubs. Make my former friend
there tell you where they den. Save them
if you can. For myself--Aslan knows my
story..." And he breathed his last,
making his way to a very different
eternal reception than what awaited
The girl Faun found the short sword of the
evil Dwarf who had stabbed Serivolk.
Picking it up, and feeling a righteous
wrath she had never felt before in her
gentle life, Finoria turned and menaced the
crippled Wolf. "Listen, you filthy beast. I
never slew any thinking creature before
today. But if you do not tell me now what
I need to know about Serivolk's family, I
will make you suffer the pain of twenty
deaths." A little shocked at the cruelty of
her own words, she added, "If you do as I
command, I will ask the Archenlanders to
give you a safe haven in their land, where
you can learn to do good instead of evil."
The captured Wolf told Finoria how to find
Serivolk's family, and Riddlechaser's
intuition assured her that he was speaking
truthfully. Zubgunch laid a hand on Finoria's
shoulder and said, "As soon as we move the
food shipment to safe concealment, I give my
word that I'll help you find our Wolf
rescuer's wife and pups, and lead them past
the border guards to freedom. We owe him
that. We also owe it to Aslan to grant
this Wolf the mercy you promised him."
The Unicorn and the surviving Goats joined
in the pledge to liberate Serivolk's family.
Serivolk and the slain Goat were then hastily
buried under some boulders. Riddlechaser
promised herself that later, when a new
smuggling route was established and Jadis no
longer had cause to take interest in this
place, she would return here and say fitting
words over the grave. Right now, it was
necessary to complete the food delivery,
vacate this now-unsafe location, and get the
boat and the children safely home. Finoria,
whom no one had originally expected to bear
burdens, carried on her back as big a load
as she could manage, since one of the
assigned bearers was now bearing nothing but
his reward in Aslan's country.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
That evening, enroute southward for the normal
climate of Archenland, Elsima remarked to her
recovered brother, "It's bad enough that
Jadis can make it always winter in Narnia and
never Christmas. But I think it's even more
horrid that she could turn someone like
Breezebeak into a traitor."
"I think he turned himself into a traitor,"
snapped Shandorf. His face being worse
wounded by Breezebeak's pecking than
Elsima's was, he was not inclined to judge
the Thrush leniently.
"It's true that free will has to be
involved for evil to arise," interjected
Riddlechaser. "But it's also true that the
White Witch has an accursed great skill at
playing upon people's ambitions and
resentments. Poor Breezebeak simply was
not wise enough to see through the
falseness of her promises."
"And not loyal enough to keep his
own promises," Ironbulk snorted.
"Well," ventured Elsima after some thought,
"I'll wager that when Aslan does bring the
children who are to save Narnia, the Witch
will try to defeat them by using some of
that same kind of trickery."
Riddlechaser looked at her intently. "You
are swiftly becoming a wise girl, Elsima.
Let us all pray that the Emperor-Over-Sea
will not allow such trickery to succeed."