I had been resting with my centaurs in a shady glade – having a breather after hunting down and exterminating several marauding goblin bands.
Goblins are cruel things – with wicked, mean little eyes. They hunt in raiding-parties along with packs of the most hideously-shaped, hyena-like dogs. A few large goblin parties had been sighted around the borders of Narnia: and reports had come in of their stealing livestock for food, and torturing any hapless Narnian creature that crossed their path.
My centaurs and I had been charged with defending the Narnian border at time of need: and need there certainly was after the latest goblin raids. I had need to make my own way on foot to Chiron’s tribe to raise the alarm: Chiron himself offered to bear me during the counter-raid, as my steed was missing.
It was on Chiron’s back, then, that I had accompanied the centaurs on our latest raid.
I was thoughtfully cleaning my longsword while chatting idly with Chiron. My armor clanked as I moved: I rarely disarmed when riding through Narnian border-wars.
I didn’t hear Aslan approach – in fact, I’ve never heard Aslan approach. He has always arrived – unexpected, unannounced. I’ve never yet figured how a lion that large can move without a sound. There’s a lot of things about Aslan that I can’t figure.
Most of the centaurs had risen from the ground and were bowing low from the waist. I hurriedly rose from the ground to kneel before Him.
“Son of Adam – you have acquitted yourself well in countering these border-raids made by the goblin bands. But urgent tidings are at hand, and the witch is on the move. High King Peter requires your aid.”
But we didn’t depart immediately. Aslan & I spoke first together of many things. For a lion so large, I don’t find talking to Aslan overwhelming: in the sense of being proximate to an animal of merely large physical size. Aslan is large, but not merely in His stature: much more in the strength of His majestic spirit.
And He has the most remarkable eyes.
Since speed was required, Aslan Himself carried me over dale and moor, hill and stream. With my hands buried in His mane, I flew over the country of Narnia with an inexpressible joy in my heart. It’s hard to feel fear in the presence of Narnia’s King.
Chiron’s centaurs were left far behind: they would arrive the following evening.
Before the gates of a high stone keep at sunset that day we parted: not before I reverently kissed His noble mien, before bowing before Him. He had soundlessly departed before I had straightened again. Aslan moves like the wind: none know from where He comes, nor to where He is going.
My hardened metal gloves boomed loudly on the gates of the keep. I left my sword sheathed: there was no point in unduly alarming its denizens. As it was, I was an unexpected guest; arriving without notice, and at a strange hour.
Two Narnian dogs and a beaver soon appeared behind me from out of the semi-darkness: the snarl of the dogs changing to a puzzled whine when they saw my Narnian dress. I was just answering the beaver’s questions, when a broad-shouldered dwarf bellowed a challenge over the top of the walls.
Aslan had already told me what to say. “By the command of Aslan, I am come.”
The dwarf peered over the wall, scratched his head for a moment, and then yelled down at somebody inside the keep. The ponderous doors soon swung open, and I grinned as the beaver and the dogs raced before me inside to seek out some warmer corner than the increasingly chilly outdoors afforded.
I shrugged and entered – seeking the guestroom and a warm fire. The dwarf – or one of his companions – showed me in: heavily-built, but thoroughly good-natured and with black eyes that twinkled in the glare of the torches.
“You ride by dangerous paths in times of peril, stranger. Yet no-one who comes in Aslan’s name will lack shelter nor sustenance at the Keep of Drumm-mied, whilst both remain ours to share. You can see our seneschal in the morning.”
He paused on the doorway of my chamber, and gave me a thoughtful look.
“Aslan’s got a job for you, I ween. No-one appears unnoticed underneath the very walls of our Keep unless Aslan has had a hand in it.”
“He has indeed, my friend.” I smiled wearily, for I was tired with journeying that day. The dwarf noted my tiredness, and kindly left me in peace until the morning.
I mused out loud to myself as I unpacked my few belongings that I brought with me.
“He indeed has a job for me to do. Nor can I leave this earth until I have accomplished His will for me. Or died in the attempt.”