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For min023 , elouise82 , and LoTL (also, a while ago, Syrena asked for some of this too,

Aravis, the Rat, the Boy, and the Trickster, with added Jalur.  As I'd had multiple requests for Aravis, I combined this into a couple of pieces.  None even come close to being 100 words.  Aravis takes some getting used to, and alters even over the course of this short piece.  I should have mentioned that my earlier Trickster piece is here.  Also wondering how I managed so many typos.  I've corrected a few of them.  Jalur is more talkative than usual, and really, Lady Willa is the hero of the piece.  Aravis is very much a work in progress -- I've not written her before and this is a good opportunity to start feeling out the character arc that I might explore some day.




Jalur stretched out at the door to King Lune’s library, careful to not snag the tapestries with a claw. After this business in Calormen, he wasn’t at ease unless King Edmund was in his sight and smell. Briony, Queen Lucy’s Guard, was with the Monarchs inside the office, so Jalur stood guard outside. If he cocked one ear backward, he could hear the murmur of unconcerned conversation behind the door.

He caught the scent of Human female and recognized the Tarkheena who had come from Calormen with the Talking Horses and Prince Cor.

She came around the corner and stopped suddenly.

“Oh!” She instinctively backed up. Mastering her very logical fear, she managed, “You are a Talking Tiger?”

“I am certainly not a Talking Cheetah,” he replied. “I am Sir Jalur, Royal Guard to the King Edmund of Narnia.”

She performed an odd, Calormene-style, bow. Straightening, she began, “I am Aravis, daughter of Kid…”

And then, to Jalur’s bewilderment, Aravis, daughter of Kid burst into tears.

With a sigh, Jalur rose and shoved the crying girl with his nose. “Stop that noise. The Kings and Queen are within and you do not want to disturb them.”

Aravis sniffed. “I apologize.”

“You are forgiven, Aravis, daughter of Kid,” Jalur replied, very magnanimously he thought given that he had just saved her critical embarrassment.

“It is simply Aravis. You may leave out the daughter of Kid.” He sensed her sadness again but Aravis shook her head and said firmly, “I do not have a father anymore.”

“Of course you do,” Jalur told her, thinking that between this and not knowing he was a Tiger, Lady Aravis must be dim even if she and the Crown Prince had helped save Archenland from invasion. “Everyone has parents.”

She raised her chin and it trembled a little. “My mother is dead. I left my father behind in Calormen.”

“My mother is also dead,” Jalur said. “My father is still alive, though I hardly know him. Yet, he is still my father.”

“I am sorry for your losses,” Aravis said.

“Why? My mother is in Aslan’s Country. And in Narnia, it is quite normal to not know your father. Most Narnian Beasts do not raise offspring together.”

“I did not know that.” Aravis looked about the hall, put a hand on the cool stone and stared out the window at the rainy morning. “It is very different here.”

“Calormen is hotter,” Jalur agreed. “Though, I find that agreeable. The swimming and meat are very good there.”

“True,” Aravis said with a laugh. She was staring at her arm resting on the wall. “I wonder if this will ever be home, Sir Jalur. I did not realize how different I am from everyone else.”

“How are you different?” Jalur stared at the Tarkheena’s face and inhaled again to be sure. “You smell and look like a Human to me. You stand on two legs, you have two arms, and you have hair on top. You are Human.”

Aravis leaned forward. “But, I am the only Calormene in Archenland,” she whispered.

“And I am the only Tiger,” Jalur whispered back.

***


Some things get easier with the repetition. Balls are not one of them. King Edmund was deep in discussion with King Lune. If another of those vexing ladies approached for (another) stupid dance with his King, Jalur would stir himself to threaten her. Banker Morgan had specifically charged him with keeping those meddlesome women away from King Edmund and this was a task the Tiger was only too pleased to perform.

The Queen Lucy was again dancing with that Archenland soldier. The man had summoned considerable courage in order to approach the Queen and thank her for the marksmanship that had saved his life.

“That’s the third time,” Jalur said to Briony as the Queen Lucy and the soldier danced by them.

“Fifth, actually,” the she-Wolf replied. “My Queen and I both like Soldier Aidan Gunnarr very well, so please keep King Edmund away from them.”

Jalur chuffed his agreement. If Briony was confident, he would not worry on it and would manage King Edmund so he did not. Really, Humans were so stupid about courtship rituals, which this obviously was.

Lady Willa scampered up to them. Briony greeted the Rat Doe with a rub on the nose. Jalur nodded his heartfelt greeting.

“It is very good to see you well and in one piece,” Briony said. “Smuggling yourself home with Rabadash’s army was quite the feat.”

"Congratulations," Jalur told Willa.

“I still smell like Rabadash's two hundred horse!” Willa complained, combing through her fur. “And I can’t get this sand out of my fur!”

Jalur decided to not mention that Willa did still smell like horse. Not two hundred. Maybe forty.

The Rat glanced at the dance floor of swirling, twirling couples. “The King Edmund wanted me to look into that man with Queen Lucy. Do I need to bother, Briony?”

“No, you do not,” the Wolf responded firmly.

“I won’t then,” Willa replied. “Speaking of Calormen, would one of you introduce me to the Tarkheena and Prince Cor? I want to ask them something.”

“Would you, Jalur?” Briony asked.

He growled, but the Wolf shoved him with her nose. “I am not concerned for my Queen but she may need my counsel after the dancing ends. Unless you would like to take my place there?”

“Under no circumstances” Jalur responded promptly. Really, he had enough problems managing King Edmund and Banker Morgan. He certainly did not want to discuss courtship with Queen Lucy, or anyone else.

With Willa following, they circled the ballroom to where the Crown Prince and Lady Aravis were standing, watching the dancing. Lady Aravis wasn’t crying anymore, so that was an improvement.

“Excuse me, your Highness, Lady Aravis,” Jalur said. “May I make known to you Lady Willa, Chief of the Narnian Mischief?”

Aravis elbowed Prince Cor in the side and with a grunt of pain the boy managed a bow so awkward he nearly tipped over. Aravis bowed in her Calormene style.

“Hullo,” Prince Cor said.

Aravis rolled her eyes in disgust. “Sir Jalur, it is good to see you again. Lady Willa, it is a pleasure to meet you.”

Lady Willa saluted them with her paw. “Thank you for making me welcome. Lady Aravis, this is actually the second time I’ve met you.”

The girl startled. “How is that?”

“In the Tisroc’s Palace? The conference you overhead from behind the sofa? I was in the room as well.”

“You were!?”

“That’s amazing!” Prince Cor exclaimed.

“I only wish I had been able to catch up with you before you launched into that punt,” Willa sighed, flicking more sand from her fur. “Smart piece of work there. It would have saved me an uncomfortable journey back in Rabadash’s saddlebag.”

“It was very bravely done,” Jalur told the Rat. And truly, Willa’s determination to see the task through, telling Sallowpad she would stay behind to spy on Rabadash in the wake of the Narnians secret flight from Tashbaan, and then finding a way back to Narnia with his invasion force was the stuff of Knighthood and great stories.

“Point is, though, your Highness, Lady Aravis, I had some help in Tashbaan and I can’t make whiskers or tails out of it now.”

This was the first Jalur had heard of this part of the story. “Help? What help?”

“There was a Talking Rat who guided me when I was in Tashbaan. But he wasn’t a Rat.”

“Then what was he?” Jalur asked, intrigued.

“I don’t know,” Willa responded. “Prince Cor? Lady Aravis? Know you of something in Calormen that can take the appearance of a Talking Rat, but is not?”

Aravis shook her head. “No, I have not heard of such a thing.”

“Sure you have, Aravis,” Prince Cor said with a guffaw.

“No, Shas… Cor, I have not!”

“So, I know something of Calormen that you don’t?”

Jalur growled. He could not help himself. These two could be very quarrelsome.

With a triumphant look, Prince Cor turned to Willa. “Did the Rat tell you which way to go?”

“He did,” Willa replied eagerly. “And, he really didn’t like Rabadash or the Tisroc at all.”

Prince Cor’s grinned widened. “It was all just a big joke for him, wasn’t it? It was hard to get him to be serious, but he helped when you really needed it?”

Willa’s whiskers twitched. “You have met him, then? Who is he?”

“The Trickster!” Prince Cor cried triumphantly, only to be met with Lady Aravis' countering scorn.

“The Trickster?!” Lady Aravis scoffed.

“Don’t speak of him that way, Aravis!” Prince Cor shot back. He made a strange sort of warding gesture with his hands. “He wasn’t the god of the Tarkaans and Tarkheenas, but he was my god, it sounds like he helped Lady Willa, and we should leave an offering in thanks to him tonight.”

“What sort of offering?” Willa asked, curious.

Prince Cor shrugged. “Anything. A seed, an egg, a bit of honey. Any blessing given the Trickster will return three-fold.” He looked down thoughtfully at his own rich clothing, smoothing away the crumbs from dinner. “Though it’s not as if I need the Trickster’s blessings anymore. Maybe I’ll ask him to return blessings to who Bree and I raided from.”

“A word of thanks won’t be amiss whether it was the Trickster or the Lion,” Willa said. “When you go, may I join you?”

“Of course,” Prince Cor said. “We’ll snatch some things from the kitchens and make the offering on the Castle wall, don’t you think, Aravis?”

“I am doing no such thing,” Aravis said huffily. “I left that all behind me, Trickster, Tash, and all.”

Jalur thought Aravis was still upset over this skin colour issue. He truly did not understand how she thought it was different from Tiger stripes and Cheetah spots. They were all Human weren’t they?

***

“Rat, you lie!” Aravis pointed her sword at the arrogant creature sitting on the rock. “I renounced the five gods when I fled Calormen! There is only Aslan for me now.”

The Rat worried his tail between his sharp teeth, unconcerned by the sword and her threats. “If there’s only Aslan, how do you explain me?”

“You are just a Talking Rat stranded in the southern desert wilds!”

“I’m that, too, Tarkheena, except not stranded, of course.”

“I am not a Tarkheena.”

“Of course you are!” the Rat snapped. “You’re more than one thing is all, same as me.”

The Rat sat on his haunches, looking so crafty, Aravis sees. Her sword fell to the ground and Aravis followed, prostrating herself in the sand. “Lord Trickster,” she murmured, trying to remember the long forgotten litanies. “Forgive me.”

“Oh get up! I was never the god you prayed to, but you’re in my country now. And, if I don’t help you free your Crown Prince from that desert tribe, Aslan will eat me again.”

And of course, my thoughts and prayers go out to those impacted by the day's events.

Comments

( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
min023
Mar. 12th, 2011 08:48 am (UTC)
I really like these. Jalur at his snarky best, and the view of the night before the morning after. 'Course, now I'm feeling greedy, because I want to know what happened with Willa and the 200 horse in the desert, and what exactly the final sequence with the Trickster means (it almost has the feel of a dream). Oh, and do I remember you once saying that Aravis is a person of colour in your universe? Or is it that she is Hispanic (a la the Telmarines in the PC movie)
rthstewart
Mar. 13th, 2011 02:28 am (UTC)
Once again, I've shown the END of the story. You recall Asim's dream of the Rat and the Crow conferring? That's Willa and Sallowpad with Sallowpad telling her of their plan to escape Tashbaan and Willa deciding to stay behind to spy and then learning of the invasion plan and being helpless to do anything. She tried to catch up with Aravis, but can't move that fast and so ends up smuggling herself with the 200 horses.

As for the Persons of Color, I certainly see Aravis as such and I'm casting Jill as Afro-Caribbean after seeing Miniver float the idea.
autumnia
Mar. 12th, 2011 02:45 pm (UTC)
Lovely!!!! I am thrilled with your ever expanding Narnia-verse. For now we have a bit of HHB here.

Jalur and his promises to Morgan to keep dim-witted ladies away from their King. Loved that! And Briony's comments about her and Lucy's thoughts on the daring Archenland soldier.

And like min above, the whole thing with Willa and Rabadash sounds rather intriguing. It just makes you want to know more.

I do love Jalur and Aravis as well. Perhaps to him, she is a little like when he and Edmund first met Morgan? Both women are so unused to their surroundings and it takes time for them to break out of their shell.

And the Trickster! Lovely, lovely and how totally fun that would have been to hear the conversation between the God and Willa. And Cor seems to be a bit more confident here... perhaps because they were talking about a subject he's quite familiar with?

This was absolutely wonderful, rth.
rthstewart
Mar. 13th, 2011 02:38 am (UTC)
I think the piece is a bit all over the place and I certainly do not have a clue as to Aravis yet. But, the prompts were what they were and it was fun to play with it and see what came out. I did have Cor be very bumbling with the introductions and bowing, whereas Aravis is smooth. But, when it comes to the Trickster, Shasta believes -- as well he should since the Trickster has been watching out for him. The race issues and the idea that Cor wasn't punished for his raiding while Aravis was punished for her actions with the slave were discussed on the NFFR board so I wanted to see what happened when I played with them. And for a Tiger in Archenland, he's just not going to get the "race" difference.
katharhino
Mar. 12th, 2011 05:29 pm (UTC)
Aslan will eat me again? That sounds like a story.

I'd love to read more about your Aravis. I can see you refining her voice in this.
rthstewart
Mar. 13th, 2011 02:42 am (UTC)
There's a link I added to my first foray into the Trickster. He frequently shows up as a Rat in my Calormene head canon. http://rthstewart.livejournal.com/26439.html

I've not done Aravis before -- I've thought about retelling HHB from the perspective of the Trickster god but had not thought over much about Aravis other than that at some point, I would send her and Cor off on an adventure where they fight, save the world, and finally do the deed (whatever that might be) and live happily ever after. She needs refining, obviously, and this was a good opportunity to start trying it out. Some fic writers have her pretty comfortable with her Calormene culture. Others do not and obviously I've tried out here the idea that she's tried to renounce it and leave it behind her, to try to "fit in." I'm not sure if that makes canonical sense. I'll have to think about it.
elouise82
Mar. 12th, 2011 06:19 pm (UTC)
Gorgeous! I love that Aravis very firmly and decidedly puts everything from her past behind her: her beliefs; her practices; her family; even her name, while Cor seems to blend his two cultures far more seamlessly together. And Jalur's complete confusion as to why Aravis would feel so different from the Archenlanders - priceless!

(And I HAVE to ask - was Cor captured by Tusken Raiders or Jawas???)
rthstewart
Mar. 13th, 2011 02:46 am (UTC)
Awww, thanks. That was the idea, to have her renounce everything, only to find that it's not gone as much as she would like it to be. Insofar as the Trickster is concerned, in my head canon, he has been actively watching out for Cor and so the boy does have a very positive view of that aspect of the Calormene pantheon, whereas I think Aravis feels very much abandoned by the gods of her youth and/or trying desperately to be like everyone else. I'm not sure if that's how I really see her, but this was a good opportunity to test the theory. Thanks for prompting!

Desert pirates/tribes/Tusken Raiders For The Win. they ride Banthas... and there will be a Krayt dragon!
(Anonymous)
Mar. 12th, 2011 07:01 pm (UTC)
So good! I loved Briony asking Jalur if he'd rather council Lucy! Also all the Rat and Crow.

And it had to have been the Tuskan raiders, right?
(Anonymous)
Mar. 12th, 2011 07:02 pm (UTC)
That's from me, by the way. I forgot that I don't have my account name there automagically like I do on ff.net. Oops. *blush*

~LotL
rthstewart
Mar. 13th, 2011 02:47 am (UTC)
Thanks so much! Aravis doesn't come across really well in this, until the very end where you see more of her strength. But for International Women's Day, we do see lots of other women characters, including Briony in take charge mode and Willa as super Spy.
metonomia
Mar. 12th, 2011 07:35 pm (UTC)

“How are you different?” Jalur stared at the Tarkheena’s face and inhaled again to be sure. “You smell and look like a Human to me. You stand on two legs, you have two arms, and you have hair on top. You are Human.”

Aravis leaned forward. “But, I am the only Calormene in Archenland,” she whispered.

“And I am the only Tiger,” Jalur whispered back.

YOU. YOU ARE THE MOST AWESOME.

“Smuggling yourself home with Rabadash’s army was quite the feat.”

“Though it’s not as if I need the Trickster’s blessings anymore. Maybe I’ll ask him to return blessings to who Bree and I raided from.”

<333 can I rec this on the racism in narnia thread? And have I ever mentioned that I love Jalur?

The Queen Lucy was again dancing with that Archenland soldier. The man had summoned considerable courage in order to approach the Queen and thank her for the marksmanship that had saved his life.

this is too much win, you made my day :)
rthstewart
Mar. 12th, 2011 08:23 pm (UTC)
Oh, rec away. Obviously I was influenced by Animus' comments that Cor/Shasta isn't punished for what he did and Aravis is, and I've obviously thought a lot about race in my writing. There's a whole head canon part where Briony talks to Aravis about females fighting. In my head, it is the Trickster who demands that Aslan punish Aravis for the harm done to one of his poor people. Aslan agrees because he knows the Trickster would exact something worse and he does see the benefit in Aravis learning of the pain her actions to cause to her "lessers."

Jalur is a bit too chatty here, for him, but he needed to be to satisfy the prompt, and Aravis is a bit all over the place. I've never thought of writing her before, so I'm sort of testing characterizations. But, I do like the idea of her trying to Leave IT ALL Behind, and then realizing that Calormene is still part of her and that the god she never believed in or worshiped, the Trickster, has a claim on her.
wingedflight21
Mar. 12th, 2011 10:37 pm (UTC)
Oh boy, I love what you have done here with Aravis! Poor girl, having such a difficult time with trying to decide how to handle being in a different country - the first conversation with Jalur is absolutely adorable (only tiger! awww) and I love the bits with the Trickster and Cor was kidnapped by a desert tribe!? :D
rthstewart
Mar. 13th, 2011 02:48 am (UTC)
Jalur is probably talking too much for him, but he really just doesn't get why skin color would be an issue. I mean, all tigers' stripes are different but they are still tigers, right? RIGHT??
varnafinde
Mar. 13th, 2011 03:47 pm (UTC)
In Rabadash's saddle bag?
There's potential for the whole story ...
rthstewart
Mar. 14th, 2011 12:58 am (UTC)
I'm not sure if Willa is being literal or metaphorical there. But yes, that is all part of the Trickster story. I can't quite work out why she decides to do that -- except that she doesn't trust some faction of the Calormenes who have convinced Rabadash that he's been made a fool of. I would assume the Narnians have a whole network there and further if she's traveling with them, there's not much she can do to warn the Narnians and Archenlanders. Or, perhaps she's relying on Aravis and Shasta to convey the warning and with no time and few options decides to stick to the Army and learn what she can. Rat ANGST!
amine_eyes
Mar. 13th, 2011 08:08 pm (UTC)
Oh I love how Jalur disarms Aravis with "And I am the only Tiger" - it's powerful in it's simplicity :D
rthstewart
Mar. 14th, 2011 12:59 am (UTC)
Jalur is fun to write. he's so cranky.
Thanks so much!
(Anonymous)
Mar. 17th, 2011 09:22 pm (UTC)
Yes!
Thank you so much for these snippets of Aravis! That book is one of my favourites (I love proud, silly Bree, perhaps being a proud silly person myself sometimes), and I'm so happy you're touching on them a bit.

And, oh, yes, yes yes yes yes, Jill as Afro-Caribbean would be soooo good! Enough white bread! I am enchanted with the Russell household, you see, and can't quite get enough of Asim. I loved the many-hued mob in Liverpool. It brings Narnia much closer to the ground, somehow, when War Drobe is more like reality.
(Anonymous)
Mar. 17th, 2011 09:23 pm (UTC)
Trickster
PS I am very grateful for a Trickster showing up. Life is a little toooo serious and maybe even a bit pompous without someone opening the door to a little confusion and chaos. Too knightly.
rthstewart
Mar. 17th, 2011 11:28 pm (UTC)
Re: Trickster
Thank you so much! We've been discussing race in the Chronicles on NFFR a bit and there's a chromatic challenge going on, http://dark-agenda.dreamwidth.org/24305.html
I write physical characteristics so seldom, but in my head canon, the Pevensies and a couple of Archenlanders are the only Caucasians anywhere. I do worry about doing the Race!Fail thing, but hopefully I'll get extra points for effort.

As for the Trickster, all of HHB reads as one long drawn out Trickster machination -- from the fisherman waiting on the shore, to the Tarkaan lord with the Talking Horse, the mistaken identities, the hiding behind things, the nick in time saves. obviously, Aslan had help and the punishments upon Aravis and Rabadash are classic Trickster -- he's pissed and vengeful of the harm done to his people. Thank you for dropping by! Do you review on ff.net under a pseudo there? (I ask only so I can put anons and pseudos together, and not to hunt you down. I don't even log IPs over here)
linneasr
Mar. 29th, 2011 02:07 am (UTC)
Re: Trickster
Hi,
I actually hadn't signed in when I reviewed. 'Tis me, Linnéa.
Now I'm busy thinking about Lady Willa and the Trickster. In Calormene and in saddlebags. hee!
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )

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