The Curse of the Orthana by Nick Tamboia

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Chapter 13: Alia Says Goodbye

Once Alia and Rusty the Dwarf had arrived at the Watchtower, they were taken in and separated, and of course questioned. 

I myself, Reepicheep arrived two days later, along with a Dwarf named Kalif, an owl named Ramar, and a faun named Alarious.

After hearing what had occurred, and what the others at the fortress had learned, I spent some time questioning the Dwarf and girl. 

I actually spent a lot of time talking with Alia, and heard all of her story, which is why I was able to tell it to you, and how I knew so much. From what she didn’t tell me, I learned from our spies.

Finally a meeting was called and we gathered to discuss what we knew and to decide what we must do. Alia and Rusty were there, although I didn’t fully trust the Dwarf as he had served Jadis. Others didn’t fully trust Alia, as she had forged the weapons, including the Black Ax, which could destroy the Silver Apple Tree of Protection Aslan had planted to protect us from Jadis. 

We had all heard the girl and Rusty’s stories separately, and now as a group we listened as they retold it, and when they were finished speaking all were silent, thinking.

“So the Goblin King has the Black Ax?” Kalif asked in an annoyed tone.

“I had to trade it, and the other weapons for our lives,” Rusty said in a defeated tone. “It was the only way. I had to get, Alia, away from Jadis, she was going to kill her.”

Alia glanced at Rusty and smiled slightly.

“Did you tell the orc what the ax was?” I then asked. “What it could do?”

“No,” Rusty answered me. “I just told him it was a powerful and unbreakable weapon, one that could harm the Shadow Lord. That was all.” 

“The Shadow Lord,” I sighed. “He is one of Jadis’s most powerful commanders.”

“It was the Shadow Lord who acquired the dragon scale for her in the first place,” Kalif said. “Even if she cannot get the weapons the girl made for her and the Black Ax back from the Goblin King, she can always send him back to get another scale for her.”

“It would be useless,” Rusty told us.

“How so?” I was interested in that.

“No one can approach the scale and be near it for long,” Rusty told us. “And no magic, not even Jadis’s, has any effect on it. The only one who can craft the scale into anything, including another Black Ax, is Alia.”

We all looked at the girl as she sat there at our table. Alia looked around at us with her violent purple colored eyes for a long moment. “I didn’t know what she wanted to use it for,” she finally said in a soft voice. “She told me it could kill, Kane, and I am afraid of him, so . . . I made the ax to kill him. I didn’t know she wanted to chop down this protecting tree.”

For a long moment no one said anything to that. Finally I sighed loudly. “She tricked you.” I then looked around at the others saying, “she is just a child of the forest. She didn’t understand what she was doing, and Jadis tricked her. We can place no blame on an innocent child who was deceived by that witch.”

They all nodded their heads and muttered agreements with what I had said.

“We need to hide, Alia,” Rusty then told us. “She is the only one who can craft another scale from the Dragon of Darkness into a Black Ax, and Jadis will do whatever it takes to get her back. Even all-out war.”

“War is what it has come to,” a voice said. 

We were all sitting in a large room on the ground floor of the fortress, one with large, arched windows that opened up to the night beyond, and the voice had come from the window off to our left. When we all looked that way a large gray fox leaped through it and approached us. He was one of our spies, the same one, as a fact, who had met Rusty a few days before in the woods.

“Greetings, Master Spy,” Ramar the owl said.

“And to you, sir,” Gray Fox replied. “Apologies for being late, but I was making sure this new information I have recently received was correct, so I had to see for myself.”

“What information might that be?” Kalif wanted to know.

“All-out war between Jadis and the Goblin King,” Gray Fox told us. He then went on to tell us how on the day the Goblin King’s forces had attacked Jadis’s fortress, while Rusty and Alia made their escape, Jadis herself had come out to battle the goblins. She had turned many to stone, and had destroyed the one Stone Giant who had smashed through her wall. Facing her rage, the goblins then retreated. In the aftermath, when she had learned that the weapons and Alia were gone, she went into such a rage that it had not only been snowing within her fortress, there was even ice thunder. 

“She believes the Goblin King not only stole her weapons,” Gray Fox went on to say, “but the girl who made them.” As he said that he looked right at Alia. “She is massing her forces, and all those of the Shadow Lord, preparing to invade the canyon where that fool, the king of goblins has his fortress.”

“This is nothing new,” Alarious the faun remarked. “They have always been fighting each other.”

“They have,” Gray Fox agreed. “But not like what we saw. Jadis is using her full force this time. Not holding back anything.”

“Good,” Rusty suddenly said. “Let them fight and kill each other. This gives us the advantage we need. A distraction.” 

“Distraction? For what?” I asked.

“To sneak into the Goblin King’s keep and steal the Black Ax back,” Rusty told us.

Everyone looked around at each other and said nothing for a long moment. “And I suppose you are a good thief?” I finally spoke up, asking Rusty.

“I am,” the voice of a boy shouted. This was followed by a loud, echoing belch that came from the same large window Gray Fox leapt through.

Before we could react to that, a small child like faun and a large centaur boy came through the opening and into the room. The faun was odd looking, one with tan skin tones, long, curly black wool on his legs, and long black hair. His face was slightly elvish, odd but not unattractive, with large pointed ears and very large eyes that were of an unusual gold coloring. 

The centaur boy beside him we all recognized as Prince Cloudborn, one of the sons of the Centaur King, Glenstorm. He was only twelve seasons old, handsome for his age, with fair skin tones, a tan coat of fur on the horse part of his body, and long light brown hair on his head. 

On his back he was carrying what looked like a very large, long brown box.

We all stood up, some, including myself, drawing their weapons as we watched the strange looking faun walk into the room.

“Hello,” he said in a cheerful tone. “Hi.” Then he looked at Alia, pointed and winked. “Sup there slappy?”

Alia frowned at that.

“Exactly who are you?” I demanded as I jumped up on the table, pointing my sword at him. 

“Me?” The faun pointed at himself with a questioning look on his face. “That’s a long story, most of what I forgot.”

Alia now stood up and glared across the table at the boy faun. I looked between them, noticing that the boy faun wore the same leather necklace with the hourglass pendant hanging off of it, as Alia did.

“You,” the girl then shouted as she pointed at the faun boy. “You!”

“I am not,” the small, odd looking faun replied.

“You,” was all Alia said again as she started to walk around the table toward the faun and Prince Cloudborn.

“A ewe is a female sheep, which I am not at all,” the faun replied as he looked at the girl.

“Can I put this down?” Prince Cloudborn asked.

“Sure, I don’t care,” the faun said. “Take a break, pony boy.”

“I am a centaur,” Prince Cloudborn grumbled as he leaned to the side and pulled the large rectangle object off of his back and set it on the floor between himself and the faun. 

“The trunk,” Alia just about screamed. “That’s the trunk I was talking about. The one I came here through.” 

This was in fact the truth; it was the trunk the girl had told us about. 

“How did you come by that?” I demanded.

“I thought you said the goblins took it?” someone else asked Alia.

“They did,” Rusty answered for her. “We saw them carry it off of the battlefield in the glade as they retreated.”

“And how did you get it?” I asked as I looked at the boy faun.

“I stole it,” the faun replied with a proud smile.

“You stole it?” The faun Alarious asked.

“He did,” Prince Cloudborn replied. “But I carried it all the way here. It’s heavy.”

“Who are you?” Owl then asked. 

“A thief,” the faun replied.

“Do you have a name, thief?” I was interested in know it if he did.

“Rupered Pudlip,” the faun answered me with a nod of his head. “Well that’s what my mother named me anyway, that was after my pa died. He was run over by a drunk, giant snail.”

“He was run over by a giant snail?” I was doubtful of that.

The faun nodded his head. 

“Do you know who slow snails move, even big ones? It’s impossible to be run over by one,” I suggested.

“Well, my Pa wasn’t what you would call a genius,” the faun told us. “True snails, even giant intoxicated ones do move slowly, and my Pa probably could have jumped up out of its way, ran home, ordered a pizza and read this story from front to back, twice, before the snail ever reached where he had been. But, like I said, my father wasn’t all that bright, and you know, a goat. You know how goats faint when they get scared. So there you go. After he was gone, my mother took to drinking sour milk and chewing on old tin cans while she wrote smutty stories about squirrels and redheaded mermaids riding unicorns. When I was born, she named me Rupered Pudlip and sent me to live with circus folk.” 

“Absolutely none of that is true,” Alia said as she stood beside the faun, looking more closely at him. 

“Yeah, not a word,” the faun agreed with a smile. “You can call me, Puck, if you like.”

Alia then leaned her face close to that of the faun, looking closely into his eyes. “I know who you are,” she finally whispered.

“You should not keep you face so close to mine, or I might steal a kiss,” the faun told her.

Alia actually blushed at that as she stood upright. 

We all looked around at each other, wondering.

“You two know each other?” Gray Fox asked.

“No,” Puck answered.

“Yes,” Alia also answered.



“Maybe,” the faun then said as he looked around at us. 

“He’s crazy,” Prince Cloudborn told us as he pointed at the faun. “I’ve been with him for two days now, and I am certain he is insane. But he is a thief, and a good one, I will admit. I went with him into the Goblin King’s canyon and he did sneak into his fortress and seal that,” the centaur boy concluded as he pointed at the trunk.

“You can’t open that, Kane might be in there,” Alia said as she looked at the trunk.

“No,” Puck told her. “He never went in there. When he found the cellar empty, he thought you ran into the woods instead and went to look for you there.”

Alia made no remark, but seemed to relax a little.

“So you broke into the Goblin King’s keep and stole that trunk,” Alarious said, thoughtful.

“It would have been better had you stole the Black Ax for us,” I remarked at length.

Puck held up his right index finger. “I . . . did.” He smiled as he had said that.

We all looked at each other, shocked to hear this. “You did?” I then asked, not sure I believed him. “You stole the Black Ax?”

Puck nodded his head, while Prince Cloudborn said, “yeah he did that too.”

“How?” I was still confused by this turn of events.

“How could you possibly have done this so quickly?” Owl asked.

“I move forward and I move back,” Puck said.

“Raven,” Alia shouted in an accusing tone.

“The old hag,” Rusty whispered.

Ignoring him, Alia went on to ask, “why do you look like that now? Last time I saw you, you looked like a . . . human boy with wings on his back.”

Puck held his hands up at his sides and put a sarcastic expression on his face. “Narnia.”

Alia said nothing to that.

“Wait,” I interrupted. “The Black Ax. Where is it?”

“I hid it,” Puck answered.

“You hid it?” I was annoyed to hear this. 

“I did,” Puck said with a nod of his head.

“Why did you do that? Why didn’t you bring it here to us so we can hide it, keep it safe from Jadis?” That made sense to me.

“Because it’s not for you,” Puck answered me. “None of you can use the Black Ax or any of the weapons created from the scale of the Dragon of Darkness. None of you can withstand the power of them, and to be around them for even a few moments will cause harm and death to you. Only mortal humans can. What you people here call Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve. Only they can use them, as the dark power of the dragon’s scale the weapons were created from has no effect on them. Which is why, Alia, was able to be by the dragon scale while she was crafting it into weapons, as she is half mortal human and the scale had no real effect on her. Unfortunately, Jadis is also half a Daughter of Eve. Half human, so she would be able to use the ax too, although she doesn’t realize this.”

Puck nodded his head. “Far away. A pink blossom tree with a tree nymph in it. This is important because someone needs to let the humans who will soon come here, and let them know how to find the ax. As I said, they are the only ones who can use it. And it is the only weapon in this world that can actually kill the Shadow Lord.”

We all looked around at each other, thinking. 

“Where did you hide the ax?” I wanted to know. 

“In a tree,” Puck told us. 

“In a tree,” I echoed.“And probably, Jadis,” Alarious muttered.

“No,” Puck told him. “Well if you wacked her in the head with it, sure it would harm her just as any ax would, but the magic of it would have no effect on her at all. As I said, she’s half human. But it will kill the Shadow Lord and the other Black Weapons will destroy his shadowlings. Now listen carefully to what I have to say, because someone needs to let the humans who are coming here, know this.”

“Wait,” Owl spoke up. “From what we have been told this trunk you brought here is a doorway between worlds. It is how the girl came here from her world. Why not just give her the Black Ax and send her back to her world?”

“I am not sure I want to go back,” Alia admitted as she looked around at us. “Kane is still looking for me.”

Puck nodded his head at that. “It would not be the end of it. The Shadow Lord will still be here, and Jadis can use him and his powers to devastating effect.”

I thought about that for a moment. “This isn’t about the Black Ax. Not really. You sound like you are saying you want the humans to kill the Shadow Lord with the ax.”

Puck just nodded his head. “He needs to be sent back to the underworld and the Black Ax is the only thing that can do it. If he remains here Jadis will use him. And once she realized the Goblin King no longer has the ax, she will send him back to get another scale. If not Alia, she will eventually find someone else to craft a Black Ax for her. Either that, or as her powers continue to grow, she will eventually be able to do it herself.”

“So the Black Ax is a threat to us all,” I finally said. “But the Shadow Lord is a worse threat, to us.”

Puck nodded his head. “You should also be concerned that if he grew tired of his service to the witch, he might decide to betray Jadis and bring the Dragon of Darkness here and use its power to make himself emperor. If he were to do that, not only would the power of the Tree of Protection be useless, not even Jadis would be able to stop him. The humans need to send him back to the underworld.”

We all looked around at each other, thoughtful.

“How can the humans find the ax?” I finally asked. 

Puck snapped his right hand out and there was a flash of bright blue light, and we all saw that he was holding up another necklace with an hourglass pendant hanging from it. “First off, donkey boy here needs to find a safe place, hidden from Jadis and the Goblin King, for the trunk.”

“I am a centaur,” Prince Cloudborn sighed.

“You keep saying that like I’m supposed to be impressed,” Puck remarked as he walked over and handed the necklace with the hourglass on it to the Centaur Prince. “Take this with you. Find a safe place for the trunk. When the sands in the hourglass glow green, open the trunk, this will cause a doorway between the worlds and bring the humans into this one.”

Prince Cloudborn took the necklace and looked it over, before nodding his head.

“And then?” I asked.

“Once they are here they need to find the ax I hid,” Puck explained. “The other weapons are scattered around. Oh they are going to need my flute. I really liked that one but I guess I’ll leave it here. The raven knows how to find the flute.”

“Which raven?”

“One with a gray patch of fathers on its chest that look like an hourglass,” Alia muttered.

Puck nodded his head. “Once they have the flute they need to follow the raven to find the tree. Once they do that, they need to play the notes and the nymph of the tree will reveal the ax to them. After that, it’s up to them.”

“What musical notes?” I asked.

“Do ray me,” Rusty suddenly said. “The old hag was singing that constantly when she had been in Jadis’s dungeon.”

Puck just nodded his head. “Mostly this is up to the Daughters of Adam and the Sons of Eve. Or is it the other way around? Anyhow, it’s up the humans to do it. They are the only ones who can. If you want to help them, that’s up to you guys.”

We all looked around at each other, thinking.

Prince Cloudborn looked down at the trunk and sighed. “So I guess I’m carrying that thing again.”

“It needs to be put someplace safe from Jadis and the Goblin King,” I suggested. “Find such a spot for it.”

“I will go with you,” Rusty said. “If you’ll have me.”

“I am not so sure about that,” I remarked.

“He is a good man,” Alia said as she looked at Rusty. “He saved me.”

Rusty bowed his head at that.

“You can come with me if you want,” Prince Cloudborn suggested.

“Just remember, when the hourglass glows, open the trunk,” Puck said. “It’ll pull the humans in.” 

“You set this all up, didn’t you?” I asked the odd faun. 

Puck smiled. “I move forward and I move back.”

I frowned at that. 

“You can manipulate time,” Owl suggested.

“It’s more like I can step out of it,” Puck said. “Like stepping off a path and running alongside of it in one direction or the other and then stepping back on it.”

“Why would you do this for us?” I really wanted to know that. 

“For Aslan,” Puck replied. “He did a favor for us a while back. My mother and sisters and I. When he came to us and asked for help with this, my sister and I agreed. She did her part and now I have done mine. I guess if you really think about it, it was Aslan who set this all up. We were just doing what he asked. Now I have to go. I can’t stay here. I have to move on. I wish you all luck.”

“Wait, you’re leaving us?” Gray Fox asked.

“We could use your help,” I admitted.

“My part in this story is done,” Puck said as walked over to the huge arched window. “This is not my fight. It’s for the humans who will come here, and any of you who want to help them. I did as Aslan asked, my sister and I, and now I have to move on.”

“To where?” 

“The restaurant at the end of time, I bet,” Alia suggested.

“I heard they have great double bacon cheeseburgers there,” Puck said with a smile as he looked back at the girl. Then he turned around and looked out of the window and shouted, “Hay Bobby! Let’s get going.”

As we all watched a huge elk suddenly appeared out of the night and slowly walked over to stand over the small faun boy. “Actually,” the elk said, speaking in a deep voice. “I prefer to be called, Robert.”

“Okay, Reberto,” Puck said as he walked around to the elk’s side and climbed up on it.

“That’ll do,” the elk remarked.

“Wait,” Prince Cloudborn said as he looked at the elk. “He was here all the time, and is twice the size of me, and you made me carry that heavy trunk all the way here?”

“Well,” Puck said with a smile. “How else would you be able to brag to your father and brothers about your part in this story if you didn’t?”

Prince Cloudborn thought it over and smiled. “True,” he remarked as he looped the necklace with the hourglass over his neck.

“So you’re leaving,” Alia sighed as she looked at Puck.

“I have to go find a soul stealing, magic eating vampire and deal with him,” Puck said as he looked at Alia. “I am a Magi, after all, and it’s sort of my responsibility to do that. Besides if I didn’t my mother would be really annoyed with me. Want to come for a ride?” He finished by looking at Alia and smiling as he held his right hand out toward her. 

Alia looked around at all of us, thoughtful for a moment.

“You can’t stay here,” Rusty told her. “It’s too dangerous here for you. Jadis will try and get you again.”

“He’s right,” I told the girl. “So long as Jadis is alive, you will never be safe here.”

Alia looked around at us and then back at Puck. “How are we going to get back to our world? Or your world?”

“There are many ways to travel between worlds,” Robert the elk told her.

“Why do you think I hang out with this guy,” Puck said as he nodded his head at the elk.

Alia smiled at that as she walked over to them. Puck leaned down and held his hand out. After a moment the girl took it and he helped her up onto the elk’s back. 

“Are you going to stay looking like that?” Alia asked the faun boy.

“I’ll change,” he told her. “If my mother saw me like this, she’d laugh. My sisters would tell me I’m a knot head.” Looking back at us Puck smiled. “Good luck to you all.”

Alia waved at us and smiled.

“Please be kind enough to tell Aslan, I send greetings, should you see him,” Robert the elk requested, as he turned around. Slowly he began walking off into the darkness.

“Good bye,” Alia shouted back at us as she turned and waved. 

When they were gone, we all looked around at each other and then discussed what to do next. Prince Cloudborn and Rusty would take the trunk to a safe place and when the time was right, open it and bring the humans into our world. I would go with them to let those that arrived here in Narnia what had occurred and why they were brought here. 

As I have now told you. The war between Jadis and the Goblin King continues and the goblins are hunting for the Black Ax and other weapons, Alia had made. The Shadow Lord himself and his Shadowlings are also looking for the same. 

Our only hope is that you Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve find them first and rid us of the Shadow Lord, and the Black Ax.