Thursday, September 12, 2013


Fenris Ulf has heard the stories, of course. The songs and prayers and speeches, yes, those too. Ulf hid behind a ridge or crept low in the underbrush or sat still as a shadow just above the traitors and listened. He noted the scents of those enraptured below, the decadent creatures who would have Narnia again occupied by their great king of cats. Tyrant Aslan, the colonizing lion from beyond the sea who they would have curled up on the true queen’s throne. Low forest creatures called out the name and hoped the aristocratic centaurs and unicorns would be impressed. The captain of her majesty’s secret police scoffed in the dark before giving the order to move in every time, wondering how many of these traitors were even old enough to remember the failed, false reign of Aslan.

Ulf remembers. He was barely more than a pup in the twilight of Aslan’s occupation, but he remembers. Narnia sits at a juncture point in the multiverse where at least four pagan dimensions worth of mythic creatures crash into one another. Some of these creatures can traverse the whole world simply by imagining themselves in the place they want to be. Nymphs are forever deconstructing and reconstructing some of the kingdom’s most crucial architecture. Throughout Narnia, there are countless points where the membrane of reality is dangerously thin, where creatures from yet more worlds can come wandering in. The pretender’s sycophants call Aslan’s reign a golden age because they’ve only lived it in the stories of the privileged. When Ulf remembers Aslan’s reign, Ulf remembers chaos.

Aslan plays at the throne but prefers the pageant of the monarchy to any of its responsibility. Even the most obsequious of the traitors admit how prone Aslan is to wandering away from Cair Paravel. What good is a ruler that won’t rule? What right had Aslan to power when the lion would not wield it and impose order? Narnia of old was a failed state where not even the very shape of the countryside could be relied upon from day to day. And Aslan’s reasoning for this neglect? A prophecy that claims Narnia’s four thrones await four children of Adam and Eve; that Aslan is only to be steward until humans return to seize power.

Ulf knows what humans do to wolves.

This prophecy – this conspiracy – will be nothing but a traitor’s fantasy so long as Fenris Ulf lives. Before Great Queen Jadis brought the Winter’s Peace to Narnia, half the creatures who now curse her would have lived as vassals to the half that now bid them to praise the lion. Their ingratitude to the true queen and their toadying to Aslan the occupier, Aslan the pretender, make Ulf sicker than anything he can think of. They gather for these pitiful meetings, low creatures letting high creatures spin them pretty stories about a careless lion who would cede their realm to humans. They dream of a golden age that none of them saw, all the while disdaining the hundred years of peace their true queen has won for them!

Ulf has confessed to this only once, and only to Queen Jadis herself, but breaking up these meetings is one of his truest pleasures in this world. Usually the strength of the traitors is so pathetic that he need not even be on hand when her majesty’s secret police capture the conspirators. At such times, Ulf won’t give the order to strike until he’s circled round downwind of the meeting. He loves to sit where the scent of the traitors’ hope is thickest, where he can hear their heartbeats rising in exultation to the pretender. There is nothing so sweet in all of Narnia as the sound of that joyful drumbeat collapsing into panic when the queen’s police spring from the treeline. There is nothing Ulf savors so thoroughly as the scent of their hope flaring over with terror. On a night like that, Ulf won’t walk down to review the prisoners until well after the wind has changed.

Their excuses for trying to break the Winter’s Peace are all tedious variants of the same flimsy story. To be truthful, Ulf scarcely makes note of their reasons for defying the queen beyond their admissions of having done so. As voices quaver, as their lying eyes search his face for pity, Ulf wonders to himself where this next conspirator will go in her majesty’s statue garden once she has carried out their sentence and turned them into stone. He has helped her to populate and arrange it for years now and is developing quite an eye.

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