Heart hammering against her chest, Sarah heaved in gulps of air as the group ran uphill. The air was cold and it was night outside. Mr. Beaver had deduced that Edmund was heading for the witch's castle. Apparently, he had decided to tell her of their presence in Narnia. And for what? Bites of Turkish Delight, thought Sarah, bitter at the fact they had been betrayed.
They soon arrived where the forest ended and the surface of an iced over lake began. The moon's rays reflected off the mirror like surface of frozen ice. In the middle of the lake was an ice palace which spiraled hundreds of feet into the air. Squinting, Sarah could make out Edmund's shadowy form already in the courtyard. Shoulders slumped in defeat, she knew they were too late.
Kicking the snow, she muffled a curse.
"Edmund!" Lucy shouted.
"Quiet! They'll hear ya!" Mr. Beaver shushed them. Suddenly, Peter lunged forward, but Sarah had that quicker instincts. Grabbing him by the shoulder, she yanked him backwards. Flailing through the air, Sarah groaned as Peter landed face down on top of her.
Ironic, she thought of when they had tumbled through the wardrobe on first arriving in Narnia. Their positions had been reversed then. Well, it does take two to tango, she thought, managing at least a little humor. "Sorry," Peter apologized, offering her his hand.
"This is all your fault!" Sarah and Peter turned to glare at Susan. How can she say that about him? We all agreed to explore!
"Stop it!" Shouted Lucy with the power of a lioness.
They all turned to face her. "This isn't going to help Edmund," she pleaded.
She's right! We've been fools. While we've been waiting time here bickering, the witch could be using that against us! Realized Sarah, frowning at the revelation.
"She's right," Mr. Beaver looked up at them, sadness in his chocolate brown eyes. "Only Aslan can help your brother now."
"Then take us to him," Peter demanded, resigning them all to an unpredictable fate.
Sarah's heart pounded and she discovered strength she never new she had. The surge of adrenaline from the chase gave her incredible speed. Soon, they arrived back at the Beavers' dam.
"Hurry Miss! They're after us!" Mr. Beaver told his wife.
"Oh, right then!" Sarah watched, perplexed as Mrs. Beaver frantically gathered a few things.
"What's she doing?!" Peter exclaimed.
"You'll be thanking me later. It's a long journey, and Beaver gets pretty cranky when he wants to," she explained.
"I'm cranky now!" Snarled Mr. Beaver.
Suddenly, Sarah heard a wolf howl. This one was much closer than before. Then, she heard what sounded like the roof being ripped into. Before she knew it, they were running through a secret tunnel. Lucy tripped, and Sarah helped her back to her feet. Hearing the howls of the wolves echoing in the tunnel, she knew their pursuers weren't far behind.
They emerged out of the tunnel, and Sarah stopped in her tracks. In front of her were statues of stone animals. A strange feeling inside of her told her these animals used to be living beings. Sorrow the likes of which she never felt before consumed her, and she let the tears fall.
How could someone do such a thing to these creatures? She wondered, as the others finally saw what she did. It was then and there that Sarah decided she would do whatever she could to help these animals, these people, rid the land of this witch.
"This is what happens to those that cross the witch," snapped a voice with thunder. They all turned to see a fox standing on a rock, watching them with amusement.
"You take one more step traitor and I'll-" Mr. Beaver was held back by his wife, and the fox chuckled.
"Relax, I'm one of the good guys."
"Yeah? Well you look an awful lot like one of the bad ones," spat Mr. Beaver, still being restrained by his wife.
"An unfortunate family resemblance. Right now, we've got to move," the fox told them.
"What did you have in mind?" Asked Sarah. The wolf gave her a sly grin in reply.
If there was one thing more than other children Sarah didn't like, it was heights. Once, as a little girl, she had nearly fallen from a high place because someone shoved her near the edge of a tall cliff. She kept her eyes closed and refused to look down. Sure, it may just be an oak tree, but she didn't want to fall. Don't look down, don't look down, she tried to stop herself. Unfortunately, her plan didn't work, and she looked down just in time to see the wolves leap out of the tunnel.
Some had darker colored fur the color of night, while others matched the color of snow. One wolf in particular was bigger than the rest. They surrounded the fox.
"Greetings gents. Lost something have we?" Chuckled the fox. The biggest wolf snarled back. "Don't patronize me! I know where you're allegiance lies!We're looking for some humans."
"Humans, in Narnia? Now that's a bit of valuable information don't you think?" The fox asked.
One of the wolves brought his jaws crunching down on the fox, who yelped in pain, as if he had been a dog struck by his owner. Sarah gasped, but Peter clamped her mouth with his hand. She silently watched the conversation going on below.
"North, they ran north," the fox appeared to give in. "Smell them out!" Commanded the largest wolf, and the one holding the fox in its mouth threw it up against the tree. The wolves took off running.
Even with the fire crackling, Sarah shivered. She was left shaken up by the savageness of the wolves. The fox barked, protesting Mrs. Beaver messaging him where he hurt.
"You'll be glad to have him by your side in the battle against the witch," said the fox, referring to Aslan.
"We're not planning on fighting a war," quipped Susan. The fox ignored her and stared at Peter with admiration. "But surely King Peter, the prophecy?" He inquired.
"We can't go to war without you," Mr. Beaver told all of them, his eyes coming to rest on Sarah. She looked away, unsure what to make of his intensive gaze.
Two days had passed since they had departed ways with the fox. But unlike before, when dark clouds blotted out the sun, the golden ball in the sky now peeked between the clouds.
How much further? Wondered Sarah. She longed for Snow, to be able to ride and travel that much faster. Her face paled. She realized she was homesick. Blinking back the tears, she wanted to feel the loving embrace of her grandfather, for him to tell her that everything would be alright. Glancing at the others, Sarah knew they were all as tired as she was. Especially Lucy. It amazed Sarah that the young girl was able to keep up with them without stopping.
"Hurry it up!" Mr. Beaver shouted. Sarah shook her head in reply.
"If he tells us to hurry up one more time, I'm going to turn him into a big, fluffy hat," grumbled Peter. Giggling at Peter's joke, Sarah found herself unable to stop laughing.
"Why don't you give him a fluffy hat instead?" She grinned, causing both Susan and Lucy to burst out laughing. Sarah sighed, relieved to have eased the tension they had felt for the past few days.
"Hurry!" This time, both Beaver's urged at them. The sound of bells jingling reached Sarah's ears. What could- crap, it's her! Realized Sarah. Turning around, she was able to make out a cloud of white powder in the distance. It was definitely a sleigh, so that had to mean it was the witch.
Picking up the pace, they finally reached the tree line. "Inside, inside!" Mr. Beaver urged them into a small hiding spot. It was cramped, but Sarah knew this was the best hiding spot available.
The jingling noise stopped right above them, and Sarah pressed her back against the rock wall when she saw a shadow in front of them. Sighing in relief when the shadow moved off, Sarah wondered if perhaps they had given the witch the slip.
"Maybe she's gone," whispered Lucy in a tiny voice. "I suppose I'll go look then," Suggested Peter, scrambling to get up. "No!" Exclaimed Sarah, snapping her mouth shut. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Now you've given away your location the witch! She chastised herself. But when nothing happened, it was Mr. Beaver who went out to see what if the witch was really gone.
A few tense seconds past, and Sarah was beginning to get worried. No screams, shouts or sounds of any struggle could be heard. Suddenly, Mr. Beaver popped his head over the edge.
"Come out! Come out! I hope you've all been good, cause there's someone here to see ya!" He said, excitement in his voice. Confused, Sarah cautiously followed the other children out of their hiding place. Then, a smile lit on her face when she saw who was waiting for them.
It was not the witch. Instead, it was a large man with a snowy white beard and bear belly. Hands on hips, he laughed. A deep, melodic chuckle that caused goosebumps to roll across Sarah's arms.
No freaking way!
"We thought you were the witch," explained Susan.
"Ah yes. Sorry about that. But in my defense, I've been driving one of these a lot longer than she has!" Explained Father Christmas.
"I thought there was no Christmas in Narnia," asked Susan, walking forward.
"No. Not for a long time. But the hope that your Majesties have brought, is finally beginning to weaken the witch's power," continued Father Christmas.
This is absolutely ridiculous! We aren't royalty! Thought Sarah. This had to be a case of mistaken identity. She was about to voice her opinion when the large man reached for something in the sleigh, and brought out a bag of toys and other items.
"Presents!" Exclaimed Lucy, excited at having an extra Christmas. Shaking her head, Sarah wondered what else there was in this land that was waiting for them.
She watched as Father Christmas gave gifts to the others. To Lucy, a healing cordial and ornate dagger. To Susan, a magic horn and bow and arrows. The. To Peter, a sword with writing etched into the blade, and the pommel which was a golden lion's head. He also gave the boy a shield with a red dragon rampant. And finally, the man in read turned to her.
"Sarah," he began, and reached down into his bag. She gasped at what he brought out. It was a silver pole. It was about five feet long. He pressed something, and two smaller bars appeared lower, like a cross-guard.
What is it? She wondered as the man handed it to her. Inspecting it, her eyes came to rest on an image engraved in the metal. There was a lion's head between two woman with the same pole as hers. The bars were cross as if in combat above the lion's head.
"This wand is now your weapon, for the blood of the ancient Narnians flows in your veins. But beware this: for even the smallest amount of power can corrupt the purest of souls," he said cryptically.
She nodded, weary of what he was saying. Snow told me the same thing, she realized. She needed answers, and it appeared the only person who would provide her with any, would be Aslan.
"Now, I must be off. Winter is almost over, and things can pile up when you've been gone a hundred years," began Father Christmas. "Long live Aslan!" He finished, mounting his sleigh.
"Merry Christmas! Goodbye!" Sarah and the others shouted and waved until he was out of sight.
"He said winter is almost over," said Peter to the others with a grim look on his face. "You know what that means." A deathly silence passed over them.
"No more ice," Sarah inhaled sharply. They would have to make it to the river before the ice melted.