Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Narnia: If the Heroes did their jobs: Meeting the invisible people

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.]
[More If the heroes did their job (Iisha is from a footnote here, even though the post itself isn't in this canon.) This also has the thing where stuff was supposed to go with different people but since it's established that Eustace was the Dragon that just means Lucy freed the slaves and Caspian gets this one. Anyway, story time:]
"So we're just going to walk into an ambush?" Adah asked.
"We don't have much choice," Drinian said. "We need the boat to get to the ship."
"Besides," Caspian said, "we don't know their intentions. We did land on their island with an armed force without so much as a, 'Hello.'" He paused. "I think we had cause, I remember the last time we came ashore without armed guard, and if we could have seen them we would have made diplomatic contact, but I know that if an armed force came onto Narnian shores without making their intentions clear I'd have a call to arms too." Another pause. "Hopefully we can parlay."
Adah sighed. "Some things were easier as a Serpent. So we just walk into a place where we could have knifes to our throats without even knowing it."
"If they were that close," Reepicheep said, trying to be reassuring, "I'd smell them."
"I'd try to find a position I could cover you from," Iisha said, "but I can't shoot what I can't see."
"I'm sorry," Restimar said to Caspian, "that I used your title."
"There's nothing to be sorry about," Caspian said. Letting a potential hostile force know they could capture royalty was potentially catastrophic, but who could be blamed for not seeing that an invisible enemy might be listening?
"Let's face this," Caspian said to everyone. "Lucy, Iisha, nocks on strings--"
"Susan used a bow," Lucy said. "I've always faced combat up close with a dagger." After a pause she added, "Learn your history."
Caspian said, "Iisha, ready your bow, everyone else draw your weapons or be prepared to." Caspian then led the way making a point of not drawing his sword. Only Reepicheep joined him ahead of the others.
Even though Reepicheep was actively sniffing hard he wasn't picking up much. A breeze that would be pleasant if not for its infuriating scattering of scents was blowing steadily seaward. The Mouse could tell that something dwarf-like had passed this way, but his knowledge ended there. He never picked up a scent strong enough to be coming from something that was still around and so was as surprised as the others when a voice said, "No further, masters, no further now.”
Lucy noted the use of, "Masters." Deferential words from people who clearly had the advantage over them. Slaves or servants was her guess. That meant that whatever these people's disposition, there was almost certainly a problem on this island in need of fixing.
The voice continued, “We’ve got to talk with you first. There’s fifty and more of us here with weapons. Talk would be in your best interest, it would.”
“Hear him, hear him,” came a chorus of voices. “That’s our Chief. You can depend on what he says. He’s telling you the truth, he is.”
Reepicheep hopped to Caspian's shoulder and whispered in his ear, "They're downwind of us, there could be 15 or 500. We've got only their word."
Caspian spoke in the direction of the voice, "We wish to talk as well. It was not our intention to invade your island and we would have greeted you and explained that had we been able to see you." Caspian motioned for weapons to be put away.
Iisha removed the arrow from her bowstring and returned it to her quiver, but kept in mind the direction of the Chief's voice. The other's sheathed their weapons, though likewise kept in mind the location of any voice they had been able to locate.
The Chief spoke again, "We have a request. Something your king can do for us."
Restimar swore.
"If it is truly a request, not a demand, then you have no need of weapons," Edmund said.
"We have put ours away as well," the Chief responded, to a chorus of affirmations.
"Meaning no disrespect," Reepicheep said, "but we can't see that."
Weapons appeared as they were dropped on the beach before them.
"They trust us, apparently," Eustace said.
"Or they're very desperate," Adah said.
"What is your request?" Caspian asked.
"Well,” said the Chief's voice. “It’s a long story. Suppose we all sit down?”
"If it's all the same to you," said Eustace, "we'd prefer the short version."
“Well, then, to put it in a nutshell,” said the Chief's voice, "we want your king to go into a place protected by magic spells that only royalty and the magician who made the spells can penetrate, find a magic book, and read the spell that will make us visible again, so we do."
"I may have been wrong," Eustace said. "Perhaps we should have the long version."
[And then explanation about how, while royalty can penetrate the spells certain people can be kept out via spells specifically directed at them which is why the chief couldn't read the invisible making spell (magician assumed that the daughter was useless and thus not making a special spell for) but since then there's been an anti-her spell added so none of the locals can penetrate the spells to get to the book and stuff.]


  1. >>>After a pause she added, "Learn your history."

    (I wanted to leave this comment yesterday, then forgot what I wanted to say.) If they still have schools in Narnia after Miraz' regime was overthrown (I don't feel like re-reading those books just to search for any throwavay mention of Narnia's then-current teaching system) - I wonder what those schools are like? How do they work?

    --- Redcrow

    1. I would have to assume, like Lewis' idea of a Proper English School -- lots of discipline and rote memorisation. (But, being fair to Lewis, consistent discipline rather than arbitrary, and rote memorisation of things that might actually be useful later.)

    2. Lewis was not fond of schools, apparently, and said in the first book that one of the first things the children did as good and noble rulers was to outlaw schools (because keeping your population ignorant is totally what good rulers do.)

      On the other hand he did seem to have a fondness for tutors, which is how Caspian got his hands on one. But for the non-nobility one teacher per student doesn't make much sense.

      So... stuff.

    3. Lewis definitely wasn't fond of schools. As he explains at length in his autobiography, he was bullied fairly relentlessly at his school and didn't mention it to his father because he thought it was an inevitable part of school (to be fair, the school didn't seem to care) and not worth mentioning. What later delivered him from this was his father getting him a tutor who was excellent both intellectually and personally. (Sorry for the vagueness; it's been two years since I read Surprised by Joy.)

      So, if I might guess what sort of education Lewis would approve of... Young children would first be tutored by a parent or possibly close family friend for the basics. Based on Abolition of Man, Lewis would consider that to start with the moral law and continue through reading and writing to logic. (I'm leaving out math because Lewis was completely incompetent in it and admitted as much.)

      If the parents could continue this until the child's totally prepared for adulthood, I think Lewis would consider that a good thing. In Narnia, where most Talking Animals can get their food off the land, that'd probably be more common than on Earth. Though, since the Dwarves in Horse and his Boy offer Shasta sausages, there's clearly an economy whirring on behind the scenes... so we need some schools.

      The top grade of education would be individual tutoring. Considering classical mythology, I'll say it's by Centaurs who periodically search out particularly-promising students and take them to live with them... probably in huts or tents on the grasslands. Perhaps there would be two or three students per Centaur at a time; that seems like a good compromise between efficiency and Lewis's valuing individual tutoring.

      For lesser schools... If the Pevensies merely abolish boarding schools, and leave day schools open, that'd go a long way toward helping victims of bullying such as Lewis. Having teachers who treat it as a serious problem would help, too - there're groups putting out checklists for this in real life. But I think Lewis would point to teachers having a responsibility to treat students as equals (or, at least, who they are in reality) governed by real-life moral rules, rather than trying to inculcate an artificial social hierarchy.

      So to sum up: This Narnian educational system consists of several years of homeschooling followed by individual tutoring (for a few) or day school with no in-class hierarchy. I think?