Thursday, December 3, 2015

Meeting Hwin and Aravis

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.]
[Most of Bree's lines are straight from the original, though allowances have to be made for the fact that Shasta shouldn't know what a girl sounds like and other people saying different things and whatnot.]

Shasta heard a voice at his side say, "Oh, I am so tired," and wondered if he was meant to respond. When he looked over he saw the Tarkaan leaning forward, perhaps the Tarkaan had been talking to his horse?

Then Shasta thought he heard a second voice, one that was barely a whisper and carried over the still water scarcely enough to hear, "Hwin, you've grown too reckless; it's not yet safe to speak."

After that there was silence, but Shasta wondered which was more likely, that he had imagined the whisper, or that there was another talking Horse in the area and it was right beside them.

Soon the horses were no longer swimming but walking and soon with a great sound of water running off their sides and tails and with a great crunching of pebbles under eight hoofs, they came out on the further beach of the inlet. The Tarkaan, to Shasta's surprise, showed no wish to ask questions. He did not even look at Shasta but seemed anxious to urge his horse straight on. Bree, however, at once shouldered himself in the other horse's way.

"Broo-hoo-hah!" he snorted. "Steady there! I heard you, I did. There's no good pretending, Ma'am. I heard you. You're a Talking Horse, a Narnian horse just like me."

"There's no such thing as a talking horse," said the strange rider, looking at Shasta instead of Bree, "and you, boy, would do well not to engage in such pranks."

"He didn't say anything," Bree said, making it impossible to mistake his voice for a human one, "and I wasn't speaking to you. She's a Talking Horse from Narnia."

"What's it got to do with you if she is?" said the strange rider fiercely, laying hand on sword-hilt. But the voice in which the words were spoken made Shasta less afraid.

"He must be younger than me to have a voice like that," Shasta said.

"He? It's only a girl," Bree said. "Don't you know your own race?"

"And what business is it of yours if I am a girl?" snapped the stranger. "Your rider is but a little boy, and you a rude creature who'll get himself caught the first village he comes to."

"Actually we've been through several villages without being caught," Shasta said.

"Looking like that?" the other rider said, "You look like a slave who's fled by stealing his master's horse. Even if that Horse didn't have such a loud mouth, I'd expect you both to be captured and carted off the moment you set foot or hoof in a settlement."

"And yet we haven't been," Bree said, "And as to your first question, I should think it only natural to want to speak with a member of my own race, given how long it's been since I've heard one."

"I do think it's natural too, Aravis," the other horse said.

"Even so, Hwin," Aravis said, surveying the area, "I wish you'd held your tongue; you don't know what trouble you may have gotten us into."

"I don't know about trouble," said Shasta. "You can clear off as soon as you like. We shan't keep you."

"No, you shan't," said the girl. "Hwin, if anyone heard four voices and saw only two riders they'll be on their way already."

"What quarrelsome creatures these humans are," said Bree to the Hwin. "They're as bad as mules. Let's try to talk a little--"

"What's wrong with Mules?" Hwin asked in an angry tone.

"Madam, I simply want to talk sense to someone," Bree said. When Hwin said nothing he tried to get her started with, "I take it, Ma'am, your story is the same as mine? Captured in early youth--years of slavery among the Calormenes?"

"Too true, sir," said Hwin with a melancholy whinny.

"And now, perhaps--escape?" Bree prompted.

"Please tell him to mind his own business, Hwin," said the girl.

"No, I won't, Aravis," said Hwin, putting her ears back. "You don't know what it's like to be completely alone. I understand your concerns but this is my escape just as much as yours. I've let you take your risks, let me take this one." Then, to Bree, she said, "We are trying to escape, to get to Narnia."

"And so, of course, are we," said Bree. "Of course you guessed that at once. A little boy in rags riding (or trying to ride) a war horse at dead of night couldn't mean anything but an escape of some sort. And, if I may say so, a high-born Tarkheena riding alone at night—dressed up in her brother's armour—and very anxious for everyone to mind their own business and ask her no questions—well, if that's not fishy, call me a cob!"

"All right then," said Aravis, "you're a cob. Now that we've established that we're all trying to get to Narnia, what about it? What do have to contribute talking Horse who won't shut up?"

"Why, in that case, what is to prevent us all going together?" said Bree. "I trust, Madam Hwin, you will accept such assistance and protection as I may be able to give you on the journey?"

"There are two of us here," Aravis said, "yet you only seem to notice the one."

"If you split up, I have a feeling I know which of you would be more likely to make it to Narnia on foot," Bree said.

"And if the four of us ride together," Aravis said, "we'll be more likely to be noticed."

"Less," said Bree but offered no explanation.

"Oh let's. I should feel much more comfortable," Hwin said. "We're not even certain of the way."

"Nor are they," Aravis said, "unless the boy is from Narnia. You heard the Horse, he was taken as a foal."

"Oh come on, Bree," said Shasta, "and let them go their own way. Can't you see they don't want us?"

"I do," said Hwin.

"And you have let me take my risks," Aravis said, then sighed. "Alright, and what of the boy?"

"What of me?" asked Shasta loudly.

"Be quiet, Shasta," said Bree. "The Tarkheena's caution is quite reasonable. I'll vouch for the boy, Tarkheena. He's been true to me and a good friend. And he's certainly either a Narnian or an Archenlander."

"I meant," Aravis said, "that he obviously doesn't want us to travel together. If we do then he's at risk as much as the three of us."

"Shasta won't be a problem," Bree said.

"And what does Shasta have to say?" Hwin asked.

"We can travel together," Shasta said.

Aravis was less than convinced, but if Hwin wanted to travel with another of her kind, as unhelpful as this one seemed to be, she wouldn't stop Hwin. Hwin had made allowances for her, after all. "I guess it's decided then," she said.

"Splendid!" said Bree. "And now that we've got the water between us and those dreadful animals, what about you two humans taking off our saddles and our all having a rest and hearing one another's stories."

- -

[It couldn't be worked into the above because it doesn't fit the flow, but I also wrote:]

Some parts of this really do have easy salvage written all over them. For example:
“I trust, Madam Hwin, you will accept such assistance and protection as I may be able to give you on the journey?”

“Why do you keep talking to my horse friend instead of to and ignoring me?” asked the girl.
There, all better.

Relationship makes sense, Bree gets called out for being an asshole without getting to hide behind an "It's ok for me to be a generic asshole because you're a fantasy racist" defense, and we've established that these two people have been fleeing together long enough to recognize each other as people. Even sets up a nice contrast: the horse and his boy vs. the horse and her friend. If friendship is too much then "ally" or whatever. "Companion" would work well here.


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