Monday, May 22, 2017

When Shasta asked Corin where Susan was -- The Matter of Aravis

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.]

The march was slow as the whole endeavor would be pointless if the cavalry arrived, exhausted, ahead of the, likewise exhausted, infantry, and so Shasta found himself with a lot of time to think about what he'd volunteered for. It had seemed to make sense at the time. Everything, even Aravis' suffering at the claws of a lion they'd foolishly mistaken for Aslan, would be for nothing if Anvard fell.

Sure, they'd started off looking for nothing more than freedom, but they'd become caught up in this larger flow of history and they'd all chosen to deliver Aravis' message to Anvard and warn Queen Susan of the looming danger even though they'd have been safer waiting till the battle was decided and crossing only then.

The message and warning were delivered, but neither would matter much if Anvard fell and the Tisroc were convinced to send more troops to solidify the conflict.

It had seemed to make sense to do everything in his power, including joining this hastily thrown together army, to make sure Anvard survived the assault and the Calmorene troops never had unfettered access to the passage to Narnia and Queen Susan.

As the horse --a magnificent creature that treated him well, but not someone he could possibly talk to; even Hwin would only be able to manage the most basic communication with an ordinary horse-- drew him closer and closer to the inevitable death and bloodshed, he was beginning to doubt the wisdom of volunteering.

Maybe it would have been better to leave the fighting to the other volunteers, like the Badgers and Weasels who had as much intelligence as any person paired with the fighting instincts of their wordless brethren.

Shasta was in need of some kind of reassurance or comfort, and his mind returned to Queen Susan. Not as the person they had to warn about Rabadash's assault, but as the woman who had been kind to him in Tashbaan. It wasn't his place to call on the High Queen of Narnia to quell his fears, but maybe she would anyway.

"Where is Queen Susan?" Shasta asked Corin.

Shasta was confused at the reaction his question provoked. A flury of emotions, none of them good, seemed to contort Corin's face. Just for a moment though. Then, composed, he said, "At Cair Paravel."

Why would she have stayed there? She had as much to lose as anyone. Unless--

"She’s not like Lucy, you know," Corin continued, and didn't give Shasta time to say that he didn't know before adding, "who’s as good as a man, or at any rate as good as a boy."

That made no sense. If anyone preparing for battle were given a choice between Shasta, a boy, and Aravis, a girl, they'd chose Aravis. They'd be right to. Shasta would chose Aravis over himself. Obviously girls could be better than boys, so too could they be worse. It depended on the girl and the boy in question.

Shasta had lived most of his life as a common slave with no education. One who hadn't even realized he was a slave until the end. If he could understand this, how could Corin --prince and heir to an entire well off kingdom-- not?

"Queen Susan is more like an ordinary grown-up lady," Corin said as if it meant something.
There was something harsh in his voice, but Shasta couldn't place it. "She doesn’t ride to the wars," after a pause Corin's manner became more pleasant and he said, "though she is an excellent archer.”

The only thing Shasta had learned from that was that Queen Susan was an excellent archer. Still, Shasta thought he'd figured out the answer on his own. Queen Susan was Rabadash's target. If she showed her face on the battlefield she'd be in much greater danger than anyone else. It made sense for her to avoid the battle.


* *

Shasta is actually wrong here. His reasoning is fine, but he reaches the wrong conclusion none the less. He's missing out on some important facts, you see.

Susan stayed because her state of mind wasn't fit for fighting after Corin's violent outburst toward her (because she turned down Corin's offer of marriage), which was what Ana suggested here and what I ran with on the "why Susan stayed and Corin went" fic.

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