Editor’s note: The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis, have inspired many writers over the decades– including one of the Mission Viejo Library Teen Voice bloggers, Sarah J. This short story is inspired by events from Lewis’ sixth Narnia book, The Magician’s Nephew.
Rosemary and her older twin brother, William, ran up to the attic of their grandma’s house. They had finally gotten permission to explore. They scrambled up the rickety ladder that led to the dark, dry attic. Inside of the attic, there were boxes filled with books, old toys, pieces of dilapidated furniture, and many other odd items here and there. Both William and Rosemary started to rummage through all if the boxes, searching for anything that seemed interesting. One particular box caught Rosemary’s eye. The box was not a plain wooden or cardboard box. The box was sealed tightly shut and covered with strange shapes and designs. It was slightly smaller than a microwave oven. Intrigued by the sight, Rosemary cautiously crept over to the box and tried to open it. First she tried tugging at the top; then, she found a metal latch that kept it shut. Rosemary carefully undid the latch and warily opened the box. She decided to call her brother over before further investigating the box.
“Will, come over here,” she called, “I want to show you something.”
Will hastily scrambled over.
“What is it?” he asked.
“Look at what I found.”
Both of them peered into the box. The contents of the box were rather odd. Inside, there was a beautiful white, silk dress. On top of the dress lay a heavy golden crown that had crimson jewels set into it. William picked up the crown and placed it next to the box while, Rosemary was taking out the dress and folding it next to the box. There was nothing else in the box except for a few pieces of jewelry and a package that was wrapped in some sort of beige colored cloth. William picked up the package and started to unwrap it. Inside of the package was a worn leather-bound book. On the cover, the title was written in bold lettering. The title was “The Destruction of Charn.”
“What a weird title,” commented Rosemary. “Hey, William, why don’t you read it out loud? Hello? William, are you listening to me?”
“Hmm,” replied Will, who was opening the book.
“William! Read it out loud,” ordered Rosemary, “William, are you listening to me?”
William gave a contemptuous glance to his sister and answered, “Fine.”
William began to read…
Long ago in another world, there was a city known as Charn. Charn was once a wonderful city with lofty towers, massive palaces, and bubbling fountains. Beautiful blue birds sang serene songs. Jaunty children ran through the cobblestone streets. Laden horses trotted through stone archways. Mothers hung wet, dripping laundry outside of their windows. Rushing, clear, clean, rivers flowed under bridges. Houses were covered in bright colors and decoration. Green gardens filled with flowers and shrubs were everywhere.
Unfortunately, Charn had become a war-torn country. No longer did children play happily in the streets or birds sing their joy-filled songs. The once exquisite buildings were now dilapidated and all of the color stripped away. The rivers were polluted by red blood. Dead fetid bodies covered the fields. The queen of Charn, Richilde, and her younger sister, Jadis, were fighting for the throne. The current queen, Queen Richilde, was a kind ruler. She loved her people dearly. She was also exceptionally strong and rather brave. At every turn she tried to protect her people from harm. While on the other hand, the Queen’s sister, Jadis, was a cunning tyrant. Jadis was a cruel and a power-hungry woman. All she desired was for more and more power and wealth. She could not care less what happened to the people of Charn.
Jadis desired her sister’s throne because it would provide her with more power. Jadis started a war against her sister in order to gain the throne. Before the awful fighting started, three people from each side met together in order to placidly draw closer to an agreement. Both Queen Richilde and Jadis arrived with their top officials. Unfortunately, the meeting did not end well. The only thing that happened was that both sides signed a special parchment that made them promise not to use any form of magic at all as long as there was fighting. Soon after the meeting, interminable fighting ensued. The two intrepid armies marched over decaying fields. The sound of clashing metal swords and frightened whining of horses were everywhere on the battlefield. The soldiers charged up brown hills and through withering forests. As Jadis’ soldiers pressed closer to the main palace, Queen Richilde ordered more and more people to be evacuated to the main palace for their safety. She placed herself in many perilous situations many times in order to save her people. She even broke the scarce agreement of not using magic at all. In one bloody battle, a group of young children had somehow ended up in the middle of two horse-drawn chariots that were charging straight at each other. Queen Richilde at the last-minute noticed the children and used magic to save the children. Jadis was furious about the violation of the agreement of not using magic and swore that Queen Richilde would pay. The final battle lasted three terrible days. Every day Jadis’ troops advanced closer and closer to the palace. On the third and final day of the battle, all the soldiers tenaciously battled through the day, each trying their hardest for their side. Somehow Queen Richilde’s troops managed to overcome Jadis’ troops and killed every single one of them. Jadis calmly observed the massacre of her soldiers up on the top-level of a tower. On top of the tower, Jadis could stare at most of the capital city. Jadis watched dull, gray smoke rise from flaming buildings. The once green, fertile fields that surrounded the city were now covered with fetid rotting bodies and dried blood. The sun was obscured by dark, gray clouds. The once bubbling fountains were dry and cracked. Queen Richilde and about thirty of her strongest soldiers started up the stairs that lead up to where Jadis was. Jadis lay insolently on a couch while Queen Richilde rushed up the stairs.
Jadis scowled when Queen Richilde finally arrived at the top of the tower. Jadis stood up from the couch and confronted her sister with a sickly sweet smile. Queen Richilde warily drew her long, finely crafted, formidable sword.
“Why, isn’t my dear sister, Richilde,” exclaimed Jadis smugly, “have you yet decided to bestow upon me the throne, or will I have to compel you to give it to me?”
“I am not longer your sister, Jadis,” rebuked Queen Richilde, who was slightly perturbed. “When you decided to forcefully take the royal throne that became your downfall. Why did you do it?”
Jadis glanced contemptuously at Queen Richilde and replied vehemently, “Mother and father never cared about me. They did not care that I aspired to become stronger and more powerful than them. Father always scorned me because I was youngest and was impotent. Mother always rebuked me whenever I made even the tiniest mistakes. Even when I was compliant and persevered to please them they still ignored me. They always were elated whenever you won awards while, I was just left sitting by myself when I won.”
Jadis suddenly ducked behind the ornate couch to retrieve her long, sharp, deadly, black sword. She then lunged at Queen Richilde. Richilde blocked it. Queen Richilde lashed out at Jadis. Jadis just dodged the blow. Jadis performed a somersault and attacked again.
“You were always the one that they cared about.” They started to circle each other, exchanging blow after blow. Outside, the sky had begun to darken. Rain started to fall. Not normal rain but blood rain filled the black sky. The ringing of the clashing of the swords could be heard everywhere. Sweat started to drip from the foreheads of the two sisters. All of the sudden, Queen Richilde managed to disarm Jadis and pinned Jadis to the wall with her sword.
“Victory,” shouted Queen Richilde.
“Sister, it is not your victory but mine,” whispered Jadis, relishing the moment, “Remember that I had searched for years for the Deplorable Word. The word kills all living things except for the person who spoke it. I found out the secret just before the war. Since we both swore not to use magic, I did not use it. When you used magic to save those children, which was the last straw. It was imminent that this would happen. This is pay back for all of that.”
Queen Richilde just fathomed what Jadis just had told her. She was appalled, and her face turned pale. Jadis lifted up her head and gave a maniacal laugh. Jadis then turned to Queen Richilde and spoke the Deplorable Word. Queen Richilde glanced around to find the sun had turned bright red and the rivers had run dry. Then she fell, her face contorting in anguish. The interminable shriek of people dying could be heard. The last thing Queen Richilde glanced at was the face of her sister laughing at her death…
William closed the book.
“What a sad story,” whispered Rosemary. “Do you think that the dress and crown belonged to Queen Richilde? Should we show this to mom?”
“We should,” agreed William solemnly, “I will carry the crown and book. You carry the dress. I am not so sure that Queen Richilde owned the crown and dress, though.”
Both of them ran down stairs to show their mom what they had found. Rosemary carried the white dress while William carried the bejeweled crown and the book, Destruction of Charn.
-Sarah J., 8th grade