Few people know that for many hundreds of years, the land of Narnia was my home. The reign of the White Witch was still strong when I was young, but she had no idea that a Daughter of Eve (I thought) lived in the country she kept ever-winter. That was because I was wise, and knew whom to watch out for – Tumnus, some of the Trees, the Wolves and the Dwarves. But even fewer know that the first Narnian that saw Lucy was not the Faun Tumnus, but myself, out in the woods with bow and arrows, hoping to see a traitor and shoot him down, before they saw me. But I saw no traitors – only a Daughter of Eve somewhat younger than myself, walking fearlessly through the woods with a coat much too big for her. I must have been about sixteen at that time, and in Narnia since I was a babe in arms. I suppose my parents were Humans who somehow became stuck in Narnia, and somehow died here.
But back to the girl. She had come to Lantern Waste, where stands the iron lamppost as if planted there. She was looking up at it as she walked when a Faun – a Faun I knew to be a traitor – ran right into her. There was quite a fuss, and I was too shocked to do anything. I’d let them get away before I managed to gather my wits. But the cold was growing fiercer now, and I was forced to retreat back to my cave. Once there, I threw my thick cloak onto the stand near the hearth to dry, and called softly, “Trundler, Greeneyes, I’m home.”
Trundler, a roly-poly badger, swung her head around the corner as black- coated Greeneyes yawned from the shadows. The huge panther got to her feet and slunk over to me, her broad silky back higher than my waist. She said, in her voice like a purr, “What news? Any?”
“I saw a Human – a Daughter of Eve.”
“Did ye?” said Trundler, looking up in surprise from the yarn she was untangling for me, the white patches on the side of her face and her small black eyes catching the firelight. “I had thought ye were the only one here- bouts.”
“So did I. I don’t think she’ll last long – she’s been taken in by Tumnus the Faun.” I lay down on the hearthrug and Greeneyes stretched her ebony length out beside me. I reached over and rubbed her ears absently as I watched the flames. Trundler sighed and shook her head. “Ye be right in that, Ayira. I wish ye weren’t.”
I thought I had seen the last of the Humans, thought Tumnus would turn over the girl. So great was my surprise, when, days later, four of them showed up, the girl from before in the lead. There were two boys with her, and another girl. I didn’t have my bow with me, and I ran to fetch it, should they be in danger. When I hurried back, they were nowhere in sight. I ran to the nearest family of Talking Animals I could find – the Beavers. A moment speaking with them told me all I needed to know. Aslan was on the move! I forbade the Beavers to tell the children – Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter, I later found out – that there was another Human about, and started off for the Stone Table.
I had not realized that Aslan would have such greatness about him. Imagine, if you will, a lion as tall as a horse, with a great mane like a halo of gold, fierce, beautiful, and incredibly dangerous, all at the same time. He knew I was there; He turned from the pavilion set up in the snows, and said in a deep, wonderful voice, “Welcome, Daughter of the Fae.”
“What is it you speak of, Lord Aslan? I am Human, through and through.”
“Nonsense,” He rumbled, meeting my azure eyes with His amber ones. “You are an elf-child, as any could see from those ears and that gaze.” I had the strangest feeling that He laughed at me. “Have you your bow?”
“Aye, Lord.” I hefted the sturdy yew bow tipped with horn.
“Good. You will need it in the time ahead. Do you still dwell with the Badger Trundler and the Panther Greeneyes?”
“Aye; they lie by the fire as we speak.”
“Would you fetch them to join our gathering here? And any others who side with me, Talking Beasts, Trees, the good Fauns and Centaurs. The Witch’s power is weakening – rumor has it that Father Christmas has been seen in these parts – but we still need all the help we can get.”
“I will, Lord,” I replied, and bowed deeply. He gave me a Lion’s kiss, and I turned to lope into the forest.
“Trundler!” I called on reaching the cave. “Greeneyes! Aslan is on the move!”
“‘Tis far too late fer jokes, Ayira. Do ye swear to this?” grumbled Trundler, heaving herself up from in front of the fire and stretching. Greeneyes looked at her, then up at me. “I, too, have heard the whispers of His return. If Ayira says the Lord Aslan is about, then He is. Where does He den?”
“At the Stone Table. He wishes both of you there as soon as possible. There is to be a battle, I think, and perhaps a victory over the White Witch. We must hurry.” As we left the cave, I gradually became aware of a change in the weather. It was warming considerably, and for the first time, I saw the deep green of firs untouched by snows. Snowdrops and crocuses were everywhere, and the snow was rapidly disappearing. I saw grass for the first time. It was like being reborn. There was a raucous, joyful calling of birds all around.
We reached the top of hill on which the Stone Table stood a half-hour before the children and the Beavers arrived. When Greeneyes came into the presence of the great Lion, she bowed low, her muzzle grazing the grass that covered the hilltop. He nudged her with His nose, and she rose, her eyes glowing as brightly as any jewel. He greeted Trundler next, solemnly, as was the way of the Badgers in Narnia. But a smile twinkled in His golden eyes, and soon Trundler was chuckling as well.
But what would happen at that same Stone Table that night was very different than the joyful meeting of Lord Aslan, the Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve, the sprites, the Naiads, Dryads, the Talking Beasts, and so many others. Few of us knew it until later, but this was the night that Aslan would die and rise up again. We knew the Lion had made some sort of bargain with the Witch for Edmund – the traitor’s – life, but none of us knew just what it was. Only the two girls, who could not sleep, experienced the death of the Lord of Narnia. I could not sleep either, but it never entered my mind to leave my sleeping place. All I knew was that sometime after dawn, a Lion’s roar echoed through the woods. And not long after that, battle was joined with the Witch’s army.
I saw Greeneyes turned into stone before me as she leapt for the throat of the false Queen; saw Trundler snarl in anger and sink her teeth into a Hag’s leg, shaking hard and fierce. I myself shot arrow after arrow, a Squirrel constantly bringing me more. It was not until an hour or two after noon that another roar seemed to shake the whole of Narnia, from Lantern Waste to Cair Paravel, and Aslan launched Himself straight at the Witch.
And everything was over in the space of several moments. When they saw the Witch was dead, her army folded in on itself, and Aslan began turning all of the statues back into living, breathing creatures. Greeneyes was in my arms within seconds of becoming flesh again, and Trundler came to nose me, unhurt. So that is almost the end of this tale. But for this: the four children filled the four thrones of Cair Paravel, Peter as High King of Narnia, the rest under him. And Narnia prospered under their reign, as the last of the Witch’s followers were stamped out.
One day, though, the four Kings and Queens returned to their own world. Legend says they will come again, in the hour of Narnia’s greatest need. And so they did. But that is another tale entirely. And what of me, the elf-child who seems to come little into play? Ah, but I do. Elves live long, and there is a chapter in Narnia’s history that to this day remains a mystery, to all but the ones who were part of it.
And Aslan, of course.