Nico wandered through the woods, meandering over the border, back and forth, back and forth. It was his favorite place to think, to just be alone, no one ever ventured to the borders out of fear of starting another war between Narnia and Archenland. And being the son of Hades, Nico could shadow-travel out of there faster than the blink of an eye, meaning he could never be caught, if anyone was out there patrolling the border. Well, technically, Nico could be considered border control, he was really the only one out there constantly. Not that he really cared if anyone crossed the borders, well, if they were out to kill Percy Jackson, that would be a problem, but otherwise, anyone could cross. Nico was pretty reasonable when it came to Narnians and Archenlanders, he wouldn’t kill a person on sight like a child of Ares or take them in for severe questioning like a child of Athena, or even torment them like a child of Hermes. Sure, he had a few tricks up his sleeve to get people to talk and tell the truth, but simply looking at him seemed to be enough for most people to cooperate. He was creepy by most terms, from a distance he could pass for a ghost or a zombie, if he really tried. So even his own people kept their distance from him, except his only sister, and that was only because she was a daughter of Hades as well. Nico sighed, he would normally have said he didn’t care about having friends, someone to love, but that was a lie, if it hadn’t been for his sister, he might have died of loneliness a long time ago. He really did want friends, but who would want to be friends with him? A scream pierced his thoughts. He only paused for a second to figure out where it came from before his feet practically flew across the ground to the nearest shadow. He traveled to a tree not far from the coast, and watched in shock and horror as a figure threw another into the sea, the girl screaming as she plummeted into the sea. Nico couldn’t see who the culprit was as the figure rode off to Archenland, but he didn’t care when he heard a splash. He quickly tore off his shoes, coat, and scabbard before diving into the sea after the girl. He could hear her coughing and sputtering, her cries of help getting feeble. He soon reached her, and quickly found out why she was unable to swim, her hands were tied. Anger seethed through him as he looped his arm under her shoulders and swam back to shore, his blood boiling like it was in a hot furnace. Who would do such a thing? He swore to find the perpetrator and bring them to justice, but first things first, he had to get the girl to safety. After a few minutes of what seemed like slow going, he got her to shore and quickly untied her hands.
“Hey, are you alright?” he asked, worriedly.
She coughed between words, “Y-yes, n-now I-I a-am. Th-thank y-you. Wh-who are y-you?”
“I’m Nico di Angelo, one of the Archenlanders. You’re a Narnian, right?” She nodded, her teeth still chattering from the cold. “Do you know who did this to you?”
She shook her head, “H-he had a m-mask on.”
Nico sighed, “Of course.” He held out his hand to her, “Come on, let’s get you warmed up.”
She took his hand and got up, “A-aren’t you c-cold?”
Nico shrugged, “I guess I’m a little bit more used to it than you are.”
“O-of course y-you are.” She tried to smile, but the attempt was thwarted by her chattering teeth. Nico bit back a chuckle as he led her to the tree where he left his things, throwing his jacket over her before putting back on his shoes and scabbard. The two walked northwards in silence for a few minutes before Nico broke the silence with a question that came to mind.
“What were you doing all the way over here, near the border?” She sighed, her teeth chattering less now that the sun was getting higher in the sky.
“I’m Queen Lucy the Valiant, and I wanted to see if I could talk peace with the Archenlanders,” she replied after a moment’s pause.
Nico’s eyes widened, “The Queen Lucy?” She nodded. “That would have certainly started a war had you died.”
She smiled grimly, “You think?”
Nico’s eyes flashed, startling Lucy, “What I think, your majesty, is that someone wants this war between Narnia and Archenland to continue very much, whether or not we want it to. And they obviously knew about your desire to end this all, I guess they figured on killing two birds with one stone.”
Lucy’s eyes widened, “You may be right, in which case it was a Narnian who attacked me, not an Archenlander!”
Nico nodded, “That would be the only explanation.”
A hint of hope sparked in Lucy’s grey eyes, “But that would also mean, you guys are tired of fighting as well, right?”
Nico nodded, sighing, “Yeah, basically. you would have found a most willing audience to your proposals.”
Lucy laughed, “The only proposal I had was that instead of fighting, we have tournaments, fairs, and trade between our countries.”
“Your brother, High King Peter, does he approve?”
Lucy winced, “Well, sort of? He’s been so busy battling the Titans to the north that he really hasn’t paid much attention to other things. But Edmund thought it was a good idea, so he gave me the go ahead.”
“But why did you come without an escort?”
“Because I didn’t want you to think I was planning an attack or anything of the sort. and I figured you were all decent fellows who wouldn’t harm an unarmed lady. Looks like I was right on that point, but I didn’t think that there could be someone in Narnia who wanted to keep the war going when everyone else is tired of it.”
“Queen Lucy! Your Majesty! Lucy!” several voices called out through the trees.
“That’s Edmund and Susan! Over here! I’m alright!” Nico didn’t get to ask the first question that came to mind, how did they know she was in trouble? But he found out he didn’t have to when they met up.
Susan embraced her little sister, “Lucy, thank Aslan, you’re alright! The mermaids told us that you were tossed into the ocean, but someone had saved you before they could help!”
Lucy laughed as she glanced at her rescuer, “Did you hear that, Nico? You’re apparently faster than a mermaid!” Nico rolled his eyes as he approached the posse.
Edmund strode towards him, “You saved my sister?” Nico gulped at being in the presence of the king, he wasn’t the High King, thankfully, but he nodded. Edmund extended his hand to the dark-haired teen, “Thanks.”
Nico shook with a firm hand, “I’m just glad I was near when she needed help.”
Edmund cracked a grin, “Same here. You’re an Archenlander, aren’t you?” The murmurs began, Nico noticed, at the mention of his country, rather than at his appearance.
“I am,” he replied. Edmund slowly nodded, as if confirming his suspicions, probably coming to the same conclusion that Nico and Lucy had just moments before.
“Well, if that’s the case, perhaps you can do something for us,” began Edmund.
“You mean besides saving your sister?”
Edmund shot him a glare, “Do not joke of that, please. But you could probably help her bring peace to our countries. We might have to wait for Peter to return, but for now, would you mind staying with us and learning the ways of Narnia?”
“Uh, yeah, I guess.”
“Shouldn’t you go back home and get ready?”
Nico grimaced, “No, my sister travels primarily with the Hunters of Artemis now, and no one really notices me back home. Maybe I should go find someone more worthy, someone who the rest of Archenland is more willing to listen to.”
“But Narnia is more willing to listen to you now that you’ve rescued me,” pointed out Lucy.
:Maybe you can be an advisor to our ambassador to Archenland,” remarked Susan.
“Well . . .”
“Oh come on, you should try it, just for a few days.”
“Alright, but if I’m right, I’ll get who I think is better suited for this.”
Lucy smiled, “Great! Come on, I’ll race you!”
“But I don’t know where anything is in Narnia!”
“All the more reason to keep up!” Everyone quickly got ready and the group galloped off, a hint of hope sparking in Nico’s chest.