Nico rushed to Archenland, and got there just in time to hear cries of war mingled with preparations. He went straight to the big house, where Chiron and the heads of each cabin were having a brief, but loud, meeting.
“We shall have this war, Chiron, they killed one of my hunters!” exclaimed Thalia Grace.
“No! You didn’t bury her, so you have no right!” blurted Nico. Everyone turned to glance at the latest edition to the meeting.
“You should leave Nico,” Chiron stated coolly.
“That’s right, leave, you little traitor!” blurted Clarisse.
“I’m no traitor, I was helping King Peter figure out which Narnian wanted Queen Lucy dead and have you blamed for it!”
“What?’ murmured everyone, glancing at him in surprise.
Nico nodded, “It’s true, some Narnian wants this feud to continue, but no one else seems to want this to happen, even you! Don’t you want this all to end?” Everyone glanced at each other a bit nervously. “Well, don’t you?”
“I guess,” came Percy’s slow reply.
“Yes,” blurted Will as he crossed his arms.
“Uh, duh,” came Leo’s reply. Everyone else answered in the affirmative.
“Alright, now what? Are you going to tell the Narnians we’re ready to be overrun?” asked Thalia.
“What? No! I’m going to find that Narnian traitor and end this stupid feud!”
“Oh yeah, what’s in it for you?”
“For no one else to have to go through what I just did!”
Thalia peered at him, “Are you sure that’s all?”
“What? I just lost my sister, one of your archers, and that’s all you can think of asking?”
“Then why were you gone for so long? Bianca began to get a little worried, that’s why she was at the border yesterday, looking for you!”
“What? Sh-she was?”
Thalia nodded, “So, I’m going to ask again, Nico, why were you in Narnia for so long? What do they have over there that’s better than over here?”
“Friends, I made some friends I want to keep.”
Thalia’s blue eyes seemed to flash with lightning, “Then go back to your friends and cherish them for as long as you can for we will put an end to this feud, our way. Chiron, we march at dawn!”
“No! We can put an end to this without any bloodshed! Please, just, listen to me!”
“I thought I told you to leave! Go, go travel in the shadows like you always do! Go spend time with your new-found friends! If they will even accept you now,” sneered Thalia. Nico’s eyes widened and rushed into the nearest shadow. He came out at Cair Paravel, the castle halls eerily quiet.
“L-Lucy! Mr. Tumnus! Lucy! Somebody, anybody, hello!”
“Nico!” Lucy’s scream just about pierced his heart.
“No, Aslan, please, not her too,” he whispered as he took off for the voice, knowing right then and there that he had been right all along. His heart just about stopped when he found them, Octavian holding a knife to Lucy’s throat.
“Ah, so the celebrated hero returns, but which side are you really on?”
“I could ask you the same. Let her go, Octavian,” Nico growled, his fingers itching to snatch his sword and beat that idiot to a pulp.
“Nah-ah, not until you reveal your secret.”
“Oh, don’t start playing games with me, son of Hades, I want to know the details of the Archenlander armies, where they’ll be, their strategies, everything.”
“What? I’m not going to give you information of that sort, only King Peter gets that!”
“Not even to save your favorite queen’s life?” asked Octavian as the knife drew closer to Lucy’s throat.
Nico growled as his fists balled up, “And if you hurt her, I will personally see to it myself that you make it to Tartarus!” Voices and footsteps startled them, alerting them to a handful of soldiers approaching. Nico quickly turned and shouted, “Help!” Lucy gave out a loud gasp right as he did so. Nico turned, and caught her in his arms, only to have to push her to the side as Octavian lunged. Nico caught the hand with the blade just inches from his face before the two struggled for control of the knife. Octavian’s ferocity knocked Nico to the ground, the knife being pressed closer to his neck.
“No!” Lucy jumped in, grabbing Octavian’s arms and helped to get him off of Nico, the knife scattering to the floor. The seer turned on his queen and threw her up against the wall. Lucy let out a gasp before slumping to the floor, unconscious. With a cry of rage, Nico jumped on Octavian’s back and wrapped his arms around the blond’s neck. Octavian tried to ram him up against the wall, but Nico didn’t come off until three soldiers pried him off.
“Frank, take her majesty to the infirmary, immediately!”
“Yes sir!” Frank didn’t have to be told twice, he didn’t have to be told even once as he was already picking up Lucy and taking her to the infirmary.
“Oh, Jason, I’ve never been more glad to see you in my life!”
“Obviously,” muttered Jason as he glanced at Nico standing between two soldiers, a fire blazing in his dark eyes.
“That monster was trying to kill us!” whined Octavian.
“What? You tried to kill Lucy and me! And for what, to keep this stupid war going between Archenland and Narnia?” roared Nico.
“Enough!” came Jason’s stern command. He walked over and picked up the knife. “You’re both coming with us to King Peter, we’ll settle this once and for all.” Pushing Octavian to the front, Jason marched the group straight to the king. It didn’t take long for two stories to emerge, Nico’s rage rising with every lie that Octavian muttered, especially when he answered in the negative to Peter’s point-blank question about lying to him. It took everything he had to keep himself under control, though his body still trembled with rage. Peter took Jason aside to deliberate, leaving Nico standing between two soldiers and Octavian lounging in a chair. Nico caught Octavian’s eyes watching the king’s chair hungrily, and a notion of what Octavian was really after began to dawn in Nico’s mind. But before he could ponder any further on this new information, Peter and Jason returned from their deliberation. Nico gulped they came back rather quickly, which would mean it didn’t look good for him. He knew it for sure the instant Peter opened his mouth.
“Answer me one more thing, Nico, is it true that Archenland plans to march on Narnia?” Nico blinked, he didn’t expect that. “Nico?”
“Uh, yes, I’m sorry your majesty, I tried to convince them to consider peace, but, the Hunters of Artemis in particular are out for blood. One of their archers, my own sister, was killed in the last encounter between Narnians and Archenlanders.”
“Oh boo-hoo . . .”
“Octavian!” The seer slumped in his chair to avoid the anger of not only his king, but the burning eyes of the captain too. Peter turned back to Nico, “When will they march?”
“They’ll set out tomorrow morning, they might be here around lunch.” Peter sighed, his face making him look years older than twenty-three.
“Your majesty, what should we do?”
“Gather the troops, prepare for war. We’ll meet them at the border tomorrow.”
“Your majesty, are you sure it’s a good idea to let that Archenlander know of our plans?” Octavian turned on the teen, “Get out, Archenlander, you’re not welcome here. Get out!”
“Octavian, go find out how the battle should be planned.”
Octavian turned to Peter and, with a grin Nico knew had to have been fake, bowed, “As you wish, your majesty.” He promptly left the room.
“Nico, I am going to have to ask you to leave.”
“Just leave! Jason, make sure he has left Narnia by night!”
Jason rose promptly and saluted his king, “Yes sir.” Nico could only stare at Peter’s back while the guards snickered.
“Guess Octavian was right after all.”
“You two, go check on the queen and report back to the High King!” ordered Jason.
“Yes sir!” they replied, and quickly set off to obey the order, clearly happy to be rid of someone they considered a burden.
Jason sighed, “Come on Nico, let’s go.” He gently led the dumbfounded teen out of the room, past jeering faces and words, and straight to the stables. He quickly saddled a horse and got Nico situated on him before the teen spoke.
“W-why is this happening to me?”
“Only Aslan knows, maybe there’s still a way you can stop this war.”
“B-but how? I did everything Aslan told me too.”
Jason glanced at him in shock, “You saw Aslan?” Nico nodded. “Then this will work! I don’t know what he has in mind, but everything he says will happen does happen. Then this will finally be all over!”
Nico smiled sadly, “I hope so.”
“Captain! His majesty wishes to see you at once!”
“Thank you major, I shall be there in a minute!” The major gave a quick nod before going back the way he came. Jason turned back to Nico, “Go, stay safe, and don’t give up hope.” He gave the horse a good swat on the bottom, causing the horse to tear off for the trees. Nico finally got the creature to calm down and come to a stop so he could look back at the castle. In a window stood the High King, his wife Reyna joining him to offer support. But in a couple of windows down, peering out at Nico, it seemed, was an image that would haunt him for the rest of the night. Octavian’s face seemed mingled with victory and insanity, a cruel, malicious smile smeared on his face. Nico shivered at the sight of it, spurring his steed onward, the face never leaving his mind. Despite all of the taunts, all of the blows, nothing frightened Nico so much as that face. It was nothing more than the face of pure evil.