-Off the Edge of the Map-

DISCLAIMER: Unless I'm 112 years old and my middle name is Staples, I probably don't own 'Chronicles of Narnia.'

Also, to date, as far as I can remember, no sane person has ever mistaken me for Jerry Bruckheimer, Gore Verbinski, Terry Rossio, Ted Elliott, or Walt Disney, so I think it's also safe to say I don't own the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' franchise.

CLAIMER: Grassroot is mine!

-Chapter 1: A Daft Decision-

Caspian the Xth, High King of Narnia, Lord of Telmarine, and Emperor of the Lonely Isles; was bored.

Of course, that was sort of like saying, 'the ornery dragon bit the stupid faun's head off.' Descriptive, yes, but there's a world of difference between just saying something or reading words on paper, and actually feeling the hot, yellow, mildewed teeth sinking into the throbbing tendons of your scrawny, fuzzy neck, puncturing your windpipes so you can't even scream; sticky blood gushing down your tunic, back, and shoulders; and your last sight being a long, blue, forked tongue wrapping around your eyes; your last sound being the hiss and gurgle of the dragon's breath, your last smell being the pungent reek of rotten corpse bits stuck between the scythe-like teeth, and your last feeling being pure, untarnished, pain.

And maybe, just maybe, a passing twinge of regret at ignoring your far-wiser king when he expressly forbid you to go on that ridiculous dragon-hunting expedition with Reepicheep.

Caspian ran five half-clenched fingers through his black hair in frustration. Despite the gruesome worst-case scenario his mind had painted, he still wished the master swordsmouse and his eager new student, Grassroot the faun, had taken him with them on their barmy, sword-swinging quest, with the promise of near-certain death.

It was better than staying here at Cair Paravel and dying of boredom, at any rate.

It wasn't just boredom though. There was something missing in the High King's life, and not just externally either. There was something missing inside of him. A hollowness, located roundabouts the vicinity of the heart.

"I miss Susan," Caspian whispered to the musty old book resting beside his head on the grass, under the huge weeping willow, under the wide stone balcony, on the shadiest side of the castle.

There. He'd said it. Three words, four syllables, ten letters. Three, plus four, plus ten. Seventeen. So that was the sum of his heartache. It was also, coincidentally, exactly the number of weeks since Queen Susan had left Narnia, and this beautiful sapphire sky...

Oh, how he missed her! Sweet, practical, brave, gentle Susan. Sweet, practical, brave, gentle, curvy Susan. Yes, Caspian had to admit it (but only to himself) he was- in love.

With a deep, drowningly dismal sigh, the High King reached behind his head and cracked open the weighty covers of his favorite childhood book, then rolled off his back and onto his knees and stomach, with his booted toes lightly resting on the mossy castle wall. Absently, with a dull, dreamy look in his eyes, and his chin propped up on one elbow, against the scratchy silk fabric, Caspian flipped through the pages.

They detailed the four Pevensies rise and reign during the Golden Age of Narnia. But the artist hadn't captured Susan right at all. He ought to be gutted and stuffed for his incompetence, Caspian thought, but- oh wait- this was written centuries ago; he's already dead. Not that Caspian would ever carry out such a threat even if the artist were alive, since Caspian was much too kind a king for that. Even if he was in a particularly foul mood this fine, balmy afternoon. Not to mention bored.

Boredom was dangerous, because then you had nothing to do, nothing to distract you from your own, often daft, thoughts.

Susan's horn, the one thing that could call her back to Narnia, was inside; safely tucked and padlocked away in the treasury.

The treasury, which was just two halls down from the balcony of the spare tower his booted toes were resting on.

The balcony, which could easily be reached by climbing up the handily low-reaching, unchallenging branches of the shady weeping willow.

The weeping willow, which was tapping him enticingly on the ears with its lowest-drooping leaflets.

All Caspian needed was an excuse. So the High King of Narnia made a very important decision that fine, balmy, afternoon.

He would find one.