Puzzle has been convinced that he is not a clever donkey and that Shift should make all decisions in every matter of life. As the two sit, a strange object rolls over the falls falling into Caldron Pool. Using guilt tactics, Shift manipulates Puzzle into jumping into the pool and retrieving the item. Puzzles struggles to bring the object back and delivers a lion skin a remnant from a hunting excursion beyond the edge of Narnia to Shift. Immediately, Shift states that Aslan has sent this skin and that Puzzle should wear it.
Narnians would believe that Puzzle is Aslan and would obey his every command as Shift gave them. Puzzle does not like the idea but is convinced that he is not clever enough to see the benefit of such an idea.
Shift sends Puzzle to town for food and commences working on the skin. After minor alterations the skin is ready. Shift hides his work from prying eyes birds overhead and presents his work to Puzzle when the donkey returns. Again, Puzzle protests, feeling that Aslan would be quite upset to see him dressed in a lion's skin, but he is powerless to deny the ape his will. Puzzle dons the skin and, though not completely convincing in daylight, he does present a satisfactory illusion in dim firelight or moonlight.
Suddenly a great thunderclap knocks both animals to the ground. Both agree that it is a sign, but it is Shift who has his way in the end. Puzzle would pretend to be Aslan and Shift would tell him what to say. Three weeks later the King of Narnia, Tirian , is sitting outside of his hunting lodge to escape the formality of Cair Paravel. His trusted friend, Jewel the unicorn, sits with him as they discuss rumors that Aslan had come to Narnia.
Their joy is great at hearing the news, though it is hard to believe that He has finally come. A centaur , Roonwit , approaches and bows to the king. Tirian asks if there is more news of Aslan. Roonwit declares that what he sees in the skies for centaurs are gifted stargazers is more terrible than he has ever seen.
The coming of Aslan is a lie. This news outrages Tirian. Much confusion surrounds Roonwit's news. The confusion is fueled by the appearance of a dryad. She pleads with Tirian to save the living trees in Lantern Waste, which are being felled by Narnians for sale to the Calormenes.
Tirian begins to question the dryad but is stopped when she cries out and falls over. Her tree far away had been cut down. Tirian immediately sets off with Jewel toward Lantern Waste. He discharges Roonwit to gather troops and for him to hasten towards battle.
As they travel along the river, they sight a rat, riding a raft on the river. He confirms that the logs are being taken to the Calormenes and that "Aslan Himself" ordered the felling of the trees.
When Tirian arrives at the scene, he comes into the presence of two Calormenes who are driving a Narnian horse which is dragging a log. When the log became jammed in the mud, the Calormenes began beating the horse, which immediately spoke in its own defense.
Outraged at the abuse of a Narnian talking horse, Tirian draws his sword and kills one of the Calormenes while Jewel runs the other through with his horn. Other Calormenes shortly discovered the slayings of their countrymen and pursue Tirian into the forest.
Tirian runs a short distance but stops, feeling guilty of some treachery for killing the two soldiers. He returns to the Calormene camp and gives himself up. He requests an audience with Aslan but was taken before the ape. The ape, Shift, is completely adorned with all sorts of riches and clothing that server to give him a fairly ridiculous air.
He commands the squirrels to deliver more nuts Aslan wants them and they must do it immediately. The squirrels ask to see Aslan and have Him tell them but the ape rejects them.
Aslan may come out this evening, he tells them. The ape then goes into a long dissertation that Aslan has been to soft on them and He now is "licking them into shape". Shift also claims to be a very old man, and not an ape, and it is his age and wisdom that makes him worthy of being in Aslan's confidence. Additionally, all animals are going to be sent to Calormen where they will work for a living. Their pay will be put into Aslan's treasury and used for the common good.
The final, most painful report that he delivers is that Aslan and the Calormene god Tash are one and the same, and henceforth Shift refers to him as 'Tashlan'. Ginger the Cat asks if Aslan is no more than Tash and it is confirmed by the Calormene soldier. Tirian is outraged by Shift's dialogue and calls him a liar. For this Tirian is taken and tied to a tree. During the night, many small animals come and attend to Tirian, feeding him and giving him water, but not untying him, fearful of Aslan's wrath.
They confirm Aslan's presence as they saw him the prior evening. The animals leave him alone. Shortly, Tirian sees a bonfire being lit in the distance near the shack where the ape gave his speech.
A creature on four legs came out of the stable and stood before the crowd who cried loudly for Aslan's mercy. Shift leaned toward the mouth of the creature and turned, speaking something to the crowd.
They moaned terribly and the creature, which looked somewhat, though awkwardly like a lion, turned and went back into the stable. Knowing that the creature was not Aslan, Tirian reflects on the times when Aslan appeared to kings in the past - Peter and Caspian X - and begins praying for Narnia.
He asks nothing for himself but to let Narnia be saved. He asks for help from the kings of old and help from the outer world. As he begins to cry out to the children, he falls into a deep dreamlike state. In the dream, he sees several people seated around a table preparing for a meal. They can apparently see him as well, as several of them rise from their seats and one of the girls screams. The one man who stood identifies the group as the seven friends of Narnia and himself as Peter the High King.
Tirian tries to speak but finds that he cannot. The image of the seven fades and Tirian awakes exhausted in the forest, still tied to the tree. He is not alone long, however as the woods seem to open and two of the children he had seen in his dream appear before him. They quickly untie him and give him food. They are dismayed to find that Tirian is seventh in descent from Rilian , whom the two had saved. When all things are explained to Tirian, the three start toward some battlements that are visible in the distance, which belong to one of many supply towers scattered throughout the northern land.
Tirian unlocks the tower and once inside they search the lockers and find assorted supplies, including: They also find a bottle containing dark dye, dried biscuits, and firewood. To complete the disguise, Tirian decides that they will dress like Calormenes in order to breach their camp and expose the phony goings-on. This is done with the aid of the Calormene equipment and skin dye. After some sleep and brief training with the weapons they had found in the case of Jill and Eustace , the three begin their journey toward the Calormene camp.
Their first order of business would be to rescue Jewel, who had been hobbled with the other horses in the stables. They would then retreat to join the army which Roonwit would be bringing from Cair Paravel. Jill leads the party silently and effortlessly one of her skills from Girl Guides through the woods until they arrived at the stable.
Tirian sneaks forward and grabs the lone Calormene guard who offers Jewel's location and leads Tirian to his old friend. When Jewel is freed, Tirian ties the sentry and leaves him in the stable. Tirian and Jewel return to the place where Jill and Eustace were supposed to be. They find that Jill is not where she should have been. After some brief moments of concern, Jill silently returns to Eustace's side, giggling under her breath.
When asked what was funny, she presents the false Aslan to the men. Tirian draws his sword to kill Puzzle, who had been forced to play Aslan by Shift, but is stopped by Jill who defends Puzzle's ignorance of his situation.
Puzzle tells Tirian that Shift told him that Aslan wanted him to dress up. Tirian is forgiving and he leads them all to meet a band of dwarfs. They meet the group, led by two Calormenes, and stop the dwarfs' procession. The Calormenes tell the disguised Tirian that they are leading the dwarfs to Calormene to work in the Tisroc's mines.
Tirian adresses the dwarfs and challenges the Tisroc 's orders. The soldiers are astounded when Tirian pulls Puzzle into the torch light and reveals the deception to the dwarfs.
The dwarfs stare in amazement but the Calormene soldiers challenge Tirian, who attacks them, and, with some help from Eustace, kill the two. The dwarfs settle the remaining Calormenes who were bringing up the rear of the procession. Cheers for Aslan are hailed but are less than accepted by the dwarfs. They are tired of the name Aslan and refuse to be taken in. After much discussion, they proceed on their own away from Tirian and his people.
One dwarf, Poggin , returns to Tirian and announces his loyalty. The party then trooped back to the tower to spend the night.