Lucy turned the heavy vellum page and gasped as a wave broke over her head. But it was only a phantom wave, another illusion – there was no shock of cold water, no salt on her lips, no shriek of wheeling gulls overhead.
A few words drifted across the empty page like flotsam: storm, shoals, wreck.
Inky swirls coalesced into a painting, and Lucy knew what would come next.
The painting came to life.
Before her eyes, a dark-hulled ship hove to. Its mizzenmast listed and swayed alarmingly as the ship climbed each crest and slammed back down, down, down –
"No!" cried Lucy.
She forced herself to step away from the book. But the waves on the pages did not still, and soon she was gripping the desk with both hands to hold herself steady as the room heaved about her.
And then she was on board.
It was not the Dawn Treader. This was an older ship, with weatherbeaten planks of some dark, foreign wood. Instead of a desk, Lucy now clung to the ship's rail. Even as she struggled to keep her footing on the rain-slicked deck, she strained to see the paneled walls of the room she knew were there.
Figures wreathed in mist and spray flung themselves at tackles and violently flapping sheets. One of them crashed into her – through her – and fell through the splintered railing. For a moment, his head was above the waves, and the ship was tilting down again and Lucy could almost reach him.
An illusion, she thought desperately. It must be an illusion.
The man was drowning.
"Give me your hand!" she cried. She stretched as far as she dared, and then a little farther still. He doesn't see me, she thought in despair, because I'm not even here.
But then their eyes met.
There was an echo of wild laughter on the wind.
Lucy released her tenuous hold on the railing and lunged for his hand. Their fingers touched. She wrapped both hands tightly around his wrist and pulled with all her might. Some of her strength from olden days seemed to return to her, because suddenly she was tumbling backwards to the deck, the sailor on top of her. Miraculously, he still breathed.
They stared at each other in shock.
Then a sickening shudder wracked the ship. The shoals!
The waves roiled and surged like wild horses, with manes of spray and hooves of darkly shining rock.
"Abandon ship!" came the distant cry.
"But I've only just got back on," muttered the sailor.
Despite everything, Lucy laughed.
Her laugh echoed, impossibly loud, across the deck and out over the sea. Time seemed to slow. The churning waters grew sluggish. Lucy stood, pushing the wind and rain aside like a heavy curtain. Unencumbered, the sailor scrambled to her feet and stood close by her side. The rest of the crew were frozen in place.
A pale blue light gleamed beneath the waves. As it neared the surface, the waves turned translucent and the sea became suffused with light.
Lucy grabbed the sailor's hand. He mumbled a prayer to a god whose name she did not know. Aslan, thought Lucy, I know you are here. Wherever here is.
The light broke through the water and shot into the sky, tearing a hole in the looming clouds. A haze of stars shimmered in curiosity and consternation. Lucy thought she heard snatches of conversation:
"Not supposed to happen!"
"… only human, after all."
"– their own devices –"
And then the clouds closed over them again, but with none of their former menace. The gale dissipated, the wind trailed off aimlessly, the becalmed waves lapped gently at the hull.
The ship rested on a sandbar.
Lucy and her sailor stared at each other as noise and activity resumed on the ship. "It was a star," said Lucy abruptly. "I'm sure of it."
"You are a star?"
She shook her head. Droplets of water flew everywhere. "Not me," she said, but already a veil of mist was forming between her and the sailor. Dimly, she saw the corners of the room and felt the smooth wood of the desk under her fingertips. "Wait!" she cried out to him. "Fair winds and safe journey!"
And then he was gone, and so was the ship and the spit of land and the sea.
The confines of the room seemed stifling.
The book fell still. All the ink had run off the page in the storm, but new words now appeared like sandpiper tracks in the sand:
Fair winds. Safe journey.
Lucy smiled, and turned the page.