Lucy woke with a start, her skin flushed and her eyes cemented shut with sleep. She had been dreaming, but of what, she could not recall. Shaking her head, Lucy slowly hoisted herself off of the ground, the muscles in her arms jarred and her neck feeling as if someone had taken a hammer to it. The youngest Pevensie sibling looked out at her surroundings, her brows creasing gently in confusion.
“This isn’t where I went to sleep” she mused aloud, her mind straining to remember the sequence of events that had left her in this situation.
“I was on a train, and there were these rings…” her mind jolted, as if she was thinking clearly for the first time.
Around her, pools of glass-like water were dotted around, framed by blades of luscious grass. Each pool held a crescent moon and stars within its eerie waters, their images barely diminished at all. Between the pools were trees that rose up from the uneven ground, the tips of their branches just touching the night sky above. They were jagged pines and proud oaks that stood tall against the endless darkness overhead and fell deep into the bottomless pools below. Strange constellations were suspended in the pools, their names utterly unknown to the Narnian queen.
Lucy gasped as she saw her brothers lying half submerged in the depths of a neighbouring pool.
“Ed! Peter!” she yelled, stumbling as she ran over to where they lay. Lucy knelt on the oddly dry grass next to the water and pulled at Edmund’s arms, bringing his torso fully out of the water. His eyes slammed open, meeting his younger sister’s startled gaze.
“You’re alive” Lucy exclaimed, her voice full of joyous surprise. “God, Ed, you’re alive!”, her eyes brimmed with glassy tears that never quite fell onto her cheek.
“Lu, where are we?” Edmund asked, immediately noticing that such a deep pool of water was not a usual feature of a train.
“I’m not quite sure, Ed. I think something happened on the train. Something rather…Narnian” her voice fell to a whisper on the last word.
“You really think so?”
“Well I don’t imagine that a train would be able to house an entire forest” she replied sharply, but her voce wavered, and her expression remained as incredulous as his.
“But, we were…” he searched for the correct words “well, we were on a train!” he looked perplexed, his eyes scanning the forest for some sort of clue that would reveal how they arrived there. Lucy hung her head, but her eyes glistened with excitement.
“We need to get Peter out of the water before he gets ill. Help me, Ed?” she asked, looking back up at her brother. Edmund agreed, standing up slowly. He felt an odd presence against his leg, and it seemed to tug slightly at his ankle, pulling him away from his sister.
Looking down, Edmund saw a curious sight. Around his left ankle was a single ornate shackle made out of bronze. Etched into the band were intricate sunflowers, their petals seeming to rise from the metal’s surface and flutter gently like butterfly wings in the balmy midnight breeze. A bronze chain was melded to the cuff and each link was barbed with cruel metal thorns. It led towards a pool that was sheltered by a small copse of trees, trailing along the grass like a metallic snake on the hunt. Edmund shook his foot, but the metal made no noise. The chain swayed gently- too gently, some unknown force keeping it in place.
“What on Earth?” he cried, reaching down to see if some hidden mechanism would liberate him. Instead of finding freedom, he was pushed away. The same force that held the chained flared a faint bronze, radiating from the shackle’s surface. His hand never touched the metal, but his palm burned with a wraith-like flame that danced across his skin.
As surprised as she was by the shackle’s sudden appearance, Lucy tried to think of a logical (relatively speaking) solution. She looked down, curious to see if any damage had been done to the grass.
She started, and she jerked her head up, her eyes meeting Edmund’s. Around her left ankle too lay a shackle. It was identical to her brother’s, except that this one gleamed silver instead of bronze, and tiny wild roses ran across the silver in the place of sunflowers. The thorns that protruded from the chain were even more curved and wicked, their tips sparkling with a malicious delight. The chain followed the same path as Edmund’s leading towards the exact same pool. Neither sibling had an idea as to how the chains had appeared, nor could they remember feeling them when they first woke up.
Their silence was interrupted by Peter, who woke up with a desperate gasp for fresh air. Unlike the others upon waking, he spat put a mouthful of water, and his body convulsed violently for several seconds. He stilled, and his breathing resumed a regular, though somewhat laboured, pattern. He threw one hand over his eyes to block the dim light of the stars and pushed his head further back against the grass. Groaning, he lifted his shoulders in an attempt to sit upright, but thought better of it as he lay back down.
“Pete, how are you feeling?” Edmund asked, looking down at his elder sibling with a concerned, yet slightly amused expression on his face.
“As if I’ve been hit by a train” was the muffled reply as Peter rolled onto his stomach in search of a more comfortable position. Lucy and Edmund stared at each other, their minds mulling over what he had just said. Lucy drew in a sharp breath, letting out a faint hiss as she exhaled.
“Of course you would feel that way” she whispered, her voice turning hoarse “because that’s what happened”.