Standing at the prow of the ship a few days later, her eyes easily found the storm that was bearing down on them. She was afraid for the first time since waking up in the wagon. The captain had said it would only take a few more days to reach a port near somewhere called Cair Paravel. The calling was getting stronger the closer she got to Narnia, and she had been having strange glimpses of a great golden lion with sad, wise eyes in her dreams.
"Tie yourself to the mast now, lass!" the captain yelled over the wind. One of the crew threw her a bundle of rope, which she used to secure herself with her back to the storm. A second crew member tossed over her pack, which she instantly tied around one arm.
When it hit, the storm was like nothing she'd ever known. It tossed the ship around like it was a child's toy and dumped hundreds of liters of water on them with each wave. She didn't scream after the first wave, at least not with her mouth open. She clung to the mast as the ship tilted this way and that and found she couldn't close her eyes. She was just too terrified.
She didn't remember facing anything like this, but she couldn't remember any kind of event. She remembered how to do things, like shoot a bow. She didn't remember why she knew how to shoot a bow, just that she did. She just knew things really, not remembered them. She couldn't remember her name, where she came from, how old she was, or even why she'd been in that wagon. She didn't remember that her favorite color was blue, she just knew. She didn't remember that she could skin a rabbit or squirrel or pluck a bird, she just could.
She wouldn't remember later that she passed out against her best intentions during the storm, but when she came to, she was being pelted with rain and wind, but she wasn't on a ship anymore. She couldn't find the strength to stand, so she settled for sitting up, and realized through the storm that she was on some kind of beach. She did a quick check for broken bones, but only found what looked liked gashes and rope burns covering her body. Her head hurt again, and when she moved to stand, she found herself incredibly nauseous. So much so that she had to roll onto her knees and heave.
When she was done, she scooped sand over it and moved away. A splash in the water caught her attention, and she turned. Seeing nothing, she looked around the beach and found her pack nearby. What looked like the mast lay nearby, still partly in the water. "I must have gone overboard when it broke. How did I survive that? I was tied to that thing," she said into the wind.
"We had to cut you free and then we brought you here," a female voice said from the water.
Following the sound of the voice, she saw what looked like two women lying on their stomachs in the shallows. Something flicked up where one's legs would be and she swallowed. "Mermaids. You're mermaids," she said.
"Very good. You're from the Wildlands, yet you know," the same voice said. It was coming from the one with her tail up.
"I don't think I'm from the Wildlands. I don't actually know where I'm from. I can't remember anything," she admitted, moving slowly to her knees. She looked down at herself and saw that her clothes had been shredded. The white shirt was ripped along one shoulder, pulled open on one side of her ribs, and the arms had been torn, leaving the sleeves to her elbows. The pants had been ripped at the knees, and her boots were gone. The coat too was gone
"We had to cut you free of your coat and your shoes. The laces were caught on something and dragging you under," the other one said. This one sounded tired, worn, even a bit sad.
"Thank you. Did anyone else survive?" she asked.
"The ship didn't sink, if that's what you mean. Several went overboard, but you were the only one we could save," the older one replied.
"You mean she was the only one we wanted to save," the younger corrected.
"Why?" she yelped, surprised.
"You're a young woman. Mermaids are protectors of women. You also have a mark of The Lion on you, and any creatures of Narnia must help a marked one in a time of need," the older one sighed.
"I'm marked? Where?" she asked, looking over herself.
"You cannot see it, young one. It is a sort of draw that catches our attention. That's how we found you," the older one replied. With that, they slipped beneath the waves again, and the girl lay back on the sand, too weak to get to her feet.
Instead, she curled in on herself, putting her back to the wind. And she slept.