After a long day's walk, the three travelers stop for the night. Based during The Silver Chair
Puddleglum still looked as fresh as he had that morning - though that wasn't saying much - and was lighting what little wood he had found, blowing on the tinder until a small flame curled up from the dry moss. Eustace did look tired, but he still had enough energy to root through his pack, dropping several vegetable-looking things into the marshwiggles pot. Jill was lying on her back, too tired to do anything. She just wanted to stay still and watch the daylight seep from the sky.
She must of dozed off, because Scrubb's voice surprised her, her eyes opening reluctantly. Night had fallen, and the only light came from the stars and Puddleglum's fire. "Pole!" Scrubb said again, holding two wooden bowls. As she pushed herself into a sitting position, he handed one to her. "Eat up," he encouraged as she looked at it blankly.
"What is it?" she asked cautiously, lifting the spoon and pouring it pack into the bowl, trying to see what it was in the firelight. "It's not... eel, is it?"
"No," drawled the marshwiggle in a dull tone. "Not eel. Rabbit stew."
"Oh, good," Jill said more cheerfully, dipping her spoon into the warm bowl again.
"I liked that eel stew," Eustace said defensively before settling down against his pack to eat.
"Well, I prefer rabbit." She ate several spoonfuls, too hungry to savour the taste. When she felt less ravenous she looked at her fellow travellers, seeing that they too appeared just as hungry as she. This was a great comfort to her, knowing she was not the only one suffering from the pace of their journey. She eyes were drawn to the fire, watching the flames lick over the heather Puddleglum must have added to the wood.
She kept staring for a while, until Scrubb asked their guide, "How long until the moon rises?"
Jill turned her gaze from the flames to the marshwiggle as he blew a breath from his lips. "When will the Moon rises? Another hour or so. Or it should. It may be that the Moon has become trapped under the ground and will be trapped there forever. And if that happens, then the Sun, too, will be lost to us, and we shall forever be in night..."
Jill lowered her spoon, and said, "And the other marshwiggles thought you were too high spirited?"
Eustace snorted, hutting the back of his hand to his mouth to smother it. Puddleglum nodded solemnly. "Yes."
The two human children shared a glance, then looked quickly away before they bust out laughing. Jill tilted her head up, pretending to look at the sky so the marshwiggle wouldn't see her grin. He was a very strange creature indeed.
It took her a while to notice, and when she did, she couldn't say anything for another moment. It was too unbelievable. Impossible. Just... wrong. "The stars!" she said, in a panicked voice.
"What is it, Pole?" Eustace asked, looking at her, then up at the sky. "What about the stars?"
"They... they're wrong! Can't you see it, Scrubb?"
Eustace said, gently, "Pole, its alright. They aren't our stars."
Jill tore her eyes from the alien constellations, feeling lost. She knew the night sky like the back of her hand, from Orion and Draco, to Scorpio and Cassiopeia. This sky was... wrong. All wrong.
She heard Eustace come closer to her and felt his touch on her elbow. "Pole, its alright. Its just... different. They have constellations here, too. I know a few, and I'm sure Puddleglum knows more."
She looked at him, her wide eyes filled with tears. She hated that she was almost blubbering over the stars, but... but it wasn't a game. Oh, she had known it wasn't a game from when Eustace had fallen from the cliff edge, but now... now she knew.
"Eustace looked at the welling tears in horror, then quickly looked up, eyes flicking from star to star, searching for a group he could recognise. "Look!" he said, pointing eastward. "There... the bright, bluish one..." She looked where he was pointed, leaning closer to him to see where he pointed, blinking away the tears so she cold see clearly. "That's the prow of the Ship. There's the mast, the deck, the hull... and then, if you follow the line of the mast, you can see the tail of the Leopard. See it?"
"The one to the side of the red one?"
"Yes! Now, you have to imagine a curve, like one of Mr. Hubert's favourite graphs," his hand drew a line in the air, as if painting the connections with his fingers, "and you come to the Leopards back... you can only see three legs, but its head is that triangle, one star for an eye, two more for its jaws."
"Ooh," Jill breathed in wonder, feeling eight years old again.
"Um..." Euatace stumbled. "I... I forgot which were the Hammer..."
"The Hammer," came Puddleglum's depressing voice, "is under Tarva, the Lord of Victory, at the moment. The Centaurs say it is a good sign, though how they can tell is beyond Marshwiggles..."
"Thank you, Puddleglum," Eustace said, turning to point south. "That's Tarva, and the Hammer is that rectangle shape under it. The handle is only one star, but it's the nearest one to the other four..."
Eustace and Puddleglum continued to draw shapes in the sky for Jill, naming the planets and several stars, and Jill felt herself growing calmer with every new constellation. They weren't on Earth anymore, they had days - maybe weeks of walking to do, and they were on an impossible quest for a talking lion, but... it couldn't be as bad as the bullies at Experiment House, could it?