I tumbled through the mirror, landing on a hard, wet surface as the sun beat down and the chatter of people filled my aching ears. The landing did not help my back either as it sent a shock of pain through it.
J helped me up, her one hand resting over my arm as Griffin was frozen on the spot, his eyes large with wonder. Sully was just sitting on the ground, the leather-bound book he had on his lap as he started sketching.
Griffin start waving his hands about in hopelessness, pointing everywhere. And I understood at once.
A large town was in front of us, cobble roads wet with recent rain and people mulling about with goods, pets and family. But the people all had these odd tattoos and some of those tattoos were real.
My Gram’s tattoo.
I was startled as this three foot snake slithered past me, two cracked horns and bright red eyes. It was wearing a floppy yellow sun hat and it's tongue was hanging out of it's mouth like a weary dog.
Looking around, the trees seemed like truffula trees that had been bred with maple trees. Fluffy looking leaves that were a deep scarlet, spanning everywhere you looked as mountains topped with snow were to the left. Quaint buildings covered the place, signs painted in vibrant colors and gems. But the biggest building was to the far right, looking odd near all of little homes. Large windows and a glass roof, neat red-baked bricks.
Ok, this had to be fake. I mean, I had to of hit my breaking point right? Maybe I hit my head really hard on the weird door my mom slipped something in a drink to make me sleep. There was no way any of this was real.
“Alright, alright, alright.” My Gram said, rubbing her hands together like a malicious villain from some childhood cartoon. “Before you question me, come with me to the school and we can start getting you both situated. I also need to get Auggie and drag him over here by his ears, because no one is better suited for this than your uncle.” And she charged ahead as J scoffed and facepalmed at once.
I laughed at her reaction but my stomach was churning, my ears pounding. I just wanted to cut them off, Van-Gogh style that’s how much they hurt.
But my uncle? He was here? I mean, I’m not complaining. He’s basically become my second father since my Dad died. Well, that’s what most think anyways…
J scampered along with Griffin, chatting off his ears as Sully came up beside me, clutching his leather-bound book. He smiled at me shyly then looked back down.
I realized then that Sully hadn’t said a single thing, only clutching to his big-ass book like a toddler does a blanket or favorite stuffed animal. I wasn’t sure what to think of that.
“I like your eyes.” Sully told me, gripping the book tighter as his cheeks flamed with red. “They’re pretty.”
I about tripped over my own feet. The first things he told me and it was a compliment.
“Um, th-thanks.” I quickly said to try and make him feel a bit less nervous.
Griffin turned around as did J, the both of them walking backwards in unison.
“She really does have pretty eyes.” Griffin stated, J nodding vigorously in agreement. He smiled widely at than winked at Sully who laughed in return.
I just blushed, unsure of what to do as Gram lead us towards the giant brick building, people not even aware that we were complete strangers to this… place? I mean, me and Griffin had to of had this look in our eyes, giving it away right?
“Me and J were raised here. In this world. We’re used to it. Like how being raised in a culture and learning about another may seem so weird. You’ll get used to things, and don’t worry, we have the same music and books and stuff. It’s just how we live and function that’s different.” Sully told me after looking at me, my eyes obviously giving away the scared-awe to him.
I nodded my thanks, still not trusting anything. I couldn’t think straight. None of this could be real, right? I wasn’t that lucky to have a place to escape to, much less now live at. And having someone besides my Gram that cared? Um, yeah, no.
The sun beat down on us as weird, neon birds flying over head as leftover clouds could be found slowly drifting away from its latest crime scene.
J was whistling again, now the tune of Adventure Time and I just about jumped with joy. I had watched that show about twenty times because I loved it that much; it provided me an escape when I need to ignore the words of my mother, muchless people at school.
I didn’t really want to go to college. I mean, it would be a nice cushion incase something didn’t work out in the future but it’s not like I would die. Besides, I was content with helping my Gram at her bakery. I wouldn’t mind running after she passed away, to be honest. I quite liked baking. Plus, it meant sweets. I’m basically here for food, if I’m being honest.
Although... a degree for baking wouldn't be a bad idea.
Gram lead us through the brick-building, the inside very odd. The floor was hardwood but most of the walls were covered in artworks and posters, bounties and quests. It was like someone decided to mash together Tumblr and throw in a Skyrim innkeeper to keep things in line.
She lead us to a simple door, painted white at the very end of a long hallway and we entered a room that immediately made me feel like I was at home.
The room was a semicircle, filled with bookcases and a few other doors. But the desk in the middle strewn with papers, tarot cards, Pepsi cans, some candy call Fizzle-Wizzles and a man with pepper hair that must have passed out from exhaustion because he was snoring loudly as his one hand laid in an empty soup bowl, the other splayed across the top of his head.
Gram just scoffed, shaking him to make the man wake up who just kinda snorted then asked her what in this groggy voice. He seemed quirky, that much even I could damn well tell.
The guy had superman like hair, pepper colored. His eyes were a light brown and tattoos of… scales, I think, covered him. Not his entire face, of course but they just outlined his jaw and rested upon his nose like some permanent pimple. He was wearing a sweater that seemed too big for him, his pants the kind that are perfect for binging a show or staying up late to contemplate your inevitable death.
You'd be surprised how much anyone would tangle over death. Even if you don't have a fear of it, you'll still be scared of it. Being close to dying, the thought of how. It's not just the afterlife that scares people, you know.
The guy noticed the four teenagers standing in his room, Griffin having just toppled over onto the one lounge chair like a cat, Sully sitting on the ground. Again. J just leaned against a bookcase, rummaging through her bag and I was left standing about in the middle of the room while my grandmother stood with her arms crossed, glaring at the man.
He looked at her and smiled goofily, the kind that was contagious. I noticed the corners of my Gram’s lips pulled up when the man smiled back at her; then he turned to us, completely unfazed by the fact that he just woke up to a bunch of idiots standing in the middle of his room.
“J, Sully, great to see you two again. How’s Diana? Doing good I hope. Always liked that woman.” The man said quickly fixing his hair and launching over his desk, plopping himself besides Sully who just grunted in hello. “Now, who would you two be? Because all I see is a lost man and broken woman.”
I was so perplexed by the man that I had no time to respond. He was so… spontaneous that I could already tell he was going to be a fun person but holy hell would he be more difficult than a horse speaking latin to understand.
He smiled at me, cocking his head like a puppy. He beckoned us both, meaning me and J, to sit down near him and Sully. Griffin was about to pass out on the lounge chair, his body hung about with no care until J flicked him in the forehead.
After Griffin got his bickering out, the man looked at all of us and Gram sat down with us.
My ears spiked with pain again, I noticed that Griffin was squeezing his eyes and pinching his nose. The aching in my back got even worse then but, once again not being smart, I ignored it.
While I was internally exploding, the speradict guy began to talk again. “Seriously, why are you guys here? It’s Halloween break!” He said, sitting criss-cross applesauce like a first grader. But it was his eyes, they were giving him away. I cocked my head at him, curious.
But Halloween break? That existed in other parts of the world? Wait… where are we? That’s a good-ass question me, thanks. A lot was still left to learn. Or believe.
“No, Nayleth,” She said pointing to me.” And Griffin,” Then pointed to Griffin. “Were late. Almost morphed over at Muluth’s place. Thank God I kept mirrors in the garden, which is doing quite well.”
I just looked at my grandmother like she just sprouted wings and flew away. Ok, what? Morphing, first off, that did not sound right and secondly, just what. I was so confused that I was just about done with everything. I thought the mirrors were for decor?
A look of an Ah-Ha! moment spread across the man’s face as my Gram explained (not really, I got no clue what the woman said), and he just about jumped out of his imaginary chair.
“Ok, ok, ok! Wonderful! We get plenty of students that have no idea what this world is, but think of it like your No-Majis who really aren’t No-Maji’s receiving your letter to Hogwarts and you’ve just started your first day of school there.” He said, jumping about the room like a toddler, even though he looked to be about forty. Maybe a bit older.
“Now you have to convince yourself that it’s real, which, trust me, isn’t that hard. Just pinch yourself or somethin’, I dunno. But this world is as real as real can be. I hope you will believe me, because no one in their right or hexed-up mind would be able to think of a world like this.” The man said and smiled widely again, now standing on top of his desk and then jumped down again to retrieve some books from one of his many shelves and shoved them toward me and Griffin.
“Learn some of our history and things should make sense. Also, Augustus Watson should be helpful to all four of you but it should make it more comfortable for you, Nayleth.” He said and threw the last book at me, walking away as if he didn’t leave more questions behind in a little red wagon with a sign that said Adopt Me! and a red bruise forming on my arm.
As he walked away I turned to Gram who looked so furious and exhausted all at once that I didn’t bother asking her anything. I was way to curious about how my uncle mixed in with all of this, how I mixed in with all of this. I was just so lost that I didn’t even know where to begin.
My Gram followed the man who we still did not know the name of and the four of us were left sitting on the floor of the room with a pile of books scattered over it.
“That was Mark. School’s headmaster principal, dean, whatever you please. He’s like that always but I think that’s how we like it. It keeps most of us sane during testing, even though it’s nothing like how the others do it. That’s just straight up murdering.” J remarked, turning toward us and Sully picking up the pile of books.
“Basically, we have dorms. Four people at most with both genders allowed to share rooms. People be gay, you know? Not worthhy trying to stop something that would happen no matter what. Food is up to the students but can be obtained from any of the school food rooms if you can’t afford it. Classes are during the morning and some are during the night but most of your time will be spent taking bounties and doing homework.
“Now! To our dorm because my only logical response is to drag you to our living quarters!” J cheerfully said and forced us all on our feet as Sully picked up the books.
J was literally dragging me by my arm as we roamed through the long halls and up a flight of stairs that was covered in arkworks and bounties, one of them being for a dragon to the north of a town called Wicker that was stealing the roof of homes.
As we weaved through the building, it was hard not to marvel at all of the artworks. They ranged from greek statues that seemed to move or were enchanted to have togas flow and a stream to trickle as paintings hung across walls, each literally leaking into one another to create scene after scene.
We began to run into more students (I think that’s what I can call them, I don’t really know man), and they all had some sort of tattoo, whether it was on their face, arm, leg or you just couldn’t see it. Some were covered in them and some had small, mini ones as well. It was like a bunch of walking museums.
All of the doors were covered in some form of painting or way to claim the room, from cusses to pretty little unicorns. Yes, because you absolutely need a door to be covered in pretty pink unicorns and smiling clouds.
We stopped at a door at the very end of the hall, one of those weird snakes washing off half of the doors paint. The unwashed part was vibrant golden roses, sparkling that soon melted into waves of ink that bled down the door.
J opened the door and finally let go of my arm as we entered the room. Four single beds, a kitchen with a bar counter, stove, one giant-ass fridge (Yes! All the food!), and a couch that sat in front of TV that had an episode Fairy Tail paused.
“Mi casa, su casa. Well, kinda forced su casa but you get my point. Last roommates got kicked out. We’re here most of the time unless we decided to head to the pub, do a nearby bounty or practice with our powers. I’ll explain that but for now let’s get you two situated and Sully can work on your part of the door.” J told us and plopped down on the couch.
Griffin just looked at me and he was so overwhelmed that I started to laugh. J looked at me oddly from my sudden chortel.
“He so overwhelmed that his face was just, just-” I said but kept laughing out of being scared, feeling like I was insane and at Griffin’s facial expression.
J shook her head in a way that said I-Might-Just-Kill-You but she smiled nonetheless.
“I know it’s all so hard to believe. Honestly, I do. Me and Sully lived where, I guess you could call them humans, for the first ten years of our life until our parents couldn’t take how they were starting to change.
“So they moved us back to here, this second dimension of Earth that they grew up in. Neither me nor Sully believed them till my father got cancer. That’s not something that can just show up at random, muchless affect someone.” J told me, tying her hair up as Sully came strolling in.
He looked at me and smiled widely then walked over to the kitchen bar thing and started spinning around on one of the chairs. Honestly, I’d do that too. Who wouldn’t?
I sat down beside J, hanging my head.
“I keep telling myself this world isn’t real. I don’t care that I don’t know how it operates or what is called what. All I can think is that it’s not real. It doesn’t help that we’ve read fictional books our whole life, told things aren’t true and things that are. How are we supposed to believe that this place is real too? You know?” I told her, staring at the ceiling that was made to look like a night sky.
Griffin sat on the ground with a loud thud. “Yeah, same here, Nat. Same here.”
J didn’t answer but instead Sully got off the chair and grabbed my wrist, beconning J and Griffin to follow. He took us out to the door and showed us what he had done.
The bottom left half was covered in strings, twisting and turning, some rusty and broken that looked like they belonged to a violin. Then the bottom right was covered in a night sky, wisp of this purple blue swirling above the stars. The whole door looked like a mishmash of vibrant colors and unedited ideas.
Sully smiled widely at the door, pointing to certain spots that were his favorite and others that he felt could be better.
“I like drawing. And sounds like to be colors. I use it help me draw and stuff. So Griffin’s voice was every color ever and sounded like violins while Nat, your voice was twinkling stars and wispy strands of twirling light. It’s really pretty. J’s voice is golden roses and sparkles.” He said, blushing more while talking quickly.
J just smiled at her brother and Griffin laughed softly. I just looked at him, watching as the blue in his hair spread more and more the worse nervousness he got. Sully really seemed like an odd character. I liked it.
I smiled back at him, J sitting down in the middle of the doorway.
Griffin turned to walk back in, noticed J and stopped walking. J looked up at him and refused to move. Griffin poked her and she poked right back.
I just pushed Griffin, him toppling over and I walked over top of him and sat back down on the couch. It was a comfy couch, ok? And I wanna be lazy.
“We’ll go find Auggie but let’s watch some Fairy Tail.” J proclaimed, unpausing the show.
No one bothered to argue. It felt to right to be sitting on the couch. Too comfy. And I think we all just wanted an excuse to be lazy.