by Nicki Tate
New Adult Portal Fantasy
| Chapter 1: Mirror, Mirror
BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.
With a pained groan I rolled over and slapped the "off" button on my alarm clock. Any moment now the backup alarm on my phone would go off across the room and I would be forced to leave the warmth of my bed. In the meantime I was going to milk my extra three minutes for all they were worth. Several minutes passed but my phone remained silent. Curious, I rolled out of bed and half asleep, zombie walked over to my desk where the phone sat charging. I tapped the button to bring the screen to life but nothing happened. It was still plugged in, but my phone was completely dead. I followed the cable down to the wall socket and found black scorch marks on the otherwise white face-plate. My laptop was also plugged into that socket so I quickly flipped it open and hit the power button. Nothing.
"Shit! Shitshitshitshit!" I yelled to no one in particular.
That laptop had my freaking life on it and I had never gotten around to backing it up. Now all of that data was likely lost and I wasn't sure whether I should murder something or cry. Looking around my room, not sure what to do, my subconscious picked it up before I knew what I was looking at. All of the electronics on this side of my room were dark, like a bizarre localized EMP had gone off. My fitbit that had been sitting on the table by my bedroom door was dark, the little childish nightlight I couldn't seem to part with was dead, and the filter on the fish tank next to my desk was silent.
"What the hell?" I muttered.
As my eyes wandered, taking inventory of the electronic damage, my attention snagged on the large floor length mirror on the other side of my desk. It was a fairly ornate piece, an antique my parents had picked up at an estate sale when I was a young girl. Despite it's age, it was still in pristine condition. The gold detailing still gleamed as though it were brand new, and there were no brown pocks on the glass that old mirrors seemed to develop. The gaudy mirror had never really fit in with the rest of my decor but I had never been able to get rid of it. This morning however, the mirror now had a large crack running down it's center, originating at a point near eye level where something was protruding from the glass. I walked up to it for a closer look, and the strangest sight greeted me. Sticking about two inches out of the glass was an ornate, black iron arrowhead. It was edged with small teeth as though it was designed to penetrate and then grip. My brain couldn't quite comprehend what I was seeing, the arrow looked like it was coming out of the mirror. I quickly looked at the other side expecting to see the rest of the arrow embedded in its back, but there was nothing, the oak paneling was unmarred. Thinking it was maybe a cruel prank and someone had glued the arrow head to the front of the mirror to mess with me I reached up to pull it off. Before I could lay a single finger on the arrow, a hand clamped down hard over my wrist and halted my progress in mid air.
"What the?!!" I yelped and attempted to jump back. My hand was still held in the vice grip though so I only managed to hop a few inches away and wrenched my arm painfully in the process.
It was then that I realized the person currently holding me was my roommate Francine. A tiny slip of a girl with large, innocent blue eyes, platinum blonde hair, and a southern Texas twang. Francine had answered my Craigslist ad a few years ago when my last roommate had suddenly disappeared without a trace. I had come home from visiting my parents in Denver to find her room completely empty and no check for the last two months of rent I had covered. I had reported her to the police but they had little success in finding her. I needed a new roommate desperately, and lucked out when Francine responded to my ad. She had just dumped her live in boyfriend and needed a new place ASAP so it had worked perfectly. I had also instantly felt a bit sorry for her, she was always so quiet and seemed so fragile that I felt like I needed to look out for her.
Now though, there was nothing fragile in her demeanor. Her stance was that of an Amazon Warrior as she gripped my wrist. The big cornflower blue eyes now had an edge of flint, as though steel suddenly ran through her veins. She was so changed that I wondered how I could have ever thought her to be defenseless.
"Are you freakin' insane?" she hissed at me, her twang suddenly gone and replaced with a foreign lilt that I couldn't quite place. Almost like a weird mix between french and scottish.
"Wha-? What do you mean?" I stammered, my brain was still half asleep and seriously starting to struggle with all of the conflicting information being thrown at it.
"You see an arrow sticking out of your mirror and your first instinct is to freakin' touch it?" She yelled. Then muttered "Va-galin!" under her breath glancing at the mirror, before turning her steel gaze on me once more.
"Um, Francine? Do you think you could..er.." I mumbled and gestured to the wrist she still grasped. In her annoyance her grip had tightened further and my hand was starting to go numb.
"It-so! Sorry." She said and dropped my hand quickly as though it had burned her. She then began pacing the room muttering to herself in that same strange language I had never heard before.
"Ga-nerid eth, bitno ris!" she suddenly exclaimed and stomped her foot in frustration. With that she stopped pacing and turned to look at me as though sizing me up. "It-so" she muttered again before stomping back over to me.
"It's time to go, put some clothes on quickly and take nothing that isn't vital" she said in clipped tones before turning on her heel and stalking out of the room.
Now I would like to say that I followed her out of the room and demanded answers instead of just blindly obeying her orders but alas I cannot, because I did not. Instead, with an air of calm I most certainly did not feel, I walked over to my closet and pulled out my oldest, softest pair of jeans. Ten minutes later I was dressed in my jeans, an old star wars t-shirt and had a flannel tied around my waist just in case (it was the beginning of September in Seattle and the temperature could be a bit unpredictable.). It was a good thing that I was sitting down tying up the laces of my old beat up doc martens when Francine re-entered the room, or the sight of her certainly would have toppled me.
Gone were the fluffy pink pajamas she usually wore, and gone were the trendy shorts and knee socks she had always favored. Now she wore black leather pants, and a skin tight top that seemed to be made of glistening green scales. A thick jacket hung open that looked like it was made from some type of animal fur, but from no animal I had ever seen, and a large brown belt adorned her hips with numerous pockets and what looked like a few glass bottles filled with strange liquids attached to the right side. A long curved blade hung off the left. Her usual free flowing platinum locks were now tied back in a tight french braid with a leather headband keeping her bangs out of her eyes. She looked like a total badass.
My second boot dropped the floor with a dull Thunk.
"Who are you?" I practically whispered, my voice suddenly hoarse.
"My name is Nagalia and I have been assigned as your protector. That is the only question we have time for, the Gravirs will be back soon and I do not wish to be here when they arrive. So move!" She exclaimed before picking up my fallen boot and jamming it onto my foot. She muttered something that I didn't quite catch and my laces suddenly came to life, weaving in and out in a blur before settling in a perfect bow.
It was at this point I think that I let out a high pitched keening noise, like a wounded cat.
Nagalia sent me a ferocious frown and let out a frustrated sigh.
"Agh! We don't have time for you to breakdown right now! Keep it together until we are away from here and then you can fall into hysterics, got it?" she said with a disgusted shake of her head.
I managed to nod and shakily stand up. She gave me a brisk nod back before grabbing my un-bruised wrist and hauling me from the room. Instead of leading me out of the house as I had expected her to, she marched me into her room across the hall. Once inside I couldn't help but look around at the boy band posters on her walls and the hot pink everything and wonder who exactly I had been living with for the past few years.
Nagalia dropped my wrist once we entered the room and made a beeline for her closet. I had taken the master because I wanted the attached bathroom, but her room definitely had the bigger closet. I realized belatedly as she drew open the sliding doors that I had never actually seen inside her closet after she moved in. With my tall and fairly curvy frame I was nowhere near the same size as the petite waif like blonde, so sharing clothes had never been an option for us. Even if we had been the same size, I doubt we would have ever shared clothing anyway. So I had to stifle a gasp when she opened the doors and I found the only thing in the entire walk in, was a large ornate mirror not unlike my own. They were so identical in fact, that for a moment I thought again that this was some elaborate prank, and that she had somehow swapped out my mirror while I slept. Then I remembered my bootlaces and the thought died with a slightly hysterical giggle escaping my lips. Nagalia wasted no time, she pulled one of the bottles from her belt, poured a small amount of electric blue liquid into her cupped palm and turned to me.
"Close the door, Riley." she said suddenly calm.
I obeyed and turned back in time to see her flick the liquid onto the mirror's surface. The glass rippled like water where each droplet hit before glowing that same electric blue.
Nagalia turned back to me and held out her hand.
"I need you to clear your mind completely, think of no person, no place, no object. A completely blank slate. Do you understand?" she said, that same calm tone washing over me.
"Yes" I replied, almost entranced by her voice and the inviting waters of her cool blues eyes. I had the slight errant thought that her eyes had never taken on that hue of blue before. The thought was pushed away as my hand seemed to lift of its own accord to take her outstretched one.
As soon as our hands touched she hauled me into the electric blue of the mirror. My natural instinct should have been to brace myself for the impact or pull away, instead I felt nothing but calm and followed her easily. As we passed through the glass it was like a bucket of ice water had been thrown over my head. Whatever calm trance Nagalia had put me under was snapped away as we hurtled through cold, blinding blue light. In that moment I wanted nothing more than to be back in my bed.
Suddenly the blue light dissipated and we were thrown onto a dirt floor. I stood slowly brushing the dirt off of my knees and looked around the hut we had landed in. There was nothing remarkable about it, a dirt floor, a straw bed in the corner and hunched over the small fireplace was possibly the dirtiest man I had ever seen. Nagalia stood up and took in their surroundings.
"It-so!" she growled before rounding on me.
"Did you think? You thought of something didn't you? Va-galin!" she yelled.
Nagalia turned back to the filthy man by the fire and practically spat out her next words. Though I didn't know what she was saying I gathered she was asking him where we were.
"An-an-kartha." was all the terrified man replied with.
"ANKARTHA?" roared Nagalia, and then "It-so!!"
"Where is Ankartha?" I asked sheepishly, sensing it was my fault we were not at our rightful destination.
"About as far as we can possibly be from where we need to go." she turned and inspected the now shattered mirror we had tumbled out of, her gaze sharpening.
Her hand casually fell onto the handle of her sword as she turned back to the filthy man and calmly asked him a question. His response was to throw off the filthy furs that had been hiding most of his form along with a rather imposing sword. He now stood at his full height and was a veritable beast of a man. Before I could react he raised his sword and yelled,
"NERIED-LIETH FRAIN!" before charging at me. I braced myself for the bite of steel but it never came. Nagalia suddenly stood between me and the man, her blade already buried deep in his sternum. I hadn't even seen her move, and judging by his position neither had the man.
"Arideth?" he gasped, surprise flickering through his eyes as the blood poured down his chest. Nagalia merely grinned before pushing him off of her blade with a boot to the chest. He was dead before he hit the floor.