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Escape (Main Story Part One [A New Home Revised])

Silence choked the landscape: a harbored of death. It stood as tall as the gnarled, black trees and as still as the impenetrable canopy of dark green leaves adorning them. That forest was the home of evil and the executioner of rationality. Wickedness reigned as safety subsided. The sun was banished and gave way to the unknown horrors of the dark. But above all, that forest was uncannily silent. Deathly so.

And Silence’s spell was hardly broken as its seemingly sole visitor shuffled over the crumpled, dead leaves of its intimidating dwelling. Black boots moved hesitantly through the brush as if being pulled back by creatures hidden in the shadows. Pale hands were balled up and pressed against a grey clad chest to calm a thrashing heart. Chapped lips trembled and bled as slightly crooked, off white teeth clamped down, unwittingly puncturing and rubbing the parched skin raw. Teal eyes flitted from branch to branch in a constant frenzy. Tiny jingles from a little bell tied around an emaciated, throbbing neck rang like a knell through the lifeless air.

All that was left to wonder was simple: was Silence amused by this visitor in some sick, sadistic sense? Or was Silence maddened with their presence? Was this visitor welcome? Or were they nothing but a trespasser? It was impossible for this guest to tell which of these questions had a positive answer; the noises from their host’s floors were made unnerving from the lack of audile distraction, and Silence constantly loomed over its guest, eying their young form intently.

Regardless, the adolescent pressed on. The further they got, however, the slower the boots moved, the more firmly the hands pressed, the harder the heart thrashed, the more violently the lips trembled, the more incessantly the eyes flitted, the louder the bell rang. To the wanderer, the air was not lifeless. Every ounce of foliage hid a hideous beast prepared to pounce upon them, and each leaf covered another inch of some demon lying in wait for their black boots to fall upon. The only thing that came to brake this wretched cycle was a sheet of light behind a hill of trees.

The guest of the forest only saw said light after scaling the mound. They made it up most of the way remarkably steady, but after hearing what they could have sworn was a whisper – a human whisper – right beside their ear, a jolt of adrenaline sent them scrambling for the top. Their foot caught on a mangled root, so their first glimpse of freedom took place as they were positioned on their stomach. But instead of springing to their feet and darting for the exit, the nomad half rolled over and half shoved themselves back against the enormous root. They sat there for another moment longer, staring up at the tree line. Their adrenaline was high as ever, but for some reason, they didn’t get up. They just sat and dumbly stared. Until the whisper came back, that is. It passed right beside the adolescent’s  ear and the nomad could have sworn they felt someone’s hair brushing up against their face. It was then they bolted.

They ran for that light, their only savior, for what felt like ages. They ran so fast their lungs felt as though they were being ripped apart. Their legs ached, weighing them down. But adrenaline wouldn’t let them stop. Fear wouldn’t let them linger. The former visitor was now prey, and needed to escape. Finally, the child’s throbbing legs crossed over their captive’s threshold and carried the wanderer into a beautiful golden field, the gracious lady, Sky – now coated bright orange and adorned with pink and red hues – visible at last. It was here the nomad ran a few more steps before collapsing into an unimpressive heap upon the ground, panting and quivering. Then they closed their eyes and curled into a tiny ball. Because, yes, they were safe now, but something still felt heavy within them. So, it was here they lay, and it was here they wept, waiting for what was now lost to return.

*So Basically I decided I hated “A New Home” and this introduction to the story just feels right, so here it is! This story line is why I made a blog in the first place (and then life was like, ehhhhm sit the f down! but what-chyu gonna do ’bout that? ^-^’) and I can’t wait to introduce the other characters >w< also it’s like… I dunno… 9 o’clock at night after I lost the original file? So all of the above is subject to change ^-^’ Not in content, just in writing style.*

Chaos Abroad – Chapter One

When the chaos started it wasn’t really chaos. In my home town, Mediel, all I had noticed was that a few spells here and there wouldn’t work or that some kids got themselves hurt in an old, dilapidated, foreclosed building because the barrier magic protecting it was failing. But then again, I’ve never been what you’d call a “social butterfly”. I’m more like… a social mole. Sometimes I enjoy talking to my other equally odd little mole friends, but from the safety of my dark little hole. I know, God forbid I go out and contribute to society or meet new people.

The point is, I was never the person to come to for any type of news, so I’m not really sure how serious the situation was at first. But they let my class go on a field trip to the nearest city, so it couldn’t have been that bad. The only real problem at that point was finding a group to go with. See, in my school we have a sort of buddy system. We don’t need to be with a chaperone, but we do need to stay with a couple people in our class to make sure they don’t get kidnapped, or arrested, or caught blowing up children’s’ piñatas at birthday parties or something (though, come to think of it, that might get you arrested too). We had to be in groups of three, and my only friends in the class were already in their own group, meaning I was left socially impaired and alone. I know, how joyous.

The day of the trip I walked into class ready to be berated by my history teacher since, for what seemed like the millionth time, I wouldn’t have a partner or group. But as soon as I sat down it hit me: I wasn’t the only one who had trouble conforming to his constant “groups of three” rule. There was a set of twins in my class, Jackson and Roman, who looked nearly identical save for their eye color and the way they carried themselves. Jackson had made more than a few acquaintances in the class, but it was clear that he preferred the company of close friends and his brother. And Roman barely spoke to anybody at all. At this point, Mr. Summers had practically given up on them and simply allowed them to just function as a pair.

Now, if I was about to go bug some random person about needing a group, I wouldn’t have really cared very much. But I sort of knew these two. I’d had a couple run-ins with them in both the hallway and in class, and I rather liked them. Well, I suppose “liked” isn’t quite the right word. It’s just that there was a sort of comfort and strange familiarity that came with those two. For me, at least. The rest of my friends think I’m insane and that they’re cold, distant and closed off from the world. But as I said I’d kind of taken a liking to them, and the thought of messing it up scared me. But I needed a group and right now they were my best bet.

So, I looked sideways at the door to the left of the room and waited for them to come in. Finally, I saw a tuft of red hair come over the threshold, followed by one that was an equally vibrant, albeit a tad bit more disheveled. I collected myself and stood to meet them at their assigned seats, all the while convincing myself not to abort the mission so Mr. Summers wouldn’t have to yell at me again for not following instructions. Once I got there I stalled for a moment, my heart physically hurting from the panic. They were just putting down their bags when Jackson noticed me standing there and locked his blood red eyes with my teal ones. ‘No going back now,’ I thought, ‘I either get a group or a heart attack… fun.’ He cocked his right eyebrow before calmly dropping his bag and straightening up to address me properly.

There was nothing intimidating in the way he did this, but I was still scared shitless and clamoring for the right words, “Umm, excuse me,” at this point, Roman looked up from gazing aimlessly about the room, “sorry, but you guys are going together right?”

Roman pulled his palm away from his cheek as he looked at me with a tense and curious expression, while Jackson merely nodded. The feeling of familiarity that I couldn’t quite seem to put into more adequate words began to soothe my fear and temporarily cure my social idiocy, but not enough to keep me from gripping my chest in pain, “umm… is anyone else in your group? I mean… is it just you guys? I just…” the sense of panic began to consume my thought process as I stared at Jackson in dismay. It had been at least half a year since I’d had this much trouble talking to people and I had kind of wished my social anxiety had faded out a little more by now, “I don’t have a group and I wasn’t sure if you guys were willing to have another partner,” It all came out at once as what little composure I had managed to build up and maintain crashed into a tiny heap of rubble in the pit of my stomach.

I knew my face was giving away just how terrified I truly was, and I was thankful for it too. People are less likely to fault you for asking dumb questions when you look scared or unwilling to do so. But to my great surprise, a tiny smile flickered onto Jackson’s lips as his eyes softened slightly. He even looked kind of, dare I say, happy that I’d asked, “To answer all of those questions, yes, it’s just us going. Well, was just us.” At first I was bemused, being as horrible as I am with both stress and talking to people I’m not very close to, but when I saw his smile widen I realized that was his way of saying, “Yes. You can join us you socially inept little weirdo.”

I didn’t quite know what to say at the time, but it didn’t matter since Mr. Summers chose that very moment to burst into the room and speed walk to the front, “Everyone get to the buses and remember to bring your train passes and ID, if you have it. If not, bring your school ID card.” I looked at the clock. The bell hadn’t even rung yet…

Another student who was more observant than me realized this the moment he spoke and raised her hand, “Mr. Summers, the school day hasn’t even-”

“Do what I say or get left behind. Your choice,” and with that, Mr. Summers waltzed back to the classroom door and swung it open, beckoning for us all to follow. Realizing I’d left my backpack at my desk, I hurried back to get it and decided to go through the other exit that was closer to my seat along with several other grumbling students. Only after we’d made it to the lobby did I realize that I should have probably waited for the twins. But another part of me said that would have been creepy to do anyway, so I just shrugged it off and left it at that. “Now find your partners and sit with them. The buddy system is in effect as of this very moment. Do not lose sight of your group.”

Great,’ I thought, ‘now I have to find them. I knew I should have-’ “Hey, you don’t mind where we sit, do you?” I twisted my body and leaned my head back to see the twins standing behind me.

Jackson was probably the one who asked so I turned to him and just shrugged, “Not really. Do either of you have a preference?” Roman didn’t answer but something in his eyes (which, just like a sense of maturity along with the possibility of obtaining a decently functioning brain, were avoiding me completely) told me he did care what section of the bus we went to. Jackson glanced to his brother and began to tell me the back of the bus would be best, but before he even had the chance, I asked Roman directly, “do you care, Roman?” Jackson looked at me with slightly widened eyes and a dumb expression. I guess it wasn’t every day someone addressed his brother specifically, or even tried to talk to him at all. Just like every band has that person that acts as their “face” and is the one that is usually in the direct limelight, Jackson seemed to be the face of their pair. As for Roman himself, his equally as shocked gaze darted to me, but the sentiment lasted just a moment before his expression dropped back into its usual emotionless, if not somewhat gloomy, state, “No.”

Well, I knew he was lying so I just crossed my arms and cocked my head quizzically, “Oh reeaally? Not at all?”

Roman gave me an odd look that’s hard to explain. It’s not like he was saying, “what the hell, weirdo. I already gave you your damn answer.” And more like he was asking, “why are you being so persistent about this. Does it really matter so much?” “Yeah. I’m fine.”

Frowning slightly, I looked at his brother for what to do. Jackson smiled sheepishly and responded, undoubtedly, for his brother, “We usually sit in the back.”

I nodded, “The back it is then!”

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

The ride there was pretty uneventful and honestly kind of boring, but on the bright side I found myself becoming fonder and fonder of the twins. As it turns out, I was right about Jackson being the representative of their little group. On more than one occasion someone would ask something like, “Hey, guys, do you play any sports?” and the only answer they would get was from Jackson saying, “Not right now, but we do strength training at home and we dabble in things like fencing, judo and boxing.” He would never go too into detail though, only far enough to sufficiently answer their questions. After a while people just stopped asking about Roman as they futilely attempted to get Jackson to open up more. It was actually kind of amusing seeing them pepper him with questions like that. I would have liked it even more if they tried it on Roman. First of all I felt sorry for the guy, even though I knew he didn’t particularly care, but still, if he ever hit pockets of insecurity in his life, he might come to think his brother was better and more important which, in any case, is entirely untrue. Secondly, I was fairly certain that he would either deliver curt or salty responses, and salt goes pretty well with pepper (Heh. See what I did there? Pepper him with questions? He’d get really salty? …yeah, no, not funny).

So, in the end, I just spent the entire bus ride in silence; periodically eavesdropping on Jackson’s conversations. And all I really learned from those was that he and Roman were pretty decently physically active, since that’s what most of the questions revolved around. Like I said, it was uneventful and boring.

While the bus ride practically had the same effect as a bottle of Xanax mixed with vodka, the train ride was a lot more fun. I ended up spending the whole time reading those strange ads they had posted all over the train cars for beds and bookstores and home security systems and whatnot. This may or may not have led to some awkward eye contact with an almost senile looking old lady who stared me down the whole ride, but I didn’t really care much. It wasn’t like I was going to see her again anyway. She did look interesting though, with that curly grey mess of hair that looked like three tornadoes and a hurricane just blew through the area. Her eyes themselves were pretty intriguing too; deep set and surrounded by red, irritated skin. The irises were a haunting ashen brown and there were no eyebrows to be seen. But despite her sickly aesthetic, the most memorable and terrifying part of her was that wide eyed stare that hovered somewhere between disbelief and wary observation. Sometimes, though, it didn’t seem like she was staring at me, but rather at nothing, and that she was some soulless zombie cursed to walk the lands of Mediel forever. It was unnerving at first, but after a while I brushed it off and ceased to care. I even smiled and waved to her when it came time to leave the train.

By this time, we were already at our destination; best known as the City of Smoke. There may not have been very many machines or smokestacks by the time we got there, but there most certainly had been a period where the air of the city was heavy and thick with bursts of black smog that would arise from the countless skyscrapers packed into the landscape. Disgusting, really. Anyway, Mr. Summers didn’t really do an effective job leading us out of the station’s exit, and several – more distracted – students made a few wrong turns here and there. Thankfully, however, no one got shanked or mugged or shoved into the ratty old suitcase of a deranged homeless man whom would eventually sell their dismembered limbs and organs for meth money. Mr. Summers did yell at them though, so I suppose they weren’t so thankful for the homeless man’s absence at the time. Lord knows I would’ve rather taken the chance to be cannibal fodder over being berated by Mr. Summers any day.

But despite being severely behind schedule, we did get to the museum eventually: an incredible building that was as ancient as is was ridiculously colossal, the Gothic architecture complimenting its surroundings astoundingly well. We stood outside for a while as the tour guide spoke with our chaperones. I’d lost the twins at this point, but Mr. Summers was too busy dealing with another school’s coordinator who had apparently booked the same trip. So I did nothing to find them. They probably wanted some alone time anyway. I didn’t want to be a leech. So there I stood, perfectly at peace, minding my own god damn business like a good, normal human when SMACK, some other kid’s book hit me square in the side of my face, “Hey, queer! Don’t touch my shit, you she-male looking trashy ass faggot!” some idiot kids from the other school burst out into a horrible fit of laughter. At that moment, I couldn’t decide what stung more: the red section of my face that was sure to become a terrible bruise, or the excruciating embarrassment that came with it.

Glass (An Old FREE-VERSE Poem)

*I wrote this a few years ago and it’s pretty bad but it still means a lot to me so I thought I’d share ^-^*

It was an average January morning, a Monday even.

Seemingly so normal. So mundane. Nothing special. Same as any day before.

And the girl was the same, too.

Nothing had happened overnight. Nothing had changed her.

But somehow she was different

And so was the morning.

She was here today, not lost in some fantastic world of her creation

Not talking to fabricated friends and fiends of her design; a rarity.

She was here. Not lost. And so was the morning. No longer an average morning

For she looked at all it had to offer with wonder in her eyes

Scenarios flitting back and forth within her mind

Scenarios changing all she saw, all she felt, all she could perceive.

With one thought the morning morphed into a computer generation;

nothing but a 64 bit game

And with another that morning shattered and became a movie

But what she really wanted was for it to be a painting

But the feeling that came with that was the hardest to obtain of all

No matter how hard she tried it never came

Annoyed and disillusioned she glanced at the ground

And at her feet lay puddles of ice

So flat and pristine, they appeared to be sheets of glass.

But the girl took it further, and they became windows.

After a moment or two they became two way mirrors.

But these weren’t average two way mirrors, just like her and just like the morning.

Something lived behind them, another world.

The pavement below was simply what its inhabitance wanted her to see

Now to get the feeling of the world bending around you,

To understand its being a videogame or film or painting,

You have to learn to believe it

And she found this idea so fascinating she decided to believe it too

She stood in silence before, finally, she waved slowly at the glass shards at her feet

And continued on her way

Making the average morning, the average world, so much more.

A New Home (Intro-ish)

(Not all of this will make a ton of sense. In fact, most of it won’t. So just think freely and decide how to interpret the confusing parts yourself for now ^-^ It will probably become more clear after more Tobi stories.)

The field was where she had lived all her life and she had learned to call it home, even though she despised it more than anything else. Yes, there were times where it was lush and green and filled with the sweet floral scent of maturing roses, daffodils, and bluebells, but even the most beautiful colors can clash in the ugliest of ways when they’re all there is to see. And besides, the gorgeous, vibrant display never lasted long before sharp, cold winds swept away the budding life, and froze the entire landscape. Or else a drought would leave the ground hard and bare; nothing but dust could be seen for miles. What’s more is that these seasons didn’t appear to follow any sort of cycle. One day the field would be covered in greenery and a gentle breeze would be ruffling the blankets of grass, and within a week or two, a piercing gust of wind would howl through area, freezing it over for months. And there was no one there to understand her suffering. Tobi hated the place, but it was the only one she knew. And besides, everyone had always told her it was the only place, not for miles, but anywhere.

So it was there she sat on an unbearably snowy day, her skin stinging from the icy cold. She shook in her tiny little ball, holding back what seemed like a lifetime’s worth of tears. No matter how many times she experienced such discomfort and pain, it was never something she could possibly get used to, and her only consolation was that small warm breeze that would drive out the bitter winds. Eventually. Tobi tried and tried to convince herself it would all be O.K., but suddenly she broke. She sobbed, screamed and fell to the ground. The hard, frozen snow cut into her cheek as she hit the solidified earth and the tear trails burned her delicate, pale skin, but she didn’t care. She was sick of this blizzard. And she could tell it was sick of her too because at that moment the screeching torrent of snow and ice picked up its pace, whipping her with every chip and grain.

Tobi cried and cried and wished desperately for a way out, “Stop! I told you, go away! Just leave already!” She banged on the ice with her thick, bright red gloves, “Screw off!!!” then, as if by some miracle, the girl saw someone from the corner of her eye. She turned, anxious to see if the stranger would stay long enough to help her escape such torment, or if they would simply disappear just like all the others. But what Tobi expected and what she saw were two completely different things.

She thought she’d see some translucent figure standing just beyond the frost, watching her with eyes of judgement, but what she actually saw was a very opaque figure: a boy (or young man rather) around her same age. And he looked at her with such intense caring and determination, she knew that he had faced the same misery she was experiencing, and for once it hadn’t made him bitter or crippled, just more understanding and resolute. Tobi met his strong, engaging eyes and suddenly felt guilty for letting the blizzard take her like this. As the boy neared, he held out his hand, gripping her firmly by the waist and pulling her into his arms, carrying her bridal style back to where he had just come from.

At the realization of another reachable living presence, the mania around them seemed to die down immensely, but the boy continued to take Tobi from her sadistic “home”. Finally, they neared the outskirts of the field. A place Tobi had wandered to and took ganders at now and then, especially in recent years. It was the calmest section of the field, but she didn’t dare cross into it. “This is the only place that’s real” she’d be told, “if you leave, you’ll be locked up forever.” She never understood why, though. It was always the nicest place to be. So surely whatever was beyond that point had to be just phenomenal, right? Therefore, as a little girl, Tobi concluded that there was only black and you’d fall into a pit of darkness, never able to find your way back. She had to admit though, in times like this she thought crossing over might be worth the lifetime imprisonment.

“What the hell was that place?” the boy’s slight accent took Tobi off guard. Living in such a small area, it wasn’t something she’d heard much of.

Tobi gripped the welcome stranger’s grey coat, still a little shocked, “Home…” Right after giving her response, Tobi heard a scoff somewhere off to their left. She shot the owner a glance and was shocked to see another boy, nearly identical to the first, only this one’s eyes were green instead of red and he had more of an angry, overly protective feel about him.

The boy who was holding her gave an aggravated sigh, “He’s right though. That’s not really much of a home. Is there anything else you call it?” he queried as they reached the tree line, the livid screaming of the wind fading behind them.

“Umm… the world?” Tobi asked, a tad confused as to why these two strange boys were unaware of the only place in existence. ‘Are they on something or just crazy?’ she thought, ‘but I’m not really getting that feeling from either of them…’

At this the one beside her glanced at her with bemused, yet still wary, eyes and the one holding her let out an amused chuckle, “That’s one tiny world you live in, then.” As he said this, the three of them passed right through the edge of Tobi’s home onto a wide dirt path that could easily allow three or four people to walk side by side. It had been so well concealed that Tobi never even knew it existed and, to her surprise, that it lead through a decently sized forest and not to the edge of an endless hole.

The harsh storm ended just at the edge of the field, and the further they went into the forest the more Tobi’s home seemed to change. Instead of an intense blizzard, there seemed to be just a heavy snowfall with large, unaffected patches of flowers visible through the white mist. And the more out of view the field became, the more barren it became; the whole thing slowly turning into a large dusty desert before the three of them finally made their way down a hill whose back rise covered up the wretched place behind them. After crossing a brook at the bottom of the hummock over a sturdy wooden bridge, Tobi succumbed to her weakened state and dozed off in this strangers arms, convinced for once, that her visitor wouldn’t disappear on her and leave her all alone again.

After a long while of traveling, Tobi awoke to the orange glow of sunset and two heads of messy bright red hair. She lay there a moment, wondering if she should run away for fear of being endangered by these two rather odd brothers. But something inside her said she’d be ok and that they weren’t any trouble. She might have been told to never cross over into this adjacent land, but then again, those were the same people who looked down at her with distain through distant eyes. “Where are we going? Do we really need to be this far away from the storm?” Tobi finally asked, looking into the deep red eyes of the boy carrying her.

He simply smiled, not even looking at her, “You’ll find out when we get there.”

Tobi rolled her eyes, “I hate secrets.” She fidgeted with her gloves and glared down at her hands.

“Not a secret,” the boy corrected, “A surprise”.

“Pshh. Sure…” She mumbled without even stopping to think about it, “What are your names, anyway?”

The boy holding Tobi slowed his gait and furrowed his brow as if pondering the question, “Jaxon,” he replied finally.

Tobi waited patiently for a few moments for the other boy beside them, the one with green eyes, to respond. When he didn’t, she asked again, “So, what’s your name?”

Silence resumed once more for several seconds before, “Roman. And you’re Tobi, I know.” Tobi cringed. ‘He knows my name? How?’ she looked to Jaxon for an answer to her unspoken question, but he just kept his gaze emotionless and straight ahead. Tobi sighed and closed her eyes, ‘what an oddball day this has turned into.’

“Was that really your home?” this time Tobi noticed something strange about Jaxon’s teeth while he spoke.

“Yeah…? I grew up there. It’s where I live. Also, you can put me down, thanks. I think I can walk.” Only after Tobi had said it did she realize how rude it sounded.

But before she could correct herself Jaxon continued, “It didn’t seem rather friendly. Those voices in the air were quite… oblivious. Detached. Almost insane.” This time Tobi caught it. Jaxon had two rather dangerously sharp canines, although they seemed to be the normal length.

“No, I’m the crazy one…” Tobi whispered, almost ashamed, “it’s not their fault that I’m a crappy communicator with trust issues. Of course they didn’t know. Or they were scared. I don’t blame them either way.”

“Have you ever injured someone you know, someone you love because they angered you?” Jaxon inquired as he readjusted his hold on her.

“No… I don’t-“

“Have you ever been confused between simple daydreams and the world around you?” He continued, cutting Tobi off.

“No, but-“

“Then you’re not crazy. Just a crappy communicator.” And with that the argument was settled, “By the way,” Jaxon continued after a moment, “We’re here.” Tobi looked up at his very pale, and very faintly freckled face, about to ask where exactly “here” was, but before she could she looked down to find a fuzzy little snow white rabbit with a pair of ram horns.

Before she could ask where the hell a rabbit-ram hybrid came from, Jaxon placed her down gently on the grass with a massive grin on his face. Tobi turned in the direction they had been walking and look straight forward at the most magnificent and enormous stone wall she could ever even imagine, “Who else did you two drag along?” A curious, yet otherwise emotionless man asked with his lean arm resting on a metal hook whose rope seemed to connect to the top of the colossal stone door.

“Her name is Tobi,” the green eyed boy, Roman, shot back and wandered over to her side, raising an eyebrow at the blue haired man, more defensive than before.

The man looked to Jaxon, who nodded, before whistling and pulling out a thin, pointed stick. In a fraction of a second, there were two stone golems gripping the edges of a massive wooden plank used to barricade the door. Once that was removed, the blue haired man pushed the stick into one of the gaps in the knot that was tied on the hook and pulled it in such a way that the whole thing came loose and sent the door crashing to the ground.

Just looking through the now open entryway made Tobi’s eyes widen in awe. Houses and buildings of an older, almost unreal style were scattered about with their own order within their little clusters. Large cathedral here, quaint cottage there, and everything in between. Beyond that, the protective wall seemed to stretch further than the eye could see, and contained behind it wasn’t only a beautiful, diverse town, but an entire country it seemed like. Far off in the distance Tobi could see another huge forest and just beyond that was almost purple looking mountain peaks. Once she took all that in, Tobi noticed the details like the people. Some had appendages of certain animals, others had horns, and others had scales. Tobi could have sworn she even saw a rather fine-looking lady turn into a black haired, red eyed cat, “This is just the beginning,” she heard Jaxon say beside her, “Welcome to Sapphianna, a world of wonders and, most importantly, your new home.”