Stepping through the glass of the mirror felt very similar to plunging into an icy cold stream, not that Taylor had ever done such a thing. A whoosh of sensation instantly enveloped her, snatching her breath away and making her gasp in shock. She bent over, her arms resting on her knees, breathing heavily. It took her several minutes to compose herself before she finally looked up.
She was now standing in knee-deep grass, studded here and there with tiny, pink wildflowers. In the distance, she could see the rolling hills that she had seen in the reflection of the mirror. A light wind ruffled her dress and the gentle warmth of the sun lay across her skin. This was real. She shuffled her feet and turned around in a slow circle. To one side of where she stood, far away across the fields, she could see the glint and sparkle of water, perhaps a lake or a broad river. To the other side stood a dense forest, the trunks of the trees pressed tightly against one another and the boughs and branches woven closely together. Dazed, she looked back towards the mirror she had just stepped through. The mirror was gone, but in front of her shone a vague, misty light and through the haze, she could faintly make out the blurred normality of her own bedroom.
"Oohhh." The sigh escaped her lips without her forming a thought, to be quickly answered by a bright chirrup beside her ear. Taylor was aware now of the mountain dragon clinging to her shoulder, its tiny body close against her neck. It looked up at her and pressed its talons down firmly until they pricked painfully at her skin. "Where am I" She asked aloud, though she expected no reply.
"Torwood." The voice, gravelly and rough, came from the grass below her. She looked down to see the bright eyes of a large red lizard peering up through the grass stems. The lizard flicked out its tongue and snatched a small insect from the air before quickly retracting that long, pink tongue and smacking its lips in satisfaction. Its round eyes swivelled backwards in its head then rotated back towards Taylor again. "You're in Torwood," the lizard affirmed.
"Who are you" Half of Taylor's mind screamed at her to ignore a talking lizard while the other half no longer cared at all. Everything was too weird and if something in this strange place was willing to talk to her, she was more than willing to listen.
The lizard spun its eyes backwards in its head again, rotating its eyeballs beneath its hooded eyelids like two ping-pong balls under a sheet. "I'm Sheldon. Beware; the sun is high and hot. Watch out for the Fabula." With a quick flick of its tail, it disappeared into the long grass.
The mountain dragon's talons prickled against Taylor's skin as it lifted his feet to adjust its grip on her shoulder, and the burn on her hand stung and throbbed.
Taylor listened as a whispering, sighing sound drifted across the field from the direction of the woods. She turned quickly, the hairs on the back of her neck standing on end. Without warning, the mountain dragon lifted its wings and sprang away from her shoulder, its wings spinning through the air, and flew towards the forest of trees. "Hey, come back!" She took several steps after it but the tiny dragon had disappeared from sight.
Taylor stood where she was and stared at the forest of trees. A breeze ruffled the leaves of the nearest branches, carefree and careless. However, between the trunks of the trees all she could see was a deep, thick darkness. She did not like it, not one bit. She took a deep breath, understanding that she was alone here in this strangest of places. She needed to get back to the safety of her room. Now. She stepped forward, to where the shimmer of her bedroom had stood just minutes ago, hazy but real in the air above the grass of the plains. Now there was nothing. She looked around wildly but all she could see was the gentle, endless sway of the grass and the faint bluish hue of the distant mountains.
"You didn't tell me your name."
Taylor looked down at her feet to see Sheldon's reptilian face peering up at her through the parted grass. He tipped his head on one side, waiting for her reply, as he flicked tip of his tongue across his scaly lips.
"Taylor. My name is Taylor. How can I get home"
Sheldon's eyes rolled back in his head. "Taylor You cannot have that name. It is not a name that bodes well for anyone." He shuddered and swivelled his eyes forward again. "You'll need to find yourself a new one." He darted back into the grass.
"Sheldon Sheldon!" Taylor watched helplessly as the grass parted and undulated and Sheldon ran rapidly in the other direction, as fast as his short legs could carry him. "How can I get home" She called plaintively into the emptiness, but her only reply was the faint sigh of the wind through the nearby treetops.
Taylor grabbed at the air in front of her, panicky and scared now, searching again for the haze of the mirror that would lead her back to her bedroom. Still there was nothing. "Hello" Her voice sounded very small and alone in the vastness of the plains. "Can anybody hear me" Overhead, the eagle circled and called out its desolate, lonesome cry.
The wind picked up, cooler now, and Taylor turned her face towards the sky. Dark clouds were gathering, and within moments, the sun had disappeared. She shivered and briskly rubbed at her bare arms, aware of the crisp scent of rain in the air. She stared dubiously at the dark woods. There was shelter there, but she was too afraid of what might lie in wait in the murky shadows that lurked between the tightly-packed trunks of the trees.
A sudden flash of lightning and heavy drops of rain made up her mind for her. Putting her head down, Taylor ran across the grass towards the woods as the lightning zipped and the thunder clapped. Her sword banged uncomfortably against her leg and the wind whipped the skirt of her dress around her thighs, making her acutely aware of her strangeness in this very strange place.