“You have got to be kidding me.”
Taika ignored the brunette as she wrapped her hand around the hilt of the sword.
“No, seriously, you’re kidding, right?”
Her single golden eye glanced at her cousin. “I’m not, Vadim.” She looked back to the shining sword in her hand.
Vadim combed his hair with his fingers and sighed. Despite his cousin’s stoic and overall calm and collected personality, she was awfully stubborn. The moment that she put her mind to something, no force on Earth could stop her.
Or on places other than Earth, as Taika had proven before.
“You don’t have to do this!” Vadim said desperately, hearing a small growl coming from the pile of clothes on the tall girl’s bed. The source of the growl leaped out and jumped on Taika. She smiled a bit, rubbing her nose against the small, scaly black animal’s, staring into its golden eyes with her gold and blue ones.
“But then this little pup would live without his mother.” Now the blue eye looked at Vadim. “Or the mother could get through and track down her little dragon pup, and we wouldn’t want normal people to know that dragons exist, right?”
Vadim opened and closed his mouth a few times in an attempt to protest, but nothing came out. The only humans that knew about Taika’s heritage were him, his parents, and a very close friend of the dirty-blonde girl in front of him.
“Do you really have to go to the Never…?” Vadim was always afraid of saying the world’s full name. According to Taika, names had power, and he was never sure if saying the realm’s full name would do anything, so he didn’t take any chances. It was the same reason that Taika never told anyone her full name, not like anyone would be able to pronounce it, anyway.
“Yes, I do, cousin. Besides, I haven’t visited my mother in a while.” Her voice cracked a bit. Taika’s mother had been keeping herself more isolated than ever before. Her “abilities” had been acting strangely for the past thirteen years-since Taika’s birth-and seemed to have control over her instead of the other way around. Taika, being half-human, only had small, weaker abilities than anyone else of “the Never,” as Vadim called it. She could talk to animals, cross between the two worlds, and with great effort could control humans. But her “insignificant” gifts also allowed her to keep control.
Her mother…her mother was different. Whether it was the unity with a human or simply her age, she wasn’t able to keep her abilities in check as well as she used to. Her magic couldn’t be contained in her body, and sometimes it sent her into furious fits, driving her mad. Five years ago, she decided to give her only daughter to her sister-in-law and her family, hoping it would keep her safe. As upset as Taika was, she understood.
After all, not even a week prior to that, one of these fits resulted in her father dying.
But when she wasn’t controlled by her own magic, Taika’s mother was sweet and caring. Taika loved her, and she never went to her other place of origin without visiting.
“I’ll be back in two days, alright? …Don’t give me that look. I won’t get eaten.”
“Then why’re you taking the sword?”
“For anything that’s not a dragon,” Taika responded calmly. As much as she adored her cousin and foster brother, he could never fully understand her other side. He would never fully grasp the concept of the side of her that gave her the one golden eye. No human could.
“…Should I tell your friends that you’re camping, sick, or visiting your mom?” Vadim finally asked, defeated. He was as aware of his ignorance as Taika was. As much as he wanted to protect his younger cousin from the dangers of the world, he was only human, and he knew that he couldn’t protect her from the things of the Never. In that regard, she was stronger. Stronger than he would ever be.
But he wasn’t her father. It wasn’t his job to protect her. He was sixteen at that, not even a grown adult. All he could do was hope that she’d come home from the realm of his aunt, preferably with stories to tell that if he hadn’t met Taika, he would only believe as that: stories.
“Say that I caught that stomach virus that’s been going around. It’ll keep them from looking for me.” The young girl grabbed her hand mirror and looked into it, shutting her blue eye.
“How the heck does that work again?” Vadim asked.
“All words have power, Vadim. Not just names. I chose a phrase to go with my… ‘ticket’ to the other realm as a little girl. I close my eye that shows my human half, I say the full name of the realm, and then I say the phrase.” She shrugged. “I think the phrase I picked is pretty clever.”
“And predictable. It’s a flipping mirror,” Vadim said not-so quietly. Taika shot him a look.
She whispered the full name of the other world, then quickly added, “We’re all mad here.”
There was a bright light, and then the mirror began to fall. Vadim lunged forward and caught it, placing it on Taika’s bed. He sighed. “If she goes on some crazy dragon-slaying quest because she’s the chosen one or something without me, I’ll never forgive her.”
Taika was welcomed by the familiar sight of a pink sky and floating green islands. The scenery was beautiful, but nothing that she hadn’t seen before. With the heavy dragon pup on her shoulder and her sword in hand, she glanced up at the adorable black creature.
“Well, little one. Let’s find your mother, shall we?”