Chapter Twenty – continued
Abigail stood in the portal room with James and Poppy, eyeing what looked like a floating mirror with misgivings. Her grandfather had never described the portal, but, somehow, this was not what she expected.
“On the other side,” Rose was saying, “we’ll get your clothing changed so you look like you belong. We can’t have you wandering out of the manor just yet; it’ll be a few days. Since you’ll be settling in the other world, we’ll teach you what you need to know.”
Abigail watched as James wrapped an arm around Poppy and pulled her close. The former mermaid looked a little drowsy and unsteady on her feet, but Rose had assured them the side effects wouldn’t last too long. James had clearly had his misgivings, but Rose had been so efficient and certain that Abigail was sure he really couldn’t not trust her.
“Are you ready?” Harrison asked as he stepped up to the portal.
Almost as though the portal were responding to his mere presence, the surface of it rippled into a motley array of colors. Abigail watched in fascination as they swirled together and then apart. Slowly, they resolved into a crisp, clear image of…a room that looked a lot like the one they were currently standing in.
James seemed to have the same concern. “Are you sure that takes us into the linked world and not back here?” he asked dubiously.
Harrison laughed. “Yes, of course it does. When the Manors were first established, my several times great-grandparents thought the travel between worlds would be less traumatic if travelers passed from one room into an identical one.”
“Traumatic?” James asked, horror in his voice. His arm tightened around Poppy, who squeaked softly at the sudden squeeze.
Quickly, Harrison raised his hands and shook his head. “Mentally speaking, Prince. You’ll feel a bit of a tug as you pass through, but it can be a little disorienting to leave behind what you know for something foreign.” He shrugged. “All these generations later and none of us have had the heart to change anything.”
“If there are no further concerns,” Rose said from where she stood behind James and Poppy, “I believe it’s time for you to step through. The ripple from the wish stone will likely be detected soon, if it hasn’t already, and your father’s men and women will be keeping sharp senses for a second ripple. You should be safely away before they track you here.”
James nodded and turned to Abigail. “Thank you, Gail.” He reached out a hand to her and, tentatively, she approached him. “We wouldn’t have this chance at happiness without you. You and your sister. Tell Adrian I’m sorry, and I’m sorry to you, too, for what this means for you. If this is goodbye, cousin, I love you and am deeply indebted to you.”
Abigail smiled softly. “I hope we will see each other again, James. Be safe, and take care of Poppy.”
On his other side, Poppy gave Abigail a smile. She looked a little sleepy and her eyes were slightly unfocused, but Abigail had the feeling the former mermaid was locking eyes with her. Well, attempting to, at least. In response, she smiled and nodded, gesturing for them to go while stepping back.
“Harrison will accompany you,” Rose said. “I’ll see Lady Olidan back to the Glass Kingdom.”
Abigail held her breath as Harrison reached out to touch the portal with one hand and held out his other to James. With his arm tightly around an unsteady Poppy, James took the man’s hand. Harrison turned and stepped through, pulling the couple along with him. There was no sound, no ripple, no sensation. The three of them were simply gone, but a second later, all three reappeared on the other side, Harrison smiling and offering a gallant bow before turning and guiding James and Poppy from the room, both of them now staggering a little.
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