â€œAre you sure this is okay?â€ Sera asked. â€œI’m a little creeped out by the thought of walking into something that looks solid.â€
â€œI know what you mean,â€ Ophelia said. â€œBut I’m sure it will be okay. I trust Silver.â€
â€œSo do I,â€ Sera said. â€œBut that doesn’t stop it making my skin crawl for some reason.â€
â€œWell, we promised we’d do this, so let’s do this.â€ She thought for a moment. â€œPerhaps we should close our eyes like in Harry Potter. That should stop us freaking out.â€ Ophelia grinned as she heard Sera choke at that, then took a deep breath, scrunched up her eyes, and walked into the illusion-masked portal.
They emerged into a vast hall of living wood. Silver was floating near the entrance waiting for them. â€œAh, here you are! I was worried that you’d freaked out on me,â€ she said. â€œWelcome to my home.â€
The two girls stared around with open mouths.
â€œOh, wow!â€ Ophelia said. â€œIt’s palatial. Is this place for real or another illusion?â€
â€œIt’s real,â€ Silver said. â€œDo you like it?â€
â€œIt’s amazing.â€ Sera reached out and touched one of the ornately carved pillars that supported the cathedral-like vault of the roof. â€œBut it’s larger than the tree.â€ She smirked at Ophelia. â€œI don’t think the entrance was illusioned… this place just has a functioning chameleon circuit.â€
â€œWe’re not Time Lords but a Tardis analogy is not misplaced.â€ Silver said. Sera and Ophelia stared at her. â€œWhat, you think just because I’m not human I don’t watch television? I like Doctor Who. But anyway, making pocket like this one is one of my people’s abilities.â€
â€œAh. So this is something like a bubble?â€ Ophelia stared up at the ceiling.
â€œYes, something like a cross between a fold and bubble.â€ Silver seemed pleased that she understood. â€œCome on. I’ll take you to see gran.â€ As she spoke, her form began to shift. After a few moments she would have looked like a normal human dressed in a white robe but for the wings and hair of silvery flame – and the fact her equally silver eyes glowed unaturally. â€œOh my! That’s better.â€
â€œThat’s a nice trick,â€ Ophelia said. â€œBut you didn’t tell us that you were a shapeshifter.â€
â€œHey, we only met yesterday!â€ Silver said. â€œIt just hadn’t come up yet.â€
â€œI guess.â€ It sounded feasible enough but Ophelia couldn’t helping think she also sounded defensive. â€œAnd you look a lot like that green creature that attacked that girl in London.â€
â€œYes, that was one of the Kithreiri as well,â€ Silver explained. â€œWe think it was a loyalist. This is our natural form but we don’t use it much on Earth, especially not where humans can see, because it’s rather obvious.â€
â€œYes, I can see how that would be,â€ Ophelia said. â€œShall we go and meet your grandmother? We can talk about not hiding things later.â€
They followed Silver up an ornately carved winding staircase. It seemed to go up forever but Ophelia guessed they were really only about halfway up when they alighted onto a long landing. Silver led them along the corridor to a pair of ornately carved doors and knocked. â€œGranny! I brought them.â€ After a moment the door creaked open on its own and she led them into a dimly lit room.