Sydney was the most sure about anything since he landed in this strange world. The girl sitting with him was somehow also the dragon that had blocked his travels and invited him to meet her in the garden for tea. There was tea. There was an unexpected lack of dragon. He could do the math. He could also tell that there was definitely a wrong way to broach the subject.
“I’m Sydney, and I’m sure you know that already. The tea is welcome.”
Gwen nodded. He might be off to a good start. “It is, especially on a pleasant day.”
She wasn’t going to admit anything quickly, that was clear. He looked around at the formal garden, but was drawn back to her eyes. There was an aura about them. About her, really. If he looked closer, the aura extended off into the distance and developed wings and a tail. He’d never noticed that effect before. He counted to three in his head. “I really have no idea what is going on here. I’m seeing things I never could see back home. I’m doing things that I’ve never done. I’m worried a little that I’m enjoying it too much and that if offered a way home I might turn away from it.”
“Do you have friends and family who are wondering where you are?”
“Not too many. Just a few online connections, but not many that I’d ever met in real life.”
She frowned a moment. “Is this real now?”
“I don’t know.” He paused, lost in thought. “I thought I did at first. I assumed the whole thing was some sort of technological trick that I’d unwittingly got involved in. But I’m less sure of that now.”
She smiled. “If it helps, I’m reasonably sure this is real.”
She puffed her cigar and sipped her tea.
“It helps. Thanks.”
“Well isn’t this cozy” croaked the frog.
Sydney jumped. Gwen blew a smoke ring that settled around the errant trickster and began to shrink to grip it. The frog leapt out just in the nick of time, glared at them, and hopped off to vanish under a rose-bush.