Eric glanced about him as Wendy and Roger brought him up a hill on the other side of the lake. From the side he had slept on, the ground looked flat around the lake. But as Wendy explained to him shortly after her introduction, "This lake is full of surprises. And this is just one of them: at night, the mirage of Lake Genevieve fades, and a whole new realm may be viewed through its reflection. Nobody knows why. But it is genuinely true--when the moon rises, you can see a completely different world in the reflection, never touched with human hands. And I guess that in that different world there is a lake just like this one, and that when night falls there, our world's reflection may be seen. But the mirage isn't only the reflection--an invisible force prevents access to the other side of the lake during the day, but instead a false version. Night is when the hills and cliffs appear, along with my home." Eric had little belief in magic, werewolves, or anything of the sort. The events that had occured boggled his mind, and made him wish he was still in bed with a warm cup of tea. Now the fact that the lake was a window to another world boggled his mind even more.
Witch Wendy's house stood like a great foreboding shadow, looming against the dark lake from atop a cliffside. Owls nested in a tree beside it, gazing at the approaching people. They'd hoot, "Hello, Mistress Wendy! Back from another exciting expedition? Was it successful?" Wendy had apparently used her Comprehensive spell on them too, as she could easily understand it. "Why yes, Mother Winifred. I got a whole bunch of mushrooms," she replied. "So yes, Johann, it was quite successful. But look who I've brought! A cursed young man, turned into a zebra!"
If the outside of the house, with its twilit glow, was an intimidating sight, the inside was terrible. A purple mist seemed to spew from the cracks in the wooden floor. Stone walls were grey and dusty, hewn with portraits of mushrooms, toadstools, and other fungi. The only sources of light were the fireplace and a few candles atop a table, bringing an orange glow to contrast with the purple. The hearth was mushroom-shaped, as were the chairs by the table. Any doorknob Eric could see was in the shape of a toadstool, and there were ink cap-shaped paperweights and bookmarks. Ah! Eric thought to himself. So, she has a fungus obsession, does she? Well well well...
"Make yourselves at home," Wendy said with a smile, gesturing at a sofa with mushroom decorations. "I'm going to go store the mushrooms I gathered. Won't be a minute!" She wobbled towards a door and opened it, revealing a staircase. As she left, Roger hurried toward the sofa and made himself comfortable. Eric watched him a bit until the wolfboy fell asleep. Then he decided to explore.
Eric, still watching Roger, began walking towards the table when he crashed his head into something. "Hey, watch it!" scolded a man, presumably what Eric hit. Eric looked at the man. He had heavy, pompous eyes and a deep, dark frown. His long head was topped with black hair, neatly combed in a posh sort of way. The man stood at medium height in a trenchcoat and holding a pipe; the other hand in his pocket. His voice was deep and snobbish. "I have no time for a filthy animal such as yourself," he grunted at Eric. "I have more pressing matters to attend to; your clumsiness could have made me spill my tea over the map that old hag gave me. And had that happened, you would have been dead in a moment, my fine equine friend. I am looking for someone: A boy who I lost about three months ago. But why am I telling you?" Very rudely, the man ushered Eric away, just as Wendy returned.
"Eric," she asked, "could you wake up Roger for me?" Eric nodded and left to attend to the boy. "Madam," the man told Wendy, "what is a filthy animal such as a zebra doing in here? It should be outside, where it belongs."
"Now, now, Wally," Wendy insisted, "don't be rude. This poor zebra is really a cursed young man! He was attacked by another zebra... A friend of mine, a werewolf, brought him to me. You'll just have to make do with that--this is much more pressing than your case."
"I beg your pardon? He's travelling with a werewolf, is he?"
"Why yes. Why do you ask?"
"Nothing, really. Just thought I heard you wrong," Wally said with a slight hint of a change in his tone. With his drooping face, he took a long, quiet stare at Eric and the wolf that rode on the zebra's back. "Quite interesting..." he trailed off. For a moment he reached in his pocket for something but stopped himself. With a slight look of satisfaction, he nodded to Wendy. "I'll just get back to the map, then," he said.