Every journey starts with a single step, this one is no different…

Exploring the many ruins around her house helped Willow to get excess energy out. She hated sitting around doing nothing. Besides, the mystery surrounding the abandoned structures was intoxicating.

Noticing the sun beginning to set, Willow knew it was time to go. Taking one last look at the ruins around her, she began to run home. Seeing her house up ahead, she saw the lights on and smoke coming from the chimney. “I hope mom is making Volcano Bakemeat!” she thought to herself, stomach rumbling. Rushing inside, her nose told her it was almost time to eat.

“Willow, Nanaga wants to see you.” her mother said while stoking the fire. “What is it Nanaga?” Willow said walking into the back room.

Nanaga, Willow’s great grandmother was a sweet old soul. Always telling Willow legends about the ruins near her house. This is what caused her to become so fascinated with them.

“I have something for you my dear, an item that has been passed down our family for generations.” Nanaga said as she opened a small wood chest. “Here you go little one.” she said handing Willow a quilted blanket of white and gray. She ran her fingers across the material and enjoyed the smooth cool feeling of the fabric. “Change is difficult, but can lead to new experiences that can help you grow. Always remember this.” said her great grandmother as she sat back down.

“Your favorite, Volcano Bakemeat, is ready!” yelled Willow’s mom. “I’ll bring you some too Nanaga.” Willow said rushing excitedly into the kitchen.

“What a great day!” she thought later lying in bed. “My favorite meal and a cool heirloom! I wonder what Nanaga meant?” she thought, drifting to sleep.

Several weeks later, Willow carried the quilt Nanaga gave her everywhere, often wearing it like a cape to keep her warm and calm. For some reason whenever she touched it, a magical feeling filled the air around her.

The following weeks were full of rain and storms. But as soon as the sky cleared, Willow went off to wander through the ruins.. Upon arriving at the ruins Willow felt strange, as if magic was emanating from the collapsed structures around her. While the ruins did have an enigmatic feel to them, they never felt ‘otherworldly’ as they now did. It felt almost like something was calling to her. Feeling unsettled Willow clutched her precious quilt and began her usual meandering among the ruins.

While coming around the corner of a collapsed structure she suddenly stopped. Up ahead was a strange wooden box, almost swallowed by a tree. “Huh, I don’t remember seeing that before.” she mumbled walking towards it. As she approached her quilt began to glow faintly. ”What in the world!?” she exclaimed. Unsure of what was happening Willow stumbled forwards in surprise, right into the unusual box.

What happened next was almost indescribable, The threads of her quilt began to unravel, turning into what looked like threads of light. These ‘threads’ streamed into the curved glass front of the strange box, now glowing. Speechless at what was happening Willow didn’t even notice that while holding the quilt she began to turn into threads of light too! The next thing she knew she was in an amorphous tunnel like structure formed of bright, swirling colors. Looking behind her she saw a small opening which the ruins were visible from.

Turning to face the direction she was being pulled was another opening with what looked like a field. Willow was still in shock as she materialized out the opening into the warm sunlight. Looking around she was standing in a place of rolling blue and purple hills completely covered by strange but beautiful mushrooms. The sky was blue and filled with soft clouds, and a gentle breeze passed over the field, causing it to ripple like waves in the ocean. “Wh...Where am I?” she stuttered. Turning back to the box-like structure she had come through she saw it was partially buried in the dirt near some large boulders.

Then without warning the day turned to night as something covered the sun. Flying above her was a large creature that let out a deep resounding roar, followed soon by smaller ones. They began to descend and take mouthfuls of the unusual flowers as if they were grazing. However the largest creature took out an entire chunk of the hill across from Willow.

“I.. better not stay here any longer, or whatever those things are might grab me too!” she thought, quickly turning back to the box. “How does this thing work!?” she screamed, shaking the box violently. Suddenly the glass front began to glow along with her quilt. “Here I go again…” she thought, while unraveling into threads of light.

A few seconds later she was back in the ruins where she had been walking earlier. “I’ve NEVER seen those things before! Or those weird flowers! Where was I?!” she yelled out loud. Examining her quilt she found a triangular patch with a mushroom on her quilt, almost like a badge to signify where she had visited. Walking back home in amazement and exhaustion Willow decided to try and process what had happened tomorrow after a good nights rest.

Our PaperDemon friend had stumbled upon a portal. And her blanket apparently contained the magical threads with which to allow her to activate and travel through them.

Several months later and the news of what Willow had discovered had quickly become the main topic of discussion amongst explorers, merchants, and scientists. Each one of them hoping to find new worlds to explore, creatures to catalog, and resources to use, they tried different ways to access them. However nothing except Willow’s quilt seemed to trigger the portals.

Because of this Willow had begun to search for other items that had similar magic qualities, and thus would be able to trigger the portals.

After months of searching, only a few other items were found that could trigger the portals. These were quickly bought up by those wanting to explore the worlds beyond the portals. Realizing that many others would be unable to share in the wonders of what she had discovered, Willow decided to find a way to imbue any item with the ancient magic of her quilt. So anybody could explore the portals many worlds.

An elf named Jerle, a historian and astronomer knowledgeable in the lore of ancient ruins worked together with her to find what gave her quilt this power.

After weeks of tests and nothing to show, Jerle took a break and went wandering around the ruins near his lab, trying to find a hint, a clue, something that would lead him in the right direction to find the composition of Willow’s quilt. Noticing a portal nearby, his frustrated face reflecting back at him, he wondered if there even really was a way to solve this dilemma.

Suddenly a sharp gust of wind came from behind him and for a brief second the portal screen flickered! A rush of adrenaline overtook him as he dashed towards the portal only to find it was inactive again. “Something in that gust activated that portal! I’ve got to find what it was!” he thought to himself.

After scouring around the ruins Jerle stumbled upon a flower he’d never seen before. It’s deep purple petals were covered in white, star-like, spots. It looked almost like a galaxy. There seemed to be only a few in the entire area, which baffled him since these ruins were well documented. Suddenly, another gust of wind started blowing, carrying a few of the purple petals off into the air. Then the sound of the portal activating caused Jerle to once again rush towards it. As he approached he noticed this time there was a single petal of the mysterious flower stuck on the screen. Realizing that this plant’s fibers were what allowed the portals to activate, Jerle went back and carefully dug up a single flower to study at home.

After comparing both Willow’s quilt and the cells of the flower petal, Jerle and Willow found a way to imbue other items with this portal magic by weaving the fibers of the petals into different items. By doing this one could activate the portals scattered across the world.

These enigmatic flowers were quickly named Portal Petals and were quickly propagated and sold around the world.

After solving this issue Willow took off on more adventures through the portals. Jerle did the same, deciding to navigate and chart a record of these portals, for the use of his people.

And now it's your turn.

It's your turn to journey through the portals. What new sights will you see? What new treasures will you discover? And what friendships will you make along the way?

Story contributed by Duskfire and BogusRed