During one of their quick trips to get some supplies from their apartment in the old world, Steph later noticed that she had gotten a message from the sisters' mother, and after a bit of back and forth, the two decided to briefly return once more to have a conversation with their parents to tell them everything that was going on.
“Did you get everything?” The sisters were in the living room of their old apartment when Sophia noticed that Steph had just finished a phone call.
“Yeah, mom told me where they are and everything.” She smiled at her. “Are you sure you didn’t want to talk to her right now?”
“No… I have no idea what to say over the phone… This is more of an eye-to-eye type of conversation…”
“That’s a very understandable point.” She nodded a few times. "Anyway, she said she’ll come home immediately to meet us. It seemed like they weren't that far away, either, because she'll be here in two hours. Dad and Sari might take a little longer, though. The two apparently went to visit our grandparents earlier today, and they live in the completely opposite direction.
"Ahh… I see. I want to see them, too, but I guess this makes it a little easier."
“True.” The little sister agreed. “By the way, what and how much are we going to tell her?”
“Everything.” Sophia looked quite determined.
“Well… Okay, how about we skip the humans part and what they are in the new world…? Let’s just pretend we never met them.”
“I don’t even have to pretend for that!”
“Even better! Also, some stuff around them might be better not mentioned, too… Mom doesn’t know that I went to war…”
"Very fair!” Steph agreed with her. “So… almost everything.”
"Everything good, and let's say neutral things!"
“Tiger and dog sisters included?”
“Does that mean I can change back?!” The little sister suddenly got loud. “I miss my tail!”
“It’s the worst, isn’t it?” Sophia could feel her pain. “Even worse, I still don’t really understand how this magic works, but it only masks our original looks, so I can still feel my tail a little, just very muffled or something like that…”
“I hate it! The itchiness also just fully stopped last week, and now this! I want to be a dog again!”
“You sure took a liking to it quick, huh?”
"I already loved it before I was fully done with my transformation!"
Exactly two hours later, just as announced, the doorbell of their apartment rang.
“If anything, she sure is punctual.”
“Y-Yeah…” Sophia reacted with a weak nod.
“Well, you better hurry and open the door, then. The sooner you can get over it, after all.”
“I hate you…”
“I love you, too~.”
“Urgh…” Letting out a strained sigh, the older sister then slowly made her way to the door and opened it.
“…” A woman in her early forties with medium-long ash-blonde hair, much like the younger Sophia in the new world before she became a tiger, stood at the other side of the door. It apparently really seemed like she had Sophia when she was quite young.
“…” The two just looked at each other for a few moments without saying a single word.
After all, it had almost been a year since the two had seen each other after Sophia's sudden disappearance. Not to mention that nearly everything indicated that she had died, up until a month ago. Things were naturally beyond awkward right now.
It only lasted a second, though, because they immediately jumped into each other’s arms and shared a tight hug. Once they parted and looked at each other, noticing how both had started crying, they immediately returned to hugging each other. It was an even tighter one this time, as well.
This back and forth went on for a little while as neither of them had an idea of where to continue from here.
“So, do you want to come in, or do you two want to continue to cry in the entrance hall?”
"Steph…" Noticing her coming closer, their mother grabbed her hand and included the little sister in their hug. “I really missed you, too.”
“Yeah…” She felt the same. “I was on a bit of a mission, after all.”
“You really were.”
“I told you I would find her.” Steph almost sounded smug.
“That you did.” There was nothing else she could say.
“I’m… I’m really sorry for the mess I created and the fights I caused…" Naturally, Sophia blamed herself for everything.
“…” Her mother paused for a moment. “What… What happened to you…? Where did you go? Why do you look different? You almost seem younger? Why didn’t you contact us…?”
“I do have a very good reason for everything, but… It’s quite hard to explain. It will take a while, too.”
Once they had put a temporary hold on their hugging, the three went to the living room to have a long and rather weird conversation.
“So… What happened to you? It’s been getting close to a year, you know…?”
“Uhh…” Sophia scratched her cheek. “First, I’m terribly sorry that I worried everyone about me. Steph told me a lot of things… How much it drove her crazy, especially…”
“Hey! I didn’t get crazy!”
“…” Their mother stayed silent.
“Anyway,” The older sister turned a little more serious. “I had a bit of an accident right before my sudden disappearance…”
“Ah, so it really was something along the lines of that…” Her mother didn’t sound overly surprised. “As much as I don’t want to hear this either, it makes much more sense than any other explanation…."
“Yeah…” She nodded. “I wouldn’t have run away without telling anyone… If I had the chance.”
“Did you get hurt? You’ve been gone for so long. Wait, don’t tell me something overly cliché like some sort of memory loss happened during that accident?!”
"That would've been a way easier explanation compared to what I actually went through…"
“Mh-hmm…” Steph nodded a few times. “Much easier…”
“So… You didn’t get hurt?” She tilted her head while continuing to look at her oldest daughter.
“If it wasn’t for the help of a certain someone… I would’ve definitely… uhh… died.” She wasn’t sure how to word it properly.
“H-Huh?!” Her mother obviously didn’t like the sound of that.
“Don’t worry! As you can see, I’m totally fine now!”
“Yes, I can.” She nodded. “In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen you this, uhh… glowing since… a very long time…”
"Because I haven't been as happy as I am right now since, well… honestly, ever.”
“For many very understandable reasons.” Steph knew what she had been up to lately, after all. “In fact, I’m still upset that she had been doing so well for so long without telling me!”
“Do you know what happened and is going on?” She faced her younger daughter. “It’s been a while since you found her, right?”
“About a month now, yeah.” Steph nodded. “In fact, I’ve been with her ever since. I can guarantee you that you won’t believe a word of what is going on.”
“Could you tell me? Especially as your mother, I would really like to know what happened that changed you so much.
“That’s why we’re here.” Sophia smiled at her. “To tell you everything. I need you to agree to something beforehand, though.”
“What would that be?”
“I’m going to tell you a rather long, completely weird, confusing, unbelievable, and somewhat stupid story. No matter how much you want to make a comment or ask questions, wait until I’m done.”
“Okay?” She already was confused.
“Alright…” The girl with the unbelievable adventure took a deep breath before continuing. “During last spring, I was a little… let’s say careless, and I ended up in front of a rather quickly moving bus…”
“I said no questions or comments.”
“I won’t continue otherwise.”
“Good.” Sophia smiled at her mother before returning to her story. “From here on out, things will really take a weird turn, so make sure to simply listen.”
“Perfect. Anyway, luckily, I was saved by someone and never made contact with the said bus. It came with a massive caveat, though. Well, in retrospect, this was the best thing that could’ve ever happened to me, but we’ll get to that later.”
“The best thing is heavily downplaying it.” Steph added her own part.
“Hey, I said no comments!” The older sister got upset again.
“Not to me, though. To mom.”
“Don’t get smart on me now!”
“Why would I stop doing that now all of a sudden?”
“…” She turned silent.
“Hehe.” The younger sister let out a short giggle. “Okay, continue~.”
“It really is no wonder that you get along so well with Maya...” Letting out a small sigh, Sophia faced her mother again. “Seriously, no comments from now on! As I mentioned before, I was saved from my, uhh… bus-y end. I wasn’t saved by a human, though. Well, he looks like one, but I don’t think he identifies as one. In the first place, as far as I know, he isn’t even from this world.”
“!?” She naturally wanted to make many comments here.
“Shhh~.” The older sister simply put a finger on her lips.
“I said shush!” Sophia really didn’t want to get interrupted. “Him saving me came with a catch, though. Canir, that’s his name, could only save me by bringing me to a different world. I was unable to live here anymore. That’s why and how I disappeared without having left a trace behind.”
She made a short pause to let her mother process things. She still didn’t allow any sort of questions, though.
“Anyway, yeah, I had spent most of the previous year in a different world. A great world, I want to add.”
“Paradise!” Steph’s opinion was even better.
“Pretty much.” Sophia allowed the interruption this time. "This Canir guy also helped me make the most out of my new chance. As you may’ve noticed, my character and very being have changed in some way or another. As in, it has gotten better. I may still be an idiot, but my social phobias are gone for good. As a parting gift from this world, Canir gave me some boosts that kinda fixed my… personality? It's hard to explain. It changed some more stuff, but that’s not so important right now.”
Sophia didn’t see the need to tell her about the negative side of her boosts and decided to skip past that part and simply continued her story.
“The world I ended up in is actually quite different from this one. There’s magic! I can use magic now! The inhabitants of that world are far from the same, too. Humans are… humans are… My first friend was a giant speaking wolf!”
She decided against adding more details to the human part.
"All my other friends, after I could talk to people freely again, aren't really human, either. Well, they're mostly humanoid but have animal ears or a tail! It's the cutest! Humans are way too boring in comparison!”
“Full agree!” The little sister decided to join in again. “Cutest and fluffiest!”
“Yeah, you can’t forget about the fluff!” Sophia nodded a few times. “Speaking of friends, I even befriended the princess of the nation we’re currently living in! How awesome is that?! Moreover, I own an actual mansion now! Life is great over there!”
“Basically.” Once again, she agreed with Steph. “Also, on the animal topic, one thing led to another, and I’m now part tiger! Ears, tail, stripes! Some instincts and behavior, too, but let’s not go there. I'm just pretending to be human at the moment."
“I’m a violet dog now!”
“That happened, too, yeah.”
“…” Their mother just looked at them for a while and then slowly began shaking her head. “What…?”