Gûndaff Faêrenfarr sat in the passenger seat of a new Chevy pickup truck looking out at the New Mexico desert. Cactus, yucca, and scrub surrounded the roadway contrasting with white capped mountains in the distance.
The old man fussed a bit over his robes and the ornate red sash that covered his mid section. The garments were a bit faded after their decade in storage.
The driver of the vehicle cleared his throat. It was a ritual Corporal Rick Hernandez used to make sure others were ready to listen when he spoke. Although out of uniform the young man's straight posture, close haircut, muscled physique, and protocol-driven manners marked him a military man. “Nervous about the return home, general?”
“A bit I reckon,” said Gûndaff. “It's been ten years since I left the other side. I hoped to never go back but the gods figured differently.”
“Begging your pardon, sir, but from what little you've said of the matter your people back home should be able to handle the problem without you and our team won't be the same without you around. We need you here more than they need you there.”
“I suppose they could handle it but there are other reasons for returning. Havoq and his boys are raising a ruckus over there and I've got to stop it if I can. As for the team, you boys don't need me any more. I'm just an ornament these days.”
The corporal snorted his disagreement. “What if the team came through with you and helped out? They could be here in the hour.”
“No, corporal. The Portal Treaty must stand. The balance on both sides depends on it. Can you imagine a hoard of orcs and ogres coming through from my side. If you think you have an immigrant problem now just wait until the orcs arrive."
“As you wish, sir, but we're here if you need us.”
The two remained silent until they entered the town of Roswell, Mew Mexico. Stores selling UFO souvenirs dotted the street. Flying Saucers featuring green skinned, big eyed aliens were common. People walked around with pyramid hats or silver make up.
Gûndaff Faêrenfarr laughed. “You boys did a fine job covering up the crossing back in '47.”
Corporal Rick Hernandez smiled. “It wasn't hard, General Faêrenfarr. Most everyone believes in life 'out there'. Not everyone believes in dragons.”
“I know some dragons that would take offense to that.”
Corporal Hernandez's smile faded. “Sir, do you mind if I ask you a question?”
“As part of my briefing when I became your attaché, I saw pictures from back in 1947 when you met with President Truman. You were in those pictures but you haven't aged a bit.”
“That's cuz I don't age.” The old man sighed and looked at his hands. They'd remained the same for since 1944 by this worlds reckoning. “You have a saying on this world regarding deals with the devil. They same is true in my world but also applies to the other side. In exchange for something precious I agreed to serve the Lords of Light until I died. Funny thing is they decided not to let me die. Oh, I can be killed but I don't age. I had hoped if I left my world I would age but it appears some magic actually does transfer from one world to the next.”
“Sound like a hell of a deal, General. You know how many people would do anything to stop aging?”
Gûndaff shook his head. “Its ain't no blessing, Rick. It's a curse. I'm paying for getting around the rules. It pissed off the Lords of Light and the Dark gods. ”
“Still doesn't sound like such a bad thing, sir.”
“Walk a century in my shoes and see if you still think the same.”
They drove out of Roswell and into a rural area. They turned off the road a mile past the sign for Guiding Light Girls Home. The Chevy bumped and jostled over large rock and holes of the ancient trail.
Gûndaff looked back to make sure the contents in the truck bed were secure. The wooden boxes didn't shift under the tight straps.
Corporal Hernandez turned the truck onto an even rougher path and drove a brief distance through a cactus-filled landscape until they reached a small clearing surrounded by rocks.
“Here we are, General. I'll help get the boxes through.”
“No need, Corporal. Just release the straps. I'll take care of the rest.”
As Corporal Hernandez released the straps, Gûndaff approached the center of the clearing. “En onomati foteinos, eilikrinis,” intoned Gûndaff in a sing song voice.
A green outline formed in the air as tall as two men and wide enough for the truck to fit through. Magic flowed into the old man. It was like a cool breeze on a hot day that sent a tingling sensation throughout his body.
Gûndaff's home world lay on the other side. Through the portal lay a forest clearing filled with green grass. Oaks surrounded the clearing. A lone figure stood at the side of the clearing. Gûndaff raised his hand in in greeting.
An arrow struck the ground between his feet as a voice yelled from the other side. “Gûndaff Faêrenfarr, you step one foot through that portal and I'll drop you where you stand!”
Corporal Hernandez's pistol was drawn and pointed at the voice on the other side. Gûndaff placed his hand on the gun forcing the Corporal to lower his side arm.
“Friend of yours, General?”
“Worse,” said Gûndaff. “A friend's exgirlfriend.”