Gûndaff's home world lay on the other side of the portal. The gateway's green border framed a forest clearing filled with green grass and tall oaks. On the other side a lone figure stood facing the portal. Gûndaff smiled and raised his hand in in greeting.
An arrow struck the ground between the old man's feet as a female 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 insane ex-girlfriend.”
Gûndaff yelled through the portal. “Jean Finch, you fire one more arrow at me and you'll spend the rest of your miserable life in my frog pond eating flies. And that's if I'm feeling kindly.”
“Where's Faustus? You bring him through right now. Do you hear me you old coot?” screamed the manic voice from the other side.
Gûndaff lowered his voice. “This is going to be a might delicate, corporal. Jean ain't the best shot I know but she's far from the worst. Whatever happens, don't kill her.”
Gûndaff pulled a long, gnarly staff from the bed of the truck. “I'm coming through, Jean. If you shoot you'll never see Faustus again.” Gûndaff lowered his voice. “You'd best come through, Rick.”
Jean Finch stood all of 5' 4” tall. Her short, blond hair framed a fair face with green eyes. A red vest covered a white, broad collared shirt with a plunging neckline exposing Jean's ample cleavage. Tight knee pants showed off the curve of her hip accented by a broad bladed cutlass thrust through her belt. She had a striking figure if not for the crazed look on her face. The bow in her hand looked well made and well used. She had an arrow notched and pointed at Gûndaff.
Gûndaff showed no fear walking directly toward Jean.
“You stop right there,” yelled Jean. Gûndaff kept walking. “I said stop or I'll shoot. I mean it. Don't make me do it!”
Gûndaff stood directly in front of Jean staring her in the eye. Neither blinked. Gûndaff grabbed the arrow and ripped it away from the bow.
“Hey, give that back!”
“Corporal Hernandez, would you mind subduing the young lady?”
“With pleasure, sir.”
“You lay one hand on me and I'll rip it off and feed it to you,” yelled Jean.
Gûndaff watched as the army Corporal put Jean into a submission hold. “Jean, he's one of his armies best soldiers. He's a master marksman and hand-to-hand combatant. I hand picked him for duty. I suggest you stop struggling.”
Jean didn't stop.
“She's like a wild cat, General. I may have to hurt her.”
“No need, Corporal. Stand her up.”
Corporal Hernandez did as instructed.
“You don't dare cast a spell on me, Gûndaff Faêrenfarr. I know your tricks. It won't stick. Make your trained dog let me go.”
Gûndaff punched Jean straight in the face. She slumped.
“Why didn't you let me do that, General. It would have saved some of these scratches.”
“Cuz she would have killed you when she woke up. Tie her up and tie her up good. She's wilier than coyote and meaner than a bob cat. She should have a horse around here. Find it and throw her over the saddle. I'll be back with my souvenirs.”
Corporal Hernandez did as instructed while Gundaff backed the truck up partway into the portal. Showing a spryness unusual for his apparent years, he jumped into the bed then climbed down off the boxes into his world. He opened the first box and pulled out three carpet bags and jug. He popped the cork on the jug and mist poured forming into a man-sized figure. It was barely visible. “Unload the contents of the boxes into the bags. Do not cross through the portal. You won't survive the trip.”
The misty figure nodded and began opening each box in turn and loading their contents into the bags.
Corporal Hernandez returned with a horse. “All that stuff won't fit into that luggage, sir.”
Gûndaff smiled and watched Rick Hernandez's eyes bulge as the misty figure dropped a statue into a bag that was three times the bag's height.
“Things work a little differently here, son.” said the old man. “Now drive the truck out of the portal and get back here if you want to stay for a bit. I'm going to need help with Jean when she wakes up.”
Rick returned to the truck pulling it out of the portal. He made several calls then returned. The portal closed after him.
“I'm cleared for extended duty, sir.”
“You had this arranged beforehand, didn't you.”
The corporal smiled.
They loaded the horse with the bags and Jean then left the clearing proceeding down a small, little-used path.
“It is different here, sir. It's like everything is brighter. No, that's not the right word.”
“Magic flows here, son. That's what you feel. The fact that you feel it means you could learn magic if you like. I once ran a magic school.” Gûndaff stared off for an instant. Deep sadness showed on his face. He shook his head. “But that was a few lifetimes back.”
“So what do we do with the Jean, sir?”
“We wait for my battery to recharge,” said Gûndaff with a half smile. “Here's the short of it, Corporal. Mages store magical energy in their body. It's the first thing we learn. Then we learn to tap into that energy to cast spells. As you get better, you store more magic but it takes time to build up your store. By this evening I'll be ready to figure out what's wrong with Jean.”
“You mean she isn't normally insane?”
“Well, yes but she's normally just a bit manic. You see, she's not really human. She was made as a consort for Faustus by Faustus's father.”
“Faustus Mitternach? The guy that coaches the basketball team for Guiding Light Girls Home?”
“Yep. In your world he's a coach. In our world he's a champion of Tehas. He's powerful with a large kingdom. He went to your side, fell in love, and decided to marry and stay. His father is a powerful mage. He's dead now but still active. He created Jean so his son would have a companion and consort. She started life as a small bird that Atticus transformed into a human. Something's gone wrong with her, though. Once I have enough magic stored I'll figure out what.”
“Does she know she's a bird, General?”
“I've never asked.”
A great thrashing erupted from the woods surrounding them. Three unicorns leaped across the path and continued through the woods.
“Aw, damn,” said Gûndaff. “If it's a displacer cat we're in trouble. We'll hope for a pack of blink dogs.”
Barks and yeps proceeded a pack a dogs the size of German shepherds. They leapt over the path some vanishing in midair.
Gûndaff relaxed. “Damn unicorns. They're like rats with hooves.”
Rick Hernandez laughed until an arrow appeared in a tree directly in front of his nose.
“Halt,” said a voice from the wood
Rick stared at the arrow and then slowly turn his head toward the voice. “What is it with you people and arrows!”