The portal shimmered, revealing a brilliant flow of colors. Those colors swirled until they turned into a blurry image of the dungeon cell where they had left Jaded.
Jaded slept in the corner. A loud sound echoed through the hallway, waking her up. She watched as a shadowy figure walked up to the bars. No, not walked. It glided up to the cell’s bars. There were no feet or legs coming out of the shadows to touch the floor.
At first, Jaded smiled as the figure came closer. Then, when the shadow got next to her, Jaded lunged, trying to grab the figure through the bars. “You never told me that they’d turn me human,” she spat venomously, her voice sounding strange coming from the portal.
The shadow laughed. “I told you they were more formidable than you’d give them credit for. You still did good to get them to go through the portal. How long have they been gone?”
“How the hell should I know? I’ve been locked in here since they left, and there are no watches in this universe.”
“There’s no time to lose. Take this,” the shadow ordered, holding out a vial of red liquid. “Throw the liquid on the portal and it will keep them from being able to come back through.”
Jaded scoffed. “The last time I did as you ordered, I got turned into a human.”
“I can change you back…”
“Don’t lie to me.”
The dark figure did not respond beyond a further offering gesture with the vial. Jaded took a step back, her eyes flicking between the vial, the cell bars, and the face lost within the shadows. It was obvious from her body language that she was tempted by the offer. Even if she no longer trusted her cohort, the prospect of no longer being human appealed to her.
Revis and Matticus exchanged a nervous glance.
“Should we jump through before she makes up her mind?” Matticus whispered, unsure if his voice would carry through the open portal.
Revis didn’t answer right away. His gaze was fixed on the unfolding scene, waiting, watching, trying to decipher what the right move was. He certainly didn’t want to get trapped forever in Twindaddy’s world. The thought terrified him so greatly he almost lunged through instinctively. But, his training kept him from following through on the impulse. He needed a plan.
The Knight sensed Matticus growing restless beside him. If he didn’t think of something, or at least answer quickly, the Jester might do something stupid. He shifted his gaze from the portal to see Matticus chewing on his lip. A bad sign. A very bad sign.
Jaded grabbed the vial out of the shadow’s hand and removed the lid. Revis immediately grabbed Matticus’ arm and dragged him towards the portal. The two men hit the portal just as the red liquid did. A powerful force hit them both head-on and they felt themselves being thrown backwards. Roughly, they hit the ground.
When they opened their eyes, they saw that they weren’t in Twindaddy’s closet anymore. They also weren’t back in the Kingdom, either. Looking around, they saw that they were in a forest at night. Although, there were some of the horseless carriages from Twindaddy’s world not far away. There was also an impossibly tall metal fence.
Suddenly, an ear-splitting roar filled the air. Revis grabbed Matticus’ arm and signaled him to remain still, and quiet. They watched as the metal fence came down. A strange looking dragon came crashing through, attacking the carriages. It had no wings and short arms. The dragon attacked one of the carriages, pushed it over the side of the fence, and ran off.
“Wait a minute,” Matticus said once he was sure the dragon was out of earshot. “How is there a now huge drop off right where the dragon came running two minutes ago?”
“Stop pointing out plot holes in other stories,” Revis commanded. “If you do that, people may start finding them in ours.”
“Like how we’ve been to a few universes different than ours and we all just happen to speak the same language. Seriously, how long are the odds that would actually happen?”
“I hadn’t thought about it like that. Yeah, that is weird… Also, I have no idea what you are talking about. What stories?”
“Fine,” Matticus responded petulantly. “So, now what?”
“Well, we should probably get out of this rain, and find some shelter before that dragon comes back, because it will be coming back. And then we should figure out how to find another portal.”
Matticus furrowed his brow, and looked skyward, noticing the rain for the first time. “I suppose you have some kind of plan for that? Something from your magical bag of tricks?”
Before Revis could answer, the dragon let out a mighty roar that caused the hairs on their arms and the back of their necks to stand on end. They couldn’t help but swivel their heads the direction of the sound. It sounded close, and hungry.
A moment later there was a loud thumping noise, accompanied by a percussion impact in a nearby puddle. Matticus looked at the tremors in the water quizzically, and then, as understanding settled in, his expression turned to one of terror. He turned to Revis to ask the obvious question and his Knight was already on the move.
“Time to go.”
The Jester did not need to be told twice. As soon as he got up to full speed a bright light burst in front of him. Now that he had been blinded, he tried to stop. Instead, his foot found a small hole in the ground and he tumbled forward. When his vision returned, he expected to see the dragon standing over him, about to strike. Instead, he found that he was in a completely different forest.
It was now daytime. It was no longer raining. There were no horseless carriages.
Revis grabbed him from underneath his arms and began lifting Matticus to his feet. There was blood running down from the Knight’s forehead. “I found a tree after the light blinded me,” Revis explained before the Jester had a chance to ask. “I’ll be fine.”
A noise off to the side caused them to duck. They saw a man in armor, a man in priest robes, and a dwarf walking. The man in armor said something that they couldn’t hear. In apparent frustration, the dwarf grabbed the armored man and spun him so they were face-to-face. “If you don’t stop asking questions, I’ll cut your tongue out and shove it up your nose,” he threatened.
The light flashed again. Now, they were standing in a room with a bed. The only other thing in the room was a woman, who acted like she didn’t notice them.
“Isn’t that Drun’s stalker, Zoe,” Matticus asked.
Revis nodded his head. Zoe, still not noticing that two people had magically appeared in her room, went about her business. She reached into her pants and scratched her butt. Then, she pulled her hand out and sniffed it. Before the men could voice their disgust at her behavior, the light burst once more and they found themselves standing next to a pair of metallic looking rails laid over wooden slats that stretched towards the horizon in both directions. A little ways away, there were two men talking to each other excitedly. They couldn’t quite make out the conversation, but the younger one kept calling the older one, who had shock white hair, “Doc.” There were two of the horseless carriages resting on the strange tracks. The young man got in the smaller of the two, and the old man got in the larger, then smoke began to pour out of chimney looking thing and the two carriages started moving down the track.
Revis and Matticus turned to each other, eyebrows raised, and then the light flashed once more. As their vision cleared they lost their balance and stumbled onto a bench of some sort. A man there, dressed in all white, held out a box to them and asked, “Would you like a chocolate?”
That sounded pretty good to Matticus so he reached to grab a piece, but the light flashed again and his hand passed through nothingness. His curses were lost in the transfer, hurtling forever in the unknown void between the infinite worlds.