The Quest of the One-Way Door
He tumbled through the doorway and everything went dark.
When he awoke, the first thing he saw was the sun. One sun – yellow – and a blue sky. Standing up, he felt his muscles pop and his bones complain. This was new. Or, rather, it was old. So old that he’d forgotten what it felt like to stand in this atmosphere, to breathe in this air. He’d left here as a child, and now this world was alien to him. He wasn’t supposed to be here. The fox demon had lied.
He gave the door a push, but it stood firm. Then he tried the handle: nothing. It was hard wood, painted on. He pressed his eye to the door jamb but there was only blackness on the other side. The nearby windows were painted a stark white, and he doubted anything in this world could break them. The door, the windows, the whole house were nothing but a stage prop. He knew then that there could be no opening the door from this side. They’d have seen to that.
He caught a glimpse of himself in the window’s reflection: an unfamiliar wrinkled face ringed with fraying hair. His vision refused to focus, and he wondered if perhaps he was short-sighted. He looked down at his hands and saw that they were veiny and scarred from years of working with blistering energy. His spells had failed, and the lifetime of his race was upon him.
And yet… well, they were mortal hands, and he took a certain pride in them. He had travelled so many nameless dimensions, but this wretched world – this place that sapped his magic and wracked his body – this was home. This had been his birth-world. Escaping it would be his greatest challenge.
He searched around him for his weapons, but found only junk and debris. Then he realised: that pile of pottery; that had been his seven-forged armour. Those bundled sticks; his bow and quiver of heart-seeking arrows. And his gilded cap, a gift from the elementals, had transformed itself into some sort of gaudy plastic cone.
No matter. He might be old, ragged and without his magic, but he was still a hero. These Earth people were weak and ignorant; they had not ridden the planes of reality like he had. With any luck, this world would bend its knee to him before the day was out. Hungry and blinking in the bright sun, he set out to conquer the realm of his birth.