Vorin sat in his usual spot in the corner of his bar, sipping on a cocktail as the goblin behind the bar raced from end to end, serving the various patrons waiting for their orders. I sat opposite the King of the summer fey as the cunning smile spread across his face.
“What can I do for you, Colin?” Vorin asked his voice deep and resonate. I could feel the sway of his magic already beginning to wash over me.
“I need to get home,” I said, “I’ve searched for a long time, and I’ve been told that you may be able to help me.”
“A deal with the fey, huh? I don’t know that you understand what that entails,” he replied, snapping his fingers. In an instant, the little goblin was there waiting for him to say anything, “Get our new friend here a drink, Vink, will you?”
“At once, my king,” the goblin replied as they scurried off.
“Now, you want to get home, you say. What are you offering for such a big favor?” Vorin asked, taking a sip from his drink.
“I came with the one thing I was told you wanted more than anything else,” I replied.
“I’m listening,” he said.
“A chance to be mortal,” I said.
“Ah, yes, that,” Vorin said, setting his drink down as he leaned forward, “You see, I’ve been mortal, many times in fact. It’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. Every time its the same thing, get attacked by a random beast, catch a horrible disease, or anger some king that would think himself a god. Nothing changes, I return here and thus, not truly mortal. Nice try, though.”
“I can offer you more than that,” I said, seeing his eyes grow disinterested and begin to scan the room, “Where I’m from, there is no magic. There would be nothing to bring you back here.”
“No magic?” Vorin’s eyes snapped back to mine, “How did you get here, I wonder?”
“It’s different there, there aren’t wizards, dragons, or adventurers. There is only regular folk, but many more than are here,” I said as the goblin returned with a mug of ale. It held out a hand expectantly, and I placed a platinum piece in its palm.
“More than are here?” Vorin asked. “You say that there is no magic in your world, yet you sit here in mine, suggesting that magic is indeed transferable between your realm and this one. You speak of a stunning lack of creatures and would-be heroes trying to ensure their names are written in history books that will invariably be long forgotten, and in this absence of all things that help to define this realm, you say there are more. How many more?”
“I don’t know the exact number, but when I left there were more than seven billion people in the world-”
“Shut the fuck up,” Vorin interrupted. “Seven billion? Really? What are the gods like there?”
“There are many gods that people believe in, but no one has proof that they exist,” I replied.
“You’re shitting me,” Vorin laughed. It was a warm, hearty laugh. “You’re telling me that there are billions of people in your world, and no god involved? What of demons, devils, the fey?”
“I know in some European cultures there is mention of those things, but until I came here, I had never seen one before,” I answered.
“Okay, realm walker. Let’s presume that I can open the door you want to go through, what’s in it for me?” Vorin asked.
“I already told-”
“Mortality is off the table,” he said, waving his hand dismissively, “but I will go with you.”
“You’ll come with me?” I asked.
“That’s my price, I go with you, or I don’t open the door.” Vorin sat back in his chair, smiling as wide as ever.
There was an ease to his posture, a self-assured victory that he was already celebrating mildly as I considered his terms. I knew there was no magic in my world, if there had been, it was long gone. I couldn’t think of anything that he could gain.
“Why do you want to come with me?” I asked.
“I want to experience your world, see the sights, take the people in. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a world with a population like that. Your cities must be incredible! How do you manage to feed that many people without magic?” Vorin asked.
“Technology,” I replied.
“What technology? Like catapults and crossbows? Gnomish inventions or goblin siege machines?” he asked.
I shook my head. “There are devices that fit in the palm of my hand that have access to all the information in the world if you know how to use it. There are horseless carriages that use contained explosions to propel them forward. Everyone keeps lightning trapped in a dome to be summoned with as much effort as it takes to snap your fingers.”
“Fuck off!” Vorin said, “You said there’s no magic in your world.”
“It’s not magic, it’s science. Similar to the Gnomes inventions, but because magic wasn’t an option, we had to figure things out to make life easier,” I said.
“I think you’re trying to pull one over on me,” Vorin said.
“Pull one over on a king of the fey? Impossible,” I replied, shaking my head. “I’m just telling you about the world I come from, the one I’ve been trying to get back to for the last five years. The place that I call home.”
“A test then,” Vorin said. “I’ll open the door if you pass, and join you in your realm.”
“Agreed, but only if you pass mine first,” I replied.
Vorin looked at me, a curious brow raised. He stroked his chin as though he was considering it, then extended his hand.
“Deal,” he said, “but I warn you, you could die.”
“I’ve seen worse since I got here,” I shrugged before shaking his hand.
As soon as I touched his hand, we were no longer in the bar, we were standing at the edge of the cliffs of Golendier. A shiver went up my spine.
“Ah, I see you know this place,” Vorin said.
“Of course, I know this place. You knew I did, which is why you brought me here,” I replied.
“I want you to jump,” Vorin said. “If you are brave enough to jump from these cliffs, I’ll consider your test passed.”
I stepped to the edge and looked down the eight-hundred-foot fall. If I made the jump and miscalculated, or a strong wind came in, I would be pulled into the cliffside and die before I ever reached the water. I thought about everything Evenwood had told me. All the stories of dealing with Vorin and the way the world worked. I thought about the skills I had learned aboard the Sea Sorceress, and I turned around to face Vorin with a smile on my face.
“Done,” I said as I leaned back and pushed as hard as I could against the edge, throwing myself as far from the cliffs as I could before diving headfirst for the water below.