Varian eagerly flipped through the old journal they had found in the tomb of Demanitus. With the looming threat of Cassandra’s and Zhan Tiri’s takeover of the castle, there had been no time to examine the journal’s contents except for the interdimensional portal.
But weeks have passed since that event, and the kingdom was at peace. Rapunzel and Eugene were currently on their honeymoon outside of Corona. Cassandra made a living in being a bounty hunter and chasing after crooks throughout the seven kingdoms. Lance found a job as a cook for the Snuggly Duckling while raising Kiera and Catalina in their treehouse. As for Varian, he and his father worked on bringing running hot water to Corona.
The hot water machines haven’t exploded in over a week, which he counted as a huge success.
In his free time, he focused on uncovering Demanitus’ work. Demanitus was a brilliant genius. His inventions and theories were beyond that of his time, and it was a shame that no one thought to continue his work. Even if most of his work involved the combination of magic and science, Varian believed he could rebuild the scientific inventions or modify the designs to function without magic. Because frankly, he had dealt with enough magic for a lifetime, thank you very much.
Varian’s main focus was on modifying the transdimensional portal. As of now, the portal could only open a gateway to the lost realm. But imagine opening a portal into other worlds. New inventions and information exchanged that could greatly benefit their lives: medicine, raw materials, faster transportation, etc. The possibilities were endless.
But jumping across dimensions was dangerous. As seen from the Lost Realm, the environment and creatures did not run on the same physics as his. The locals of the other realm could also be hostile to newcomers. Not to mention that moving across dimensions didn’t necessarily mean that they would operate on the same timeline. He could make a portal into another dimension, but the time point might appear in the distant past or future.
But Varian was unfazed by the risk. To him, the benefits far outweighed the danger. Furthermore, he was only going to tie the portal to dimensions similar to his own, dimensions that followed his world’s physics and filled with sentience. For extra safety measures, he planned on keeping the portal a small window, just to look in and maybe send in a tiny automaton to explore it.
As long as he kept the project small and manageable, nothing crazy should happen. Although there was a little voice telling him that trying to modify Demanitus’ portal without anyone knowing wasn’t a good idea, he brushed the voice away. He wasn’t technically alone.
“Ready, buddy?” Varian said, smiling at Ruddiger in anticipation.
This was not a terrible idea.
‘This was a terrible idea.’
Varian thought as he tumbled out of the glowing portal and crashed heavily on the ground. Moaning in pain, he quickly glanced up at the entrance only to watch in horror as it began to fizzle out.
“No, no, no! Don’t you dare disappear on me!” He screamed as he scrambled up to his feet, his arm stretching outward and reaching for the portal. His hand was mere inches away when the portal suddenly blinked out of existence as if it were never there.
“Ugh not again. This is just my luck.” Varian groaned as he gripped his hair in frustration.
While running the first trial, a small window had appeared just as planned. The window showed a dark room that resembled Varian’s lab. This room wasn’t mere transportation because he was currently in his own lab with the lights on. Varian leaned in closer to get a better look until he realized that the window did not stop growing.
He tried to stop the portal, but it grew bigger and started pulling in objects. His concentration shifted to holding onto a table in an attempt to prevent himself from being sucked in. He saw Ruddiger running for the portal’s lever, but with Varian being so close to the portal, the vacuum pressure became too intense, and it was too late to save him.
Varian waited for a moment. Seeing no sign of his beloved companion around him, he figured that Ruddiger had escaped the portal’s grasp. Maybe Ruddinger could turn it on and bring him back.
Oh right, he forgot he only put enough power for the window to appear briefly. Dang it.
Varian hoped Ruddiger had run out and found help. Unfortunately, he also knew that the people capable of reversing his experiment and bringing him back, like Xaviar or Rapunzel, were more than a day’s journey from his lab. Not to mention the amount of time they would take to figure out what he did and how to reverse it. Then again, time could also run differently between dimensions. What might appear for one hour in his reality could easily be one month in this dimension.
On second thought, it’s probably faster for Varian to find his way back.
Laughing nervously to himself, he took a look around him. When the portal had sucked him in, it also sucked in some stuff from his lab. While the broken beakers at his feet would not help, Varian found his bag he used to carry his alchemical substances. A sudden sense of gratitude to his past self hit him. He was glad that he had always kept his bag full and ready to be taken anywhere.
Surveying his surroundings, he couldn’t help but notice how the room wasn’t as similar to his own lab as he had thought. In dim lighting, where the sunlight was streaming through a hole in the ceiling, Varian could see the lab bench to his left with the glassware on top arranged for a long, complex distillation, the same arrangement he used to synthesize his chemical compounds. Near the back of the room was the wooden platform, which he used as a place to operate and build his more massive machinery. He even saw some old posters of Flynn Rider along with his book collection of the adventures of Flynn Rider.
But this room looked like it had been untouched for months. And Varian knew that he would never leave his lab in such a state of disarray except for that time when the king’s guards stalked his home. But there was no amber in this room or black rocks in this room—only punctured holes on the walls and floor with a bit of amber residue here and there.
Interesting. Why didn’t anyone bother fixing and cleaning this place?
Contemplating the changes, Varian grabbed his bag and walked to the exit. Maybe if he found this reality’s version of his dad or himself, he could get some explanation and receive help in returning home.
Closing the door, Varian heard shouting down the hall. Curiosity peaked, he walked closer to the room with voices that seem so familiar. The door was slightly open, and he leaned in to listen.
“... I am your king. You should be honored to protect and serve the royal family along with our people in our time of need, and yet you refuse—”
“Well, your majesty . If you were ever a decent human being, you should have known better than showing your face around here. How dare you barge into my home and demand I listen to you after what you did to my son. My son. As a father, you should know what my pain is like.”
Varian furrowed his eyebrows in confusion. That voice. It sounded like his dad, but he has never heard his voice seem so furious and— broken .
“My actions were justified. I did what I had to do. There was no other way!”
“Fredric.” A sharp breath was exhaled. “In regard to the years of friendship between us, I’m willing to let everyone stay for the night. But by tomorrow morning, I want you and your people out of my village.”
A load uproar followed those words. People were pleading for Quirin to reconsider while Quirin continued to remain stubborn. The king was howling in fury until the sound of people growing frenzied drowned it. Varian briefly wondered how many people could fit in that room before the door was swung wide open by an angry group of people trying to leave.
Varian could only offer a sheepish smile before they screamed in terror and backed away from him, their faces deathly paled. Everyone turned to look at the source. When they took in the sight of Varian at the door, gasps fell out of their mouths. Faces etched in shock, and disbelief greeted Varian as silence descended into the room.
“Ah.” Varian laughed nervously and rubbed his arm. “I came to ask for help, but it seems like you’re all busy. I’ll just—” his hands gestured vaguely down the hall. “I’ll just wait over there until you’re done?”
Everyone continued to stare at him silently, and Varian was beginning to get unnerved by the intensity of their stares. Varian felt like he was missing something significant. Was it something he said?
The tension in the room felt stifling, and before Varian could step away, Quirin called out.
His voice was quivering in utter disbelief. Varian made eye contact with Quirin and was taken aback at the sheer volume of sorrow and hope burning in his gaze. Quirin took a trembling step towards Varian as if in a daze, and his hand rose and hovered blindly in his direction.
Quirin tried to take another step forward but was stopped by Rapunzel, who, with tears streaming down her face, had tightly grabbed and pulled his arm back. Varian had been so focused on his dad that he didn’t notice her before and wondered why this Rapunzel still had her long blonde hair.
“Cassandra.” Rapunzel’s voice was trying to sound authoritative but came out wobbly as if choking on tears. “That’s too cruel, even for you.”
Cassandra? Why was Rapunzel mentioning Cassandra? Varian grew even more confused.
“I heard screaming!” shouted a voice from behind as hurried footsteps approached the room. Varian turned to see who it was and
Pain exploded from the back of his head, and Varian collapsed to the floor. The room burst into pandemonia, and Varian’s consciousness began to fade.
“The kid wasn’t an illusion?!” A voice said above Varian, but he couldn’t make out who said it. A pair of arms wrapped around him, cradling him up from the floor. Their hand ran through his hair as if trying to locate the injury. More voices spoke above him, but they sounded muffled.
‘Oh, so that’s what being hit with a frying pan feels like,’ was Varian’s last thought before losing consciousness.