As the short story begins, Niall is still the commander of the armies of Urgrik and is pursuing the magician-king Thavas Tomer, whose stronghold he and his army have breached. Thavas wishes to elude capture and uses every trick at his disposal to throw off the relentless barbarian. When at last his tricks seem to have been exhausted, he flees up some stairs, with Niall close on his heels.
He came at last into a small room, the windows of which looked out over the city and the plains stretching in all directions beyond it. Thavas Tomer was standing beside a large blue cube dotted with a myriad of bright little specks that looked like imprisoned stars.
The magician-king was tall, almost as tall as Niall. He was broad of shoulder and lean of waist; he looked more like a warrior than a magician. There was a cunning smile on this thin lips.
“No more, Niall,” he rasped. “I flee no further.”
Thavas Tomer laughed: harsh, mocking laughter it was, as he drew himself to his full height. “You can never make me surrender, general. Na, na. I have a way to get away from you, even here and now, with you so close.”
His laughter rang out as Niall started forward. With the ease of a trained athlete, Thavas Tomer leaped upward to the top of that big cube— and began to sink into it.Recognizing the cube as an object of sorcery, Niall decides to take it with him, as a spoil of war. He returns to Urgrik, parading it through the streets, before he presents it to his liege, King Lurlyr Manakor, who congratulates him on having "done what no other man could do." The king wants nothing to do with the cube and gives it to Niall, who takes it back to his own palatial home, where it sits for several months, with no sign as to its true nature.
Despite this seeming inactivity, Niall remains fascinated by the cube. He seeks out his friend, the sage Danko Penavar, to see if he had ever heard of the cube and its strange powers.
Almost under his breath, the old man whispered, “I have heard of it. In very ancient tomes have I come upon faint hints of it, fearful references to that cube.”Needless to say, Niall doesn't heed Penavar's words and instead intends to enter the cube and find Thavas Tomer -- and whatever else is inside it.
He shook his head until the white hairs of his head and beard swayed lazily. “Never did I think to lay eyes upon that thing. I believed it lost forever.”
“Well, what is it?’
“It was created long and long ago by a great magician. It is a universe unto itself, that cube. It is protected by secret sigils and enchantments that have long since been forgotten.”
“Not by Thavas Tomer, it seems.”
The old man smiled wryly. “I wonder where he found it? Where he discovered the way in which to make it work for him?’
“Can I go into it, as Thavas Tomer did?”
Danko Penavar scowled. “You would be advised not to. I know nothing of what might await you inside that thing-always assuming there is a way into it. For you, I mean. It would be best for you to forget the cube—and Thavas Tomer.”
"The Cube from Beyond" is another fun tale that takes some hackneyed pulp fantasy ideas and presents them engagingly. As I've said many times now, this seems to have been Gardner Fox's great gift, one that ought to be of particular interest to referees of RPGs. All too often I hear jaded gamers cry out for "originality," a quality that, if it even exists, is vastly overrated in my opinion. Far more interesting, I think, is to see well-used concepts, situations, and characters presented with cleverness and flair, something that Fox does exceedingly well. "The Cube from Beyond" is a terrific sword-and-sorcery romp that proves once again that just because a story has been told before doesn't mean it can't be retold in an enjoyable way.