Okay, this is entirely because DaHob sent me the link to Talk Nerdy to Me.
When Nat first saw the ads shouting “win a trip to Middle Earth,” she assumed it was just another studio amusement park, like “spend a weekend in the Wizarding World” or “Cruise on the Black Pearl.”
It wasn’t until she was lured by a clickbait article that she caught a clue as to what was really going on.
“Portal trips to other universes: are they as safe as they seem?”
It turned out that the answer was a firm no, something hammered home as Nat’s native guide physically moved her out of the way of a swinging mace and dropped her onto the back of a sturdy pony. “Tourist gold, they said,” he muttered. “Bringing fresh eyes and fresh treasure to Middle Earth! Nobody said they’d be idiots without the sense to come in out of the rain!”
“Hey!” She shifted on the pony and let it carry her away from the orcs. “Let’s see you come to my world and see how you do in a strange place with strange dangers, hunh, Gladrin son of Gladuil?”
“Maybe I will, maybe I will,” he retorted.
“Good! I look forward to it!”
Then, because she didn’t want to be the reason that the Ugly American trope was carried to another universe, she added, much more politely, “thank you for saving me. Do you think, for the rest of this trip, you could perhaps show me the things that you like the best about your land?”
She thought from the expression – the beard made it hard to tell – that she’d surprised Gladrin.
“That I will, little human,” he consented. “That I will. And perhaps we can return you to your land intact, mmm?”