Parts staggered under the increased weight as he emerged from the portal. The world was both heavier and wetter than he’d expected, the humidity thick enough to cut with a knife. After a few moments of adjustment, he was pleasantly surprised to find that his current form was quite graceful in this new world. It seemed the clumsiness he’d experienced in Darkrealm was more an artifact of poor environmental fit than some failure of his own.
Looking around, Parts found himself in the center of a sigil inscribed on the limb of an enormous tree. There were no other obvious signs of intelligent life, nor means of descent. As he peered through the gaps in the foliage, he could see the light from a pair of suns reflected upon the surface of a vast ocean, hundreds of feet below. After determining that his new form lacked any unusual capacity for ropeless abseiling, Parts gave a wistful sigh and plopped down with his back against the bole of the tree to review the mission parameters stored in his new form’s hippocampus.
As the second sun sank towards the horizon, he began to worry that some mistake had been made. The guide responsible for the transition had been far from fresh and transVersal travel was not an exact science in the best of circumstances. While not common, it was quite possible to end up in the wrong place or even an unexpected time. Assuming he was in the right place at the right time, his contact still might have been delayed indefinitely.
After considering his options, Parts inspected the sigil to see if he could discover some means to re-open a portal to Darkrealm. While not his favorite place, it was currently the only home he had. More importantly, his voice, the only remaining piece of his original body, and the only possession he valued, was being held there against his return.
The sigil was a crude bit of work, its execution hinted at a creator more skilled with ephemeral magick than the patient construction of lasting enchantments. The lines and glyphs had been repeatedly burned into the bark of the great tree, laying down paths to direct the local environmental magick and draw life energy from the tree itself. It appeared to be in the process of rebuilding energy stores depleted by Parts’ recent arrival, but unless things changed, Parts feared it would be at least two or three days before it might be fully replenished.
If back wasn’t an option, down would have to do. Unfortunately, within the canopy of the vast tree there was little light to be had even at noon and dusk was rapidly approaching. Channeling magick was always difficult in a new form and Parts was unfamiliar with this Verse. Feeling that a cautious approach was best, he decided to start his experiments with something extremely simple, and more importantly, much safer than trying to levitate several hundred feet straight down into darkness. With a small grimace of concentration and a few quick gestures, he conjured a small ball of light.
Surprised by how easily the energy for the spell had coalesced, Parts gave a nod of satisfaction and started weaving threads of air together to assist in his descent. As soon as he shifted focus, the globe of light began to increase in size and brightness, the effect accelerating at a runaway pace. In just the moment it took for Parts to react, the orb was already brilliant enough to clearly outline the bones in the hand he’d thrown up to shield his eyes.
With a curse and a few rapidfire arcane gestures the light was extinguished and Parts was left standing fearfully at the limb’s edge, entirely blinded by the after image seared into his retinas. One foot after the other, he slowly backed away from the drop and carefully took a seat on the rough bark.
When his vision had cleared, Parts tried conjuring the light once again, this time putting just the barest trickle of power into the spell. At first all seemed to be well, but when he tried to increase the brightness slightly it flared dramatically and then dimmed to the faintest of embers before he could react. With some experimentation, he began to get a feel for the ebb and flow of Dream-source on this world, but it left him exhausted.
Trying to manage two recalcitrant spells while negotiating a lengthy descent was out of the question. With a sigh of frustration, Parts curled up next to the bole of the tree to go to sleep. When drowsiness crept over him, it seemed that the tree became more and more comfortable, as if it had been made for this form.
Parts was awakened by the light trickling through the canopy and faint sounds rustling below. Sitting up groggily, he was startled alert by the sudden appearance of a figure ascending gracefully through the air. The figure appeared to be male, and was obviously of the same species as Parts’ host body, with a broad, flat nose and extended jaw that almost formed a stubby beak. The most notable difference was the color of the fleshy plumage cascading from the man’s head. It was a vibrant yellow with bright orange tips, while Parts crest was a much more sedate series of green and blue bands.
As the new arrival settled onto the branch he beamed at Parts and shouted with obvious joy, “Cousin! You’ve returned! The family will be so happy to see you!”
Cousin, with family that knew this form’s original occupant, Parts thought, now THAT would've been good to know ahead of time.