Voidwalker: Chapter One, p10

Ghaba Ghobbok, Liberator of Kor, loathed the Astral Sphere. It had no spirits to speak with, leaving him to feel quite lonely when he visited. The completely alien dimensions did not make the place easier to attune to, either. The old shaman growled irately and pondered summoning some company. The spirits would not like being dragged to so dreary a world, one that was anathema to their very nature. Angry spirits were entertaining, but he couldn’t afford the attention. The Arbiter might notice him, and that simply would not do.

If he had been more than thoughts he would have scratched his head, but only the arrogant would bend the astral to mimic their reality instead of seeking to adapt to new surroundings. Still, his armpit was really itchy… Maybe his toes could reach it?

There was no way of keeping time, if time was even part of this place, so he was unsure if now was the right time to begin. Too soon and the Arbiter might notice and investigate, too late and the Arbiter might be gone by the time Ghaba finished. No matter, the great Ghaba Ghobbok had better things to do than linger in this place-outside-places. The Arbiter was not a perceptive soul, anyway.

Having resolved to get this over with, Ghaba forced his will upon the astral around him and bent things into shape. He contemplated briefly giving himself a different form, but in the end decided nothing could be more imposing than the sight of such a legendary figure as the glorious Ghaba Ghobbok!

First a pair of eyes, yellowed with age, popped into existence. Then a face, flat and wide with with a mottled hide, formed around them. This was followed by a slender, though toned, torso to which attached spindly limbs. Hair, claws, teeth, tongue; everything mostly in place, Ghaba nodded with satisfaction. It was weird the way he could feel the charms in his hair dancing with the motion, yet no sound reached his ears.

Content with his own form, Ghaba then turned his attention to the necessities of the ritual.

***

The dark figure contrasted sharply with the white all around them, turning a full circle before fixing the small creature before it with its eerie gaze.

“The spirits call for you, Deathless,” Ghaba spoke, unconcerned by the empty eye-sockets that stared at him from under the heavy hood of the black robe. He waited for a few moments while a skeletal hand rose to hold a silver and glass trinket between them. The entity would no doubt be disappointed to learn that Ghaba had much time left to live, for it meant it was here to perform a task.

Once it lowered its arm back to its side, Ghaba addressed it again. “I am great Ghaba Ghobbok, Liberator of Kor. I reveal message, you deliver.”

The Deathless remained motionless, its endless patience getting on even Ghaba’s nerves. Eventually the shaman decided that its silent watch was to be taken as assent to his request.

“There is soul in Astral Sphere. Arbiter is dying; must not die. The spirits say Arbiter have important fate. Arbiter not know is dying, Deathless must warn Arbiter. You go now. Give message to Arbiter of coming doom.”

The Deathless lifted its trinket to its face, gazing at the sands within with its head tilted to one side, then lowered it and began to glide off into the icy mists of the Astral. Ghaba watched it disappear into the whiteness, absently picking his teeth while wondering if the Deathless was going to deliver the message or collect the Arbiter’s spirit for the Land of the Dead.

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