A scream pierced the white wisps of fog, cutting through the serenity of the place as a sharp blade through unprotected flesh. The scream seemed as though it would not stop but just kept flowing from the lips of the tattered body in blood-soaked purple velvet hanging in the white nothing. It looked as though something had torn away everything below the hips and a good deal of the right side of the torso as well. In physical reality it would not be possible to survive in such a state, much less scream.
But this place was not of the physical world. It was a place of white fog differentiated only by varying shades of other white, drifting aimlessly in the endless white of the background. This was a place where the mind and soul mattered, and the body did not. Here a strong mind could keep a person alive indefinitely by sheer willpower, no matter the state of the body they had left behind in the physical realm.
This was the astral plane.
Sethian eventually managed to overpower the pain and regain control over his astral projection. He had thought himself doomed when the darkness consumed them. He was unsure, but it had felt as if the blackness attacked his soul as much as his body, tearing flesh and spirit as though they were one.
However he was certain of one thing: the assailant had ripped their souls from their bodies and pulled the spirits into another plane of existence, one in which there was nothing. Nothing but it and them. A void where they were trapped and unable to flee, or such it seemed to Sethian would be the purpose of such a place.
But It had not expected Sethian to be linked to the astral plane, to already have an escape prepared which provided his spirit a passage out of the dark void and allowed him to flee the assault. He sighed to himself; without magic it was impossible to escape and neither of his companions knew magic. A painful death, to be sure, but not the most painful he could think of or even the greatest pain he had had the misfortune of experiencing himself. Good help being so hard to find, it was quite a pity.
Breathing heavily in a realm without breath, he looked around him at the white clouds drifting about. He was trapped here, because if he returned to the physical world he would die. The body he had inhabited was gone, consumed by the mysterious entity’s magic. There were solutions to that, however, but the more pressing concern of his spiritual self.
More than half his astral form was missing, torn away as he desperately released his hold of the body and projected himself here. That was damage to his soul, not his flesh, confirming his suspicions about the magic having maimed him in more ways than one. His right arm hung in shreds from his shoulder but still gripped the image of his cane firmly, a manifestation of his will. That precious magical cane, topped by a gem condensed from the very essence of the astral, held even greater power here than it did on the physical plane.
His tutor, an accomplished mage of the astral realm, had created it. It had been a masterpiece, the culmination of more than half a century of effort. The man had intended to give it to the guild of wizards, to prove he possessed enough skill to qualify for membership. Indeed, it would surely have secured the man a ranking position from the start if the old man had gone through with it.
His tutor had passed away shortly after its completion, however, and that had been the end of Sethian’s time as an apprentice. A sad event, Sethian had rather liked the old man, but his goals were more important than sentimental bonds and so he had made the cane an acquisition for himself and then left. Though it was highly unfortunate that Sethian’s mystical education had been cut short.
Closing his eyes, Sethian calmed his breathing, pushed aside the pain, and focused his thoughts on the clouds around him. He did not need to breathe, or anything else, in this place but it helped clear his mind from the echoes of agony still mingling in his thoughts. He was far from the only being on the plane and the natives were not always amiable to those who did not belong. In his present state he would be powerless against them, but given time he could not only recover his strength but also mend his soul of its wounds, allowing his return to the physical reality where he belonged.
The astral was a realm without dimensions, it had no up or down or left or right. Even the concept of volume, a chest being thicker than an arm or a strand of hair, had no meaning in this place except as created by visiting minds to ward off insanity. For always the mists sought to corrode the unnatural perspectives of visitors in order to subsume them into their fold. Despite this the astral had its own version of distance and position, its own way of determining the “where” in a place that has no such thing as location.
After a few moments of “listening” to the flow of the mists, Sethian opened his eyes and willed himself to float in the direction his mind interpreted as forward.