A massive shadow loomed in the whiteness, a great black rectangular silhouette. Smiling to himself, Sethian moved over to it and rested his mostly intact left hand on its smooth stone surface. The imposing obelisk contrasted sharply against the rest of the astral, carved out of dark stone clearly from the physical world. Even the greatest of giants would not be able to carry something of this size on its own, and no archmage he had ever heard of could shift something this massive between realms. So how it had come to this plane was a mystery, and even the earliest records of astral travelers spoke of obelisks like it.
Upon its surface could be found a veritable maze of symbols, thousands of ancient carvings in a language lost to scholars. If, indeed, it had ever been known at all. The power of the runes remained strong and through them the obelisk created a bubble in the astral where things were, to someone like Sethian, normal. Through long lost magic, it carved out a sanctuary of physical reality in a world of the mind.
It was these runic beacons, able to project the astral to the physical realm, which formed the basis of almost all of Sethian’s magic. Understanding how these symbols worked was the key to the magic of the astral and the first lesson of his apprenticeship had been how to see the obelisk in his mind’s eye.
Once he had mastered this, Sethian had spent weeks studying the symbols closely, trying to find patterns in their design and so connect them to each other. How elated he had been whenever he managed to find a chain of symbols forming a spell, rare though the event was. And when he finally learned to project himself to the astral, he had devoted himself to studying every detail on the obelisk, leaving only when his mind needed rest.
And now he was back where he had been all those years ago, only this time he could not leave because it would kill him. His spirit would regenerate in the astral, slowly absorbing the ethereal mist around him into its form. It would take time, but his soul would be mended by the ancient magic of the obelisk. Sethian was in no rush, for it would take just as much time to prepare a new body to inhabit.
Then he would return.
Then he would deal with the thing that almost slew him, the ruin’s last guardian.
And then he would claim the power of the ancient focus.