All was dark. Raw energy traced the outline of his body, heat and cold shuddering off of him in waves. His stomach lurched with the sudden velocity of standing still. Ozukar had never traveled via portal before; such magic had only been used by colleagues well above his skill level. Teleporting a few short feet was one thing, but this… many miles had rapidly coursed through his astral self, and when he’d finally reached the other side, reality smashed into him like a wall of sand.
He was standing on his own two feet, at least; he could surely feel the floor, although his other senses scarcely perceived it. Gradually, colors and shapes formed enough truth for his eyes to follow… he was standing on familiar stones, in a dimly lit room which appeared to be… ah. A closet. Loosely stacked crates of various materials were scattered about, and the far wall harbored an assortment of dusty scrolls heaped on a shelf. The only light available appeared to emanating from the mirror he himself had just stepped through. After a moment, the pins and needles sensation dulled away from his extremities, and he cautiously lifted a foot forward.
Nothing caught his fall, unfortunately; the mirror had been placed on a sort of low pedestal, and he tumbled forward in surprise. Clattering could be well heard throughout the basement; he’d rolled right into the nearest crate, which tipped into a stack of boxes, which teetered against the shelf, causing every scroll to tumble and roll onto the stone floor below. The last scroll, a particularly hefty volume, rolled right against the bottom of the door, which as luck would have it, had been left slightly ajar…
Light spilled in as the dust rolled out. The door, for its part, creaked surprisingly loudly, as if to incriminate the sudden intruder. “Desdan’s Teeth!,” a voice called from the lit room beyond. “Hoo the feck is knockin’ about round there? Yeh scared the shite outta me. Izzat yoo, Todrick?” Hurried steps began to make their way toward the closet. A heartbeat later, a balding head with sparce, violet colored hair peered around the edge of the doorway. Oz recognized the older gnome immediately, and chanced a weak, dust-caked grin. “Nah, not ole’ Todrick at all, I’m afraid,” Oz wheezed. “Just me. Oy reckon I’m alot more glad to see yoo, than yeh are ta see me.” He propped himself slightly against the crate he’d slammed into.
“..Ozzie? Little Oz? Why, stars above; ets been decades!” The wizened figure stooped to pull the young wizard to his feet. Ye’ve done a load o’ growin, I’ll grant yah that!" His glittering eyes halted a moment, remembrance dawning fast. “But, oh. Yer nae supposta be here.” After taking a moment to dust the lad off, he led him into the lit room, over to a table spread wide with a large map. “Siddown, and shush yerself. I’ll pour yeh some ale. Ye’ve got a heap o’ explainin’ tae do.”
Ozukar did as he was bid, pulling a stool adjacent to the table. The older gnome rounded a corner, but returned a brief second later with a jug of cool, frothy refreshment. “now then,” he said, as he placed the jug in front of the bedraggled mage, “tell yer old uncle Paulan… Wot The FECK are Yeh DOIN’ back here??”
The sudden outburst nearly knocked the small wizard right off of his stool; he gulped loudly, then passed the ale back to his uncle. “Erm, aha… well, tis quite a story, but I assure yeh it was absolutely necessary that I bring meself back. Speaking o’ things Oiy’ve brought… yeh might want to grab a few more jugs.” He glanced around nervously, wondering just how severe this breach of his exile was likely to get. Ah well, he thought. in fer a penny, in fer a gold piece. “Asides, yoo’ve got some explainin’ tae do yerself. Like about that mirror yeh got stashed away in there! He pointed a gloved finger accusingly at the older man. What sort of folk have yoo lot been kanoodlin’ with, anyway?”
Paulan didn’t budge an inch. “Yoo know it isn’t as simple as all that,” he stated flatly. And whats that got tae do with extra buckets o’ ale? Ye gone and become an ole alcheholic, izzat it? And now ye—" Both jerked their heads as his words were suddenly interrupted; another rattling bang emerged from the closet. several disoriented groans could be heard from the mouth of the door. Paulan’s mouth drooped, and he looked wryly at Oz. “Yeh didne say ye had company….”
“Well, yah. But ah didne say oy didn’t, either.” Oz said, chuckling in spite of himself. “As ah’ve said, tis quite a story… so. We’d better get tae tellin it, hmm?”