There is a space at the bottom of the world, where Earth and Ice and Shadow meet. It is cold, but not cold enough to kill; dark, but not too dark to see. A small round room, made of chilly black marble, lit by a dim and sourceless glow, with a spiral stair climbing the curve of the wall and a shallow circular recession in the exact center of the floor. The recession is maybe six feet wide by six inches deep, lined with something resembling pale frosted glass, and there is nothing in it.
A person, covered in artful blood and soot designs, lands halfway up the stairs, slumps onto the ones above in a dead faint, and lies there.
Eventually he wakes up. He shivers violently in the chill; he's barely dressed and rubs his arms and hugs his knees to his chest. Looks around.
The room is round. The stone stairs are broad and shallow, taking one full turn around the wall in their ascent from floor to ceiling. The mysterious voice is still repeating its indecipherable message. It sounds male, of indeterminate age, urgent but not emotional.
He could go up, or go down, or stay put.
He goes down, carefully.
He goes and paces out the size of it to see if it has room for a spell.
...he steps out.
As soon as he leaves the circle, the mysterious voice cuts off mid-word.
The humming stays with him, building slowly. Other sensations follow. The chill of the room softens - it's not warmer, exactly, but he's more comfortable in it, able to move easily without shivering. The dark is no less dark, but he can see more clearly. Something clicks into place, an intangible presence under his skin. It feels like it belongs there. He can see in the dark better than he ever did in the light. The cold air is as pleasant as a warm spring breeze.
"Congratulations," says the voice, and he understands it perfectly now, he could think in this language if he pleased. "It's yours now. Try not to destroy the world if you can avoid it. And find the creator. You're his only chance."
This time, it does not repeat the message.
how many fucking worlds are in danger of being destroyed
He tries stepping into the circle again.
He goes up the stairs.
With flawless grace.
And up above the room—
He stands on a triangular black marble floor at the bottom of a very large space. The three walls angling up and out from here are - not stone, not any substance he's seen before; one is pale blue and white with hints of green, one shimmers subtly with every conceivable colour adjacent to black, and one is patterned with dim greys and browns like an abstract painting of a distant cliffside. Far above him, rocky masses hang in the air, silhouetted against the faceted sky, serenely ignoring the call of gravity.
Well this isn't boring and uninhabited at all.
Are there more stairs out.
There are not. He could try climbing the unearthly walls. Or—
—the intangible presence offers him a suggestion, in the form of a subtle buoyant feeling. It seems to be trying to tell him that if he - shifts a kind of mental balance toward this feeling of lightness, he could go places much faster than he's used to.
Okay, mysterious subtle buoyant feeling, he doesn't look forward to starving down here for lack of space in which to paint. Let's have it.
The feeling of lightness intensifies, welling up like a fountain - and then where Cor was standing there is... still Cor, but without all those inconvenient physical parts. He can see for miles. He can hear the distant whistle of the wind blowing along the bottom of the main continent.
And he can move. He need only want to go in a direction and he's off, moving through the air as fast as a shadow, and with as little regard for obstacles.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa can he move slower and get used to this instead.
Yes how about that land over there it looks land-y. Aaaaa.
What the fuck.
He's standing on one of those floating islands; from this vantage he can clearly see the bottom of the main continent even with his human eyes. It looms above him, a vast slab of rock, here and there a plume of mist pouring from its edge as a waterfall spills over the side.
No one is around to tell him what the fuck. Unless he would like to ask a rock, but they don't look especially talkative.
Okay. He will zoom somewhere with... civilization. Since this seems harmless. For now.