Wishing to further prepare the party, Shakey Mac took Ansem, Laria, and Reið aside again and explained to them the nature of the Umbra. The Umbra is a spirit world that exists parallel to our world. It is entered by meditating in a caern, and one must possess sufficient gnosis (spiritual knowledge) to “step sideways.” Mac detected that these three were the best choices to plunge into the Umbra.
Shakey Mac continued, “While in the Umbra, your physical bodies will be unconscious and helpless. Mac and the Fenrir will guard your bodies, and act as a last line of defense for the caern. Your mind will manifest as an avatar in the Umbra, and you will be able to move through the spirit world normally. If your avatar is killed in the Umbra, your mind will die in your real body.” The trio remained silent.
“This avatar will have the same abilities as your normal body, with some exceptions. Your mental strength can augment your physical strength in the spiritual world of the Umbra. Because they are a part of your mind, your avatar retains all spells and special abilities of your corporal self. You three may use them as normal.” Shakey Mac’s countenance darkened. “But be warned, you will not have access to your physical weapons or equipment – your avatar will manifest with its own weapon and armor. Their strength will be determined by your own strength of mind.” Ansem, Laria, and Reið looked to each other, realizing that this would be far more dangerous than they had anticipated.
“The terrain in the Umbra matches our world exactly, but all flora and fauna are drastically different. Instead of animals there are strange and unnatural spirits. Plants and trees look similar, but are vividly colored and luminescent. Beings in the physical world will appear vaguely visible from your perspective, appearing as walking shadows. You will, however, be invisible on the material plane.” A cold grin crossed Ansem’s face.
Laria stood beside Firel, communicating quietly with his direwolf. “Laria, though you will be able to communicate with your wolf across the planes, it may be difficult. The shadowy beings of the physical world are but echoes in the Umbra… and as echoes, equally obscure.”
Shakey Mac cleared his throat and addressed the group as a whole: “Magic exists simultaneously in both realms at once. You may target beings in the physical world with spells, and area-of-effect spells affect creatures on both sides.” He paused briefly before continuing with renewed vigor. “Tsannik is the mission. The Sept of the Five Winds is a powerful caern, and through this gateway Tsannik could bring an army of Wyrm spirits. He cannot be killed while he possesses a body, yet if his physical body is destroyed first, he will simply possess someone else. Your only option to destroy him completely is to kill both forms at the same time.”
Without so much as a goodbye, the two parties separated to enter battle with the evil Tsannik. Conclin, Rizdaveez, and Trokmutt stood strong in the opening before the caern. Tsannik and his group came out of the treeline and marched toward the three. Ansem, Laria, and Reið awoke in the Umbra, their bodies transformed by their minds. Ansem’s appeared as a small shadowy creature, his massive wraith blade further dwarfing him. Laria stood tall, a proud woodland creature, his head crowned in branches and a spear in his hands. Reið was a hulking grey monster with no face – looking closer to his half-orc form than he had in some time. As they regained their bearings, they saw Tsannik and his allies approaching.
Then everyone died. Everyone except the bad guys.