“The Adar take on some of the characteristics of the terrain and dungeons they dwell within. Some of the changes are skin deep, and others more profound. Regardless, they adapt well to changing conditions.”
-Heug the Physician, Common Physiology of Near-Human Counterparts
The others had left Zidaun to his prayers with a smile or nod as they exited the room. Zidaun sighed and allowed himself to fall into his awareness of the surrounding aura. With a push of intent and a drain to his mana he grew the stone of the door until it sealed.
He sat cross legged before the altar, clasping his hands together. The thorns at his elbows and knees jutted out as he took deep breaths. Then he invoked the ancient prayer of his people in Adaran.
“Dungeon, ancient progenitor, and God of my people hear my plea. If thy mind is awake, hear me. If thy will be grown, heed me. In this I speak for my people.
Bind together our fates and we shall serve thee. Take of our flesh and and we shall be thine. Grow with us and our resources shall belong to thee, and to thy cause.
Give to us a place of refuge and raise us up. In exchange shall we protect thee, in exchange shall we serve thee, and in exchange shall I be thy servant forever.”
As he finished he offered up the same prayer in the common tongue.
Then he rose, standing before the altar, and spoke in both tongues. “I offer thee a seed of my own flesh, and give it as a symbol of our accord.”
He raised his right hand to the top of his head and tugged lightly one of his fern-like hairs. He drew upon the magic of his race and the fern came loose as magic began to swirl into the room.
Even as he held it in his hand the mana of the dungeon spiraled into the hair rushing past in a growing torrent as the hair grew. The base expanded into a bulb and roots cradled around his hand and wrist. The plant shifted away from a fern as its stem thickened and it grew new hardy branches. Soon it resembled a short tough bush, seeming rather far from its original origin.
Finally the mana calmed as the bush bloomed small white flowers with leathery petals and a gentle aroma. Then Zidaun reverently placed the bush onto the center of the ruby bowl in the altar. A moment later the bush had dissolved into nothingness and Zidaun had fallen insensate to the floor.
Caden had watched with a detached curiosity as the plant man had performed a ritual and seemed to be praying before the altar. He had grown more interested when his aura had twisting into tighter formations in the room. When the man had plucked a hair from his head and in a burst of rushing mana turned it from a small frond of fern into a stout bush he had been more than a little surprised. He had, however, known the purpose of dropping the bush into the bowl on his altar, and so had immediately tried to absorb it. To his surprise it had been easy to absorb despite seeming fully alive. Due to his own preoccupation, Caden was too busy to do more that casually note Zidaun’s own sudden collapse.
For the first time Caden absorbed a living signal that was perfect and clear. He could not necessarily understand what everything did, but he could see the clear paths of intention connecting everything together. Until now he had no idea of how messy everything he was absorbing had been. It was not really much of a surprise. Most of the DNA from any complex organism was going to be junk. The cost was fairly low and there were some benefits to the organism to have that junk lying around. However, the different it made when those signals were not confusing the issue was amazing. It was like comparing a hunk of marble to a perfectly carved statue.
This pattern was different in more ways than just its clear signal. It was divided into sections:
The first layer was the fairly simple plant that had been offered. It did have a noticeable part of its design that caused it to take in mana in a focused way. It looked like it might even hook into a dungeon network directly, so it had obviously been designed with a mana rich environment, specifically dungeons.
The next layer contained a vast multitude of variations that the plant could have. Each was simple, but combined they could allow the plant to be customized for almost any environment. With tweaks it could adapt to the ocean, the desert, an arctic tundra; it was designed to survive, and thrive, just about anywhere. The different abilities were not labeled exactly, but he could get a sense of intent for each one as he investigated them.
The layer after that was a metamorphosis for the plant. The plant would grow larger and substantially more dangerous, though it was still rooted in a single place. More options were ready beneath that. He could feel that some would activate automatically depending on the adaptations the plant already had.
Another layer and another metamorphosis. The plant became ambulatory and was able to move around to perform different attacks. These varied depending on its form. The expected vast array of options lay beneath that. And after that…
Zidaun was outside his own body, caught in a rapture of divine change. All his priorities, all that he was, shifted even as small changes were made to his body.
Adar who lived at home had their dungeon as their primary priority. Then they owed their devotion to the ancient, and finally to the Adar as a whole. When Zidaun had left to become a seeker the bindings he had always felt to the first two had vanished. His service to his people had never vanished, and never would.
Now his priorities shifted again as the welfare of this dungeon became his life, his primary purpose. His duty after that was to the Adar who lived here, and last to the Adar as a whole.
His body too, underwent changes. The already intense purple of his irises shifted to an amethyst, with lines that looked like cracks running through them. The bark of his skin shifted to reddish brown, though the green veins remained as vibrant as ever, and seemed even more striking against the new color. His elbow and knee thorns turned an obsidian black even as they retracted into new slots in this body and his tough skin there grew shorter.
Racial Subtype Changed
Your subtype has changed from [Blaze Blossom Swamp] to [Ancient One]
New Traits Added
Partial Soul Bound
Your soul is permanently bound to the dungeon you have made a pact with. Depending upon the actions of the dungeon you may experience additional effects. This bond is unstable, due to the dungeons inability to complete the pact.
=Bonuses temporarily suspended
Immortal of Transient Flesh
You can be reborn after death through the will of the dungeon you are bound to.
Adar Ancient Pact
Adar which become connected to you or your bonded dungeon will also be bonded to both and vice versa.
When the ecstasy of his shift had faded Zidaun came back to himself. His flesh had changed, as had his own mind. The core of his self, his preeminent priorities were permanently in a new form. All was as he had expected.
Inside of himself he had always had the need to do what was best for the Adar as a whole. It was natural that he was not the top of his priorities. This was simply a shift. If his abilities had been needed at home he would have never left, he would have been unable to do it. And from now on this dungeon would be his primary focus, and he could feel a connection inside that lead to the dungeon.
Using his new personal connection to the soul of the dungeon Zidaun reached out and spoke to it directly.
“Dungeon, great and powerful one, I beseech thee by this contract that we have forged to be my guide. Be my companion and my master.”
There was a brief pause. Then he heard a voice reply, but it spoke words that he did not understand. Zidaun had spoken in common. Regional dialects across the world could make the merchant language imperfect for communication, but there was generally at least enough decent communication possible to create a starting place. The voice of the dungeon remained unchanged and unknowable; it spoke a language that was alien. The language was odd to his ears; it spoke in sibilant tones mixed with flowing sounds and harsh choppy blocks of crisp words. Whatever language its book was in was also not one that he spoke.
Then as he was getting accustomed to the strange flow of the language, he was startled when another voice spoke. He could tell that it was through that same connection, though it felt more distant, and as it spoke, it spoke the same words in that same unknowable tongue. Zidaun knew without doubt now that this dungeon must be truly ancient to speak a language unknown in the present day completely. The language had no similarity at all with any language that he knew. There were no common words; there were no common pronunciations; everything about it felt foreign other than that it sounded like a human language.
Zidaun surprise was somewhat dulled at this point, the dungeon being ancient and not speaking the modern language at all had not ever happened to his knowledge. However he wouldn’t be too surprised if it had. However, he knew of no dungeon with two voices. He did not even know what it would mean for a dungeon to possess multiple voices. He would have thought the sharing implied to be anathema to a dungeon’s nature.
Was the dungeon bound to some other entity as it was now partially bound to him? Had he heard the thought spun words of some ancient creation that the dungeon had brought forth with it to serve? The tenuous connection that he shared with the dungeon was already a risk, something that he was hoping not to have to deal with on unfriendly terms, or with any difficulty, but he would deal with things as was necessary. It was obvious that he would not be able to meaningfully contact the dungeon, and after a few minutes the dungeon stopped trying to speak to him altogether. It was time for the next phase; he would contact his people.