The voice was taking shape inside his mind.
Each time it spoke, Rex imagined he saw a dark form slowly growing clearer in front of him.
The Torimbalo keeps your soul rooted and whole when you die. Over time you will learn to master your new form and will be able to return to the mortal realm.
"You mean like a ghost?" Rex asked incredulously.
I mean more than mortal.
"I don't know what that means," said Rex, bewildered.
Rex felt a sensation he soon identified as "solidifying".
As the voice spoke and the other became more visible in front of him, he felt something. A warmth, a wholeness starting in the place he would have called his chest.
"Will I be human?" the thought came unbidden.
Of course you will, answered the voice, but you will be more. You will have power beyond what you can imagine. Power that many seek.
"Jones," said Rex.
Rex focused on his hands.
He was startled to see that he could... see... them.
"I have hands!" he exclaimed at the other, but as he thought he watched them blur and slide back into the æther.
Before you can return to the mortal realm, the voice explained, you must master your physical form.
"How?" asked Rex.
Impose your will on the universe.
In the silence, Rex concentrated. He imagined he saw his fingertips, saw sworls of prints. He watched fingernails form, knuckles, and scars from a thousand battles. His hands grew in front of him and he flexed them slightly and felt their strength, their permanence.
You are learning quickly, came the voice after a hundred years of silence.
"Huh?" he grunted as he watched his hands explode into nothingness once more.
Do not be dismayed.
The voice was commanding, reassuring.
Control over the physical takes time, concentration, patience, willpower.
Rex willed his hands to appear. Concentrating heavily, he spoke slowly and carefully.
"Tell me more about the Torimbalo," he asked, still focussed on his hands.
As the voice spoke, he watched his hands, forcing them to remain whole even as he tried to follow the words of the other.
The Torimbalo was forged a million lifetimes ago, under the surface of an unimportant planet far from here.
While the voice explained, Rex began forming his arms.
"So this Torimbalo is some sort of artefact?" he asked as the voice finished. "Something that imbues power through what? Touch?"
It is not a physical object, any more than you are now. The power is normally given by another that wields it, but now the power has been taken forcefully.
"Jones found a way to steal something that has no physical form?" Rex was impressed despite himself.
In a manner of speaking. Because of the nature of the power some of it was given to you at the moment you left the physical realm.
"When I was vaporised you mean? So Jones is not dead either? What does that mean? You said I have powers, does Jones have powers too? How do I stop him using them?"
Rex's arms and hands had dissipated with the avalanche of worry that filled his mind.
Do not be concerned, the voice comforted, we have much time.
Two figures stood at the cliff top.
"How did I get here?" asked Rex, turning to his companion who eerily slid just out of view.
Looking down Rex could see himself again, and checked to see if he could feel himself while asking, "How come I'm solid again?"
Your presence in the real world grounds your mind and naturally distils your essence into its original physical form.
"Then why didn't you just bring me back here first?"
Almost as the question left his mouth, a bird flying above relieved itself mid-flight on Rex's all-to-real head.
Because just as you must will yourself to be in the non-physical plane, so you must learn that you are not bound to the physical any more in this plane.
"Did you make that bird do that somehow?" asked Rex, wiping the bird-goop from his hair.