In picture form! Although the story has changed, this is the crappy graphic I drew to orient myself to begin with. I will not be inflicting it on Dying Earth editors Dozois and Martin…
Excerpt (rough draft) after the break…
The third of Sarnod’s familiars had the moniker of Grod Lump, and never had a creature been more truly named. Grod Lump was a barrel of an animal, round and fleshy on squat legs, hairy and swarthy, with eyes all over its body that had sometimes made foes mistake him for Chin the Unavoidable, four brawny arms, and a face distantly like a burlesque of a boar: the upturned lip, the leer that could become gruff and brusque. Its skin was unscorchable, impenetrable. Grod had a huge hole in the top of his head and from it came a kind of distant flame and the smell of hot coals–that which stoked his long, long life, for Sarnod believed him a living weapon from some past bygone age. (He kept his brain behind the iron bowl of his prodigious stomach.)
Grod made Sarnod the same breakfast every morning: three green-glowing salamanders, each lovingly plucked from the rich mud of the lake bank, one served cold, one served dead but crispy, one served alive and wriggling. The cold Sarnod ate for his memory, the hot for his heart, and the living for his brain. They had no eyes, for Sarnod did not like to see his food looking at him.
No doubt Grod was making Sarnod’s breakfast even as the wizard made his way down the winding stairs to the dining area, walking by the many tributes to his past brilliance: trophies in the form of parchments, heads, and armor reflecting the best of the threats that had long sought to topple him. And seeing them, Sarnod reminded himself that the thorn in his heart was also a warning, for always there was a half-forgotten spell that spoke to him of danger.
As if anticipating his thought, Whisper Bird whispered in his ear and said, “On the golden table, where lie the three portals, a creature has appeared, from below.” Just as there was an Over Earth, there too was an Under Earth, and Sarnod had used it to entrap and imprison his enemies for centuries.
Thus saying, Whisper Bird passed through Sarnod in a wave of cold and heat that made him shudder–what manner of ghost? what manner of being?–as they went together to see what had thus intruded on their daily ritual.