FIRST APPEARANCE: p.62 (S1) as Arabol, p.66 (S1) as himself
LAST APPEARANCE: p.274 (S1)
ORIGIN: United States, Earth
Norris Bundt was a human computer programmer, known on late 20th century Earth as the creator of the Dark House series of interactive games. He was a budding collector of rare old books, which he mined for inspirations in concepts and packaging design. Amongst his peers and competitors, he was seen as rather unscrupulous, and more than once he was accused of impropriety, or plagiarizing code.
On a sunny afternoon in his California home, Norris Bundt was having an angry telephone conversation with his publisher, over the rights to his upcoming game Dark House III. As he argued that he was the original creator of the game’s signature “evil tree” character, and thus due extra compensation, the doorbell rang. Norris found an unmarked parcel on his doorstep, and while on the phone, he unwrapped it to reveal the Portal Codex, or “Lost Book”. Without a thought to who might have sent it, Norris opened the cover, and was instantaneously transported to the Nearest Point of the Beyonding, with the phone still at his ear.
Norris’s assimilation to the Beyonding was not smooth. He demonstrated a strong tendency to lie when frightened to protect himself, and often used foul language in frustration, attracting besmurchins. Because of his fear, Norris’s pain threshold evaporated, making even minor physical abuse sheer agony. He did not use his time and energy wisely, and often refused to believe his surroundings.
At some point, Norris encountered the Unicorn Radish-Hoof, most likely when the latter was stabled in the Royal Court of Inway. Allegedly, Norris asked the Unicorn for help, offering his Earthen laser-pointer keychain as payment. Radish-Hoof took the keylight and then kicked Norris down into a ravine, before laughing and going off to tell his friends that he gored the man. This experience left Norris humiliated and no longer willing to trust anyone (or anything).
For years, Norris clandestinely accumulated books and studied them, hunkering in several abandoned cottages around Inway while he did. Staying out of sight, Norris managed to develop a journeyman skill in resinacy, finding it akin to coding “but without all the typing”. Over a decade, Norris uploaded emotional energies and ideas into a small crystal, creating a power totem. Using this totem, Norris remade himself as “Arabol”, a monstrous tree with prehensile vines, and set about gaining a reputation by snaring anyone who dared enter his reach, the inescapable Rotted Ruin. Not only did this increase his power slightly, it allowed him a method of finding other dislocated human beings like himself.
As Arabol, Norris Bundt took up residence in the woods outside Phubarb Village, crafting a legend of a monster tree that strangles travelers. One day, he made the mistake of capturing Yla Shanger, threatening to harm her if Bromance Evergreen didn’t hand over Radish-Hoof the Unicorn.
When Radish-Hoof, Essul and Cornelius Coddler came to the rescue, Arabol was distracted by Cornelius’s human appearance. This allowed Bromance to snatch down Norris’s power totem, and begin chopping Arabol into fire logs. As soon as Yla freed herself, she joined in.
Norris called for surrender from inside what remained of his arboreal creation, prompting Radish-Hoof to vaguely recall their previous encounter. While Norris questioned Cornelius about the details of his arrival as a fellow human, Yla snuck up behind him and jabbed her windthorns into his nerve clusters, as payback for almost crushing her.
When Bromance insisted that Norris return to Phubarb Village and face judgment for his transgressions, he became hysterical and resisted, snatching back his amulet with lightning speed. The odors brought on by his incessant use of profanity attracted a small herd of besmurchins, which rapidly overwhelmed him.
For some time Norris’s whereabouts were unknown, but the cordless phone he brought with him was later found in a Nefarian monstrance by Yla, and briefly used by Cornelius to call his stepsister Daizee in America, before its battery ran out.
Norris’s behavior caused him to begin transforming into a besmurchin, and he was captured by Refusaleth for study. The truevil believed that if he could return Norris to his original human state, he could trace his passage to Earth.
All of this became moot, as Refusaleth ascended to his fourth form, forming a spinning centrifuge that sucked everything in like a black hole, including Norris Bundt. He was not seen again afterward.
- Norris Bundt is an example of the humans who have opened the Lost Book and entered the Beyonding; few survive, some hide their humanity and become other beings
- Most of Bundt’s computer games were text-based adventures; the uncompleted Dark House III was to be his transition to graphics, guaranteeing him a promotion in his company