Feral Magic Cut Scene - Worldbuilding. This is the scene with Dak in his castle's dimensional portal room. A cut version of this scene is in the novella, but not the entire one I wrote.
Delay, delay, more delay! Dak snarled at another one of his cousin's, Hakit. A man who, a few hours earlier, would have cowered before his scowl. But now Dak's brother was regent instead of him and had the power of the klatch behind him, not Dak.
Hakit did take a step back, hunched his too thin and scholarly shoulders. "We have determined the planet our baby Chief travelled to. It is called Earth by the inhabitants who live in the area where he arrived. We cannot tune our own portal to Earth. You must go by this portal, transfer twice until you reach Waycross, and then to Earth."
Dak suppressed a shudder. He didn't like portal hopping. Each time it roused the panther in him and messed with his control of his nature, sensitized his nerves and dulled his mind. No help for it, he had to do this. "What do you know about this 'Earth?'"
No smile from the man. "Shapeshifters – our kind is rare there."
Just as Dak had deduced when he'd smelled the traces of the planet in his nephew's nursery pen. He tensed, spun the whir knife in his fingers. "Bad for the babe if natives find him."
The door slammed open. Dak aimed – stopped. A man of the golden brown panther klatch marched forward. Nolen's face was set in angry lines. He was the brother of the late pantherwoman who had married Dak's brother, the Chief. "What's this I hear about you losing my nephew?"
Dak had never had patience with the late Chieftess' impulsive brother. Only allowing his teeth to grit for a moment before answering the man, Dak said, "If you want him returned safely, you had better keep that news behind your fangs. The more rumor spreads, the harder it will be for me to bring him back."
Back from where! Nolen roared, his blue eyes blazing.
Wherever his magic took him! Dak shouted.
"Earth," whispered Hekit under his breath. They both focused on him.
The newcomer widened his stance and folded his arms. "You want me to believe a baby transferred into another dimension by himself?"
"You want to tell me my nephew didn't have the power to do that?" Dak shot back.
A huge sigh. "No." Nolen turned to Hakit. "Earth, you say?"
"That is what I was told."
"Did you not check out the nursery yourself, Nolen?" Dak asked.
"I need permission."
"As leader in this matter and former regent, you have mine. Go," Dak said.
The golden panther stormed back through the door.
Dak said, "I want to be gone before Nolen returns. If the golden panther has any more information I need, send it to Waycross. The connections for innanimate dimensional travel still work well?"
"Very well and very fast. It is only living mass–" Hakit spread his hands.
"Here," Dak's cousin handed him a band of gold with an oddly glowing orange-red jewel.
"A bespelled torque."
"Too small," Dak sneered.
"It isn't for you. It's for the cub. It is synchronized with our dimensional portal and bespelled to bring him here directly if you get within a few feet of another portal. Such jewelry is very rare, and made by your late sister-in-law, the queen."
Hakit scanned Dak from head to toe. "It has a mass limit of forty pounds."
Dak shrugged a shoulder as his lip curled. "I"ll find and bring back the babe."
Hakit's pointy brows lifted. "One never knows what one will find in other dimensions. What dangers." The words, the tone, reminded Dak that this cousin had spent more time in other worlds than Dak. Something he had always considered a detriment in Hakit. He'd come back with some strange notions.
"Take the circlet." Hakit clamped the jewelry around Dak's upper arm. The pantherman shuffled back, his gaze glancing to one of the murals showing another world on the solid small cavern walls.
"Have you been there?"
His cousin's gaze met his own. "No." He straightened and Dak sensed he drew on the support of the klatch again to speak his piece. "I have heard that Earth does not have a set portal."
A hard stare this time, from deep brown-black eyes. "Earth is not a member of the Dimensional Collective–"
"By my claws," Dak swore.
"–and has an erratic and moving portal."
As if the mission wasn't hard enough. Dak felt as if he'd been flung into an icy pool of water. He had to save the babe! "I'll deal with it." His cat fangs prickled his gums. He would not lose control.
His cousin handed him a thick gold link chain and a packet of paper money good throughout the Collective. "This will fund your trip. People of Earth like this."
"Who doesn't? Shiny."
"And take this," Hakit handed him a faceted red jewel the size of Dak's palm, and about as thick.
Dak scowled. "I don't like taking this portal locator. We only have two." He tried to shove it back at Hakit.
"Earth has a floating portal. You've been authorized to have it," his cousin replied blandly, probably believing that Dak was more upset at no longer being regent than he showed. And, yes, he was, but worry for his nephew, Flav, gnawed him. Dak stashed it in the personal storage space in his aura. "Thanks."
The portal hummed and the arched doorway revealed a room on another world. "Leaving now," Dak said.
To Dak's surprise Hakit stepped forward and hugged him tightly. Dak swung an arm around the black pantherman's shoulders and hugged back, feeling the man's full mane under his robe. His cousin was concerned, too.
Then Dak stepped back from his kin and through the portal, leaving his kin and world behind.
An attacker jumped him.