Broken Horizons – Vol 5, Ch 15
The wreckage of the [Trainsaw Transport] lay strewn across the front entrance of the [Library of Lights]. It was a victory of sorts, but Glimmerglass was reasonably sure that they couldn’t afford any more victories like it.
“You did good,” Cambrell said. “No deaths.”
“That was because everyone burned off healing potions and their long cooldowns,” Glimmerglass said.
“Better than being dead,” Cambrell said.
“Sometimes,” Glimmerglass said. She was sitting cross legged inside an alcove in the library. Too far from her team to be of any help, because she was too spent to do anything for them besides be another body to protect. “In a proper raid, we’d have let that fight wipe us and come back restocked and kited out to handle it properly.”
“War’s not like raiding,” Cambrell said. “Not like assassinations either.”
“I can imagine,” Glimmerglass said. “You’re probably wishing there was one meaningful target to hit here right?”
“Sometimes assassinations call for more than kill. What I miss is getting to leave the moment the fighting is over. I wasn’t built for defensive work like this.”
“Amusingly, I was,” Glimmerglass said. “But I’m rusty and behind the curve.”
“Why is that?” Cambrell asked, sitting down beside her and offering his canteen. It wasn’t filled with anything exotic, just water, but it was clean and nicely chilled and very much what Glimmerglass needed.
“The guild I was in fell apart a long time ago. After that I just kind of drifted so I didn’t keep up with the new gear and advances in magic and techniques,” Glimmerglass said.
“Why?” Cambrell asked.
“I didn’t have the [Inspiration] to go out adventuring anymore,” Glimmerglass said, passing the canteen back.
“What’s it like?” Cambrell asked. “The [Inspiration] thing?”
“You never had it? How did you get to be so powerful then?” Glimmerglass asked.
“Not an adventurer. Fell in with some bad people, then found there were even worse ones out there. Turns out if you kill enough bad people, other bad people make it a point to kill you before you come for them. Survive enough of them and you wind up pretty hard to kill overall.”
“That doesn’t sound easy.”
“That wasn’t my path. I started out as a novice priestess. I always knew I wanted to help people, but I thought I’d do that by giving out blessing at my town’s temple and purifying food and drink for people.”
Glimmerglass thought back to those innocent days which lay in some impossibly distant past. Had she felt the [Inspiration] stirring in her even then? Maybe. Some part of her had always felt like she was part of something greater, that she could be more than she was.
“Temple get burned?” Cambrell asked.
“No,” Glimmerglass said. “Well not right away. It was fine when I started adventuring. A few years later, my town got swept up in the [Ravaging Legion’s] onslaught. A lot of it burned then, the temple included.”
“Sorry,” Cambrell said.
“You’re from [Wagon Town]?”
“No. Just lived there for a while. Can’t shake the accent sometimes.”
“You got hit pretty hard by the [Ravaging Legion] too right?”
“We did ok. A lot of goblins became adventurers after that. Not me though. Was already too good of an assassin I guess. Never heard the [Inspiration] they talked about.”
“I’m sorry for that,” Glimmerglass said. “It’s pretty incredible. It’s like fatigue and fear and uncertainty? Those all just fall away. I felt so focused and driven back then. Even when we took on a boss a dozen times in row and failed over and over, it was like there was someone at my back, ready to lift me up so I could keep going. Someone who was always whispering in my earn how much she believed in me and how awesome I could be.”
“That sounds nice.”
“There’s nothing like it,” Glimmerglass said. “That’s why when my [Inspiration] went away I kind of sank down into a big puddle of lethargy. After you have that kind of support, it’s hard to keep going without it.”
“What brought it back? The war?”
“It didn’t come back,” Glimmerglass said, shaking her head. “Not exactly. You’re definitely not seeing me at my best here.”
“Doing pretty good without it. Maybe more like me than you know?”
“I don’t know that I’d measure up all that well,” Glimmerglass said. “Most of what I’ve got is a holdover from the time when I had [Inspiration] and a [Guild] to draw on. You earned yours without any of that, and you’re higher level than I am.”
“Maybe, but you’re still fighting, same as me,” Cambrell said.
“Same as all of us,” Glimmerglass said. “I can’t get over how everyone’s come together for this.”
“Everyone hasn’t,” Cambrell said.
“What do you mean?” Glimmerglass asked.
“There are a lot of adventurers who are helping out, but there’s a lot who aren’t too.”
“There are a lot that are too low level,” Glimmerglass said. “They’d only be in the danger if we brought them along.”
“Not just them,” Cambrell said. “High level adventurers, higher than you, some of them are afraid, some of them are pretending none of this is their problem, and some of them have…changed.”
“What do you mean ‘changed’?” Glimmerglass asked, the vision of a [Disjoined] flashing across her mind’s eye.
Why had she seen that?
No. Wait. More importantly, how did she know what a [Disjoined] was?
She knew because she’d fought them.
In a ruined city.
An endless stream of them, inflicting terrible wounds and ultimately…
Glimmerglass shook her head, blinking away what had to be fragments of a dream.
“The people I’ve talked to can’t explain it,” Cambrell said. “They just say that some of the adventurers seem…broken.”
“What’s happened to them? Are they still fighting with us?”
“I don’t know if they ever started fighting. Not with us anyways. I think they’re gone now though.”
“Where? If we can fix them that might be the reinforcements we need. In general, I mean, not here and now.”
“I don’t think so,” Cambrell said. “Don’t know if they can be fixed. Or where they are. The people I’ve talked to made it sound like the broken ones all disappeared. Not wandered off, vanished. In some kind of weird, crunchy light.”
“[Disjoined].” The word froze Glimmerglass’s lips as it passed them.
“What’s that?” Cambrell asked.
“A nightmare, I think,” Glimmerglass said.
“You fought them before?” Cambrell asked.
“I…I don’t think so. They’re just sound familiar. Like something I heard about.”
“Bet you haven’t heard anything good about them?”
“Think we’ll see any here?”
“I really hope not.” Glimmerglass remembered the image of the ruined city. She’d seen too many cities burning lately. Something about the image though set it apart though. It wasn’t the wrecked buildings and fire. That was a mask waiting to be peeled back and reveal something far worse. Something her mind was resolutely refusing to bring to her conscious awareness.
“Think the Consortium will attack again?”
“I can’t see how they have any other choice. Unless they’re willing to give up on [Crystal Bower].”
“Think they wouldn’t have fought so hard for it if they were going to give it up.”
“We have wrecked a prodigious amount of their stuff so far haven’t we?”
More attackers had followed the [Trainsaw Transport] – late arrivals and then a following wave. Rather than a series of battles it had been one big, unending melee. It was a brutal strategy, denying Glimmerglass’s party the full efficiency of their area spells and effects while maintaining a constant pressure on them to prevent anyone from recovering the resources they were expending. Glimmerglass’s team had come so close to losing, but it had cost the Consortium more than they could pay in the end. Lives. Equipment. Magic. The Consortium had simply run dry before Damnazon lost her last hit point, or Kalindra ran out of mana or Kelindra’s arrows ran dry.
Glimmerglass was proud of her team and grateful to have found them. They reminded her of her old guildmates. Creative, adaptable, and dedicated. There had been so many chances for things to fall apart, but even when someone made a critical error, one of the others had been there to cover for them and pick up the slack. They were [Inspired]. She could feel the energy of it radiating off them.
“Think we’ll make it?” Cambrell asked.
“Through the next fight? Maybe. Probably I’d say. They’ll send a tougher force but just resting like this is helping a lot. Some of the debuffs they hit us with are starting to fade and I’ve got more magic back than I have since we got to the library. I think that’s true for everyone else too, though we should compare notes. How are you holding up?”
“Still breathing, not too disoriented. Can’t complain.”
“Hey, I’m your healer. Complain to me or I won’t know you need anything.”
“Lies. I watched you in the fight. You knew what was happening to all of us the whole time.”
“There’s more to keeping people on their feet than just watching their health bars and what status effects they’re under,” Glimmerglass said. “A good team needs someone watching out for what’s really challenging them. Or at least that’s what an old friend of mine used to say.”
“Sounds smart. Also sounds like they were complimenting you.”
“Definitely the first, probably not the second though,” Glimmerglass said. “BT was brilliant but she enjoyed teasing people a lot more than complimenting them.”
“Was?” Cambrell asked.
“We drifted apart,” Glimmerglass said. “When my guild broke up, I lost touch with most of the people I knew. They all had other things they were pursuing, or they’d lost their [Inspiration] like I had and didn’t have much to talk about with the ones who were still out there pursuing their destiny.”
“Have you tried talking to her since you got your [Inspiration] back?” Cambrell asked. “Like you said, we need reinforcements.”
“No. I…I failed them. I don’t think they’d want to talk to me, or if they did, they’d have reached out. I still have the old guild’s channel open, but it’s been silent this whole time.”
“You should try,” Cambrell said. “They could be thinking the same thing.”
“Yeah, but I’m still not like them,” Glimmerglass said. “I really haven’t gotten my [Inspiration] back. Not like before. Not like the rest of the team has.”
“You fight good. You got us out of the statis trap. You didn’t let any of us die in this fight. Best healer I’ve ever worked with.”
“Do you work with a lot of healers during an assassination?” Glimmerglass asked with a wry grin.
“The best is the best,” Cambrell said, raising his chin in protest when the facts wouldn’t back him up. “Don’t think you failed them either.”
“I did though. The guild fell apart on my watch. I was supposed to see what was up with everyone and I didn’t see it coming at all.”
“Maybe they didn’t want you to,” Cambrell said. “People hide things all the time. Pretty rare I kill someone who knows why they had it coming.”
“I think that makes it worse somehow?” Glimmerglass said. “If they were hiding something big enough to break our guild apart then how can I think I ever really knew them at all?”
“Don’t have to know everything someone is thinking to know them,” Cambrell said. “People usually aren’t what they say anyways. Gotta look at what they do, and how they really treat you.”
“We always treated each other pretty well,” Glimmerglass said.
“Maybe it wasn’t about you. Or about the guild. Maybe it was something in them? Maybe something that’s not there anymore?”
“Maybe?” Glimmerglass shrugged.
“Won’t know if you don’t ask,” Cambrell said.
Glimmerglass sighed. The goblin wasn’t wrong.
Raising her hand, she called up her long unused [Friend List] and began scrolling through it. Only one name wasn’t in the pale grey of someone who’d set themselves to [Inactive].
Why was BT’s name set to gold though?