Broken Horizons – Vol 5, Ch 11

In a place without being, time should have no meaning, but the clock was still ticking and the sands were still falling through the hourglass. Despite that, there was no urgency associated with the knowledge of time marching on. 

In sleep, the promise of the days to come and the weight of the unresolved yesterdays each exerted their pull, grinding out sparks of anxiety and hope where their edges met. The needs of tomorrow could draw a sleeper back to consciousness as easily as the wounds of yesterday could deny them the embrace of a forgetful dream.

In the endless, truest dark, anxiety and hope and needs and wounds were all absent. 

Only peace and serenity remained.


On a plain high above the world, a tired vampire with a torn heart and a head full of conflicting thoughts matched onwards, walking at the side of the stranger she was either losing her mind over or who was the one thing keeping her sane. 

Given that they were traveling to the domain of a dead god, an activity which every single member of the team knew was likely to end in a catastrophe, Lisa had to assume that the question of her sanity was not one that was likely to have an answer she’d be happy with.


Sometimes inspiration fires the blood and fills a body with a raw need to act, to change the world, to do what needs to be done even if that requires going beyond the possible and becoming something transcendent.

Then there are all the other days. All the days when no external fire was there to lift you up. When everything was hard, and aid was far away, and there was no choice but to do what needed to be done. Where what strength was available would be enough, not because a hidden reservoir could be tapped, or a new level ascended to, but because it had to be enough even when nothing else was available.

“They’ve got some kind of train with chainsaws still out like porcupine quills,” Damnazon said. “Looks like they’re letting it lead the charge.”

“That one’s mine,” Kelindra said. “[Seige Shot] [Paragon Barrier Buster] [Sol’s Hammer].”

Glimmerglass watched as the [Archer] piled self buffs on top of an arrow that she drew back slowly to her cheek.

The was no chance the Consortium wouldn’t see the attack coming. The [Library of Lights] glowed brighter than the sun as power gathered in the bolt.

“[Casting Spell: Might of Helios],” Glimmerglass said, lending more power to the shot and others in the group pitched in as well.

When the arrow finally flew, it’s passage shattered the buildings on either side of the street, setting everything in its wake ablaze. Glimmerglass had to shield her eyes from the explosion. It was the sort of attack which didn’t tend to get used in dungeons much since the area of effect was absurdly large and the damage was either overkill on lesser targets or better spaced out in difficult  ones.

The [Trainsaw Transport] wasn’t a dungeon boss, but it was forged from similar steel. With the scream of a thousand damned souls, it surged through the explosion, its wheels morphed to spirals of taloned hangs which held fast against enough concussive force to destroy a city block.

“Firing again,” Kelindra said and launched another arrow with the force of cruise missile against the oncoming enemy vehicle.

“How is that thing still coming?” Cambrell asked, his skin a paler shade of green as he watched the enemy force drawing closer.

“It’s one of their major war machines,” Glimmerglass said. “Those things were designed to handle the strongest adventurers they faced the first time we kicked their butts.”

“That sounds like plenty enough to handle us then,” Cambrell said.

Glimmerglass could see how eager the [Assassin] was to vanish and leave the standup fights to the people who were built to handle them. Without her [Inspiration] answering her call, Glimmerglass wasn’t sure she deserved a spot on the list of ‘people built to handle world shaking crises’, but even if she was weaker than she needed to be to be on this particularly battlefield, she had to find a way to make it work. She was what her team had, and she had to be enough for them.

“Kelindra’s not trying to finish it off,” Glimmerglass said. “I mean it would be great if she could, but [Boss] class threats like that aren’t things you can one-shot.”

“It looks like it won’t have any problem one-shotting us,” Cambrell said.

“Yeah, we have to stay out of melee with it,” Glimmerglass said.

“We probably want to start running now then. That thing is moving pretty fast,” Cambrell said.

“Can’t. We need to hold it off Kelindra and the other ranged dps so they can finish taking it down.”

Kelidra’s third shot was joined by a pair of [Chaos Fireballs], with the combined barrage blasting the [Trainsaw Transports] outer skin away. Rather than inorganic machinery underneath the train’s metallic skin, Glimmerglass saw an inhuman mass of muscle tissues and otherworldly connective fibers. 

She’d woken up screaming from more pleasant nightmares than the one before her, but the atrocity didn’t shake her focus. The [Trainsaw Transport] had a [Health Bar], and if something had a [Health Bar] then they could beat it.

“[Casting spell: Shining Aegis Wall],” she said, conjuring a far stronger barrier than she’d be able to manage in the previous battle. Leveling up brought a lot of new options and being in the middle of a war had made her choices fairly clear.

The [Trainsaw Transport] slammed in the barrier she cast and halted, the thousand arms beneath it straining with ungodly force to push through the spell wall by sheer demonic strength. Bolts of searing light and devouring flames rained down on the nightmare vehicle in a steady stream, the raw fury of the battle filling the parameters of an equation both sides could read with ease.

“Their transport’s not going to make it,” Glimmerglass said as her spell wall crunched and cracked under the strain it was enduring.

“Good. Didn’t want to fight it anyways,” Cambrell said.

“Get ready,” Glimmerglass said, speaking to the team in general and Cambrell in particular. “They’ll be sending in their elites in about five seconds.

She didn’t know that from any special sensory powers, or through scrying their command bridge. All she needed was an awareness of the battle’s overall flow and what information was available to her enemies.

From the other teams who’d been sent to liberate {Crystal Bower], reports were coming in of successful mission completions. The adventurers had put the Consortium on its back foot, forcing it to fight to regain at least defensible base on the city. The battles in the other cities then ensured that reinforcements wouldn’t be available which meant the local Consortium forces had to either withdraw or hit back with enough force to be certain of winning.

Since the Consortium hadn’t chosen to withdraw their tactical options were limited, and five seconds later, Glimmerglass’s reasoning was confirmed.

Cambrell had vanished from her side the moment Glimmerglass said to get ready. As her unofficial bodyguard, he’d taken to ensuring that she was as safe as the team could make her inside the war zone [Crystal Bowers] had become. His absence altered the tactical map in her mind, adding a dispassionate note to her location that she was now several times more vulnerable than she’d been a moment earlier.

Where an inexperienced adventure might have been inclined to worry about a change like that, if not panic outright, Glimmerglass was quite familiar with being left open to danger during a difficult battle. Her job was to ensure the team remained healthy and operative. Guarding her was only rarely the most useful thing a teammate could be doing. 

The [Elite Raiders] knew that as well, from what she could see, as they surged off the train and leapt screaming in her direction.

Cambrell cut the first [Clothwork] [Soul Knight] down in mid-leap, slicing the creature into six irregular chunks faster than its regenerative abilities could restore it.

The other eleven raiders ignored their loss and flew onwards. That they were all focused on Glimmerglass was something she found a bit worrisome, but only a bit. The bad guys always went for the healer first. 

It was why she was standing where she was. 

Guarding her was rarely the most efficient use of a teammate’s time which meant she made excellent bait against intelligent foes.

“Don’t think so,” Damnazon said, interposing herself between Glimmerglass and her attackers. The half-giant drew the eleven [Elite Raiders] to herself like a magnet pulling in iron shavings. 

Then Mellisandra blew them up.

“[Storm Lord’s Judgement V]”

It wasn’t the best spell in Mellisandra’s arsenal but it was one she could cast more or less endlessly. The lightning bolts she called forth blasted foot deep pits into the road leading into [Library of Lights]. The [Elite Raiders] tried to peel away from Damnazon’s side to silence the rain of death Mellisandra was dropping on them but only one managed to escape Damnazon’s snaring strike and Cambrell was there, appearing from thin air before the Elite could close to melee distance with Mellisandra.

“[Sin Reckoning]”, the [Goblin] [Assassin] whispered.

Where Mellisandra’s lightning bolts had damaged the [Elite Raider] and taken away a moderate chunk of its health, Cambrell’s stealth attack caused a swarm of hungry shadows to spill out from within the Elite, consuming it entirely in the space of a single breath.

Glimmerglass focused on dropping a revolving list of healing spells and buffs on her party, allowing herself only a small smirk at her the Elites for thinking her party didn’t have her back.

Of course, there was the point that her party members were all operating under a huge number of long term debuffs which she’d only been able to partially nullify or cleanse away. 

The Consortium had sent their best available troops after them, but those troops were as limited as the supply of high level adventurers was. At her peak strength, Glimmerglass knew she could have possibly solo’d the [Trainsaw Transport], and as an encounter for her party it should have been trivial. Diminished as her party was though, the Elites represented a real threat.

Which, of course, meant that more Consortium forces had to show up.

Glimmerglass wasn’t surprised by that either. Penswell had been clear that [Crystal Bower] was one of the city’s which the Consortium was making an investment in holding and that even with the invaders spread thin, they would still throw a tremendous amount of force against the adventurers trying to liberate it. 

“Expect multiple waves in every fight and follow up sortes to descend on the critical locations almost endlessly,” Penswell had warned them. “From how they’ve fought before, they’ll expend every resource they have in a city before they retreat, and they’ll pay any cost to do as much damage as they can to our forces.”

None of that surprised Glimmerglass. She’d seen the Consortium’s forces fight at [Doom Crag]. She didn’t need to be warned of their ferocity.

A warning about the stealth abilities would be have been useful though.

“[Death Touch]”, the Consortium’s [Assassin] whispered as he plunged a poisoned dagger into Glimmerglass.

On a proper [Death Blow], the attack would have pierced something vital like a caryatid artery, but Glimmerglass’s resilence and reflexes allowed her to divert the blow into her shoulder instead. It was an improvement on the intended outcome but the damage was still considerable and the poison would be problematic in a few seconds.

Glimmerglass looked for help from her team, but the Consortium [Assassin] had caught her as the fight placed her a good ten seconds from receiving help from them. 

Ten seconds was an eternity for a squishy healer to solo a single target dps spec’d monster. Glimmerglass ran the numbers instantly and didn’t like the picture they painted.

The [Assassin] smiled. He’d clearly done the same and came to the same conclusion.

“[Casting spell: Major Re…” Glimmerglass’s casting was interrupted as the Consortium [Assassin] stabbed her again.

She’d had to try but she knew what to expect. Her most powerful healing spells were off limits until someone could distract her foe for long enough.

“[Instant Regeneration]”

Not all spells needed a lengthy casting time. She could beat the Assassin, but doing so was going to require using resources on herself which would weaken her team tremendously. Watching Damnazon fighting against eight [Elite Raiders] left Glimmerglass keenly aware that she would be trading her life for theirs, but since the alternative was that no one would live, it was the call she had to make.

Unless she could reach her [Inspiration] again. A burst of speed and focus would let her cast through even a near fatal attack and landing one of the high tier healing spells she’d been reserving for an emergency would turn the entire fight around.

Except her [Inspiration] wasn’t there. There was only silence where there’d been something so much greater when she’d called out on Consortium Ship.

Glimmerglass swung her staff and cursed, screaming out to the void.

She wasn’t kidding. She needed to be more than she was. She needed to be someone else! Someone with the tools to survive this.

“[Heart Killer’s Curse]”

The voice that spoke was her own, but very definitely not hers.

Soul magic flooded through her and as the [Assassin Struck] she saw it reach out through his eyes and drag a stream of energy from him.

In an instant her wounds mended and [Assassin] staggered back, choking and faltering as his health plummeted away.

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