Broken Horizons – Vol 10, Ch 17


Experimenting on Illuthiz proved to be more entertaining that having the others experiment on him, but Balegritz found the real delight came from dragging Hermeziz into the mix.

“You get [Hellfire Breath], she gets [Ethereal Body], and I get [Micro Vision]?” Hermeziz said as he stared at a grain of pollen caught between a pair of tweezers.

“Come on, you know you didn’t want anything flashy,” Balegritz said, concerned that they’re joking suggestion for his mate might have given rise to real hurt feelings.

“What? No,” Hermeziz said. “I’m saying you two got pointless powers and I got the actually useful one. I was feeling bad for you.”

“I think all of your powers are cool!” Hammy Burglar, the [Cook] said. “They’d all work great ina  dungeon and even the [Hellfire Breath] has applications outside of combat.”

“How would [Micro Vision] help in a dungeon?” Illuthiz asked.

“In one that’s been well run, it might not do so much but in a new dungeon? One where we don’t know what the traps and tricks are? [Micro Vision] could be busted there,” Vinyard, the other [Cook] said. “For new dungeons, you always take them slow if you can, and being able to see problems coming is a big part of beating them successfully. With [Micro Vision] and some time to inspect a place, you’d be able to see all kinda of things about it that other [Adventurers] would miss.”

“I don’t want to go into a dungeon,” Hermeziz said.

“You won’t have to,” Illuthiz said.

“She’s totally right on that,” Hammy said. “This is a good setup we’ve got here. I always hated dungeon crawling but there wasn’t really much choice since all the good crafting loot was tucked away in boss treasure hoards and as random loot drops only from the mobs inside the dungeon.”

“Don’t you still need those?” Balegritz asked.

“Need? Not so much. Want? Oh definitely,” Vinyard said. “We’ve already got [Adventurers] trading us stuff just so we can cook it up though. They get some nice food, and we get easy skill ups.”

“And a bite of the food too,” Hammy said.

“How else would you know the flavor was acceptable?” Illuthiz said in support of their statement.

“So, am I supposed to feel any different if my magic is running out?” Hermeziz asked as he continued to stare at the pollen grain.

“I didn’t feel much when I ran low, only when I was out completely,” Balegritz said.

“I could tell I was running low a short while before I ran out,” Illuthiz said.

“That’s probably because your [Ethereal Body] is a continuous drain where  Balegritz’s [Hellfire Breath] takes out discrete packs of mp with each use,” Vinyard said. “With the continuous drain, you can feel things diminishing over time, where with the one-and-done charge for the breath the magic is either there or its not.”

“Mine should be more like hers then,” Hermeziz said. “But I don’t feel any different.”

“It doesn’t look like your magic is draining at all from what I can see,” Hammy said.

“Is that possible? I thought all of these abilities were limited by our available magic pool?” Illuthiz asked.

She’d been unhappy to discover that her flawless defensive technique came with the slight problem that she couldn’t maintain it for more than a few minutes before she ran out of magic to power the effect.

“They are,” Hammy said. “But there’s another factor in play as well – how quickly you recover magic. In your and Balegritz’s cases, your abilities consume magic at a much higher rate than your natural recovery can keep pace with. For Hermeziz, [Micro Vision] seems like the upkeep cost is low enough that he can recover magic faster than the power consumes it.”

“So I can keep my vision like this forever?” Hermeziz asked.

“Probably not forever,” Vinyard said. “There are external forces that can turn off active powers. Things like [Dispels] and [Stuns].”

“Also if you go into a level capped area that’s lower than when you could have learned a power, it’ll be suppressed there too,” Hammy said.

“There’s also eye strain to consider,” Vinyard said. “In the game, we could leave a power like that on all the time, but here, when we’re actually in the world, things like ‘fatigue’ or ‘boredom’ aren’t abstracted away. If you need to concentrate to keep your vision focused like that they you’ll probably lose it as soon as your mind wanders away.”

“But I could just restart it, right?” Hermeziz asked.

“Probably,” Hammy said. “Some powers come with longer cooldowns on them, but that’s usually for more combat oriented abilities so that the big, heavy hitting powers can only be used once in a while.”

“But the rules are different for [Non-Adventurers],” Vinyard said.

“You mean for monsters,” Hermeziz said, bristling at the description.

“Them, and anything else that’s not an [Adventurer],” Vinyard said. “The major NPCs in the world can all use their abilities in ways we can’t. [Adventurers] are bound to a common set of rules because things had to be fair for each player since it was a game. No one was going to get annoyed if an [NPC] could do something unusual though since we weren’t competing with them. Not like we were with each other.”

“So if we’re [NPCs] now, does that mean we’ll lose these abilities if we manage to become [Adventurers]?” Balegritz asked.

“I’m not sure,” Hammy said. “It’s possible that to become an [Adventurer], you’d need to reset down to level 1 and start building up your powers and skills from there. You’d lose basically everything but gain all the perks [Adventurers] have. Or it’s possible your current abilities would all be lumped together under ‘Racial Traits” and you’d just start building on top of what you already have. Or maybe you’d just become something new.”

“I think that might already be happening,” Hermeziz said, turning to face the group.

From the center of his head, a third eye stared back at them.


Choosing to embrace the far flung fragments of herself was all well and good, but it didn’t mean Claire had any idea how to go about actually doing it. Fortunately she had an idea of who might.

“Can you walk me through how you found me?” she asked Wrath Raven. “It was a feeling or a hunch right? And you weren’t anywhere near me.”

“That’s true, but I have found you now,” Wrath said.

“I know, but I’m hoping we’ll be able to do more,” Claire said. “I don’t know if it will work, but whatever connection you followed to me, I might be able to use something similar to find the reflections of us on other worlds. If that makes sense? Or am I clutching at straws?”

“I do not know if it will work,” Wrath Raven said. “I do not know where these worlds are or what gates might lead to them. I think though that I could find you even if you were in [Malagros] or [The Burning Lands].”

The [Fallen Kingdoms] demi-planes of terror and torment (respectively), weren’t quite as far away as an entirely different game world, so Claire wasn’t sure Wrath’s reassurance covered what she was looking for. On the other hand though, from the [Fallen Kingdoms] point of view, the other game worlds might as well be demi-planes, or simply foreign lands across the [Sea of Stars]. It wasn’t impossible that they could walk through the right gate ‘here’ and wind up in ‘there’ where lightsabers or battlemechs or even plain old tanks and guns were the order of the day.

Not impossible, just very, very unlikely.

Almost as unlikely as tumbling across a cosmos wide gulf and crash landing in the body of her newest character for the unspeakable crime of logging in on expansion release day.

“So how did you start?” Claire asked, settling in to calm and center herself.

“I was in battle,” Wrath Raven said. “That was when I first thought of you. First knew you were here. But not with me.”

“What kind of battle?” Claire asked, less thrilled by the prospect of needing to go pick a fight with something to test out her idea.

“The losing kind,” Wrath Raven said.

“Who were you fighting?” 

“The Consortium,” Wrath said. “I was [Lagerhorn] when the Consortium attacked there. I hadn’t signed up with the defense force because I had five serious beers to have a discussion with. The Consortium wrecked those beers when they blew up the tavern. So I wrecked them right back. There was a moment when I was fighting though, right before I died, that I knew I needed you. And you weren’t there. But you weren’t gone either. After I found the nearest [Heartfire], I know I had to find you too.”

“Could you still feel my presence then?” Claire asked.

“Yes. Just as I can now,” Wrath said. “Once I knew the connection was there, it stayed with me.”

“I guess it’s worth it then,” Claire said.

“What is?” Wrath asked.

“Finding a fight that can kill me.” 


Telepathic voyeurism should have been beneath a [Vampire Queen], but Vixali felt neither compunction nor shame about listening in on the Alice sisters conversation.

“What do you mean ‘we can travel in either direction’? Do you mean back to Earth?” Lisa asked. “How is that possible?”

“I don’t know how any of this is possible,” Rachel said. “I just know that the first thing I did when I got here was to jump right back through the portal that spit me out and boom, there I was back at home. With a portal right there too.”

“Are you…that’s not…how?” Despite Lost Alice’s outward calm and poise, Lisa was clearly flying apart.

A good time to attack her. If Vixali had a deathwish that was.

Vixali did have a bit of a deathwish, but her self preservation instincts were more than strong enough to squash the idea of doing something as monumentally foolish as trying to assault someone who was capable of personally flaying her entire coterie in under ten minutes. 

“The tricky part was getting from the beta servers to here,” Rachel said. “We can get back there but that gate seemed pretty unstable. I don’t know how long it’ll remain open. Which is why we’ve got to go now.”

“I can’t go now,” Lisa said and before Rachel could protest added, “There’s a lot of people here who need me.” And in a smaller voice, “and who I need.”

Vixali wasn’t surprised by the addendum. 

Everyone know the shapeshifter and the vampire were a bonded couple. Everyone had apparently known that before either of the two of them had.

Because [Adventurers] were fools. Fools for not knowing what they had while they had it and fools for giving bits of themselves to each other.

“What’s happening here?” Qiki asked, wrapping herself around Vixali and forcing the Queen to make room so they could share the seat. “Oh, are there two Lost Alices now?”

“Sisters it seems. Lost and Deadly.”

“Are they going to kill each other?” Qiki asked.

“Signs seem to point to no,” Vixali said. “But they’ve only been reunited for a minute or two, so there’s still time.”

“If you need to bring more people though, go and get them now,” Rachel said. “We can bring them all back. I think.”

“We have thousands of people here,” Lisa said. “Do you think we can fit thousands of people in our house?”

“They can stand out in the street.”

“And what about the rest of the people who got drawn in here? Can we get a million of them through the portal?”

“I don’t care about a million of them,” Rachel said. “I only care about you. You know if you stay here, you’re going to get hurt – or die. This whole world is nothing but a big ball of danger and it all wants to eat you!”

“Oh, I’m well aware of that,” Lisa said with a chuckle in her telepathic voice. “It’s killed me a few times now.”

“No…no! You can’t be dead!” Rachel said, collapsing in a heap of tears.

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