Broken Horizons – Vol 10, Interlude 3

Misty Evening

The downside to being an almost imperceptible hunter was that people tended to overlook you. Like, just as a random example, when even your people, who to be fair, you were by far the stealthiest and most talented of, didn’t happen to notice you were missing, or that they hadn’t told you about the tiny little problem of a all devouring cosmic entity having shown up, or, and this was the wonderful bit, the fact that they were fleeing through a hitherto unknown gate to escape it and shutting it behind themselves more or less forever. 

Not that Misty was going to hold a grudge. The revelation of her abandonment hadn’t been noteworthy at all. She definitely hadn’t been driven into a blinding rage, then a freezing panic, and finally desperate bargaining. That she was currently sunken into a shadow’s shadow and curled up into a tiny ball the size of a marble with the consistency of a puff of wind, and the energy output of the stones around her was merely a personal choice and one she had no interest in defending or discussing.

She had settled on the “be a tiny ball” hiding option after a much-too-close run in with the servants of the aforementioned all devouring cosmic monster. 

Misty hadn’t been in predation mode when the [Formless Hungers] corrupted troops had cornered her, and that had very likely spared her from being devoured. Had she been hunting, she would have leapt on them without a thought, but she’s hesitated and the spare moment to really see what her prey was had saved her life. 

With on whiff of the [Formless Hunger’s] nature, Misty had understood that is was something Wrong on a cosmological level. She’d clung to the shadows on the ceiling with an iron tenacity as the Hunger’s troops had passed under her. Her normal urge to drop on down them and feast was completely absent but it had taken her a long moment to understand why.

The troops radiated danger not for the weapons they carried but rather for the spark that burned within them. To Misty, it looks like a sickly, colorless fire that had burned out everything insides them, leaving the troops little more than shells being piloted from affair by a being which should not have existed.

Misty had followed the corrupted troops for a while. She’d taken all of the care needed to avoid their attention, and was feeling rather proud of herself to be collecting tactical information for her people.

The more information she collected however, the more that pride turned to horror.

Misty was an abomination. It was no secret that all of the [Shadowed Starstalkers] were. No world’s nature had created them, she and all the rest of her people were product of experimentation and trials which delved into the most foul and dangerous of magics. Experiments which should never have been allowed, and certainly could not be repeated.

Perhaps thanks to that, Misty had never felt particularly concerned about the other creatures that prowled the lands her people had migrated through. She knew that however terrible they might be, none of them were as terrible as the makers her people had already slain. Humans had a phrase about “being careful or you’ll meet your maker”, but in the case of the [Shadowed Starstalkers] meeting one of their makers was simply a fresh opportunity for vengeance. 

However terrible her makers had been though, Misty quickly learned that the [Formless Hunger] was far worse. It did more than destroy, it ate the reality of what you were and left behind something that could have been a creature, or a gaping hole in reality, or some impossible combination of the two.

It didn’t matter if you were incorporeal either. Misty had watched two of her people being unraveled and put back together into something that was nothing more than a hollow vessel for the [Formless Hunger’s] will, despite the fact that it shouldn’t have been able to perceive them in the first place, much less touch or harm them.

The Hunger moved like a disaster, flowing over its opposition as effortlessly as a storm swept over the land. Unlike a storm though, it moved with intent and cruelty.

Once she saw what it was, Misty wanted nothing more than to escape from any land it held dominion over. And, of course, by that point it was too late. Her people had fled and the gate to safety was thoroughly ruined.

All of the [High Beyond] had fallen as Misty watched. An uncountable number of troops had flown to it from the sky above but none of them had brought the answer to stopping the [Formless Hunger]. One by one they’d fled or (in far more cases) fallen victim to its influence.

By the end of the assault, Misty knew there was no hope left for her.

The [Formless Hunger] was unstoppable by any power she possessed or even knew of.

Only wild, legendary tales from the realms the [Shadowed Starstalkers] visited even mentioned heroes great enough to stand again a true monster like that. Anything real, and especially anything mortal, couldn’t begin to measure up to the endless power and hunger the creature possessed.

That was when she’d begun hiding in ernest.

“If you can’t fight, then don’t,” her creche-mother had said. “Run, hide, cheat, lie. Don’t fight if you’re not going to win. If you think you have to, then think some more. There’s not so many of us that we can afford to spend our lives cheaply. Or at all.”

It was advice other races would have boggled at. [Shadowed Starstalkers] were extremely hard to kill and were often looked at as the most terrible of boogiemen lurking in dark corners.

People thought that because they didn’t lurk in the dark themselves. They didn’t see things that even Misty’s people had to be concerned about. The things that preyed on the predators. 

Even people as deadly as the [Shadowed Starstalkers] had things to be afraid of.

Misty saw those creatures fall to the [Formless Hunger] too.

And she watched it all happen alone.

Her people hadn’t meant to leave her behind. On some level she knew that, just like on some level, she knew she was already dead. She’d fed recently, so she wasn’t going to starve right away, but she was going to starve. There couldn’t be any proper hunting anywhere in the [High Beyond] because as far as Misty knew, she was the only thing left in the [High Beyond] that wasn’t a hollowed out puppet for the [Formless Hunger’s] insatiable desire to consume.

Misty could see how her end would come. She would unroll from the ball when her energy ran too low to hold the shape. As a weakened thing, she was creep around, slowly and silently. She would avoid every area where she’d seen the [Formless Hunger’s] troops gathering. She’d delve into the deep crevices that help ancient nightmare searching for remnants like herself who’d hidden away from the Hunger.

In some visions, she’d find one that was still greater than she was and it would devour her. In other visions, she’d find some weaker thing, but it’s life wouldn’t sustain her for long. In drips and drops, she’d fight back the end, but she wasn’t built to subsist on as little as could be scavenged from the [Formless Hunger’s] domain and so she’d turn to larger prey.

And the Hunger would be waiting for her.

She would pounce on a meal and discover that the meal was empty, and at the Hunger’s touch so too would she be.

She’d seen people carved out by the Hunger and it terrified her.

Better, far better, she though to stumble into some greater enemy who could slay her before the Hunger’s touch reached her.

Except that was a empty hope too.

There weren’t going to be any greater foes left. She was the only thing that could have escaped the Hunger.

She was alone.

She waited for the windless air to offer contradiction of that but none came.

She curled even tighter into a smaller ball.

And nothing disturbed her.

She waited for weakness to take her and drive her to desperate measures.

But she had fed recently.

It was going to take a long time for her to run low on life energy.

She tried counting to mark the time.

She tried remembering the last [Echo Orchestrations] she been part of.

She tried imagining all the sorts of revenge she would take on those who’d abandoned her if she ever saw them again.

She tried to think of the last words she’d want to leave for all those who’d abandoned her.

She tried to sleep.

None of that worked to pass the time.

Waiting to die was really boring it turned out.

So she got up.

What was the point of letting her base nature do her in? If she was doomed, she might as well be doomed for doing something foolish and fun that letting empty monotony kill her.

With electric arcs of fear zipping all over her, Misty glided like the shadow she was to explore the [Ruins of Heaven’s Grave]. She’d searched it with safety in mind, but that hadn’t brought her any close to an escape.

Safety still seemed like a brilliant, and exceptionally laudable goal, but Misty needed something more.

She needed to find her future.

In this case her future looked like a portal, or a gate, or a teleportation circle. She’d even settle for a non-specific rent in the barrier between the dimensions. Basically anything that involved her moving from where she was to someone else, preferably impossibly far away, was worth praying for since there was nowhere that could be worse than where she currently was.

Misty wasn’t correct about that last assertion though, a fact she began to understand when she arrived in a beautiful crystal garden.

The crystal plants had been destroyed in a number of places and the scintillating beauty marred by the damage but creatures still moved about the area.

Or a creature depending on how one counted the [Formless Hunger].

What it was doing with its multiple bodies, Misty had no idea, but whatever it was didn’t matter because the rents in reality Misty had been looking for appeared as she watched.

Her spirit soared when she saw them begin to crack through the air and ground in the crystal garden, only to plummet a moment later when something began pushing through them.

The [Formless Hunger] was an error in the warp and weft of the world. Its presence was a distortion of space and time, and it violated the nature of reality merely by existing.

Whatever was coming through the rents in reality though was worse.

Just looking at it put fingers of static into Misty’s mind.

It wasn’t a thing that was coming through the rips in the world. 

It wasn’t there, but it was destroying everything before her eyes. Not just the bits of the world it touched, but the concept of them as well.

The concept of them inside her.

It was destroying her awareness of them.

Her thoughts of the space.

Her thoughts.


Misty wrenched herself away, closing her eyes despite the fact that it was too late.

Nothing was in her mind.

Nothing was unmaking her.

Nothing was becoming her.

So she hid.

There wasn’t a [Shadowed Starstalker] who’d ever lived who could hide as well as she could.

And she knew it.

She knew herself.

“I am gone,” she said. “And you can’t see me.”

The words evaporated into nothingness.

Were claimed by nothing.

Even “you”.

Which was a mistake.

You couldn’t be nothing.

You were always something, even if that something was very small, or very indistinct.

You, and the very least, was not I.

Misty ran, out racing death and dissolution.

Unseen except by one thing.

One thing that hadn’t been a thing. 

One thing that had eaten through the veil between the real and the unreal.

One thing that Misty had given the first inexorable mote of reality to.

She’d created a monster as terrible as the [Formless Hunger].

And, in her own small way, saved the world.

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