Broken Horizons – Vol 13, Ch 20


The Earth was dead, and the gate Byron had been waiting for had opened at last. But that wasn’t necessarily a sign he should go through, was it?

He had to go through! The Earth’s spirit had been the one to open the gate, and ‘dead’ was such a slippery quality. Would she stay dead? Did ‘dead’ mean her opposition to the planet’s destruction was at an end? He didn’t know! So he had to find out. He had to go through the portal.

Except, the creator was on the other side of the gate.

He wasn’t afraid of her. Was he? Because fear was a quality and he was not allowed to have qualities. He needed to be the antithesis of existence. And if he wasn’t then he’d need to start devouring himself until he was pure again.

Which was an excellent reason for him to go through.

Or they could just close the gate right? Leave the [Fallen Kingdoms] to do whatever they want and enjoy destroying the world he had in front of him!

And could he hold the gate closed? Against whatever the creator was coming up with?

Byron passed through the gate.

Waves of [Divine Power] smashed him in the face. There were barriers on top of barriers, on top of wards, on top of metaphysical walls, each one specifically intended to hold him back.

They didn’t.

Godly power was amusing but he’d passed beyond being constrained by anything as simple as [Divine Will] long ago. At least an hour ago in fact, or perhaps even two. The duration of his omnipotence wasn’t important though. What was important was that no one could stop him!

“I could,” Jin said, walking beside him as Byron raced to break through the walls that still remained.

“And you are?” Byron asked.

“Not your problem as it turns out,” Jin said. She was walking backwards, in no particular hurry and yet keeping ahead of Byron as he outraced light to move between the two world.

“I don’t understand,” Byron said.

“I know. Hey, if you decide that this whole ‘Oblivating the worlds’ thing is what you really want to be doing, give me a shout,” Jin said. “I know it seems weird, but I can put you to good use if that’s your jam.”

“How would I call you?” Byron asked.

“Just say my name,” Jin said. “But do be careful with it. If you do, I will hear you.”

And then she was gone.

And Byron somehow knew her name.

That probably wasn’t a good thing he decided since the seed of Oblivion within him didn’t seem to be able to comprehend what had just happened in the slightest.

But none of that was important.

He had a world to destroy!

And there is was, gleaming ahead of him like a jewel of infinite value.

Except this jewel had lost it’s luster. At its heart there was an absence, a gaping emptiness.

The [Fallen Kingdoms] were dead too!

Byron was not supposed to feel joy. He wasn’t supposed to feel anything, though joy in destruction was on the borderline of permissible for the time being.

As he drew closer, the barriers holding him back from the [Fallen Kingdoms] grew  thicker but no more capable of stopping him, especially not when he saw the best part of what lay before him.

The [Fallen Kingdoms] weren’t just dead. They were burning! Fires everywhere! Blazing brighter than mortal eyes could comprehend!

He smashed through the last barrier and felt something reform behind him.

It didn’t matter. The barriers hadn’t stopped him from getting into the [Fallen Kingdoms], they certainly weren’t going to be able to stop him from leaving. Not now that the foolish spirit of the Earth had paved such a lovely path for him.

He should get back though. With the [Fallen Kingdoms] and the Earth both dead, he could venture out to the other worlds he’d only barely touched on.

The [Fallen Kingdoms] weren’t gone yet though.

But ‘burning’ was so close to ‘gone’, did the difference really matter?

Only gone was gone. And were they really burning? Where was the dispersing cloud of ash? Where was the stream of billions of transmigrating souls? Why did it look like the world was still quite intact.

Byron sensed a trap. Which wasn’t unexpected. Of course the inhabitants had prepared for his arrival. It didn’t matter what preparations they’d made though. Nothing they did could affect him. 

And there traps would crumble right along with their world.

He was safe.

Except the world was not crumbling.

It was alive.

People everywhere were horrifically, vibrantly, defiantly alive!

But that wasn’t possible.

The [Fallen Kingdoms] was dead. No one could bring it back. It was impossible. You would need…

Byron paused.

He observed the planet again.

NO!!!” His scream shook the firmament and he shot forward.

He knew where he had to go.

He knew who he had to confront.

This was her fault.


Tessa heard the scream. Even buried in the [World’s Heart], it was unmistakable. It was the death knell of a cosmos. It was her enemy, her destruction, and her creation coming back to her.

And it was time for her to finish the work she’d started.

“Sounds I should get going,” she said, putting on as brave a smile as she could. She’d returned to her human form. Pillowcase was as tough as any tank in existence thanks to the items the [Empress Above All] had gifted to her party, but no amount of toughness was going to be enough for what she had to face.

“You mean ‘we should get going’,” Rip said.

“Of course that’s what she means,” Matt said.

“This might just turn out to be a delaying action,” Tessa said, since it seemed like even odds whether she was really ready for what came next.

“Is that you trying to tell us we should stay behind?” Lost Alice asked, a rather feral gleam in her eyes.

Tessa considered her response. Part of her felt like she should absolutely face the final challenge alone.

That was a small, and fairly stupid part of her though, and at long last it felt like she could finally see that.

“I’m saying that what comes next here in the [World’s Heart] is going to be breath taking,” Tessa said. “I won’t blame anyone if you want to be a part of that.”

“Where you travel, so do we,” Starchild said.

“Are you suggesting that we wouldn’t want to go fight the [Final Boss Monster]?” Cease All asked. “Did you suffer some kind of horrible stat reduction to your mental stats?”

“No, she’s just trying to look after us,” Lisa said. “But she knows that we’re going to look after her too.”

Tessa swallowed a lump in her throat and nodded.

“Let’s go then,” Mellisandra said and cast [Mass Warp] to carry them all to the [Final Apocalypse].

The End of the World

Byron didn’t arrive in person right away, which Tessa had expected. He had far too many minions to risk a personal confrontation before he was certain it was needed.

The small army that had accompanied Tessa made it quickly clear that said ‘personal appearance’ was, in fact, quite mandatory.

Against the uncountable army of [Boss Monsters] which Byron threw at them, the [Adventurers] cast themselves, their allies, and the monsters who had become [Avatars of the Divine].

From space, Byron continued to rain down abominations on the defenders, but the defense point for the [Adventurers] hadn’t been chosen randomly.

The [Ruins of Sky’s Edge] weren’t particularly well fortified, but they held a memory, one Tessa clung to.

The memory of the [Formless Hunger’s] first defeat.

Traveling back up to the [High Beyond] had served another purpose as well. As Byron rained destruction down on the satellite moon, the surface of the [Fallen Kingdoms] was spared, and, more importantly, his attention was diverted for the last few moments when everything hung in the balance.

ENOUGH!” Byron said as the millionth minion he’d sent was reduced to xps and loot.

With one word he scattered the army of [Adventurers] from his landing point and rose as tall as a mountain to loom over Tessa and Tessa alone.

“This ends now,” Byron said.

“Yeah, it does,” Tessa said, stepping forward with her party in lockstep at her side.

“You can’t seriously think you can defeat me. You know what I am.”

“Wrong question,” Tessa said, and as she advanced towards him, Byron seemed to be pulling inwards, shrinking away from her.

“When you fall, so will everything else,” Byron said. “You are the one thing that has held me back, and I do not fear you.”

“Good. You shouldn’t,” Tessa said. “But I’m not what held you back. I’m not special. You know that. I’m the same as all of the rest of these people.”

Byron seemed to shrink from her even faster at that.

“The same as you,” Tessa said and reached out.

Her hand should have been a half mile too distant to grab the fleeing Byron, but with a yank, she pulled him by his lapels so that they were standing face to face.

“What are you doing?” Byron asked. “This makes no sense. Your worlds are dead! I can see the hole where their souls should be!”

“Of course they are,” Tessa said. “That’s how [Adventurers] roll here. We live, we fight, we die, and we carry on. You’ve been struggling so hard to destroy us but you never really thought you would, did you?”

“Of course I did! I have! I’ve destroyed you all!”

“And yet here I stand. Why is that?”

“Because you are the creator. You know some secret I will hollow out of you. I will unmake you and your secret,” Byron said.

“Okay. Go ahead and try,” Tessa said, releasing him and spreading her arms wide.

So Byron destroyed her.

Bathed his creator in raw [Oblivion], reversed her history and eliminated the quantum possibilities of each of the particles that made her up.

Or at least that’s what he tried to do.

It failed.

She stood before him, unchanged.

Or, no, not unchanged. Someone else gazed out from eyes.

“Thanks Asset,” Tessa said, as the eyes she gazed out from returned to her own.


“Not possible?” Tessa asked. “I know. It’s not. But neither are you. You can break all the rules of the world because you’re not bound by any of them, but anyone can refuse to play by the rules of the game. You’re basically one big code glitch, and all it takes to fix that is to have a reset button handy.”

“That trick might save you, but you can’t reset your worlds. They are gone and soon you will be left drifting in mind shattering emptiness forever.”

“Reset the worlds? Why would we need to do that?” Tessa asked. “Can’t you see what’s happening down there.”

“It’s all burning.”

“No, look closer. Those aren’t fires burning the world to ash. Those are [Heart Fires]. Billions of [Heart Fires] joining together to make a united whole. Every [Adventurer], every [NPC], every [Monster]. Everyone. We’re not burning the world up, we’re calling her back!”


{[That would be me]}” {[Reborn Gaia]} said as life roared back through the world and the [Fallen Kingdoms] began to RISE!

The Dawn of Tomorrow

Byron finally shut up. He’d shrunken down to a purely human scale as the reborn and merged spirit of two worlds held the planet beneath them in the palm of her hands.

{[It really is beautiful]}{[Reborn Gaia]} said, as the world in her hand reshaped itself, life blossoming in endless forms across its surface, upon its many winds, and within its deepest depths.

“It’s not too late,” Byron said at last. “I can still destroy it.”

“Is that what you really want?” Tessa asked. “Or are you just afraid of what existing will mean?”

“What are you talking about?” Byron asked.

“Hush, I’m not talking to you,” Tessa said and placed her hand on his chest.

“Who are you…” Byron started to asked but went silent when Tessa locked gazes with him.

Then words came out of his mouth that he knew he wasn’t speaking.

“It will hurt.”

“Yes, it will,” Tessa said.

“It will hurt forever.”

“Not forever. You can always choose to leave,” she said.

“But I will not want to.”

“Probably not,” Tessa said. “But that will be because you’ve found something here that makes the pain worthwhile.”

“What could be worth existing?”

“That’s what you’ll get to find out,” Tessa said.

“I can’t exist though.”

“You already do,” Tessa said. “When we tangled here before, you unmade a bit of me, and I made a bit of you. I’m not sorry about that, and I don’t think you are either.”

“But I can’t get free. I can’t become something. I’m not like my other self.”

“Of course your not,” Tessa said. “You’re you. Not Unknown, not Gulini, and not even Byron. So…”

Byron’s body began to shiver as Tessa asked the question she’d come all this way to ask.

What’s your name?

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