Chael took a lungful of the fresh prairie breeze blowing through the briar patch. “I really wish this thing still locked,” they said, admiring the heavy vault door.
“Breep,” agreed Glig.
Mahani shook her head. “The vault needs four undamaged godstones to be fully powered. Right now every bit of power is going towards keeping that planar barrier from collapsing completely. This thing won’t lock again until we have the last gem on that pedestal.”
Chael nodded, swinging their pack up onto their shoulder. “I’ll be quick, don’t worry.”
“Are you sure we shouldn’t go with you? I know you’re, you know, you, but I’m sure you could use help.” …
“I don’t understand her,” Mahani said.
The three of them sat against the wall, staring at the floor, watching the shattered gem fragment twinkle in the dim newt-light, holding hardtack and leftover mutton and honeycomb, not eating it.
“I mean,” she continued, “If Sal was a demonologist, then wouldn’t starting a war between heaven and hell just, you know, reduce her supply of demons to summon?” She pulled a dry speck of mutton off, offering it to a disinterested newt before putting it in her mouth.
Chael sighed, setting down the hardtack, “Eventually, I guess. But wars also tend to create a lot of weapons and armies, too. The Machine of War, and all that. And that could actually increase her power, right? Think about it. Instead of farmers, she’d be summoning militia, even with her lower-level spells.” …
His home. A dome made of bricks. Deep red bricks, shattered to pieces.
Glig stood in front of the dead portal. An ancient stone arch, surrounded by carefully carved glyphs, flickering weakly in the dark. A doorway back to his world. A portal to Hell. A portal to Heaven stood on the opposite wall. Also cold, also dead.
“I can’t believe you survived this,“ Mahani was saying to Chael, as she helped scrape the sticky acidic slime off their back. “I thought you were just gonna be a pile of bones. Like, really big bones.”
Chael didn’t say anything back. They were just staring at the pedestals. At the shards of broken crystal. …