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A note from InadvisablyCompelled

2/4

I'm trying for some moderately fancy literary architecture, bear with me.

Iniri was exhausted. Not in stamina, which had been kept fairly well topped up, but by the sheer mental effort of casting her senses through the Adamant Fortress, controlling it, and keeping up with the ebb and flow of the battle. She’d somewhat overestimated the benefits of her new kinetic affinity, finding that supported her body more than her mind, so for the moment she was doing little more than resting on the throne.

The Fortress itself had no issues blocking everything the army threw at it. They’d learned faster than Iniri would have preferred that they couldn’t get too near the Fortress or she’d simply use it to crush them, as well as exactly how far she could go from the underground dynamos before the mana sustaining the Fortress dwindled below what she could make up herself. The melee part of the army was effectively neutralized, but that still left thousands of mages and led to a continuous assault.

Much of that assault was invisible without [Mana Sight], and much of it wasn’t even directed against the Fortress walls. There were all kinds of probes and scrying to try and bypass the invincible barrier the Fortress presented, though bolts of fire and lightning still arced through the air, and shadows crept around the borders, looking for any openings that might develop.

When it came, neither she nor any of the other mages could stop the brute force of the spatial rip, the immense amount of mana swirling around it surpassing even Blue’s prodigious expenditures. It wasn’t a pretty piece of work by any means but quantity was a quality all of its own. Still, she thought that she could at least enclose the breach to make all that effort moot. Instead, it seemed that mana itself had been torn, splintering the perfect defense of the Adamant Fortress into a horrifying thing she didn’t dare to touch for fear of slaughtering her own forces.

Instead she’d used the opportunity to deploy [Blue’s Armament of Light] in combat for the first time. That skill was impressive, more or less instantly killing the monsters, but it also drew heavily on her mana pool and she’d already been spending that to illuminate and strike at the armies that surrounded them. Even Blue’s wellspring was feeling strained, restricting the amount she could pull from it.

Then Sienne Ell had shown off her void Skills. Iniri had never seen any in action, though she’d heard how destructive they were. Usually they were as destructive to the wielder as to the target, so void Affinity casters didn’t last very long, but Sienne’s arts cast the void entirely outside her own body and it was terrifying. Even if she didn’t see it with her eyes, her other senses could track that all-devouring nonexistence with no problem.

Having that awful tear in reality closed was a relief, but that bit of surcease didn’t last for long when Shayma vanished. There was only one reason Iniri could think of for Blue to recall her, and that was Tor Kot making an assault on Blue’s mountain stronghold. She didn’t know whether Blue could hold off the mage-king; his own defenses weren’t anywhere near as good as the Fortress could provide, yet without him there would be no Fortress.

The minutes ground onward, the assault unchanging, though no more spatial breaches came. That was good, in one sense, but in another it was worrying. No doubt something with that power was shaped by Tor Kot himself, but it was one that they had an answer for. If there was not another one coming, it was because Tor Kot had found something more interesting to take up his time, something like a Blue Core dungeon.

The sound of bells echoed faintly from the encampments, now completely encircling the Fortress. Between them her Classers must have killed thousands of monsters, maybe even ten or fifteen thousand, after all was said and done. But it was not nearly enough to dissuade the enormous army. They could lose half their forces and the Classers would still be outnumbered a hundred to one.

Suddenly the mana flow to the Fortress choked and faltered, the entire weight of its upkeep coming down on her. She felt like she was being shoved down into her throne as it started to drain her mana pool, forcing her to pull in the walls and tear down the towers, anything to lighten the load as she fought to keep the Fortress stable.

“Blue!” She called, hoping against hope she could get his attention. That he hadn’t been taken by Tor Kot. “What’s going on? I can’t sustain this off my own mana!” That did get a reply, but not one that she was expecting. For a moment knowledge rushed into her head, a perfect sense of where Blue was, spread through his mountain and deep underneath. She also could tell where he wasn’t, with his territory cutting off sharply just north of Meil and the Fortress, the long tunnel ending exactly where one of the encampments was.

A cold certainty spread through her, settling like ice in her gut. Even if he could drive off or kill Tor Kot that wouldn’t do anything to help them. Whatever mana generation he had been feeding the Fortress was gone, and even if it could be recovered it wouldn’t be any time soon. There was only one tool left, one she had been hoping she wouldn’t have to use, but now she had no choice.

“Everyone get inside the central tower!” She ordered. The Fortress would protect them somewhat, she was pretty sure, but she didn’t want to tempt fate. “As fast as you can! Don’t worry about defending the walls!”

She expanded the throne room as Classers piled in, weathering the redoubled attacks of the mage monsters outside as her mana pool plummeted toward zero. Fortunately with so many of them having movement Skills and her reshaping of the Fortress, it didn’t take more than fifteen or twenty seconds for everyone on the outside to get in. Still, she was at nearly zero mana, giving her no more time to consider before she invoked [The Light Of Eschaton].

The end came.

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A note from InadvisablyCompelled

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InadvisablyCompelled

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