Chapter 91: Making Fate
“I made a promise on MY Fate,” Briggs corrected. “I am the Source of my Fate. The Fate of other things has no more effect on me then it has on your or her,” he said, waving at the two of them and Sama. “So, I have declared that I will see this plan by the gods of the Warp done and smashed, and my Fate is now streaming in that direction, ignoring all the other Fates that are pushing hither and yon.”
“That is why strong Sources are called Kings Among Men. His Fate is like a new river bubbling up out of the ground, ignoring the other sources of water as it flows in a direction. Naturally enough, it is going to pick up weaker flows as it goes by, and build its own momentum.” Sama grinned at the two Voids, dual canines flashing. “I mean, I can’t really feel it, but you two certainly can. Jump on his bandwagon after that Oath, and he’s going to take you there, and he’ll trash every prophecy, divination, prediction, Luck, Chance, and Fate on his way there, too. Makes his own Luck, too, after all.”
“Traditionally, the Scouts find the problems, the Sources lead the way, and the Nulls deal with it,” Briggs agreed sagely. “Lots more Nulls then Sources, and not many Voids at all.”
“There is an Order? An organization of Forsaken, such as yourselves?” Brother Windarrow asked in amazement, having never heard of such a thing.
Briggs waved his hand negatively. “No, no. You’re overthinking it. It’s a numbers thing. Nulls endure. Sources burn. Voids seek. There’s potential Nulls all over the place, going through life ignoring or enduring everything. Then a Source comes up and sweeps them along in a grand quest or happening or something. And a Void is usually there waving, going ‘Hey, guys, what you want is right over there’…” He made pointing motions in the exact direction Shadowknife had pointed out earlier.
“Leaders, followers, and guides,” Sama agreed. “So, willing to be guides?” she asked cheerfully.
Brother Shadowknife stirred. “Events are going to converge around you, Master Briggs. This is indeed a very good place to be…” His eyes turned to Sama. “You… you’re right. Fate just flows around you, and exerts no pull. Your past is inviolate, you have no future, you live in the present…”
“Yeah, temporal meddlers freaking hate Nulls. Trying to change a timeline with Nulls in it is like trying to change the course of a river filled with iron pipes. The water keeps going in the same direction, and you just bloody your knuckles on the pipes.
“Of course, a Source coming in and sending the river careening every which way despite all your carefully laid plans is very annoying, too. Trying to change the future around someone who makes it doesn’t tend to end up well, either…” She winked at Briggs.
“And what are Voids?” Brother Shadowknife asked in amusement.
“Ah, Voids are when you go fishing in the river, and you lose your string, bait, and maybe the hand you reached in to grab the fish you thought you hooked.” Briggs lifted his hand and waved all around. “Hey guys, I think there’s something dangerous in the water!”
Both of them grinned despite themselves, and even the elves looked grimly amused. “But if Nulls endure so much, why are you fighting?” Brother Windarrow pressed, very interested in this.
Sama snorted. “I can endure all sorts of shit for a lot less time if I get rid of it.” She pointed at Briggs. “They can put up with his shit, he isn’t going to put up with theirs.” Briggs smirked. She swung back to them. “Turn shit to fertilizer so you don’t have to smell it.”
They were actually smiling broadly now, and everyone had the impression it didn’t happen to them much. “Oh, I think we will definitely be working together with the two of you,” Brother Windarrow spoke up cheerfully, and glanced at the elves. “I think the two of you would be absolute fools to not take advantage of what she is proposing… and the Land doesn’t treat fools well. She will save the lives of your people, lessen casualties, accelerate their growth in power, and lead you right to your objective.” He nodded at Briggs. “This one has Made Fate. You can fight the river every time you cross it, you can get swept up and destroyed by the floods, or you can sail down a line of Fate with a very specific, determined course, and bring it smashing down upon these blasphemous invaders like a hammer.
“The elves have never been dumb, and even if you like not the Voids, you have seen what happens when you do not listen to us across the millennia.” He gestured at Briggs again. “Joining and magnifying the course he is on is your very best path. It will intensely mess with the plots and plans of some very dangerous entities, and THOSE plans are going to run right into the wall that is her.” He pointed at Sama.
General Moonriver considered the both of them, and sighed slowly. “Is this also the opinion of Brother Shadowknife?” he asked calmly.
“There was a dire fate looming over you all, your kingdom was in a peril it has not faced in centuries. A stain was starting to weave its way into Fate, corruption and a foul hand reaching across the world…” the shadowy hyn trailed off, and both elves went white.
“And then she showed up.” He waved at Sama. “That thread of fate slammed into her path and was cut like a knife. It simply… stopped.” He turned to Briggs. “And now Fate is running against itself. Out of nowhere, a stream is rising, and turning the other way, cutting through the incoming darkness. Where it will go and how it will end is beyond my vision, beyond anyone’s vision, but it is driving into the darkness, without the warp or weft of the gods interacting, without any divine hands stirring the pot, without relying on risky odds and calculations and impromptu heroes coming out of nowhere to save everything.
“You can make the stream a river, or you can watch the tide spreading from the darkness as it comes for you, and pray that the levies are built high enough while the world around you floods.”
Both elves swallowed. This was not a minor event happening. This was Damn Serious.
“The enemy is receiving thousands more reinforcements every single day. It can and will continue potentially forever. I don’t know how large your army is, but I’m assuming that ‘endless numbers’ will eventually kill you, unless you can chop it off at the source,” Briggs went on. “We can get you to that source, straightaway. Once we bottle the source, we can hunt down the warbands, and then proceed to start Feeding the Land until we can blow the Vivic Cascade.”
The elves looked unsettled. “How would you choose to proceed?” General Moonriver finally asked after a moment.
“We’d start with Sama Tatting up your officers, scouts, and primary Casters, including yourselves. Once that is done, she can relay commands and information to all the important units. If you want a whole unit to be Tatted, well, she said five minutes a man, that’s a lot of hours we don’t directly have at this moment. If we can defer it for now in favor of getting the net spread as far and wide as possible, that would be for the best,” Briggs spoke up on seeing Sama’s glance.
“I could Open them for Soul Magic at the same time,” Sama offered with a half-smile, and the elves all looked at her in amazement.
“Soul Magic is very rare among our people…” Maga Skycloud spoke up softly.
“If you have a Soul, you can use Essence. Elves are all Powered, so they’ll all be able to Shape if they want to. Sir Estemar?” Briggs prodded.
Estemar stepped forward instantly, silver lightning crackling atop his gauntlets, snapping between them in an obvious show of deadly power.
“I Opened him this morning,” Sama stated. The elves considered that display and the implications of it. If every single soldier under their command could do something similar…
“Shock Gauntlets enable the wielder to deliver a lethal jolt of electricity once every six seconds. The more Essence you can infuse in them, the stronger they are… but that is dependent on time and Levels, of course,” Briggs went on. “Naturally, us Forsaken can’t do such a thing, we aren’t Powered and can’t Shape our souls appropriately.
“Now, would you like Sama to begin, and the rest of us to make plans appropriate to what she is doing, or should we simply be going? There’s more Warp minions to kill, and we’re wasting time sitting here. Let’s do something, or we’re going very shortly.” He lowered his already deep voice another octave. “Time is our only true commodity, and we’re not wasting it.”
Estemar watched Briggs take the stone plate out of the bottom of one of the cabinets, the Ancient grunting and shaking his head. There were four plates there… Sama had obviously been intending to make more Healing Traps, but had not gotten around to it.
“Is there anything I can do to help?” the Paladin asked, a little crestfallen at his lack of ability to contribute during this ‘downtime’. Out of nowhere, a little ball of emotive golden light had popped up at Sama’s shoulder, and was now waiting for Briggs to melt down some silver and pour it into the Runes already carved on the stone, where it would Invest the new Healing Trap for the next few hours.
A short distance away, Maga Skycloud had her back exposed as a Mark was being Tattooed upon her, laying down on a board propped across a floating Disk as Sama worked rapidly. General Moonriver was already done, and had given Sama a look of incredulity as he rose from the board, his new Mark glowing faintly at the base of his spine, and electricity gathering about his hands.
The fact he’d let out some pretty piercing heartfelt screams as his soul punched through his hands and feet Chakra points everyone mutually ignored.
Several dozen other elves waited nearby patiently, their armor off and shirts loose, watching very alertly now.
“For today… hmm.” Briggs grunted, as he pulled out four rectangular wooden slabs of moderate thickness, set them down, closed the cabinet, and moved over to a clear area nearby. “If Sama had something in mid-Infusion, you could keep it going, but there’s nothing on the burner due to lack of goldweight.”
He nodded at another group of elves, arranged in a formation around a slab of stone, on which was heaped all the magical arms and armor of the Warp marauder, being melted down by brilliant, poly-colored magical flames that were burning off the taint and corruption into glittering mana crystals… which could then be used to enhance their own arms and armor.
“You ever Rendered something into mana crystals?” he asked shortly. “Can’t teach you, it’s not something non-Powered can do. We can transfer between objects, or into objects, but making the crystals requires control of magic.”
Estemar pursed his lips. “I imagine I could learn the trick of it easily enough?” It wasn’t a difficult Spellcraft check, after all.
Briggs fetched a finger-ingot of silver out of the cabinet, set it into the middle of the Disk called Forge floating there, clearly different then the other Disks with its workmanship and all the Runes emblazoned and carved onto it with extraordinary skill. Estemar could hardly believe he had been sitting on it, getting towed along.
Briggs’ hands ran along the Runes as if they were old friends, and they lit up with pyromantic energy quickly, all of it swirling down to concentrate on the silver. He pressed Forge down and brought it over on top of the carved stone, eyes fixed on the metal as it began to visibly heat up with extreme speed.
“Ask one of the elves if he’ll show you how to do it,” Briggs said. “I’ve been told it’s fairly easy. When you can do it, you can render down the stuff we stripped off the sorcerer and his goons. Once that is done, we’ll see about getting you a starter Sword you can Name and start to grow, and a decent Shield you can feed mana crystals to.”
Estemar nodded. “We are not moving out tonight?” He eyed the lines of elves.
“The elves are. We’ll catch up to them tomorrow. Sama promised them six hours of Tat and Soul-release. You may have noticed their scouts going out, both afoot and a-feathered. We basically need to have a fight every day if we’re going to keep up with the output of the Warp Rift.”
Estemar sucked in a breath. “That is very hard to sustain, Master Briggs. The casualties alone…”
“Ah, you’ve never really been told about Elves, have you…” Briggs murmured, and Estemar perked up attentively.