Holly entered the portal. Her identity was immediately ripped away; it was torn off her psyche like a storm-tossed sheet. In the miasmic spin of unending awareness, she didn’t just realize who she was and what she’d done, she realized once again that she’d volunteered for it.
She mentally stood on that knife edge of knowledge, unable to decide what to do, unable to decide where to go. She simply wanted to have everything go back to how it used to be. She wanted simpler times, simpler decisions; she didn’t want to be so GODDAMN RESPONSIBLE!
[This is yours! Your birthright!] Wodec shouted. [Enjoy it to the fullest!]
As soon as the barbarians had entered the portal, they were thrown into a blast of dissolving colors. Marvelous hues roiled past them, frolicking and combining like otherworldly sea-creatures. Whenever one of the sentient coils touched their thought-forms, a surge of soul-deep contentment rushed through them. It was happening to their mounts as well—typically, the war-trained velociraptors assessed anything and everything with a predatory gaze, but now their slit-eyed gazes were wide with wonder. It was a bit endearing; they looked utterly fascinated and completely engaged, like their minds had reverted to their infantile state, back when they’d been nothing more than hatchling chicks.
[Enjoy it!] Wodec shouted again. The High Mage no longer appeared as an older, seasoned warrior. He was young and strong, in the prime of his life, pulsing with vitality. In the color-soaked river of the bleed between worlds, his thought-form changed and blurred, occasionally growing wings and talons, shells and pincers.
Krul’Dar was blown away, like the rest of the barbarians. As Chief Chronicler, he knew more about the arcane than his war-groomed counterparts, but this was beyond his wildest dreams. He’d never, ever imagined that it could be this fantastic, this incredible, this—
And then Wodec was yelling, [Savor these last few moments here in the Bloom, because you’re about to fulfill your callings! This is what you were born for! This is what you were DESIGNED for!]
His words snapped them out of their ecstatic daze. Forty-four warrior thought-forms, born and bred to shatter their enemies and litter the field with ruined corpses, roared with bloodthirsty joy.
An instant later they were charging through the San Francisco suburbs, sitting astride their snarling mounts, cutting through Dissona’s demon-spawn.