The Bloodsoaked Queen had a cavalier attitude about her, as though she had done nothing more than catch a butterfly that was flying within her flower garden. It seemed like such a casual action, but it instantly froze the long knife despite the shocking amount of power that had been poured into it.
All momentum had been lost. All of the murderous intent within it had been dispelled. The mental energy, willpower, strength, and soul that had been poured into that knife were of no avail; it seemed like it was trapped in a steel vise, with no way to withdraw it at all. The snow-bright blade quickly began to turn red from heat, like a piece of iron in a furnace.
The Bloodsoaked Queen’s grip tightened, and the red-hot knife began to break apart. A spiderweb of cracks had appeared on its surface, as though the knife was a fragile piece of glass that was on the verge of shattering.
“You-” The mysterious man’s deep, hooded gaze was now filled with shock and awe. He was only able to get this single word out, because in the next instant a seal suddenly lit up on the Queen’s gloves as she unleashed an even greater amount of force through her palms.
The knife exploded! A terrifying, beautiful ball of fire erupted between the two as the energy-filled knife blew up like a bomb that had been ignited. Countless metal shards sprayed in every direction. The mysterious man was blasted away by the force of the explosion, with his face, chest, and arms all punctured by the flying metal shards while the blazing flames caused his entire body to be covered with horrendous burns. By the time he crashed down on the ground, he looked like a hole-riddled rag doll that had been in a fire.
Cloudhawk furiously rubbed at his eyes. What the hell had just happened? All he had seen was the mysterious man charge towards the Queen. Moments later, there had been a sudden explosion! This had all happened far too quickly, and so he hadn’t been able to make out all the details… but when the Bloodsoaked Queen had made her move, Cloudhawk had sensed a ripple of power emerge.
Such incredible power! The mysterious leader of the sweeper battalion was already a top-notch expert of the wastelands, but in the face of the Bloodsoaked Queen he was absolutely nothing at all. He had just suffered a disastrous defeat!
The mysterious man himself hadn’t imagined that the difference in power between them would be so great. There was simply no way to bridge the chasm between the two of them. Moments later, a tendril of fear suddenly snaked its way out from the depths of his soul, then spread like wildfire throughout his mind. He only had one thought left – flee!
He had been a fool. A complete fool! This woman was someone from that legendary place; even his master was slightly wary of her. How could a mere wastelander like himself possibly contend against her?
When Cloudhawk noticed that the man was about to flee, he immediately called out, “Hey, commander! He’s gonna run for it!”
“Shut your fucking mouth! Are you trying to get yourself killed?” Slyfox immediately clamped his hands around Cloudhawk’s mouth as beads of sweat appeared on his pudgy face. The power which the Bloodsoaked Queen had just displayed caused him to feel a sense of terror as well. “Don’t ya know how the Bloodsoaked Queen got her nickname? D’ya really think yer in a position to be givin’ her orders?”
The Bloodsoaked Queen had only been in the outpost for roughly a year, and for the vast majority of that time she was absent or hidden. And yet, her fame and prestige resoundingly eclipsed that of any captain. The Tartarus mercenaries were forced to humble themselves, while the members of the elite squad had all chosen to serve her and die for her! Why? Because of the overwhelming, crushing amount of power she possessed… as well as her absolutely cruel and dominating nature!
Anyone who had lived in Blackflag Outpost for more than a year would never be able to forget that horrifying battle from roughly a year ago.
The Queen was in no mood to pay any attention to trash like Cloudhawk, but she also completely ignored the terrified, fleeing sweeper leader. She silently unclipped the cross from her necklace, then gently lifted it up with her two hands. Moments later, she did something which caused everyone to feel completely astonished.
She went down to one knee.
She clasped the cross tightly in her hands, and she began to pray softly in an extremely sincere, devout voice. “O almighty gods of radiant light, I pray to thee with all my soul, with all my life, with all my heart. Please bestow your power upon thy child…” This prayer was filled with such sincerity and piety, but when it came out in that hoarse, sinister voice it truly sounded strange to the extreme.
The cross suddenly began to glow, and with each passing second it grew brighter and brighter! Cloudhawk’s eyes were about to pop out of their sockets. “What the hell is this?”
The Bloodsoaked Queen rose to her feet once more, then lifted the glowing cross high into the air. She looked almost like a holy paladin lifting up a blade which cast out demons… and when she brought the ‘sword’ down, the light completely disappeared into her palms, transforming into a blade-like arc of light that shot out dozens of meters, carving out a deep gouge in the earth as it shot off after the fleeing man.
The light washed over him, and it cut through him as though he was just a piece of paper. His body was cut in half from his right shoulder to his left flank. Momentum carried the two halves of his body forward by three meters, with the flesh around his terrifying wounds having turned completely black, as though charred by fire. This was perhaps the reason why he didn’t immediately die, and he struggled to claw forwards with his one remaining arm.
A pair of boots appeared in front of him. He lifted up his head, only to see that woman once more… but the fear actually began to slowly vanish from his eyes. Now that he knew he was going to die, that look of wild fervor began to fill his gaze once more. “I’m impressed, demonhunter!”
The Bloodsoaked Queen asked coldly, “Where is he?”
The dying, bisected man began to roar with laughter, but his laughter sounded like the bleating of a dying mountain goat. The Bloodsoaked Queen narrowed her eyes. She remained as cold and distant as ever, but her words were filled with menace. “Where. Is. He.”
“Are you afraid?” The dying man didn’t seem to understand the situation he was in. He roared in a hoarse and brash voice, “I’ll never tell you. Keep living in fear and pain. You will never be able to get your revenge. You-” But his voice suddenly cut off as a booted foot crushed his head into pulp.
The Queen turned towards the outpost warriors, her cloak fluttering in the air behind her. She seemed to move in a leisurely manner, but she actually moved with incredible speed. Moments later she vanished from everyone’s field of vision, leaving behind only three words.
“Kill them all.”
The outpost warriors immediately let out excited roars and howls. This was the might of their commander, the commander of Blackflag Outpost – she was invincible, unfathomable, and unbelievable! This was the second time the Queen had fought ever since she had taken over the outpost, and her power was absolutely stunning!
Even creatures as foolish as the sweepers realized that with this powerful female guarding Blackflag Outpost, there was no chance at all for them to take this place over!
“FOR BLACKFLAG OUTPOST!”
“KILL THEM ALL!”
Grizzly led the warriors of Blackflag Outpost in an inexorable, unstoppable charge. Yet another frenzied and bloody battle erupted, but this time it was the sweepers who were driven to despair and cornered like animals. The two sides fought bitterly, as though possessed by bloodlust and driven mad by rage, but there was no doubt as to what the end result would be.
Cloudhawk, however, was focused on the Queen’s disappearing silhouette. There was no way she had won as easily as it had seemed! Cloudhawk had noticed that after she had used that final dazzling attack, it seemed as though something inside her body had been completely wrung dry, almost like a reservoir that had lost all of its water. Although she looked as cold and powerful as before, she had already reached her limits. He could sense that the ripples emanating from within her body had dropped down to an incredibly weak level.
Cloudhawk felt certain that if another powerful foe appeared, the Queen would have no chance to fight back at all. She was clearly very powerful; clearly, she could’ve slain the sweeper leader with ease using a much less taxing attack. Why, then, had she taken on such a huge risk in expending all of her energy to kill him in such a manner?
There was only one possible answer for this. She was putting on a false front, a show.
Cloudhawk suspected that this attack against the outpost wasn’t as simple as it seemed. The sweepers had probably been employed or driven to launch this attack, and it was likely that the person hiding behind them was the one who had created that sandstorm at the very beginning. This battle most likely had nothing to do with the sweepers or Blackflag Outpost at all. Instead, it was a test, a little skirmish between two freaks who both possessed supernatural powers.
Still, what mattered was that this brutal battle was about to come to an end, thanks to the defeat of the sweeper leader. The surviving sweepers finally began to flee, abandoning their vehicles, their mounts, their weapons, and their equipment. All of those things were being claimed by Blackflag Outpost as spoils of war, and the outpost guards and mercenaries were all excitedly surrounding and claiming various piles of items as their own.
“Everyone else is charging forwards to get their share of the spoils.” Slyfox stared at Cloudhawk as though he was an idiot. “But you don’t seem interested at all. Do you have shit for brains?”
“The only thing I want right now is a good, long sleep.” Cloudhawk’s adrenaline rush had ended with the battle, and a wave of exhaustion had just come crashing down on him. How could he possibly have any energy or interest in running forward to pick up some spoils? Besides, he really didn’t believe that these savage men would let a kid like him get anything nice!
Slyfox saw that Cloudhawk was indeed covered with wounds, and so he just waved his hands in an extremely impatient manner. “Fine, fine. Hurry up and fuck off already. Go to Mantis’ workshop and get those wounds treated. I aint got any time to worry about your sorry ass.” Cloudhawk nodded, then immediately departed from this noisy, boisterous scene of looting.
The rugged streets of Blackflag Outpost were quite silent. Mice and other animals were rustling through the weeds, occasionally popping their heads out. They were drawn by the stench of blood in the air. Right now, this place truly did look like a lifeless, barren wasteland.
Cloudhawk was extremely tired in body, mind, and soul. The beast wave and the sweeper battalion had been incredibly dangerous, and he was once more reminded that staying alive in the wastelands was no easy feat. There was no such thing as a truly safe harbor in the wastelands, not even in the outposts. They walked a thin line between life and death, and the outposts themselves were fragile things.
Cloudhawk was starting to want to leave… and what he had seen today was reinforcing those budding thoughts. On one side, there was a hidden, unknown figure capable of controlling and creating sandstorms. On the other side, there was a Bloodsoaked Queen who wielded an inconceivable amount of power.
What feud existed between the two? Cloudhawk didn’t know, and he didn’t want to know. However, he knew that if two figures like them began to fight with Blackflag Outpost being their battlefield, this place would never be safe to live in. Today was just the beginning. Who knew what the future would bring?
But if he left the outpost, where would he go? The wastelands were so vast and endless as to engender a sense of despair, and they were so cruel that they could devour anyone’s innocent dreams or ideals. Was there truly no such thing as a safe place to live in this vast world?
Just as Cloudhawk’s tired mind was throwing out these random thoughts, he was suddenly able sense those faint ripples once more. They seemed very similar to the ripples he had sensed from the Queen. Cloudhawk frantically looked right and left, but was unable to see anyone at all. No one was here. Was this a hallucination caused by excessive blood loss?
Cloudhawk continued to carefully scrutinize the area. Finally, his gaze turned towards a small, unremarkable alleyway. Those strange ripples were coming from that direction. No way. That place was absolutely foul and filled with refuse and excrement. Who in the world would go there?
Cloudhawk wasn’t certain what these ripples were, but felt certain that it wasn’t just a hallucination. He decided to go over there and take a look… but when he did, he was badly startled by what he saw in front of him.
There was a human silhouette within the alleyway. The person was seated on the ground, half-slumped against the wall. The person’s mask was turned directly towards Cloudhawk, and the deep eyes hidden beneath the mask seemed to be staring death at him. This was the terrifying woman he had seen just a short while ago… the Bloodsoaked Queen!
Cloudhawk’s first instinct was to run. This freak of a woman had been able to crush maneaters as easily as ants. To her, someone like Cloudhawk would be even less than an ant. But just as he took his first step to run, he suddenly halted.
The Queen’s arms were resting on the ground, seemingly powerless, and a thin trickle of blood was actually streaming out from the edges of that savage mask. She remained slumped against the wall, not moving or making even the slightest of sounds.
Drip. Drip. Drops of crimson blood landed on her clothes, staining them with a large, bloody patch.
Was the Queen dead? No way!