Book 2, Chapter 35 - Two Talents Contend

Frost de Winter wanted to avoid a scene and had thus tried to avoid areas with a lot of people. They’d left the tunnels at a distant location and tried to slip away through an alley. Despite his efforts, however, their way was blocked by this thorny barrier. Dawn’s fame and power was in no way inferior to Frost de Winter’s, and in addition she was Skycloud City’s youngest templar.

The templars were a sect of holy warriors under the direct command of the Temple. Its members included demonhunters as well as normal soldiers, with the prerequisite being that they were among the best of their class. A templar’s background, service record and capabilities had to be stellar in order to earn a position, which meant that each templar was a brilliant dignitary in their own right.

Dawn was strong, but her accolades were thin. Originally, she did not hold the qualifications necessary to join the temple. However, her father was a direct heir of the Polaris family, while her mother was an oracle of the Temple, one of their high priests.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that Dawn was born under the blessings of the gods. Noble and flawless, her rare golden tresses were seen as proof. The things she experienced while growing up all pointed to her status as a child favored by heaven. She was Skycloud City’s most comprehensive talent; a talented demonhunter, a unique intellect, a gifted artist with pen or paintbrush, she could master whatever craft she put her mind to in no time at all.

She made history when she joined the temple before her eighteenth birthday.

This year marked her nineteenth and she already held herself with ecclesiastic regency. However, the unbridled defiance of heaven and earth that was her family’s character remained alive and well, evident in her bearing. She was a dignified she-devil who was known for her brazen and erratic actions.

Her lauded background alone ensured no one challenged her.

Of course, that was only true for the common man. Frost did not fear her, and Cloudhawk was too important. Nothing could be allowed to stand in his way.

When she saw that he did not immediately comply, Dawn lost her patience. “Hmph. You must be deaf. Or are you so eager to pick a fight? I’ll say it again – hand him over!”

She clapped her hands together regally as she made the demand.

The alley began to ring with the sound of clattering armor. In a blink a hundred soldiers appeared from all around with glimmering weapons in hand, hostile eyes fixed on Frost. These were the loyal house guards of the Polaris family and it didn’t matter who they fought. They followed their masters’ orders.

“Are you challenging me?”

“So what if I am? Stand up for yourself if you got the balls!” [1] The peerless beauty spoke in a surly tone which was in direct opposition to her appearance. She interlaced her fingers and pushed, a series of pops followed. Her hand then went to the sword at her waist and started to pull it free. “It’s been a little while since we’ve danced. I’m anxious to see if you’ve gotten any better!”

The moment her sword cleared its sheath the alley was flooded with a terrifying aura. Dust and gravel shivered from an invisible force. Its blade was the width of three fingers and refracted light like the surface of a lake. Metal rang against leather with a resonance that seemed to fill the world.

Her weapon was anything but average. Like Frost her blade was a famed relic – Terrangelica! And like Frozen Dirge it was capable of terrible things.

Frost de Winter was a proud man, and he wasn’t going to stand for this mouthy bitch’s disrespect. Her threats would be met with a frigid answer, for as he planted Frozen Dirge’s blade into the ground, an area several meters in diameter was immediately covered in ice. He spoke back to her in mocking tones. “Terrangelica is a treasure of the Polaris family. It’s tarnished in the hands of a reprobate like you.”

She threw back barbs of her own. “Frozen Dirge is also an impressive weapon. Such a shame that it should pass to the equivalent of a stuffed shirt. I weep for its spoiled reputation.”

Dawn’s temperament was molten fire to her core, but she was not reckless or stupid. She would not let his pompous words infuriate her, and now was not the time to waste bickering. Soon this dogs master would arrive, at which point she could forget about taking the thief.

A quick battle to force his hand! She shoved the blade of her sword into the earth.

Dawn poured her power into it, sending a wave of incorporeal force through the ground. It blasted out in all directions, kicking up clouds of dust with it.

The two clashed with the speed and ferocity of clashing lightning bolts.

Frost keenly felt the attack closing in and jumped up to avoid it. Moments later a series of spikes shot up right below where his feet had been. He managed to avoid the first two, but the second and third reached higher toward him.

This attack came entirely from underground and so where practically untraceable. Were it not for Frost’s exceptional speed and perception he would have been impaled by the first one.

He was slowing down. Another spike was rising up toward him.

Dawn wasn’t showing him any quarter, her opening attack was lethal. The jagged spikes reached up for the vulnerable place between Frost’s legs, but he would not idly let it come. He swung Frozen Dirge in a pendulous arc that chopped into the spike, instantly freezing it. He used the momentum to launch himself toward Dawn.

A deadly arc of silver came down from overhead.

As Frost closed the distance the light from his spear bloomed like a silver lotus. Fast – too fast. Before she knew it a dozen blinding thrusts were aimed her way, and though he was still too far for the weapon to connect this was not so for the energy released with each strike. White gusts of power blasted at her, so cold that it froze the water particles into deadly icicles.

Woosh-woosh-woosh-woosh-woosh!

Trailing beautiful white tails like comets, each strike came crashing down on Dawn in a frigid and deadly rain.

Her reaction to the awesome display was a dismissive snort. She wrapped both of her hands around Terrangelica’s pommel, but did not pull it free. She instead thrust it deeper, another foot into the ground until two thirds of it was hidden. Galvanized by some unseen power, the soil and rock sprang up to form a wall.

In half a breath the hail of icicles slammed into the rock wall. They pierced her defenses, but none could pass through, and remained glittering against the dirt like inlaid gemstones. Brutal residual cold covered the rock wall in ice almost immediately.

Frost crashed into it. Crack-crrrACK! The whole thing shattered like a pane of glass and crumbled away.

The barrier gave out and Frost’s momentum pushed through unimpeded. Like a silver dragon reaching out from the sea, Frozen Dirge stabbed at Dawn.

He knew the abilities of every notable weapon in Skycloud City. While Terrangelica was powerful, its weakness lay in slow reaction time. To defeat Dawn one only needed to know the trick to handling it.

That trick was speed!

His execution was perfect; Frost de Winter broke through her barrier then followed up with a quick and decisive strike. With only a few meters between them Dawn could be twice as powerful and still couldn’t rely on Terrangelica to save her.

He’d robbed her of her advantage. Victory was assured.

Just as Frozen Dirge’s edge was about to run her through, however, Frost de Winter was taken by surprise.

Ting!

No more than ten centimeters from Dawn’s body, his spear struck a clear glass-like shell strong enough to knock the blow aside. After the collision, lines spider webbed from the point of impact, forming intricate patterns like some occult diagram. Amidst the sound of cracking the lines split and bright light poured forth, revealing the once invisible shell that protected the templar.

Frozen Dirge was impotently knocked aside. His victory was stolen.

Frost de Winter, high up in the air, snatched his spear back and then landed back onto the ground. He stumbled backward a few steps and stared at his opponent with surprise in his cold eyes.

Dawn’s hands were still on the hilt of her sword. It was then he saw the light radiating from a jade mirror tucked into her clothing. Her invisible defense had come from it, repelling Frost de Winter’s determined strike.

“The aegis mirror.”

Frost de Winter recognized the Temple relic the moment he saw it. Dawn’s skill and reputation were such that of course she’d be given treasures from her family and the Temple both. Terrangelica was from her family, but the mirror came from her templar masters.

“You underestimate me. I know my vulnerabilities far better than you.”

Terrangelica was counted among one of the greatest weapons in Skycloud, alleged to be capable of summoning earthquakes and raising mountains. A master of its power could wipe out a battalion on their own. In exchange for such power its attacks were slow, ponderous, which was what Frost de Winter had hoped to use to his advantage. But how could Dawn not know this herself? If she dared to fight with him in such close quarters then of course she had a plan.

She was instigating him to attack. But he was not her target.

Frost de Winter reacted the moment the thought crossed his mind, flinging an icicle at Cloudhawk. Bringing him back to Lord Arcturus alive was more valuable, but he was given no choice. Either he came back with them or he died.

“Too late!”

Dawn’s pretty face split into a sly grin. Terrangelica was already prepared, she was one step ahead. A pulse of energy reached out, knocking Cloudhawk away from Frost’s men and into a crowd of her own. They quickly surrounded him, shields raised in a defensive posture.

Dawn and Frost de Winter were well matched. It was not clear who would win, nor would that be determined now. Lord Arcturus was on his way and would arrive soon, so this exchange had to come to a close.

She ignored her rival and raced for Cloudhawk.

The templar pulled Terrangelica from the ground and quickly joined her soldiers, her golden hair splaying out behind her in her haste. She stood before them, facing Frost de Winter and the others with her sword held before her. She smiled as the light played over her mystical weapon. “The challenge is done, now it’s time for the melee. Are you sure you still want to fight?”

“Dawn!”

Frost de Winter grit his teeth and fought the urge to charge. Over fifty crossbows were pointed right at him, and behind them all that damn woman. He’d brought only a few men with him into the tunnels, they were outnumbered.

“I’m taking him with me. You and I will finish this later.”

She knew the longer they stayed the more likely things would turn bad. Her soldiers moved in to block Frost as Dawn and the others fled with Cloudhawk in custody.


1. More directly it translates to ‘come and bite me then’. When I looked it up on the internet someone said the correct response is ‘I don’t eat shit.’ Lol

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RWX's Thoughts

Looks like the Polaris clan just gave the governor's forces a bloody nose.  I love these chapters, btw - again reinforces how real the other characters and the world is.  Cloudhawk played almost no part in this!