Attendants brought Dawn her three items sealed in glass cases. One of them amicably approached her. “My Lady, will you need our authentication services? The Order’s appraisers are very reliable.”
“No need.” Cloudhawk cut them off. “We’ll have them authenticated ourselves.”
Dawn Polaris was not happy with his choice. Hey, she said to herself, remember who the boss is here! Who said you could make decision?
Skycloud city was a martial place, and the demonhunters were a martial sort. The street they called the Home of the Demomhunters had many rooms for rent, stocked with various tools. Cloudhawk thought they would be fin places to test these relics out. He had Dawn purchase them a two-hundred square meter space with some practice dummies for a gold coin.
They weren’t looking for an appraiser. Why get a training room?
Unaware of her skepticism Cloudhawk looked pointedly at the box. “Alright let’s see.”
Her pretty face scrunched up like he was speaking a foreign language.
“What are you doing standing there like an idiot? After spending so much money don’t you want to know what they do?”
She gaped at him like he was an alien. “Know what? You don’t mean this relics!”
“That’s a dumbass question.”
Her mind was veritably blown, so much she didn’t respond to his insult. Suddenly she was convinced he was crazy. What auctioned relic could just be picked up and used? He was the dumbass!
Cloudhawk paid her shock no mind, opened the first case and pulled out the large shield. The battle-scarred item was fifty centimeters tall , black all over and made purely out of metal. However when he picked it up it was surprisingly light.
On the inside of the shield he saw runes that were typical for many relics. He used what he’d learned to read out the name: “Concussion shield.”
“What a waste of time! You backwoods wastelander yokel, what do you know about relics?” Dawn glowered at the mangled shield then offered a sneer full of malicious promise. “You think you can just pick up a strange relic willy-nilly and use it? I don’t know whether you’re naïve or just stupid. If you can make that thing work than you can be my boss!”
“Whatever, I’m not interested in being the boss of someone who’d just cut the legs out from under me.” Cloudhawk turned around and looked at her. “I only want you to treat me like an equal!”
Dawn Polaris met his dark eyes straight on. His wasn’t a normal stare. Cloudhawk’s eyes were full of self-confidence and calm. He was unique, but she wasn’t sure what it was about him that made her feel that way.
The inside of the buckler was fitting with a sort of sleeve. Slipping one’s left arm inside fixed the shield in place. Cloudhawk first shrugged his arm to get used to its weight. His eyes swept around the training area and eventually landed on a training dummy nearby.
These demons were specially made for demonhunters to help them practice their skills. They were made from wood but only the highest quality, hardy enough to take several blows from an exorcist staff. That fact was enough to prove how tough they were.
Let’s get this started.
Cloudhawk started to run under Dawn’s incredulous gaze. As his speed picked up he held the buckler in front of him. His eyes were closed, all of his focus on the shield searching for its resonance – and then something unexpected happened.
The buckler began to shimmer with white light.
Cloudhawk slammed right into the dummy, and when his shield met the wood it released a burst of light in visible ripples. All the space around it warped as all of a sudden the roar of wind filled the training room.
Dawn’s ears rang as a peel of thunder erupted. Struck full on by the force of impact the training dummy was blasted away. It hit the wall then clattered to the floor covered in cracks. The dent it left in the wall proved what sort of force was behind Cloudhawk’s charge.
In a real fight it didn’t matter whether he was facing a man or a bull, its guts would be splashed all over the floor after a hit like that. Believe it or not, this shoddy- looking beat up buckler was fully functional.
Dawn Polaris stared at him with her mouth hanging open, wide enough to fit an apple.
“Well that was satisfying!” Cloudhawk trotted over, pulled off the shield then handed it to her. “Want to give it a go?”
She swallowed and looked over at the damaged wall. From the display she could tell this relic was the type that could manipulate both air and wind – precisely the kind of relics Dawn was skilled with. In fact the mirror she used to protect herself used what was called ‘wind-type protection.’ It thickened the air into an invisible shell to ward of attacks.
Although it was technically armor the concussion shield could also attack. So, surprisingly, it was a fine relic! Without saying another word she pulled the shield onto her arm. Dawn didn’t copy Cloudhawk’s wild charge, opting instead to walk over and stand in front of one of the dummies.
She reached out with her psychic energy then swung the shield.
The burst of power this time was several times more powerful than the last. Cloudhawk was too close and was almost thrown to the floor, white the dummy exploded into splinters. Bits of wood covered the room.
Dawn was nearly wild with joy. “This is incredible!”
Cloudhawk had a talent for relics. He could pick one up and use it faster than any other demonhunter. But for strength, he only had about one fifth the power of this woman. If Dawn became proficient with this shield what sort of terrible force could she produce? The differences in their skills were obvious!
The next time Dawn looked at Cloudhawk the disdain was gone from her eyes. Instead there was respect, genuine respect. She’d never felt that for a peer before, especially someone so much younger than her.
How did he do that?
From the outside this relic looked useless, but Cloudhawk looked past its surface. Dawn paid a sum that she wouldn’t have believed even in her wildest dreams. This wasn’t just good fortune, this was like a gift from heaven!
What about its scarred surface? That wasn’t a problem, a few hundred gold coins would convince the sanctuary’s craftsmen to fix it right up. Since its core was still intact repairing it to like-new would not be difficult.
“Let’s keep going!”
Cloudhawk picked up the small lump of stone next. Dawn Polaris gathered in close. She didn’t mind being so near to him now, her glittering eyes were focused on the relic instead. She peered closely at it for a moment. “This rock is a relic? It doesn’t look like it at all!”
“’Titan Rock’? Interesting!”
Cloudhawk saw the name scrawled on it but didn’t do much more investigating. He sought out its resonance with his psychic power and when they mingled he instantly felt weighed down. Unconsciously chucked it away and when it hit the ground it did so with a deafening bang.
The fist-sized rock had grown to the size of a wash basin by the time it landed.
Shimmering runes slithered across its surface and it quivered back and forth like an angry animal. It continued to grow larger before their eyes, up to the size of an ox.
Both Cloudhawk and Dawn looked at it in shock. Was this relic meant to be thrown at their enemies and smashed beneath it? What a let down…
The rock had stopped expanding, but was still transforming. As cracked spread all over its surface what came next surprised them even more. It actually stood up, in the shape of a man a hundred and eighty centimeters tall. A soldier made completely out of stone, with a pair of glowing red eyes. Its arms with thick and threatening.
One boulder-sized fist shot out and a dummy went flying. A leg thick as a stone column kicked, and a dummy mad from stone was crushed to dust.
Dawn watched with wide and ecstatic eyes. The relic summoned a weapon – a stone soldier with astonishing strength, capable of following commands. If Cloudhawk could summon a golem this strong what was she capable of? This was another high-grade relic!
What thrilled her the most was this ‘titan rock’ was earth focused.
Dawn’s talents allowed her to use two sorts of relics; wind, and earth. The aegis mirror manipulated the power of the wind and Terrangelica manipulated earth. Cloudhawk had managed to help her find two relics perfectly matched to her talents.
It was almost like they were custom made for her!
Her enthusiasm and joy was easy to imagine and she had to stop herself from kissing Cloudhawk. But in the midst of her exhilaration another thought crossed her mind. When it did her joy turned to shock, then amazement, then an inexplicable cold.
“You… you… you…”
She backed away from him. Her eyes fixed on Cloudhawk with a threatening glare. This she-devil, who feared nothing and no one within Skycloud City, was rendered speechless.
Cloudhawk gave her a weird look. “What?”
Dawn Polaris swallowed hard. “Are you human? How many talents do you actually have?!”
1. The math here struggled to match up with the description of the shield. It’s referred to as ‘a gigantic arm shield.’ I’m assuming arm shield probably refers more to a buckler – a smallish shield that’s slipped onto the arm or held and used to deflect or parry. Bucklers can go up to 45 centimeters, typically. So I guess ‘gigantic’ means five centimeters larger than normal.
The answer to that question may be surprising...