Book 4, Chapter 100 - A Warrior's Honor

The world of lightning Cloudhawk was trapped it pulsed with incredible power. Easily strong enough to overcome his phase abilities.

If he couldn’t phase, then he couldn’t teleport. The basis of the power was the same, relying on phase through reality to overcome obstacles.

Arcturus was too powerful. And he wasn’t even here.

He had Cloudhawk completely locked down from who knows how far away. This left the young man with no way to fight back, much less escape. How much mental energy was required to achieve a feat like this?

No wonder he was considered the greatest of the Master Demonhunters! Arcturus was far more terrifying than the Crimson One ever was!

He needed to get out of here.

Arcturus didn’t give him an opportunity. While Cloudhawk was still planning his escape, the orbs started to move in closer. His electric prison was quickly shrinking, and a storm of lightning was brewing all around him. A scorching electric current fell over him, strong enough to char an elephant.

Despite Cloudhawk’s sturdy constitution, it was quickly becoming more than he could stand.

Threads of electricity, thin as spider silk, weaved together to form shackles. Hundreds of volts of electricity were forced through him as they wrapped around his wrists and ankles. Immobilized, the electric cage rose with him inside and started to head back in the direction of Skycloud.

This fuck is gunna bring me back like this?! The indignity!

It didn’t matter if his foe was a Master Demonhunter, Cloudhawk couldn’t allow such a disgrace. He struggle valiantly against the bonds, which only made the burning current worse. If he kept it up, the only thing that Arcturus would find when the cage returned was a charred corpse.

“Castigation!”

The foreboding green light emerged at his call. It blanketed Cloudhawk’s flesh and turned him into a burning effigy. His shackles burned and eventually broke apart.

Castigation fire was effective. With its addition, Cloudhawk’s power was greatly increased.

The fires spread and began bombarding his electric prison. Its edges bulged outward until they burst, causing an explosion of green and white in the sky. Bolts of lightning spread out in all directions with tongues of flame dancing among them like some kind of terrible fireworks display. It was so bright the scene was visible in broad daylight for kilometers all around.

Cloudhawk hit the ground with a thud and a grunt. Fuck that guy for thinking he could grab me that easy.

He couldn’t truly teleport, the phase ability he relied on was blocked. If he wanted to get free he’d have to rely on his own two legs. First order was business was to get out of range of Arcturus, otherwise he was screwed.

Then he felt it. A relic! Cloudhawk’s head snapped around to look.

A man in gray robes appeared, calm as a lake surface. White had begun to creep into his sideburns, which lent to his scholarly appearance. The kind look in his eyes was a deception, of course, as was the peaceful smile. At a glance one could be forgiven for thinking Arcturus was anything but a kindly academic. No one would imagine he was one of the strongest and most terrible demonhunters in history.

When the hell did he get here?

Cloudhawk raised his weapon and attacked!

Arcturus merely shook his head. Stretching forth his forefinger a beam of lightning darted out. Ardent Wrath went flying from Cloudhawk’s grip, and he went tumbling ten meters back. Bones crunched as he slammed into a boulder. Lightning danced across him, too small to be seen by the naked eye, but it felt like a million tiny needles digging into his flesh. Cloudhawk jerked and twitched as his nervous system fought the urge to shut down.

He tenaciously clawed back onto his feet and looked for his weapon.

Arcturus pointed again, and Cloudhawk was blasted back another several meters. Again bolts of electricity leaped from pore to pore. Not only was the pain agonizing, but Cloudhawk’s body no longer responded to his commands. All he could do was curl up in spams.

He couldn’t even stand.

Skycloud Governor slowly walked toward him. From head to toe he was spotless, not a stitch out of place. There wasn’t even a change in his friendly smiling face. “It’s pointless. Do not try to resist. It is extraordinary that you have so much power at such a young age, but you are no match for me.”

“F-fuck your m-mother!” Cloudhawk managed through clenched teeth. He flung out his arm and cast a gash of silver light toward his foe. “Die!”

But the light was caught in Arcturus’ claw-like grip. The ethereal weapon was caught easily in his hand like it was a toy. Electricity spread from his palm into the Silver Serpent.

Screams followed as Cloudhawk felt the current course through him. His failed attack retracted.

Once again he stumbled, smoke rising off his body with the sickening scent of roasted flesh. Meanwhile, the Governor hadn’t even been scratched. He continued to approach at the same even pace, as calmly as though he were taking an evening stroll through his garden.

But Cloudhawk would not give up. Orbs of green fire spurted to life in his hands. He lifted them high, and threw both at Arcturus.

The Master Demonhunter waved his hand, swatting them away as though they were nothing more than annoying gnats. Thin spears of electricity detonated the fire orbs, spraying smaller fires every which way.

With not a wrinkle in his plain gray robes, Arcturus kept walking. His cloth shoes walked over tiny tongue of fire that danced on the ground. In a scene that made the hair on the back of Cloudhawk’s neck stand on end, the fires were extinguished – ignored, like they weren’t even there.

Arcturus spoke in a tone that spoke to his infinite patience. “What is your next move?”

Is this asshole even human?

Cloudhawk had a hard time keeping the shock from his face. A sense of total hopelessness came over him. He had nothing left. Both his mind and body were at their limit. The wounds he’d suffered with the expeditionary fleet had yet to fully heal, and just a few short hours ago the Cloud God had assailed his mind. If he was powerless against the Master Demonhunter before, Cloudhawk was as helpless as a child now.

He cursed his shit luck.

Arcturus went on. “Come with me.”

This earned a snort from Cloudhawk. “Just kill me.”

“Aren’t you curious where I intend to take you?” Arcturus asked.

“I’m not gunna help you do shit.” Cloudhawk growled. “Over my dead fuckin’ body.”

A spark of electricity danced on the tip of Arcturus’ finger. “Dying at such a young age is a waste. You shouldn’t be so hasty in rejecting my offer – it isn’t unthinkable that you may yet change your mind. My goals are not so evil as you imagine them to be.”

Cloudhawk was clever. He knew there was no miracle waiting to save him today.

Arcturus was a Master Demonhunter, comparable to the legendary warriors from the time of the Great War. Skye Polaris, even at his peak, was no match for this man. In fact, the only creature that was his match was the Cloud God, hidden away in the Temple. Besides the slumbering god, Arcturus feared no one.

With Skycloud’s patron deity quarantined, no one in the wastes or the Elysian lands could stand up to Arcturus.

As the Governor was preparing to force Cloudhawk to follow, a figure dropped from overhead. The ringing of steel sounded as a weapon was drawn, bringing with it a radiant glow. It cleaved the lightning cast from Arcturus’ finger. Like an eagle striking its prey, the figure snatched up Cloudhawk in one hand. In a blink they were several dozen meters away.

“Drunkard? The hell are you doing here?!” Cloudhawk was stunned when he saw who it was. “Aren’t you supposed to be at the Sandbar? What about the others?”

Could this wine-soaked gutter-rat read the future or something? How else did he know to be here at just the right time?

“Selene brought Azura into the Elysian lands. She will find her a proper school and master for her training. It’s better than letting her wander around with an irresponsible thug like you. For the moment Gabriel and Barb are looking after each other. I saw the storm clouds and knew Arcturus was making his move.”

The old drunk landed firmly on his feet. Dawnguard was already back in its sheath. He looked at Cloudhawk with that typical lecherous grin, revealing a few stained teeth.

“It’s been a very long time since anyone in Skycloud has gotten that old fox to leave his den. I was curious and came to see for myself. I didn’t think I’d be running into you.”

Cloudhawk scowled. Arcturus was no run-of-the-mill opponent. Even with the old drunk’s help, escape wasn’t going to be easy. 

Arcturus looked at them from the distance and calmly called out to the new arrival. “You.”

The drunk uncorked a wine jug and took a couple swigs. When he looked back at Arcturus his eyes were already a little clouded over. “It’s been a few years. The mighty and illustrious Governor Arcturus. As impressive as ever.”

Six years of enmity. Perhaps it was time to settle things.

Nothing changed in the gray-robed politician’s face. No sign of aggression was revealed in his face or posture. The apocalyptic scene overhead paused, waiting, for every movement of Arcturus’ hands caused the storm clouds to roil in anticipation. Even though he did not display any hostility, it was obvious that this was a truly terrifying foe.

“Have you come for vengeance?”

“I’ve never been out for vengeance.” The drunk was calm, not eager to act against his own interests. Yet his lined features were solemn. “But there has to be some closure between the Governor and the War Saint. Falling to an enemy like you would be an old warrior’s final dignity.”

The old drunk could look past losing an apprentice and falling from grace. But as a warrior, he had to have the courage to face the source of his nightmares here. As a man he had to face his bitter past and embrace those old, painful memories. Only when he accepted them, and stood before them with fearlessness could he truly be called a man of strength.

A gentle laugh from the Governor wafted through the space between them. “I have never turned down a challenge from a true warrior.”

The drunk jabbed his cane into the ground. He took a few deep breaths, one hand upon Dawnguard’s hilt, and slowly drew it forth. Its holy light illuminated the area.

Thanks to his near super-human recovery rate, Cloudhawk was able to get back on his feet. He grabbed Ardent Wrath from the dirt, then positioned himself at the drunk’s back. Wary eyes were fixed on the Governor.

“You need to go.”

The drunk’s words reached Cloudhawk’s ears, but he didn’t see the old man’s lips move. He was using some strange skill to deliver the message without being overheard.

Cloudhawk hesitated. What about him? How could he let the drunk face Arcturus on his own?

“It’s no use. Even together we’re no match for him.” The drunk was very familiar with what Arcturus was capable of. The Governor had decimated an entire squad of Templars. How could a crippled old man and a half-dead youth stand any sort of chance? “Don’t shoulder this burden. I’d be itching for this fight even if you weren’t here.”

Cloudhawk could hear it in his voice. The old man was ready to die.

“I’m fading away,” his voice once more whispered in Cloudhawk’s ear. “I’ve days left, at best. After fighting so hard to awaken the War Saint again, I can’t let myself waste away. A warrior doesn’t die sick in his bed. My pride won’t allow it. I face this final battle with joy!”

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