At eighty years of age, Skye Polaris was long past his prime. Still, the power he brought to a field of battle was no less catastrophic than the Crimson One’s.
While the three who faced him now were powerful fighters in their own right, all together they still weren’t even a match for Cloudhawk and the two companions who faced Sterling. If the two groups were to switch places, they’d have without question been consumed by Castigation Fire. Of course, this was all built on the premise of a fair fight.
Skye’s strength was spent after days of battle. The vile sneak attack was sapping him of what little power remained, and had left him with a serious injury. Death and Decay was a poison dagger made by the hands of demons. Legends told of several gods this foul weapon was responsible for killing.
While Skye was said to possess the physique of a god, it wasn’t enough to protect him from the evil dagger. The dark power locked within it had been injected into him, and was tainted every cell of his being. It went to work against living tissue, turning it into rotted filth that infected everything around it.
Skye’s majestic face had taken on a dusky, sickly tone. His body had become the site of a fierce and deadly battle, where his vitality warred against the putrefying taint of demons. Over the years he had driven himself to heights no one thought the human body was capable of. That strength made him impervious to almost everything, but the damage from old wounds were never completely healed. Instead he used the might he cultivated to keep the sequelae from affecting him.
Death and Decay was like fuel on a fire. All at once, those dozens of old wounds and illnesses flared up. Mr. Ink’s toxic bite led to a chain reaction, a tide of collapse. He could feel his organs starting to decay as black blood trickled from every orifice. He couldn’t stop it.
All of his strength was draining, like dew beneath the morning sun. He couldn’t fight, he couldn’t defend himself.
What Skye needed to do was flee as far and as fast as he could. Maybe there would be a way to save himself. But the three assassins had risked much in luring him here – they weren’t going to let him flee and expose their dark deeds.
Frost groped at every opportunity. Leaping at his target once again, where Frozen Dirge passed blooms of frost hung in the air. Everything swirled and danced, forming into a storm of ice and snow. The tempest condensed into the shape of piercing cone and in the blink of an eye crashed into Skye’s body.
There was a scream. The attack landed. The world all around became a universe of icy crystals!
Skye’s body withstood the storm. In fact, not a scratch could be seen. There wasn’t even a trace of frost on his body and the ice broke across his skin like raindrops against a bronze statue. For all of Frost’s bluster he couldn’t even pierce the old man’s skin, dealing no damage.
For now, Death and Decay’s power was still sealed within him. The outside of Skye’s body was as impenetrable as ever!
Frost tried again, stabbing at Skye through the roaring tempest to try and skewer him.
“Fuck off, child!”
Hostility poured off Skye like steam. He didn’t even try to avoid the blow, sticking out his chest to welcome Frost’s spear. It was impotently knocked away. Skye then snatched at the weapon with lightning fast speed, grabbing it and holding it tight.
Losing control of one’s weapon was one of the greatest disgraces a soldier could suffer.
Using his thick, calloused hands Skye wrenched the spear from Frost’s grip in the midst of his attack. He then flung it back as though it were a used toothpick. It took only a few meters for it to break through the sound barrier, generating a massive explosion of sound. When the shockwave struck Frost in the chest, it did so with what felt like several tons of force.
Even the War-God’s casual attacks contained frightening power! The spear was flung with enough force to punch right through Frost’s body!
Frost felt the danger coming. Frozen Dirge was his weapon, however, and as such he had a deep mental connection with it. Just as the spear was about to pierce him he reached out with his mental powers, called on its resonance, and stopped it to the best of his ability. At the same time his hand went to the pommel of Rimeshard and wrenched it from its sheath. He swung with all his might to deflect the spear.
Still its potent energy was traveled from the spear into the sword, then through Frost’s arms into his body. An intense shudder rocked him, nearly breaking both arms.
Nor did Frozen Dirge stop. It was deflect to one side and darted off into the dust storm.
The streak of icy blue energy dashed toward Mr. Ink. The beautiful and elegant weapon missed him by centimeters, close enough that it tore off a chunk of his clothing. From there the spear vanished into the dust storm, twinkling like a distant star until it faded entirely from view. Wherever it ended up, there was enough residual impetus in the spear to run through whatever it struck.
All from Skye’s listless throw!
“Die, you despicable rats!”
Skye charged at full bore. All of the air and matter he passed was assaulted by a burst of violent power that caused everything to catch fire. His two fists – capable of felling cities – were aimed toward Clay’s pudgy body.
It was a force comparable to a full blast from a warship!
Clay would surely die if a strike like this landed. He quickly summoned the aid if a defensive relic, but how many relics were powerful enough to protect him from Skye’s ire?
One punch landed. The whole world seemed to crack. Clay’s protective relic shattered.
Blow-back from the strike sent Clay flying, leaving a trail of blood behind. More than a dozen bones snapped as he tumbled head over heels. An injury this severe would confine him to bed rest for at least several months.
Skye’s booming voice was like thunder. “Arcturus is a fool if he thinks you three are enough to stop me!”
The old man was definitely a hard one to put down! It seemed unlikely the assassins would succeed.
Mr. Ink was controlling the power of Death and Decay as it wormed through his body. Caustic purple smoke and a terrible stench forced its way from Skye’s pores. The general was assailed by a sudden bone-deep weakness. His limbs felt numb and his mind muddled. All of this together made it hard for him to even move.
Mr. Ink urged the corrosive power to begin expressing on the surface. It would surely serve to greatly reduce the old man’s defenses.
These contemptible weaklings! He would not be felled at the first blow! Skye released another deafening roar of anger.
Light returned to his beleaguered form, smothering the negative energy that poured off of him. Mr. Ink’s foul methods would not be enough to finish the War-God, but it did buy them time.
But what did that matter?
Skye felt another wave of dangerous energy pass over him.
A small bead hung in the air for a moment before detonating. Hundreds of streaks of light erupted forth, blanketing Skye in electric energy. Everything centered on him like he was a magnet, blasted him again and again.
Boom – boom – boom – boom!
At least twenty bolts of lightning hit him in sequence! Even someone as tenacious as Skye would have to be injured after an attack like that.
The concentrated bolts of lightning were but a prelude. As he was unable to move, more lightning gathered over his head. It coalesced into a column of electricity as thick as a barrel.
Skye felt a tremendous pressure fall on him.
With a mighty yell he flung his fist toward the heavens, like he was trying to punch it apart. Even amid the deafening thunder his feral roar could be heard. “Arcturus!”
He may have been flailing at the bolt of lightning, but all of his fury was directed at Skycloud’s Governor.
The bolt crashed into the General and Skye’s iron body was immediately burned black. Like a spear from the gods it blasted all the way through him.
The item Clay had used was called a ‘Spirit Bead,’ a relic with a one-time use. The last time one was seen was back in the Great War. A Master Demonhunter was able to inject their power and mental energies into the beast and give it to someone else to use. It was all the wrath of Arcturus Cloude, to be used at one’s leisure. It delivered a blast comparable to the full force of a Master Demonhunter.
Skye Polaris had first fought off the demon Abaddon, managing to fight him off but not without expending considerable energy. This was despite old injuries and advanced years conspiring against him. He was then caught by Death and Decay, suffering the betrayal of a decades-old friend. The dark powers of the relic stole what remained of his inner strength. Finally, the Spirit Bead.
It was more than he could withstand. From outside the destructive force of Arcturus, from within the corrosive poison of devils.
His body quickly started to collapse in on itself. He was done for.
“Now!” The three killers moved in to finish the job.
Frost thrust his crystal blade into Skye’s throat. Clay stabbed a blade of light into Skye’s broad chest. Mr. Ink jabbed the dim edge of Death and Decay into his friend’s eye. Three deadly blows, from three terrible weapons. Nothing – no god nor man nor demon – could endure such cruel abuse.
Skye Polaris felt his mind beginning to go. In the dim remnants of his consciousness he felt a crushing regret. He shouldn’t have dragged Cloudhawk into all this. And Dawn… Dawn.
I’m sorry. Grandpa broke his promise this time. I won’t be able to preside over your wedding.
Light poured out of Skye’s body. After years of toughening, every cell was like a nuclear reactor. Skye knew he would die, but if he had to go he would release every iota of what he had left in one final blast. He would take these treacherous fucks with him.
“Shit! Back off, back off! He’s going to blow!”
The three assassins broke for safety as fast as they could. Light was released from the old General’s body with such intensity that he had become a figure of pure illumination. All at once the dazzling silhouette broke apart, releasing unthinkable amounts of energy.
The ensuing blast was like a storm of apocalyptic proportions. In a blink it swallowed up everything within a thousand kilometers. Anything caught in this radius was atomized.
General Skye Polaris, the greatest warrior in Skycloud’s history. His life was proof that although he was no demonhunter, any man could rise to match those lauded Masters. He was a spectacular, singular human.
Commander of the Elysian army. Patriarch of a respected family. An avatar of power and authority.
Killed by cowards and turncoats. Not even a corpse remained to give him a respectful burial.
Blinding light hung in the sky for a long time. This was the way Skycloud’s legendary general died.
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