The relics Cloudhawk had made were simple but easily mass produced. It certainly gave wasteland demonhunters a significant advantage. The population Cloudhawk commanded was expanding, he had the Goshawks, Black Knights, and Chosen to equip in a land where relics were few and far between. But with the emergence of a basic, easily reproduced set of relics he could equip all of his people with at least the basics.
The mornshield and mornarrow rings were fairly strong as well! Cloudhawk’s warriors could now attack at range and had reasonable defenses.
These items were complemented by the spirit beads so that they could be used by the Goshawks. A whole contingent of these soldiers racing through a battlefield, firing bolts of energy strong as rockets, would be a sight to behold.
Several hundred men like that, and even a Master Demonhunter would think twice. A thousand and Arcturus Cloude himself would have to flee.
The shield wings protecting its bearers from physical and energy attacks. With them, Cloudhawk’s men were guarded against technological weapons from the wastes as well as demonhunter relics. When a hundred of these rings were engaged at once they could produce a shield that would deflect almost anything.
Cloudhawk’s plan was to enlist talented people from Nox, Greenland and Imperia to create an army of powerful Ex-terra soldiers to travel to other worlds. Their aim would be to recover more resources from these strange places for use back in Greenland. With more spirit beads they could expand the Goshawks to two, even three thousand strong in short order.
Sooner or later war would break out between the wastelands and Skycloud. The results would determine the future of their world. If the wastes lost, its people would be erased and forgotten. If they won and overcame Skycloud’s tyranny there would no longer be any borders between the wastes and the Elysian lands. That would be the beginning of a new journey.
Outbreak of hostilities was inevitable. It always had been. Skycloud and the wastelands were too different.
While it was true that Skycloud had suffered serious setbacks in recent years, none of those loses had injured it too severely. Most of its military force remained intact, most notably its historic Demonhunter Corps. As a cornerstone of Skycloud might, it boasted thousands, maybe even tens of thousands of mighty demonhunter soldiers.
That was the sort of power Skycloud wielded. If they chose to dispatch all of them at once the terror of it would blot out the sky. The end result would be catastrophic. Cloudhawk was starved for a force that could compete with the Corps sometime in the future, and he didn’t have nearly enough time to build one.
An hour after he finished teaching, Cloudhawk sought out the Khan of Evernight and provided him with relic rings as well. They were simple and easily produced, like exorcist equipment. Once the methods were wholly mastered they could be produced en masse.
Nox and Imperia were close to the ancient Great War battlefield. After a thousand years of development they had a lot of materials and resources at their disposal. Imperia in particular had an advantage on that front. Because the Silverwing Emperor could make and repair relics, he’d had his subjects gathering materials for centuries. Though the quality of those items weren’t very good, they were enough to equip most of his populace. Now all the vast stores of materials he’d gathered were Cloudhawk’s to use as he saw fit.
While Cloudhawk busied himself with the mysteries of relic production, news came out of Hellflower’s laboratories.
Her and her team had successfully tested a new class of weapon. Having reached this point it was accepted that they would soon see use on the battlefield. To hear them tell it, these weapons would also have quite an impact. This made Cloudhawk excited, so he went to the labs himself to learn more.
Out in the ruins surrounding Greenland, several hundred people were gathered.
Cloudhawk looked them over. In addition to several soldiers and elite guard to protect them, half of this number were scientists. Most of those were white-haired elders who obviously had considerable experience. They were all here to see Hellflower’s new high-powered weapons on display.
It looked like an enormous cannon.
Its exterior was the same as any other cannon from ancient times, but their constructed were very different. For one thing, these weapons were not built to fire ordinary ammunition. Instead they were conductors which fired beams of highly condensed and agitated energy from a number of sources. Though it looked simplistic almost in design at a cursory glance, upon closer inspection it was really quite an elegant design.
Cloudhawk wasn’t very knowledgeable about science, but he could tell fairly easily that this weapon was meant to use eboncrys. Hellflower had made guns that use eboncrys before, this cannon was just an upgraded version of that concept. After two years of research, a working prototype was created.
“It looks awfully heavy,” Cloudhawk noted.
“You shouldn’t be so skeptical!” Hellflower was filled with pride in her work. “This represents a milestone in our work with eboncrys. An important accomplishment that we put a lot of heart into. It may look simple, but I can say with confidence that this weapon is as destructive as ancient particle weapons, if not more so. If we installed these strategically around the city, I am sure the Conclave of Judgment couldn’t even draw close to the city without being decimated.”
Cloudhawk was less convinced. “That strong?”
The corners of her mouth ticked upward. “Facts will prove was words cannot. No point in wasting any more breath, time for you to see for yourself! Now don’t blink!”
She commanded the crowd of scientists with authority. It would be foolish to discount her because of her young age, for Hellflower was a scientist of unparalleled talent in all manner of subjects. Her magnificent ability to absorb information made her an honest savant. She was the soul of her research team, and Cloudhawk’s rudimentary home growing into the powerhouse it was today was in large part thanks to her.
The army of scientists got the weapon ready. After making sure the calculations were accurate, they pointed it toward a small mountain in the distance.
Hellflower waved her arm. A deafening roar followed. It sounded like a thousand terrible beasts all crying out at once.
Cloudhawk watched as a shot materialized from nothing. Onlookers saw it eject from the cannon as a solid white beam that streaked dozens of kilometers into the distance. It struck near the top of the mountain and sheered it lean off. The gash left behind belched smoke into the air.
That was one hell of a display! Cloudhawk took the weapon a lot more seriously now. He’d never seen an energy weapon like this take out a target from so far away.
In the ancient society before the destruction of the world, interest in energy weapons were at their peak. However, pure energy weapons are unstable especially when used in atmosphere. Laser guns, for instance, lost much of their efficacy after traveling only a few short meters. When the enemy was at a distance, nothing beat traditional ammunition.
But if Hellflower’s eboncryss cannon could blow off the top of a mountain so far away, it meant she solved that problem. The world of today was enveloped in extreme radiation and other interference. This made long-distance communication very difficult, and guided weapons all but impossible. The range of her new cannon was more than enough to dominate modern battlefields.
It had taken two scientists to prime and discharge the cannon. The energy fuel it used was spent and when the material was removed It looked plain as dirt.
The energy chamber housed the material the cannon used to fire. It only shot one blast at a time before needing to be reloaded. It was tedious and troublesome and affected the cannon’s efficacy in a fight. Future designs might add more energy chambers so that it could fire more often before needing to be reloaded. That would make them more useful in combat.
Cloudhawk didn’t know the principles behind it but he could tell the eboncrys cannon filtered the energy through a series of tubes and coils. The end result was a beam of energy that drained all the energy stores in an instant. Something this powerful fixed on the deck of a warship had a good chance of blasted Elysian vessels from the sky in one blow.
After all, this was a weapon that transcended what modern science was capable of! It was no less terrible than the weapons of ancient times.
Cloudhawk had considerably more satisfaction in his tone now. “If we could build a lot of these, no walls could keep us out. Set them up around our city and we would be in a very defensible position.”
War between Skycloud and Greenland was inevitable, but weapons like this gave Cloudhawk confidence.
“It’s one hell of a gun, though. I imagine they’re difficult to make.”
“That’s right, the workings of the cannon are very complicated. This one prototype is the result of a full year of research. The results of consistent hard work and lucky breakthroughs. Now that we know the process, though, it would take another month or two to build another.”
Two months? That was too slow! The wastelands were already at the brink of war.
If Cloudhawk was to wait until his armies were fully equipped with these weapons, he would be waiting a long time. He didn’t have the patience for that. “Right now we have several million citizens. We’ve got plenty of materials and production potential. It seems to me that if we created plants specifically for making these cannons we could get it done faster.”
Hellflower nodded. “This is precisely something I wanted to talk to you about. An eboncrys factory would be a significant improvement. They could focus on manufacturing eboncrys guns, rifles, cannons and bombs. These devices will revolutionize war, so setting up infrastructure to mass produce them should be a priority.”
The next question was where? Cloudhawk rules over several places directly and indirectly and each had its strengths. Greenland, for instance, had a remarkably united populace that worked well toward the city’s goals. Nox was a city where science flourished. Imperia was flush with resources. Even the Blisterpeaks and Sandspire were options. Any one of them could be the site of this new industry.
“What about Woodland Vale?” Cloudhawk posed the question to Hellflower. “The eboncrys you all need are grown there and getting the materials locally makes things a lot easier. The Vale’s powerful enchantments will protect you while they’re being made.”
But Hellflower shook her head. “That won’t do, Woodland Vale isn’t safe.”
That was an assertion that came out of nowhere, as far as Cloudhawk was aware. Besides Imperia what other place had protective enchantments as strong as Woodland Vale? If that place wasn’t safe, where else could they build their new weapons?
“An eboncrys factory would be a huge investment. With where we stand now, building a second would be too much to ask. Considering how important these weapons will be to us, relying just on the Vale’s protections isn’t enough. I do not believe in the Vale’s ability to withstand a full-on assault from Skycloud, or worse, the gods that ally with it.”
This made things difficult for Cloudhawk. If not the Vale, then where? Was there anywhere else that could satisfy the conditions they demanded?
Hellflower watched Cloudhawk with her cunning eyes, dancing around her suggestion. “I know some places that may be suitable. Places where even if all the gods and demons came out in force they would never pose the slightest threat. Placing our factory there would be convenient and completely safe.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter