A single, silver-haired man of middle years sat in the center of the hall. Crystal daggers rolled between his fingers. Ahead of him was a deafening thud, as though an enormous creature had made landfall. A jet of green fire came screaming down the corridor like the tongue of a demon.
As quickly as it arrived, the fires vanished.
A young man wreathed in green fire slowly walked into view. His clothes were torn and dirty. Behind the tears wounds were visible, but they healed with incredible speed. Every inch of this man’s porcelain skin radiated with energy, his eyes sparkled like stars. Unreadable unfathomable, they stared at the man with the daggers.
“Extraordinary. If you’re here it means the Avatar’s ambush has failed.” Bruno slowly unfurled his legs and stood. “I must acknowledge what they say. You’re quite the foe.”
The Avatar surrounded herself with mighty allies and clever traps. None so far had managed to stop Cloudhawk. Relentlessly, the wasteland leader had pressed through. Where he appeared, opposition crumbled. However, even unsuccessful barriers took a toll. The soldiers and demonhunters sent against him – none of which survived to follow Cloudhawk here – at least managed to tear into his flesh.
The battle that raged around them was a bloody one.
Cloudhawk appraised the middle-aged man before him. This had to be the master from Stormford.
Bruno Argyris was master of a rare talent – space. The dimensional dagger he wielded was mysterious and powerful. It produced copies of itself and then use those copies to move targets through space. Bruno’s weapon certainly make him trickier to deal with.
“Since you know what happens to people who stand in my way, you wouldn’t be so stupid as to follow their disastrous decision now would you?” Cloudhawk took a step forward. “What you saw in Skycloud today is the future for all Elysian lands. Sooner or later, everything the Avatar tried to do here will occur in your home. What you are doing will come back to bite you.”
“I can’t deny that there is some logic to your words, but I must apologize – I don’t have a heroic spirit. I’m not built to remake the way of the world.” Bruno twirled his daggers then wrapped his fingers tight around them in a reverse grip. “What I do have is a beautiful wife back home, a good child, and a wise old father. The end of the world is still far off but the people I care about are right now. Don’t you agree?”
The two men postured but did not attack.
Bruno wasn’t fighting only for himself. He wasn’t even fighting solely for his realm or Mount Sumeru. All he wanted was a good life for himself and his family. They were waiting for him in Stormford, so how could he rise against the gods? He didn’t know what would happen in a hundred years or longer, nor did he care. All of life occurred in cycles. Whether humans were destroyed in a billion years or a hundred, it didn’t matter to him.
If Cloudhawk was in his position, he’d probably feel the same way.
It didn’t have anything to do with right or wrong, good or evil. Not to him. So there was no way to reconcile with the demonhunter, the only way forward was through him.
Cloudhawk slowly raised his sword of lightning.
“I’m in a hurry. Show me what you got and let’s get this over with.”
“Beating Ash and storming the Temple proved your ability. Breaking through the Avatar’s ambush showed great strength. But after all that, how much more can you handle?” As he spoke, Bruno drew a sword from his waist. Lightning crackled across its surface, revealing its attributes.
Cloudhawk was no longer interested in talking. In an instant he vanished from where he’d been standing. Reappearing before Bruno, Ruin came crashing down like a lightning bolt.
Ruin and Bruno’s short sword met with a storm of sparks. The older man felt a torrent of energy, almost more than he could stand. Burning power was carried through him by tendrils of lightning.
Cloudhawk kept up the assault. His Arbiter’s Staff came crashing down.
Like the first, the attack was frighteningly strong. The weight behind it alone threatened to crush Bruno. A flash glimmered in the man’s eyes as he brought his left hand up. Ruin smashed into the silver dagger and in that moment Cloudhawk felt the powers of space warp around him.
Shit! Cloudhawk recognized his enemy’s intentions right away.
He was going to use his dagger to teleport Cloudhawk away the second they made contact. Where he would end up was anyone’s guess – perhaps in the middle of a furnace burning thousands of degrees, of thousands of meters below the earth. Once Cloudhawk disappeared, if he wasn’t killed outright he would at least be removed from the fight.
In that critical instant, Cloudhawk opened his hand. Spatial power enveloped the Arbiter’s Staff and it disappeared.
His brows furrowed. This was a real problem, care had to be taken to make sure no contact was made with the dagger.
Bruno reacted quickly. With a flick of his right wrist, three daggers were cast out. They weren’t thrown toward Cloudhawk, but as they passed him all of a sudden three figures appeared. Without a moment’s hesitation they lashed out at Cloudhawk.
The three were mighty Elysian warriors. Although not anywhere near as strong as Bruno, they were nonetheless able to hold their own! Each one was comparable to Phain.
Three warriors like this were troublesome already. Appearing from nowhere and attacking all at once, Cloudhawk had no time to prepare. He managed to deflect two of the strikes before one caught him from behind. The ear-splitting sound of steel on iron rang out as the blade left a gash.
It stitched itself back together a moment later.
Cloudhawk utilized his own powers to teleport a short distance away, breaking from encirclement and appearing behind Bruno. He stabbed Ruin forth but just before it found purchase, the Master Demonhunter blinked out of existence. Ruin bite into the ground, but nothing else.
Slipped away again! Frustrated, Cloudhawk was beginning to recognize the strategy. Bruno’s daggers could move things away, but could also bring things to him. It was how he disarmed Cloudhawk’s Arbiter’s Staff and then brought three allies to help him.
The act of moving through space was almost instantaneous. Bruno could move through this whole space at will. He was able to dodge attacks and call reinforcements. And unless he was mistaken, Cloudhawk figured the Avatar, Phoenix, Lucian and others all held a copy of his dagger. That meant at any moment, if needed Bruno could bring any of them into the fray.
Frankly, Bruno’s combat effectiveness was ordinary at best. Of the four masters brought through the Portal, he was certainly the weakest in a fight. What made him dangerous was his rare talent. No ordinary foe could pin him down and he could capitalize on the smallest error.
“Cloudhawk, I suggest you just give up.” Bruno tried to distract him with taunts as they fought. “I know why you do it. Mount Sumeru has chosen her, there’s no going back. If you can’t even get passed me how are you supposed to defeat the four gods of the Elysian lands? How are you supposed to beat Sumeru?”
Cloudhawk stopped dead in his tracks. “Do you really think I’m powerless against you?”
Bruno was not expected the calm Cloudhawk showed. He was under no pretense that he had Cloudhawk’s strength, nor did he think he’d win. His goal was merely to keep the wastelander pinned down to stop him from interfering. So far he’d been successful.
Cloudhawk reached into his clothing and pulled out a small cube. With a casual motion he flung it into the air. A second later, really shattered into a world of boxes.
Bruno’s eyes widened. “What kind of relic is this?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter