Cloudhawk had to use the Eye of Time for a number of things. Most important was to find a way to unify Skycloud and the wastes so they could stand together against the Supremes. It was going to be difficult and complicated, even Cloudhawk wasn’t confident, but there were others who could help him.
He put Wolfblade in charge of the wastelands. Skycloud was under the Cloud God’s management.
The four Supremes weren’t going to give Cloudhawk a lot of breathing room. He had to maximize what was left – and the best way to do that was his pocket dimension!
He opened it up to provide a place for training and manufacturing. Efficiency improved more than ten times while under the dimension’s time-slowing effect. Even just half a month could be stretched out, giving the Green Alliance a handy advantage.
Cloudhawk made his way to one section of the pocket dimension. Wolfblade and the Cloud God were in charge of the day to day, so Cloudhawk was left with trying to find out how to make the Alliance – and himself – stronger. Four Supremes was a major crisis, and they had to be ready.
After some thought, he’d come up with two ways to improve their situation.
First: Obviously better training would make their forces stronger. That was the foundation. To that end Cloudhawk ordered Dawn and others like her with exceptional potential to train in the cube. In what little time they had, these lieutenants had to get as strong as possible.
Second: Better, stronger relics. Foundational improvements were great, but better equipment would heighten their stopping power by a lot. So Cloudhawk was faced with a problem, and it wasn’t that there were too few relics. It was that there were too many.
All the recent conflict meant Cloudhawk and his people had seized all sorts of relics. What’s more, the inherent hardships of living in the waste had forced two very different people to work together. Relics that were once squirreled away in Skycloud saw increasing use out in the wastelands.
Cloudhawk had a slew of tools for himself, but there were limits to what one person could use. More didn’t necessarily mean better, and compatibility with one’s fighting style was superior to quantity.
For example, in the battle for Skycloud Cloudhawk had snatched up several relics. Ashfall, Arbitralux , Riftshard… the only one he hadn’t taken was Phoenix’s Blood of the Phoenix.
Cloudhawk separated relics into three categories. The first were outfitter relics – the most common, ninety percent of what they had were outfitter relics. Next were implantation relics. Those were rare but not unheard of. Squall’s Hellion Arm and Selene’s Eyes of Time were examples. Finally came symbiotics. Exceptionally rare, they were also very powerful. Cloudhawk’s Castigation Fire was symbiotic, as well as the Blood of the Phoenix.
Now Cloudhawk’s constitution was unique. He resonated with relics on a fundamental level and was able to make them a part of himself. Theoretically he could turn his own body into the most versatile and destructive weapon ever made.
Of course, there were limits. Cloudhawk could sense there was a ceiling. That ceiling increased with his mental capacity, but he couldn’t afford to be liberal with the ability. It would be foolish to absorb every relic he came across. So, in order to garner the greatest benefits, he chose to assimilate Bruno’s Riftshard daggers.
The trick was to use the psychic-empowered fires from his relic to create new, more powerful tools. Relics were complex things and even to this day Cloudhawk only had a beginner’s knowledge. He’d managed to make some simple, low-grade relics for his people to use. However, he did know a little more about joining two relics together. To start, then, the Arbiter’s Staff and Ruin.
These two were enormously powerful artifacts! Together their destructive abilities would be greatly improved, probably more powerful than any other relic in the known world.
Motes of green flame emerged from Cloudhawk’s fingertips. They seeped into the small orb of lightning that was Ruin. During this process he could sense how intricate Ruin’s structure was. He’d never seen anything like it. If the relics Cloudhawk had made were slingshots, than Ruin was a railgun. The difference between primitive and highly advanced.
Given hundreds, even thousands of years Cloudhawk might not have the knowledge required to make a weapon like this. It was a disappointing discover that filled him with anxiety. It was a clear picture of just how further ahead the gods were from man.
It didn’t matter… now wasn’t the time to get wrapped up in these thoughts.
With his other hand Cloudhawk released more dancing flames. They slithered over the Arbiter’s Staff and slipped inside. He discovered its construction and how it could be combined. While Cloudhawk didn’t know how to make relics of this caliber, his sixth sense meant he heard their resonance clearly. It was what allowed him to combined relics in the first place.
Ten long, tiring days passed. Eventually Ruin and the Arbiter’s Staff were combined into one! It’d cost Cloudhawk a lot of effort and concentration, but finally the work was done.
The final product looked very different from either of the originals. His Arbiter’s Staff was initially a four foot long metal staff. Ruin was a blade of condensed energy. What rested in Cloudhawk’s hand now was a simple sword.
The sword had inherited the Arbiter’s Staff material form. It was made from metal from hilt to tip and didn’t look particularly special. Four feet long, the weapon was no wider than three fingers. The only detail of note was a gem inlaid in the hilt.
Cloudhawk wrapped his fingers around it and activated the weapon.
All of a sudden the plain metallic body of the sword sparked to life! Threads of purple and black lightning danced across its surface. Air bent around the weapon from the sudden influx of power. He flicked his wrist and carved a gash in a nearby wall.
After a few seconds the wall reconstructed itself. Cloudhawk admired his new weapon with satisfaction.
The Arbiter’s Rod had massive physical destruction capabilities. In an instant it could drop a thousand tons of pressure, enough to flatten a mountain. Meanwhile, Ruin was highly condensed energy. Lethal in its own right, while attacking it also released deadly radiation that caused tremendous and usually -permanent damage to living things.
The perfect pair.
Not even Cloudhawk could see a separation anymore. IT was a complete and new relic unto itself. And a new weapon needed a new name.
As he pondered Cloudhawk thought about how eventually he would have to face the gods. Sooner rather than later, he would go to war against that divine race. This weapon he bore had a single purpose, so that’s what he would call it – Godslayer.
It would serve to prove Cloudhawk’s resolve.
He also used this time to transform several other relics. Using the slow crawl of time within the pocket dimension, he got a lot done. Rimeshard and Frozen Dirge were combined into Ashfall to create an ice-elemental halberd for Frost de Winter to wield.
It was one of ten other projects he completed. They were all given to the upper echelons of the Green Alliance. He sought out Dawn in particular and handed her Arbitralux. This item was unique in that it wasn’t easily combined with others. However, its properties melded well with Dawn’s talent. She was likely the best choice to wield it.
She’d been taking advantage of this time to train almost nonstop. Her strength had taking great strides. Her total fighting abilities were comparable to Phain Mist now, and with this weapon she could probably beat him in a fight. Between her considerable mental and physical abilities, plus the new equipment, she could probably give a Master Demonhunter a run for their money.
For days he’d been keeping busy improving his forces, until at last the moment he’d been anxious about came to pass. Hellflower gave him the news personally, “Selene is awake.”
Cloudhawk’s heart skipped a beat. She had also been brought into the dimensional space where she was being looked after by Janus and the others. Selene had been unconscious for so long, but finally she had come around.
Cloudhawk quickly made his way to where she was being kept. When he arrived she was indeed awake and sitting on the side of the bed. She stared blankly at the white walls, her hair a mess around her shoulders. For the first time he saw this strong and intractable woman wrapped in a sense of loss and innocence.
He walked over to her and wrapped her up in a hug, never saying a word.
When she felt the warmth of him press into her, Selene couldn’t stem the flow of tears. They tumbled down her cheeks, cutting hot paths. She’d lost everything – everything except him. He had never abandoned her.
“Nothing but a bad dream,” he whispered to her. “Welcome back.”
A bad dream…?
Selene didn’t say anything. She bit her lip so hard that she could taste blood. For the rest of her life she would never forgive herself for what she’d done, but she wasn’t about to give up either. Her dream of leading Skycloud to a peaceful future was shattered. Her father, who she’d been seeking for years, was dead by her hand… but he was still here. Cloudhawk was still with her.
She had to push passed it and live on.
That steel was where Cloudhawk’s unconditional trust came from. She wasn’t the girl who’d gone chasing after her father’s footsteps anymore. She was a woman, a warrior, who would never give in no matter how bad things got. Facing the truest parts of herself and the cruelest realities of life wouldn’t keep her down.
In that way Cloudhawk didn’t even have a tenth of her character. With her on the side of the Alliance, it was better than a thousand armies.
1. To my knowledge this wasn’t expressly mentioned in earlier chapters, unless I missed it. But it should be the staff with the Sage Crystal affixed to it. It’s name is ‘Light Ruler’, so I called it Arbitralux, a combination of ‘arbiter’ - latin for ruler – and ‘lux’ - latin for light.