“Your pylon and cannon are quite the accomplishment.” Wolfblade sipped from a teacup. “They’re sure to improve our armies and better prepare us against the Supremes.”
Cloudhawk got to the point. “I’m sure you didn’t come here to talk about my inventions.”
“Hmhm… you know me well. You’re right, I don’t usually concern myself with these trivial things.” Wolfblade calmly set the cup aside. “Your inventions are impressive, you have a talent. But progress is too slow. If we continue at the current place then we will lose.”
“Why do you say that?”
“A decade ago, Skycloud was the strongest of the Elysian realms. However it wasn’t much stronger than the others. In the last five years there have been numerous conflicts causing Skycloud to tumble to the bottom of that list. Even though Skycloud has joined us it is much weaker than it once was. At present, we have no chance against the combined might of the Supremes and their armies.”
Wolfblade was correct. Ten days had passed since the battle for Skycloud and already the Sky Fortress was starting to take shape. Cloudhawk was moving too slow.
The Supremes commanded an army at least fifty thousand strong. Their armada boasted thousands of ships. Sky Fortress had all manner of new weapons and their soldiers were outfitted with excellent equipment. Then there were the four gods to consider. So many unknowns remained, not least of which what the Supremes could do – even Cloudhawk was hesitant to test the waters.
Improvements to weapons and equipment were great, but they would take time to spread through Green Alliance forces. They were inferior to the other realms by a large margin and didn’t even have a way to fight above the atmosphere. All they could do was watch more and more enemy soldiers flow into Sky Fortress. When they were ready to bring the fight to them, they would be greatly outnumbered.
“I’m sure you have a plan, if you’re bringing it up.” Cloudhawk had grappled with these problems himself. If Wolfblade was here it was because he had conjured up some way to deal with them.
Wolfblade waved his hand. “Enter.”
Squall came into the room with a box. He put it on the ground, opened it up, and pulled out a bullet-shaped object from within. It was connected to a number of smaller devices and bristled with wires.
“A primeval weapon?” Cloudhawk asked.
“Indeed. The last one in our possession, and the last we are likely to find. It must be used where its effects would be greatest – like in the Sky Fortress.”
“How are we supposed to do that?”
He was speaking like he could just waltz right into the place!
Skycloud’s Temple was floating in low earth orbit and could move as it pleased. He couldn’t even figure out it’s exact location with their current technology. Anyway, it now served as the heart of the Sky Fortress. No doubt it was heavily protected.
Cloudhawk wasn’t getting anywhere near it, much less giving them a nuclear care package.
“There is always a way.” Wolfblade flashed his trademark cunning smile. “We can create opportunities to legitimately enter. You might find it a difficult trip, however.”
“You mean trying to pass as someone from one of the other realms and sneak inside?”
“That’s right. Of course, penetrating the Sky Fortresses’ protections is hard enough and the Supremes will be vigilant. It would be easier to infiltrate one of the realms and then have them deliver you to the Fortress themselves. Less risk, higher chance of success.”
Cloudhawk understood where he was going. Wolfblade’s suggestion was for Cloudhawk to leave for another one of the Elysian realms and establish himself there. The ultimate goal was to find a way into the Fortress, where could destroy it with a nuke from the inside.
With the help of Bruno’s Riftshard daggers, Cloudhawk could traverse the earth in relatively short order. The journey was not a problem.
“According to my estimations, Sky Fortress will complete its preparations in no more than two months. That is all the time you have to craft a passable identity and qualify to enter the Fortress.” Wolfblade paused for a moment before continuing. “The mission is difficult, but I believe you now possess the skills to see it through.”
Cloudhawk didn’t like bullshit exchanges, so he kept pressing. “What’s the destination and the route?”
Another smile curled the corner of Wolfblade’s lips. He produced a small remote control and pressed a button. A holographic projection sputtered to life on his desk: the earth, dead and yellow, slowly rotating in place. Six areas were clearly marked.
They were spread pretty evenly across the globe. The one marked with a white symbol was Skycloud, and the Shepherd God’s failed home was marked in gray. The others were indicated with red, probably to indicate their hostile status.
“What you see are the precise locations of each Elysian land.” It was not at all strange that Wolfblade would know where these realms were. He’d wandered the world for over a thousand years, maybe even before some were created. “My suggestion is the furthest, Stormford. Being the most remote there are few or no wasteland powers they’ve had to contend with. That would make it easier for you to infiltrate, since they would not be wary of outsiders.”
Cloudhawk took a moment to regard the nuclear weapon nearby. He weighed his options, but eventually understood it was the best course of action. He collected the weapon and left.
Wolfblade called after him. “Also, I have an old friend in Stormford who would be happy to offer some help. He’s easy to find, you just need to...”
But Cloudhawk had already left.
Wolfblade sat back, picked up his cup and took a sup.
Squall had been standing to one side the whole time. Curiosity eventually got the better of him. “Think he’ll do it?”
“What makes you think he wouldn’t? He is the Demon King.” When he was finished with his tea, the demon rose and opened a window. The light from outside darkened his shadow. “Everything he experiences is a series of small tests. The real enemy has yet to arrive. He won’t fail so easily.”
“You really trust Wolfblade’s strategy?”
“Things being what they are we have to consider anything feasible.”
Cloudhawk was preparing for the journey. He’d spent the night with Selene together in the fort. She clearly had her doubts about the plan – at the very least he shouldn’t go alone. He wasn’t a trained infiltrator, they had Carnage for a job like that. He wasn’t just some grunt, either. He was the leader of their Alliance. If something happened while he was gone, how could he respond?
Selene’s attitude toward Wolfblade was similar to Dawn’s. He was dangerous, conspiratorial and not to be trusted. Even to this day no one knew what his motivations were. What they saw was only the tip of the iceberg.
“Don’t worry, I’m strong enough to move pretty quickly between two fixed points.” Cloudhawk wrapped her in a hug. “You’re absolutely right that no one is better for sneaking into places than Carnage. His disguises aren’t based on any relic so no power can reveal him. But that is also its greatest flaw.”
“He can’t duplicate the resonance of a relic, and that means he can’t pretend to be a demonhunter. At best he can assume the identity of a general. We know that Sky Fortress is gathering the best of the best, the strongest people in all the realms. Two months isn’t enough time for Carnage to find a way in.”
“So then your plan...”
“I’m going to Stormford and Carnage will go to the other three realms. I’ll do my best to reach the heart of Sky Fortress as fast as possible. Meanwhile Carnage will spread through the middle and lower ranks. Our chances will be better if we coordinate.”
“Is there some way I can help you?” Selene asked.
“Yeah, when I’m not here you’re in charge of the Alliance.”
There were plenty of capable people in the Green Alliance, but only a handful he could trust without reservation. Of that small group even fewer had the leadership qualities needed to run the show. Selene was the best choice.
While he was away the Alliance would be in a tug of war between Selene’s camp, Wolfblad’es people, and followers of the Cloud God. It was a good system of mutual control and relative independence. As long as Cloudhawk was around and they were all fighting for survival, these groups wouldn’t fight among themselves. These divisions actually served to make them stronger.
That’s all the time he had to disguise himself as a mere demonhunter and sneak into Sky Fortress. He was the only one who could do it, the only one who could end this war before it began.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
And here we are friends, the end of book six. That means we have only two more books before Cloudhawk's story comes to an end - one hundred and eighty chapters left, that's all. What will we find in book seven? What new trials await? Our journey continues tomorrow.