Book 7, Chapter 25 - Seizing the Sword

The Sword of Sumeru was created by energy from the universe, gathered by the Temple. It was forged and further empowered by the will of six hundred demonhunters. Nothing could withstand its power.

Every passing second saw the sword gaining speed. The mortal men and women who watched were frozen by the domineering might it unleashed. They knew that when the Sword struck it would release all of its energy into the land. Everything around it would be forever altered.

Cloudhawk appeared before the superweapon, tattered cloak flapping. Floating there with his black sword in hand, buffeting winds threatened to rip him from the sky.

He was a small black dot, nothing more. The Sword of Sumeru closed in on him with all the size and inertia of an airship at full speed. The sheer difference in size was staggering. What would happen when they collided?

When the Sword first emerged it was almost ordinary, except for its size and the runes of the blade. It appeared to be covered in a layer of stone giving it a dull appearance. Yet shortly after it was released the weapon picked up speed. Cracks appeared upon the rugged exterior.

Crrrack! Snap! Chunks of stone started to fall away, revealing a dazzling body of jade-like material beneath. It was almost crystalline and the light that poured from it flooded the area with prismatic luminescence. Everyone held their breath.

Twenty meters. Fifteen meters. Ten meters! 

It continued to pick up speed as though rocket engines were moving it forward. Even more frightening was the energy it released, enough to warp space around it. Cloudhawk felt like he was nailed in place.

To everyone who watched, his death seemed assured. The gods especially understood the power of the Sword. Where it struck the Sword released a zone of energy. Whatever was sucked inside and never escaped.

It was too close now, too fast. Cloudhawk couldn’t dodge if he wanted to. 

Ting! A sound arose, as clear as a crystal bell. Soldiers below watched Cloudhawk thrust his black blade forward to meet the tip of the Sword as though trying to stop it with nothing but the strength of his arm.

A fool, tilting at windmills!

An indescribably surge of energy followed. It poured from the front of the superweapon and swallowed Cloudhawk up. He was dead, he had to be! Ground to dust!

A mayfly could not shake the tree. A mantis could not stop the rolling wagon wheel. Although Cloudhawk had somehow managed to ward off two gods, the Sword of Sumeru was another power entirely. Why was he so bent on self-destruction?

It was an impossible hope!

Indeed, as Cloudhawk connected with the weapon he felt a pressure more intense than anything he’d felt before. He felt his newly reformed bones bend and crack. He was pushed back at staggering speed, and the friction of the surrounding atmosphere caused everything around him to burst into flame. 

One could see it from a great distance; an enormous sword wreathed in fire, descending toward the earth. Squinting, one might see the small black dot fixed to its tip, struggling in vanity and ignorance against the inevitable. Only one outcome was possible. What made this insect think it could change fate?

Grim certainty filled the ground. Yet…

“What? Look! The sword is getting smaller!”

“Nonsense. The Sword of Sumeru is crystallized energy. It wouldn’t just get smal-… hey, he’s right!”

As the crowd looked on they saw that the tip was gone, though the black speck that was Cloudhawk remained. Little by little they could tell – even from this distance – that the sword’s body was shrinking. It was slow but obvious.

What was happening? What was swallowing the Sword?

The superweapon was composed of unstable energy from the universe funneled by the Temple, in addition to the mental powers of many demonhunters. All of it was temporarily bound into the shape of a sword. It wasn’t strictly physical and there was no name for this energy in human scientific texts. Rather it was a complex state between energy and matter with properties of both. But one thing was certain to remain unchanged – its instability!

A flake of this energy no bigger than a fingernail could level mountains. How could it be depleted so rapidly without cause? The two gods understood immediately that Cloudhawk had to be the culprit.

Enveloped in fire, Cloudhawk focused his will on one of his relics – a long silver chain. It was joined end to end to form a circle. The area in the middle rippled with spatial energy to form a mirror-like surface. The Sword of Sumeru, massive and imposing, was slowly being devoured by the unassuming ring of dainty silver.

How?!

The Lightning God understood first. “A spatial relic! Stop him!”

But wasn’t it too late? Cloudhawk didn’t want to stop the Sword at all! Even the gods, for all their wisdom, had not foreseen that Cloudhawk had another plan entirely!

Disruption to the flow of space-time restricted what powers could be used around Sky Fortress. Spatial relics were greatly hampered and using them demanded much more energy. Even Cloudhawk couldn’t move between dimensions as he normally did or use the subspace cube. Short-range teleportation was the best he could manage.

But that made his foes complacent. They didn’t notice one minor detail which reversed everything!

Cloudhawk recognized it the first time he saw Idonea’s Spacefetter relic. It was a weak tool, but unique. Under the right circumstances it could make a huge difference!

Spacefetter formed a dimensional ‘mirror’ with two faces that were connected. The trick was the space between those connections was a long longer than they appeared from the outside. A demonhunter could employ the relic to create a closed look of temporary subspace.

This temporary dimension could swallow attacks. By calculating how long it would take an attack to pass through, the user could employ them for counters or defense. It hardly sounded like a mighty item, but might wasn’t the point.

How much space existed between the mirror’s faces wasn’t hard-set. It could shrink or expand, like an infinitely large balloon. It was directly correlated to the strength of the wielder. In Idonea’s hands the longest distance was a few hundred meters. But if Cloudhawk used it, that stretched to tens of thousands! Enough to keep the Sword of Sumeru flying for much longer than intended!

The Light God attacked without any more hesitation. Under ordinary circumstances Cloudhawk would be unable to defend himself, but the Eye of Time gave him superhuman insight. The whole time he’d been watching the god closely for just such an attack.

As such he knew precisely where the attack would land and what the consequences would be. He was prepared, thus avoiding what his reflexes could not protect him from.

The Light God failed. The Lightning God followed after. 

The being was more tenacious than a cockroach. It burst into another wave of birds and came swooping down. Both gods knew something was amiss and spared nothing to finish off the human interloper – but they were too late.

A weapon of mass destruction created by the gods was being defeated by a low-grade relic. Such a risky move had cost Cloudhawk greatly, but it was succeeding.

The Light God brandished his blazing sword, standing amid a storm of electric birds. It watched the sword vanish into the Spacefetter mirror – but no matter! After a period of rest their demonhunters can forge another. Cloudhawk’s actions, however, were a threat to the Temple and an open slight against the gods. 

Two Supremes launched themselves at a single mortal, but the lowly human was not eradicated. On the contrary, Cloudhawk held the upper hand! He’d even managed to steal their superweapon – a clear and brazen insult.

How could these most high and mighty beings suffer such indignity from a human?

The Lightning God struck first. Swarms of lightning birds attacked their target. The Light God followed close behind. Only, during their charge they saw Cloudhawk stop. He slowly flipped the mirror around.

What?! The crowd was dumbfounded as the dazzling mirror surface came into view. Light poured out of it like a beam from the sun. It grew brighter and strong until at last the crystalline tip of a sword emerged. The terrifying burst of energy swallowed up the flock of birds.

It took only an instant. Those birds that were closer to Cloudhawk evaporated in an instant. Others tried to flee, but where could they go? It was too late to run.

The Sword of Sumeru’s gigantic form emerged from the mirror. Its field of energy filled the space, suppressing everything nearby. At incredible speeds, it pierced right into the heart of the flock.

Like a smouldering iron being doused in water, the birds all turned to steam. 

Faced with the encroaching weapon, even the unflappable mind of the god was thrown into confusion. Incredible power struck it like a tidal wave and the being’s armor burst to pieces. Sprays of blood sprayed from the fissures. 

An instant before the Sword destroyed it, the Light God’s relic had recharged. It shot off into the distance at almost the speed of light. The Sword continued on through the atmosphere, leaving a trail of fire in its wake. 

No!”

Terrified cries arose from the halls of Sky Fortress as helplessly they watched the Sword of Sumeru crash into the dark curtain around the Temple. Then, the world disappeared. Everything was devoured by light, heat and a deafening roar.

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