Book 7, Chapter 27 - Turnaround

“Don’t believe him!”

“He’s the reason Skycloud fell from grace! We can’t let him run amok in our homes!”

“After him! We can kill him together!”

Cloudhawk wasn’t given a chance to make his case. Even if he did, this group wasn’t going to listen to a word he said. He didn’t have enough hard, compelling evidence to change their thinking. In the face of deep-seated prejudice, there was no room for talk.

So be it. If they wouldn’t listen to reason then he would just leave them here. At least they wouldn’t get in the way.

“Whatever you think, I just saved your lives.” Cloudhawk clasped his hands behind his back and addressed the crowd like an irritated teacher. “If this is how you repay my help you might find it lacking next time.”

Cloudhawk was strong, but vastly outnumbered. There were a slew of fighters who occupied the highest levels of achievement. He might be able to handle four or five at once, but much more than that and he would find himself in a tough spot.

“Come on!” Siegebreaker barked. “We’re not idiots. You think pretending to be a savior will make us give up this opportunity? Everyone, for the safety of the realm – attack!”

A glint of ridicule shone in Cloudhawk’s eyes as he looked at his defeated foe. Seeing this contempt the veins on Siegebreaker’s head swelled in anger. His recent, embarrassing defeat to Cloudhawk was still fresh in his mind, but whatever the circumstances he was still a mighty warrior! Such disrespect was untenable.

“Fine. Make your move, then.” With that mysterious, mocking sentence he turned his back on them as though they were not there. The Elysians looked at one another in hesitation.

“You bastard, making a show of things!” Siegebreaker’s knuckles cracked as he clenched his fists. “I want my rematch!”

“Hold!” The voice came from among the crowd. A group of demonhunters pushed to the front – elderly men of station. “We can’t attack him now.”

Siegebreaker scowled incredulously. “High Priest Gorman Vargas[1]? What are you saying?”

Gorman Vargas was Stormford’s High Priest, a contemporary to Highmorn’s Lucian Ambrose and Skycloud’s Ramiel Caelestis. At this moment the spritely old man bore a serious countenance He had just seen the death of the god he’d served all his life.

High Priests were the embodiment of their god’s will on earth. But now his god was dead, so what purpose did he serve? What would become of Stormford? These were questions that burned in his heart.

A smile touched the corner of Cloudhawk’s lips. Without even turning to look at them he took several steps forward. Space compressed around him, warping his words. “Seems you don’t have the heart. I have a mess to clean up and o time to play with you all. Hang out here and take all the time you need to mull things over. See ya.”

As his last words hung in the air, Cloudhawk vanished. Space rippled around where he had been for a few moment and then calmed.

The crowd stared at the empty spot for a second before Siegebreaker broke the silence. “Why?!”

“Idiot, are you blind? This isn’t our world!” Gorman cast a withering glare at the martial artist. “His spatial powers are strong. Even if we were a threat, he could simply disappear through dimensions. Even keeping him here is questionable, much less killing him. Say we manage it – then what? How do we return home?”

Siegebreaker finally understood. No wonder the others didn’t act. It wasn’t because they feared Cloudhawk but because he was their only ticket home. If they killed the fiend here, there was no way back. They would be burning their only bridge.

Here they were, stuck! The four realms would be lost without their strongest to defend them! Cloudhawk, the bastard. Did he intend to lock them up here forever?

Siegebreaker was filled with denial, but what could he do? There was no way out of this prison.

**

A few minutes after teleporting the Elysians to their new home, Cloudhawk returned to Sky Fortress. He arrived to a scene of devastation. The enchantments that protected the Temple had collapsed and those further out were unstable. Outside, the armada was milling around in confusion and alarm.

They’d just missed being consumed by the explosion. Cloudhawk didn’t know how much power the Sword of Sumeru had contained, but judging by the catastrophic effects left behind he could guess.

When it struck the black curtain, a huge amount of light and energy had been released. The protections hiding the Temple were overloaded and destroyed. However, the structure itself moved at the last moment and avoiding absolute destruction. The Sword swept by and the Temple avoided a direct blow.

Even so, a fourth of the pyramid-shaped Temple was in ruin. The superweapon pierced the inner and outer enchantments to obliterate a hundred or more airships. Oxygen fled out into space and anti-gravity fields failed. In the end, Sky Fortress was teetering on the precipice of collapse.

Below, a motley army approached.

They were Cloudhawk’s allies, arriving just in time. Sky Fortress had suffered a terrible blow and all the soldiers of its inner circle were gone. Of the four Supremes one was dead and another gravely wounded. Only two remained in fighting condition.

If the Cloud God or several of his strongest fighters arrived to back him up, Cloudhawk was confident they could win this fight!

The Temple! That was his target. It was more than just a link between their world and Mount Sumeru. It was the foundation of divine imperialism. Without them and the endless energy they provided, Elysian lands would never have been established. The gods would have no way to demand human faith and obedience.

With this in mind Cloudhawk chose not to wait for reinforcement. One man, one sword. He dashed toward the Temple, teleporting across the space. The structure was badly damaged, but the fact that Sky Fortress still stood meant its powers remained.

He would fix that!

Cloudhawk held Godslayer aloft and a beam of light shot from it, a hundred meters into space. The Milky Way above was cleaved in two. Like a blazing ribbon, he brought it down upon the Temple to finish what the Sword of Sumeru had started.

Only, just then…

The pupil of his left eye contracted. A scene emerged before him, of a winged beast putting itself between him and his target to take the blow. Another armed and armored Supreme launches at him with a vicious attack.

He takes a punch. Much to Cloudhawk’s surprise even his evolved body is unable to take it. His chest caves in and the damage is absolute. Too late to fight back. His enemy grabs his right arm and rips it off…

Fuck!

At the last instant Cloudhawk moved his strike. The stream moved away from the Temple and out into space – directly in the path of a silent figure.

The blow from its fist swung wide, Cloudhawk’s sword strike streaked off into darkness as if it had never been. He glowered at the two figures near the Temple, clad in divine armor. He’d seen them once before. The one in black armor had saved the Temple from falling after his fight with the Avatar. He knew the winged one to be a strong and deadly foe.

The War and Dragon Gods.

He knew they would show up. Fortunately he had already defeated one of the Supremes and wounded another, otherwise the four of them together would have been far too much for him to handle. Although he stood there eyeing his new opponents calmly, in his heart he knew a single mistake could mean his doom.

These two gods were special. They were generals of their race. 

Field Marshalls like them were few among. Living war machines that lead armies from the front. It was they who lead the divine soldiers against demonic hordes in the Great War.

Dragon God and the War God were such commanders.

In regards to direct combat power, both were superior to the likes of the Cloud God, the Lightning God or the Light God. Meanwhile, Cloudhawk was greatly drained and wounded from the obstacles up to this point. Against these two enemies he was looking at a deadly uphill contest.


1. Gorman, irish for ‘little blue one’ and Vargas, Spanish for hut. His Chinese name is ‘blue hut’

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