Book 7, Chapter 46 - The Shepherd God's Power

The people of Fulmulta looked at one another in shock. Such a young and powerful Master Demonhunter!

During his brief time in Skycloud Bruno had heard tales of Frost’s strength, but he didn’t think it reached such heights! From what he saw, even Bruno was unlikely to beat him in a fight without his dimensional daggers.

Charon and Bruno both were part of Stormford’s mighty old guard. They were equivalent to what Sterling and Baldur Cloude had been back in Skycloud, wielding power that was only seen once in every ten thousand demonhunters. And yet this young man had beaten the Commander-General. It was a bitter pill to swallow.

In their shock, the people realized they were even more frightened of Cloudhawk now. Frost de Winter was one of his lieutenants, not even one of the Alliance’s most prominent members. If that were so, what did that say of Cloudhawk’s capabilities?

Dawn’s fists had clenched tight unconsciously as she watched the exchange. Frost was… strong. IF he wasn’t equal to Selene then he was close. At her current strength Dawn did not think she was a threat to him. The blow to her ego cut deep.

Her progress lately had been quick, but it still seemed insufficient. If she wanted to take her rightful place as Cloudhawk’s right hand, if she wanted to earn vengeance for her family, then she had to get stronger.

Power. Power! Power! That was the answer to everything. Power at any cost! Dawn grit her teeth and swore she would achieve her aims.

Cloudhawk gently patted her on the shoulder but said nothing. Any words of comfort were useless, but he wanted to let her know that no matter what, he stood by her side.

“I’m done!” Charon’s gruff voice was bitter but accepting of his defeat. He was helped from the ring.

Frost recovered his weapons and returned to Cloudhawk’s party.

Autumn was next. Without prompting from Cloudhawk she took to the ring. Rising up light as a feather, she presented herself for the contest. In her hands was clasped a small flute. Her pose was comfortable.

Another young, wordless challenger to represent the Green Alliance. 

Autumn and Frost were very different. Outwardly she seemed much younger – maybe eighteen or nineteen years old. In contrast to Frost’s cruel detachment she seemed almost nervous. It was hard to imagine that such a sweet young girl could wield the sort of power Cloudhawk promised.

He had Dawn by his side as well as a demon, albeit Abaddon was trying to keep a low profile. Both were clearly strong. So why pass them up in favor of this child? The onlookers saw no logic in his choice. Was she really stronger than the other two? It sure didn’t seem so.

“Allow this old man to give it a try.” Gorman made his way to the ring, electing to put himself forth for this challenge. “You take care, young lady.”

As he said this the High Priest pressed his hands together. Slowly pulling them apart revealed a pyramid rotating in between his palms that glowed with a strange light. A moment later he pushed forward and the shape detonated.

Autumn watched as ten prismatic shards were flung in all directions. They spun through the air, surrounding her.

“What this?” She hurriedly brandished her flute and produced an incisive light.

Clang!

As the slash struck one of the prismatic planes a loud noise erupted. The impact was enough to make the whole Temple shiver. Everyone looked at this young girl with new eyes. 

Judging by that move she wasn’t any weaker than Frost. 

However, High Priest Gorman was a far sight stronger than his military counterpart. Autumn’s attack failed to shake the prismatic walls encroaching around her. On the contrary, the force of her blow was reflected back toward her.

Her face stiffened. Quickly she raised her flute and used it to deflect the danger. Quite the solid prison she found herself in. Despite using considerable strength, her attempt had left no mark.

Gorman stepped onto one prismatic plane. Like an immortal from a fantasy novel he rose into the air while slowly raising his arms. The prismatic fragments began to move. From within lights sparked to life and a flood of energy emerged. Like a dozen warship attack pylons, they fired toward Autumn. So intense was the onslaught that she feared even the Shepherd’s power was not enough to save her.

Autumn’s current abilities were slightly stronger than a typical Master Demonhunter. However, she was surrounded and locked down by this strange power that cast her attacks back at her. Violent attempts failed to free her, and in fact made her position more precarious.

Autumn brandished her flute, blocking shot after shot from the prisms. But in deflecting one, it just bounced off a prismatic plane and came back toward her in an infinite barrage. Even if Autumn’s defense was watertight, eventually she would collapse from exhaustion.

It did not look good for her!

Autumn had never possessed overwhelming combat skills. Faced with this situation she felt herself begin to panic. It was just enough to allow two shots to break through her defenses. A wave of dread passed over her and the onlookers held their breath, sure she was on the cusp of defeat.

Although this girl was strong, her opponent was the realm’s own High Priest! He was an aged and experienced man who was even stronger than Commander-General Charon. Surely defeating one young girl was no trouble for him.

And yet, as the deciding blow closed in…

Something about Autumn changed. All at once an even more intense power oozed from her.

She activated her relic instinctively and all at once the floor beneath her feet shattered. A carpet of vibrant, writhing foliage flooded from the cracks and spread in all directions. Vines reached up to form barriers that deflected the prismatic beams.

Not only that.

Vines and branches bubbled from the ground like a living fountain. Faster than the eye could follow, they wrapped up the prisms like strong chains, holding them fast.

Autumn lifted her flute.

The foliage acted at her command, lashing out across the platform. Gorman had never seen an attack like this before. He watched her place the instrument to her lips and blow.

HAARRRROOOOOOOOM!

A claw composed of ripping vines groped for the High Priest from behind. He was caught off guard and was knocked from the sky. When he got his bearings enough to turn around, the High Priest faced a giant dragon wreathed in fire. Summoned from the ether, it hovered above him like a curse.

Yes, summoned! The young girl’s real power was in calling forth allies.

Not only was she able to invoke these vines, even a terrifying monster heeded her commands. Gorman had never seen anything like it!

Autumn jumped into the air. At the height of her trajectory creepers gathered beneath her feet into the form of a behemoth. She now stood upon the shoulders of the beast, which roared as its massive hand ripped aside a prismatic plane and punched at the High Priest.

Autumn’s eyes watched with a look of detached apathy. While still the beautiful girl from before her bearing had changed. She was now infinitely more noble, aloof and untouchable.

What a striking change! Moments ago she was an innocent child. Now, she was as domineering as a god.

Cloudhawk recognized it immediately. Autumn’s personality had been suppressed and the Shepherd God was in control. Although the former Supreme was not at her peak, she had recovered about seventy percent of the strength she once wielded. Considering her former station, even Cloudhawk didn’t dare look down on her.

Gorman wasn’t a powerhouse in the vein of Phoenix or Arcturus. How could he stand against a Supreme?

Go!” Two prisms appeared in the priest’s palms then fired at the dragon like daggers. 

But The Shepherd God responded quickly. With a crisp note from the flute a thousand vines replied. They laid siege on Gorman who, though protected by panes of light, could not keep them all at bay. They slithered through the cracks and into the High Priest’s body.

“I have lost!” He said with a sigh.

This wasn’t a contest to the death. While he hadn’t used his full power, Gorman recognized the power of his foe. If they both went all out he would only have been able to hold on for a little while longer.

Incredible that this young creature could be so strong! Once again, the people of Fulmulta were in awe of Cloudhawk’s allies. Would they have to suffer three defeats in a row? It was an embarrassment!

Pelagius Audra was their last hope for honor. Their illustrious Governor was widely known for his combat abilities, probably the strongest in the realm. Even the High Priest bowed to him.

But the one he faced was none other than Cloudhawk. Did he have any hope of victory?

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