As the tree focused all its might on Belial, Cloudhawk struck. He destroyed it from the inside with vicious lightning, turning the magnificent tree into a puddle of liquid metal. The mystical effects it once possessed were gone forever.
The many membranous creatures that lived inside of it had also perished.
Tadpole sacks burst open, becoming part of the mercury-like substance they came from and raining down through the chamber like a glittering rain. Aborted gods that were within hit the lake surface with sickening impact. The entire scene was as astounding as it was grotesque. Unforgettable.
It wasn’t clear whether the silver fluid was harmful.
To be careful, Cloudhawk deployed his shield. Droplets of liquid metal plinked off his defenses and pooled around his feet. With his sword slung over one shoulder and the white light around him, Cloudhawk sauntered over to one of the bodies. First he prodded it with his foot, then gave it a quick poke with the sword.
Well, looks like they’re dead.
He was at last able to put his guard down. Hundreds or a thousand gods – fully formed or not – would have been too much for him to handle. That threat appeared to be eliminated.
A quick flash of his sword and one of the armor casings cracked open!
Cloudhawk hacked again and again, before like a crab the protective shell was removed. At last, the real form of the gods was revealed.
What lay inside the armor was the body of someone that looked a lot like Cloudhawk, only two and a half meters tall and radiating a gentle light. He had no hair or even pores, so the skin was a perfect jade-like texture. But still, decidedly human in appearance.
It was hard to understand. These ‘gods’ didn’t seem so different. For a wastelander like him he’d see all assorts of hideous things; half-human things that dug through the earth and flew through the skies. A bald man, from the point of view of an ordinary person, gave the impression of strength not any sort of illness.
Why were the gods so human-like? It didn’t match with what he’d seen before!
Cloudhawk’s pupils contracted and his vision, like x-ray beams, bore into the corpse. His organs had crystallized and the stagnant fluid in his veins was the same liquid metal that was all around them. So while the features were human it was clear their internal organs were much different.
Cloudhawk straightened, rubbing his jaw. “I see…”
Could it be all the gods were as remolded as his friend here? What they looked like on the outside wasn’t important, any race could be altered to become a ‘god’. But the question remained: Where did this race originally come from?
It wasn’t a ‘chicken and egg’ question. Transformation was not evolution, something didn’t come from nothing. It was deliberate. The gods didn’t just appear from a stone somewhere, something as perfect as the body of a god had to come from some complicated system. But what force led to their original creation?
As Cloudhawk was lost in thought, he felt a malicious presence come up behind him. Belial was so full of rage that her eyes were bloodshot. Rings of black flame swirled around him, forming a storm of sizzling sickles. Without a word, he hacked at the hateful human that had stolen his freedom.
He lashed out in a wave of fury. Hundreds of flaming bites roared toward his enemy.
This old bastard doesn’t know when to quit! Cloudhawk didn’t dodge. He wasn’t worried. Without the dark furnace Belial didn’t have the endless mental reserves he did before. So he watched the Elder come without a hint of fear, and a glint of silver in his left eye.
A large swath of the chamber had become a tempest of fire. The swirling black blades moved on erratic trajectories, but Cloudhawk saw where they would all end up.
If he was determined to be so stubborn, what choice did Cloudhawk have? He’d have to teach him a lesson.
A plain sword wrapped in hideous purple lightning lashed out!
In the same instant Belial activated the power of several more relics, all of which Cloudhawk saw with his Eye of time. With Immortal Godslayer in hand, he deflected them with little effort.
Belial was unable to claim the treasure he’d searched so long to find, but he did not possess a strong desire to fight any longer. Although the two combatants were close enough in strength, the Elder had already lost his will. What’s more, Cloudhawk’s mystical Eye negated whatever advantage Belial and his many relics possessed.
Several dozen clashes followed. Belial was slowly losing ground.
Cloudhawk suddenly called out to him. “Elder Belial, haven’t you realized that you can’t escape the gods on your own? You know there’s only one person on this planet that can help you get what you want.”
His words gave Belial pause. He understood the human’s point. You want to escape the encroaching battle? You want to leave this planet? With no way to get his hands on a spacecraft, the only one who could do what he wanted was Cloudhawk.
He had a talent no one else possessed. With the power and knowledge of the former Demon King, Cloudhawk could fold space and step onto other worlds on a whim. The phase stone allowed him to travel as he pleased to any place his predecessor had visited.
These other planets were far, far away from this doomed world. But to Cloudhawk, it was like stepping into the next room. In other words, he was the key to escaping this tomb. Perhaps the only one with the power. Even if the gods scoured the galaxy looking for defectors, finding any would be difficult.
Yes. Although Belial was loathe to admit it, Cloudhawk was the final straw he could cling to. He didn’t want to die, and if he wanted to survive he had to accept Cloudhawk’s help.
But that help didn’t come for free. In accepting, he would inevitably be drawn into this new war where the only outcome he could imagine was death. There was no solution, the end seemed written no matter which way he turned.
In Belial’s moment of reflection, Cloudhawk drove Godslayer through his wreath of flames. With an opening revealed he kicked the demon Elder square in the chest. He was about to follow up by trapping him in the subspace cube when he noticed a change. Cracks appeared all over Belial’s form, scrawling across him until his exploded!
But in the midst of his shock, Cloudhawk’s keen eyes saw the pieces begin to reassemble. A hulking figure encased in dark armor was revealed. The Elder’s true demon form. Wings black as pitch extended from behind his shoulder blades, beating the air threateningly.
Cloudhawk scowled, cursing the monster’s stubborn nature.
Only before they could proceed, circumstances changed again. From overhead the rain of silvery metal continued to rain down, filling the chamber. The lake it created rippled slightly as the fluid all gathered toward a central point. It formed into a sort of screen.
Both Cloudhawk and Belial fixed their attention on it. What strange thing was this? A trap left behind by the gods?
Sounds emerged from the screen. It was both tinny and obscured. “Hello Cloudhawk. We finally meet.” 
Cloudhawk was dumbstruck. The stranger was certainly polite, but how did he know his name?
Balial blanched. “The God King!”
Their ultimate enemy. It knew! It was poised to act! Their time had run out! Belial could feel the God King’s power accumulating around them. Soon their lives would be forfeit.
A metallic light extended from the screen. Like a spear it pierced through Belial’s defenses and into his body. It ran him through and into the sturdy crystals beyond.
What? Just one blow? He’s an Elder demon! Cloudhawk was still frozen in place when the voice came again, this time clearer.
“I think you and I should have a conversation.”
The Demon King’s successor scowled. “You’re the God King?”
From the screen came his response. “I am responsible for maintaining order in this galaxy, so I wear many names. God King is one of them. Don’t worry, we are a millennia apart. This is a message I am leaving you from a thousand years in your past.”
“You saw me a thousand years ago?” He asked.
“Indeed. I foresaw your arrival here and heard everything you said.” The screen began to shift, revealing a figure within the liquid metal. The being looked at Cloudhawk through the mirror. “I am able to extend myself from my time to yours so we can speak.”
Cloudhawk’s face had grown pale. He was face to face with the God King from a thousand years ago. A thousand years! Back when the God King came here to defeat his demonic counterpart.
Everyone knew the result of the Great War all those years ago. When the Demon King was defeated, the God King left this planet under the watchful eyes of the Supremes. Meanwhile the demons skittered into hiding, awaiting the day they might rise again. What they could not know was that the God King had seen it all – a thousand years in the future, this young human would rise.
So here they were, engrossed in a conversation a thousand years in the making. From generations ago the God King had struck out against the demon Elder Belial. Once again, Cloudhawk was shown that the God King’s power was far greater than he ever imagined.
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