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Chapter 117 - A Desperate Battle

 Chapter 117 - A Desperate Battle

Frost de Winter was like a statue made from a ten thousand year old glacier. Anything that dared to get near him was frozen solid. He was too strong. His presence alone filled the others with fear and made their hearts race. For Gabriel, Claudia and Drake this was their first time standing off against a master demonhunter. They felt hopeless against his indomitable power.

Were they just weak? No. Yet they were defeated in no time, with little effort!

Drake was already out of the fight. The blood he puked up was thick and mixed with flecks of ice. Puffs of steaming air fought through his clattering teeth. "Fuck," he said through mouthfuls of blood. "This asshole is strong."

In fact, surviving a direct blow from Frost proved how tenacious the soldier's body really was. Had it been Claudia or Gabriel in his position, things would have been much worse.

"You go." Cloudhawk helped Drake over to the other two. He turned to face Frost, pulling his sword free. It whipped threateningly through the air and he stood defiantly before the man with his sword pointed toward the ground. "I'll hold him off."

Hold him off?

They wagered fighting the master demonhunter one on one gave Cloudhawk a twenty percent chance of surviving for any length of time, much less delaying him. Leaving him here was the same as leaving him to die. Neither Drake nor Gabriel would accept it, and the thought was completely out of the question for Claudia. Although her enmity for Cloudhawk ran deep, she wasn't about to let someone she hated help her run.

"You've grown quickly. Were you not born to such... humble resources, perhaps you wouldn't have lost so easily the last time we met." Frost ignored the other three. His piercing eyes were fixed solely on Cloudhawk, and he spoke with a voice cold as the grave. "No wonder my master and Selene look so highly upon you. Such a pity you were born in the wrong place, with no road to salvation. There is no place for someone like you in our holy domain."

"Chasing that nonsense is worth less than dogshit. Wait, let me rephrase; you and what you stand for are worth less than dogshit." Cloudhawk shot a glance toward the others, trying to get them to leave. It wasn't some altruistic notion, just that he knew he was the one Frost was after. Perhaps he'd let them get away if Cloudhawk could keep his attention. He couldn't hide from his past anymore. Cloudhawk wrapped his hands around the hilt of Quiet Carnage and dug his feet in against the chill wind. "Tell me what you think of my sword before you kill me."

"Still so chatty, even in the face of death. You haven't changed at all."

Frost leapt forward amidst a surge of cold. The air became thick with swirling snowflakes and he charged at Cloudhawk like an avalanche. The knight commander swung his silvery spear through the air, which summoned a tornado of icy energy that tore toward his foe.

Frost was a different breed from others Cloudhawk fought. Most shot off at the mouth and kept a trick or two up their sleeves in a fight. Frost was a man of few words, and when he committed to a fight he came out with full force.

Cloudhawk planted his feet. Grains of yellow sand rose ten meters around, and with his left hand he guided them into a flurry. With his right hand, he hacked at the encroaching torrent of cold. It was obvious right away the difference between the two men. Frost's power instantly overwhelmed Cloudhawk and all the sand around him was frozen into clumps. The tornado of icy fury charged at the wastelander.


Frost was right behind it, thrusting his spear toward Cloudhawk's head.

Before Frost's spear found its mark, and as the tornado of energy descended upon him, Cloudhawk's body was already covered in a thin film of ice. It was getting more difficult to move, even shuffle his feet. He couldn't protect himself if he could hardly lift his arms.

Cloudhawk didn't know when he was going to die, but he was sure as hell not going to let it be at this asshole's hands. The cold was creeping through him, so bad that his blood had started to stagnate in his veins. But in response, a power from in his blood broke free and got it moving again. Even though he was covered in ice, he did not feel it stifling him anymore. Trespasser, it had to be. Its effect on his body was growing more apparent, and this reaction specifically was new.

Although he didn't like the idea of being any less than fully human, Cloudhawk had to acknowledge how useful the virus was. It gave him the time he needed to mount a defense. When he lifted his head, a crimson fire smoldered deep in his eyes. A sinister power slithered into Frost's mind as they locked eyes, until those same fires flickered in Frost's crystalline blue gaze.

This was a psychic attack!

Frost was distracted, blocking himself from the assault while Cloudhawk whipped Quiet Carnage at his spear. The knight commander was knocked back, landing several meters away and swaying unsteadily. For the briefest moment there was a shadow of doubt on Frost's face. What did I just see?

Cloudhawk was already breathing heavily. It all happened in seconds, but the toll was staggering. It was the same mental assault he'd used on Gabriel, but its effects were greatly diminished against Frost. Likely it was because of the great difference in their psychic capabilities.

Gabriel and Claudia stepped forward to join Cloudhawk by his side.

"Why didn't you leave?"

"If we're leaving, we leave together!"

Frost was still confident. He came at Cloudhawk again with another torrent of power. Though it was a surprise that the wastelander had warded him off before, Frost was sure he couldn't use that power again so soon. He wasn't going to give these heathens a moment's rest. By the looks of things, there was no escape for Cloudhawk now. Together with Gabriel and Claudia they would fight Frost to the end. Three was always better than two.

Frost didn't get in close this time. Instead, he jabbed his spear through the air a dozen times. Each thrust belched a spear of blue light, which would encase anything it touched in a prison of ice. It was too late for Cloudhawk to mount a defense, but just then the unexpected happened.

A simple bronze mirror appeared in front of them. It extruded a formless field of energy that engulfed Frost.

The knight commander grew sluggish like he was moving through mud. In that moment, a silvery scimitar appeared spinning through the air, cutting apart anything in its path. It was aimed right for Frost's throat.

It all looked simple and straightforward, but the power behind that scimitar was undeniable.

Once the bronze mirror's field of control had him, Frost had no option but to get out of the way. As the scimitar spun passed Frost, a figure sprang into the air, and with dumbfounding speed, snatched the blade mid-rotation. The stranger's other hand bore a sword just the same as the first, and she used both to hack at Frost de Winter.

"Fuck you!"

The young woman's flurry of attacks was swift and fierce, but was still no match for the master demonhunter. With one thrust of his spear he knocked the scimitar away and countered without missing a beat. As the spear stabbed at her unprotected chest her eyes went wide, and then she vanished. The strange woman reappeared half a heartbeat later next to the sword Frost had knocked from her hand. She snatched it back.

Frost descended on her like the shadow of death.

The woman crossed her scimitars before her, but would frozen dirge be so easily blocked? A gust of bone-chilling wind swept passed her swords and engulfed her. Then, at this crucial moment, a pair of beads zipped by at the speed of sound. They struck Frost right in the center of his chest.

They were too sudden, and too fast for the knight commander to foresee. He staggered back and was forced to stop his assault.

Whoosh, whoosh! Figures appeared all around.

Felina, Caspian, Rohan, Veronika. It was Cloudhawk's Tartarus Squad.

He gaped at their sudden appearance. "What are you doing?! I told you to stay back!"

"I heard what you said, Captain. You really hurt my feelings!" Caspian's tittering voice whined at him, a sound that made the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. "I can't stand to see my captain in danger, even if he's fighting the honorable Frost de Winter."

Felina flicked her wrist, shedding the frost that had covered her scimitars. The surprise had gone from her face, replaced by her usual sweet smile. She threw back her shoulders proudly. "I was worried about you, captain, so I told them all to come along. It looks like you're lucky we did."

Veronika nodded, while Rohan's face was bitter and resentful. Fuck fuck fuck. Fuck! It's Frost de Winter! We're dead!

Seeing the forces arrayed against him, Frost scowled in irritation. He was strong enough to handle Cloudhawk and the other three without trouble, but with these new additions things became... troublesome. After all, these weren't your average soldiers. Although none came even close to the rank of master demonhunter. At best one or two might be granted the rank of senior.

Felina was nicknamed the Demon Kitten for more than just her speed and savagery. She also commanded a unique relic. This pair of curved swords were called the 'flickering blades', a special set that could sense one another. When they were separated, so long as the bearer held one they could teleport instantly to the other. It lent her a speed few could match, so when Felina fought her swords flew all over the field. She would flicker from one to the other, so long as they remained within range. It made her incredible agile and hard to pin down.

Caspian was also unique, in more than just his ambiguous gender and sexuality. He bore two relics; one for attack, and one for defense. Both matched his water talent, and both were very high quality [1]. Water-talent was characterized by adaptation. It could flow as a river, rise as a fog, or fall as rain. It could also crash like the sea. Its abilities were boundless.

As for Veronika, she was the weakest in straight combat but was as helpful in this exchange as anyone else. Her relic was the 'demon sealing mirror,' a priceless treasure of her family. It was not an offensive tool, but could hinder and regulate its target. It also has the ability to sap the victim of mental energy while bolstering the user's defense. In other words, with Veronika as support Frost's strength was at least a third as threatening. He was weaker, in turn making her comrades more effective. The benefits were obvious.

Rohan's relic was nothing special, but he wasn't a pushover. He had psychic power to rival Gabriel's, and was cunning in a fight. He was especially effective when making sneak-attacks in confused exchanges.

Cloudhawk had lived and suffered with these people for two months. Throughout that time they trained morning to night, which made them all very familiar with one another's skills and fighting styles. Their cooperation in times of conflict was more than just passable. Even against a foe like Frost de Winter, they had a grasp on how to approach the fight.

"Fuck it. Ya'll are in trouble now anyway, might as well make the most of it!" Cloudhawk wasn't the sort to fear stirring things up, and even these high-brow nobles were willing to cause some mischief. So what was he supposed to say? He ordered the unthinkable. "We'll deal with this asshole together. I want to see the look on Master Arcturus' pride and joy when I stomp it beneath my boot."

1. Caspian's effeminate nature and his talent for water-type relics is not random. The Chinese concept of Yin, '', are many of the qualities Caspian displays: dark, flowing, cold, water, female, subservient. Remember not to attach negative or positive stigma to either yin or yang, because they're two essential fragments of a unified whole - even though the author is clearly using him as a foil for comic relief and homophobia. You can see Caspian as the polar opposite of the man we met in the House of Demonhunters, Blaze