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Book 5, Chapter 45 - A Choice

 The leader of the Demonhunter Corps was none other than Oren Cloude.

He took up the mantle when Sterling abandoned his post. For him to immediately put in this position with the acceptance of the demonhunters under his command spoke to his abilities. For Cloudhawk in his current condition to face off against this elite elder, his chances were slim. He held back instead of choosing to fight.

It was Oren that made the first move. He raised his right hand.

Oren's relic was a unique one, a simple black glove. He extended a finger toward Cloudhawk. Before the younger man could react, a strange force fell over him.

It felt like several hundred balloons had been affixed to him. Cloudhawk felt gravity cease to hold sway and he rocketed upwards, slamming into the ceiling with enough force to leave a dent.

Oren continued by motioning downward with the gloved hand.

Boom! Cloudhawk came crashing to earth. It felt like a mountain had fallen on top of him. Cracks spread out from the crater he made upon impact.

The power pouring from Oren's glove increased with each passing moment. Cloudhawk felt like a fly under the flyswatter. Every time he tried to fight to his feet, the crushing pressure grew.

The floor couldn't take it. Inch by inch the stone began to give way. Cloudhawk's joints popped and his bones groaned. Held tight in his right hand was Ardent Wrath, heavy in and of itself but ten times heavier because of this awful power. The added weight made it impossible for him to lift his arm.

Oren's stern, cold face bore the hint of a sneer. "I suggest you don't waste your energy. Weak as you are, you stand no chance against me. Especially considering your circumstances."

So that was this man's power, gravity. The glove he wore allowed him to control how much or how little gravity there was in a given area.

The ground beneath Cloudhawk's feet continued to crumble as gravity increased.

Oren's power had been which flung him into the ceiling then down again onto the floor like some kind of discarded rag doll. He felt completely enveloped, as though encased in rock. And while Cloudhawk was locked down Oren's demonhunters weren't idle, either.

First, a large net of blinding light was flung his way. The moment it fell over him the net tightened until his hands and feet were bound to his sides. His already restricted movement was entirely frozen. His eyes went wide as a dozen controlling and deadly relics were aimed in his direction.

Everyone was surrounding him. They'd left him no room to escape.

But although they were strong, Cloudhawk was not an easy target to pin down. This wasn't his first time caught in a bad spot. Over the course of his life, and especially these last few years, he had encountered many powerful and oppressive foes? He was here because he'd escaped those life and death encounters.

Cloudhawk reached out to the power of the phase stone, sealed inside him. He released the full force of his mental prowess, holding nothing back. The gauntlet affixed to his left arm began to glow as though it were accumulating power.

"Everyone get the fuck off of me!" His left arm punched through the net. He then drove his clenched fist into the ground.

What followed was a thunderous blast of sound of energy. A flash of light erupted from the gauntlet, followed by a shock wave that spread out in all directions like an exploding bomb. Everything near him - both people and relic energy - were flung away. Suddenly the crushing gravity abated. The next which held him tight exploded into nonexistence and not a trace was left of any of their efforts to hold him down.

The demonhunters clambered back onto their feet, staring in disbelief. This guy had blown them all back with a single attack! What the hell was that relic on his arm? Incredible!

What they could not know was that this was a relic plucked from the severed arm of a god. How could such a thing be ordinary? It had the power to deflect all manner of powers directed at it. When activated by Cloudhawk, it released a wave of repellent force.

All relic power within the sphere of his gauntlet's explosion vanished as though it never was. Cloudhawk stood in the center, Ardent Wrath in hand. In the next instant the weapon blazed to life and he hacked it in a deadly circle.

The flames reached out ten meters in every direction, radiating toward his foes. Ordinary defenses couldn't keep it at bay and everything it touched immediately became burning hot. A number of the weaker demonhunters could not withstand the power and were turned to mist.

Even the walls around him melted.

Once again Cloudhawk called on his psychic force, this time detaching himself from reality. He used the blowback from his attack to repel himself backward. While he didn't have time to teleport, this was enough to shove him through one of the nearby walls. He then disappeared from view.

"After him!" Cloudhawk was more difficult to handle than Oren had anticipated. Even against such odds, he was still able to flee. "You must bring him to me!"

Meanwhile, Cloudhawk staggered through walls and doorways as far as he was able. He could hear soldiers on his heels calling the alarm.

The expeditionary force's crack demonhunters spread out to hunt him down. Their aim was to cut off all escape, to trap Cloudhawk inside and make sure he never left alive. Cloudhawk, in his current state, was also drawing on too much power. He was still recovering and the more he pushed himself, the direr the consequences and side effects.

He paused to catch his breath, but hardly a moment passed before he felt a presence closing in quickly from behind. Before he even arrived, Oren's signature power came crashing down from on high.

Fuck, again! There's no end to this shit. Cloudhawk threw himself outside of the area of effect. The ground below where he'd just stood exploded into rocky fragments.

Oren was up overhead, descending toward Cloudhawk with his right hand curled into a fist. Cloudhawk could see the air warping around his hand from the gravitational manipulation. Without a doubt the power behind that blow would be terrifying.

Cloudhawk didn't want to find out firsthand. He teleported a short distance away to avoid it.

When Oren made landfall the resulting shock wave rocked the area. Cloudhawk had managed to avoid the direct blow, but was still within the scope of this gravitational wave.

Buildings as far as fifty meters away shook and toppled from the blow. The earth trembled as though someone had dropped a mountain from the sky and sank at least a meter. In an instant, that force pressed Cloudhawk to the ground. This old man was one hell of a demonhunter. One on one Cloudhawk was outmatched.

Oren used his powers to drag at Cloudhawk from a distance. The younger man flailed like a drowning man, swimming through the air to get free to no avail. Valiantly as he fought, Cloudhawk was being inexorably drawn into the hands of the Demonhunter Corps's commander.

Just then a sword streaked by, alight with the glory of the morning sun.

Another formidable enemy! Oren's face stiffened. He could only release his hold on Cloudhawk and use his power to create a defensive gravitational field or risk being struck.

Of course, the old drunk's attacks were not to easily warded off. The light form his sword slammed into the gravitational field, pierced it through, and cleaved Oren's left arm from his shoulder.

Oren hadn't planned for Cloudhawk to bring such powerful allies. Judging from the deadly power behind that one strike, this new stranger had as much fighting capability of Grand Prior Phain Mist!

Yet the Demonhunter Corps' leader was no ordinary man. He used his gravitational power to call his arm back after it was flung from him, then retreated to the safety of his soldiers. Demonhunters with healing relics raced forward to his aid and began reattaching the arm.

"There are too many!" The drunk hacked his sword at one of the base buildings, causing it to explode in all directions and wreak havoc. It bought enough time for the rest of Cloudhawk's friends to catch up. Both sides were on the verge of a messy conflict. "Run!"

The camp, which a moment before had been silent and serene, was now a tempest of activity.

Countless relics were flinging destructive power down the lanes. Explosions shook the buildings. There were too many demonhunters to fend off. At least ten of them were veterans. Each demonhunter came equipped with his own unique relics as well. Even the mightiest demonhunters would find it difficult to escape unscathed.

And the demonhunters weren't the only problem. Thousands of soldiers were pouring into the conflict. This was not an easy group to tangle with!

Cloudhawk's rescue operation was doomed from the start. All of this was a ruse. They weren't going to keep the real prize locked up here and risk losing her. Dawn was somewhere else, somewhere hard to find. But, that meant there was no reason to stick around and fight, either. Both sides kicked each other around for a little while before Cloudhawk and his team managed to disengage.

By then Oren's arm was reattached and fully healed. He glared furiously at Cloudhawk and the others as they fled. Bastard! We let them escape!


When they returned to Greenland Cloudhawk was drained. He was brought o Hellflower's labs right away. When she saw him, she knew immediately that he'd overdone it.

"Boss lady, Governor Cloudhawk's condition does not look good." An elderly man with a monocle shuffled to Hellflower's side. This was Mirage, who over the last few months had proven talented in the art of medicine and was recruited by Greenland for his skills. His abilities were a rare find in the wastes, so it was important for Greenland to keep him handy. He wrinkled his face sourly at Hellflower. "The Governor's body is showing signs of collapse."

That was to be expected. The fact he survived an encounter with Arcturus at all was a miracle. Then he was thrown into a fierce battle, against Hellflower's explicit wishes. It was no wonder he was in a bad way.

"Send a message to the Khan," Cloudhawk managed to say with a long sigh. "We will join with him." Although inwardly he railed against the idea, it was the right step to take. Sacrifices would be necessary to save Dawn.

Hellflower's brows furrowed. "Are you ready for the fight that will bring?"

But he nodded his head without hesitation. "Yes. If we have to fight, then we fight."

She shoved her safety glasses higher on her nose. "You know what sort of state you're in. If you keep putting yourself in these situations I'm afraid of what the consequences will be. Have you thought about that?"

Her concern brought a grin to his face. "Since when did you worry so much? Relax, I've escaped death plenty of times. I'll hang in there. I'm not so easy to kill."

With that said he put back on his clothes and didn't bother with any further tests. He needed to put together a plan to get Dawn back. And the only person in the south who could help him was the Khan of Evernight.


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