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Book 5, Chapter 64 - A Difficult Escape

 The Arcturus of this moment was completely different from the scholarly Governor everyone knew. He was surrounded in holy light gifted to him by the Seraphs, which robbed him of the kindly erudite air that was typical and replaced it with a domineering righteousness. In an instant his vast mental energies were restored to their peak.

His wings spread forth, four meters long from end to end. The electric energy that composed them gathered rich and thick.

His graying hair had become snow-white. Even merely standing before them the Master Demonhunter dominated the area with his presence. It felt as though he could obliterate them all with just a thought, as though Arcturus Cloude wasn't a man at all but something more.

He was like a god!

Judas, the elder demon, was shaken by what he witnessed. A note of surprise wormed into his crimson gaze. "You... you have turned yourself into a Seraph. Impossible... how?"

Skycloud's Governor, the realm's ultimate demonhunter, was a Seraph? Was he created at the hands of the gods and installed here as their agent among humanity? It was an incredible revelation that was too much to grasp!

Indeed, it was impossible! Seraphs didn't have independent thought, but Arcturus had been revealed time and again to be a genius. Whatever Arcturus was, he was no puppet. Quite the opposite. He was wise, capable in leadership, exceedingly well-learned to the point that no one in all the realm could compare. Nothing about him could be likened to a puppet.

Oren, a member of the Cloude family himself and Knight-Commander of the Demonhunter Corps, stared at Arcturus' transformation in speechless amazement. He was one of the Governor's most adoring and faithful supporters... and yet he'd never seen a hint of Arcturus' true face until now.

He was a man whose breadth of power was rarely seen in all the history of humanity. His capabilities were boundless. What other secrets was he hiding? It seemed clear Arcturus could destroy any man or demon who stood in his path, so why hide it for so long? What was his strategy?

Oren wasn't alone. Frost's heroic features had also gone slack in astonishment.

His heart was a storm of emotion. For a whole decade Frost had been by the Governor's side, but he realized now he'd never really seen the man. It always felt like staring into an unfathomably deep ocean. But even that wasn't right - it was more like staring into the endless black of a night sky.

Cloudhawk's features were grave. He recognized this. Arcturus Cloude reminded him of Squall.

Of course, the two men were on entirely different levels, but it seemed clear both Squall and Arcturus had undergone similar transformation methods. Similar to the Seraphs, Squall could also take command of his own puppet in Blackfiend.

Blackfiend the Undying was a demonic version of Skycloud's protectors. A Fiend.

At their root, Fiends and Seraphs were the same. Squall had once empowered himself by borrowing from Blackfiend, just as Arcturus was now by the several Seraphs surrounding him.

Were these similarities just coincidence, or was there something more?

Arcturus made his move. His electric wings began to beat.

A million crackling bolts of electricity were released, blasting out for a thousand meters all around. In a breath he'd summoned a terrible, localized thunderstorm that blinded the eye. Like angry vipers those lightning bolts snaked through the air with an electric hiss. Everyone instinctively backed away for fear of being burnt to ash.

Soon there was only Arcturus and Judas, with a field of a thousand meters to test their strength. A mighty demon elder, and a demigod.

Ripples of foul energy continued to gather around Judas. Lightning that came within his sphere of influence fizzled into nothing.

Arcturus reached out casually with his hand. From the loosely gathered lightning around him he extracted a sword of lightning. When he spoke his voice boomed through the storm, like a god of thunder. "You - an elder from a fractured race, ranked least among your peers, a failure of the Great War. It is laughable to think this paltry gathering can challenge the gods. If your inferior kind had the strength, they would have defeated the almighty ones thousands of years ago."

"If you underestimate a demon elder, you will pay the price." The energies gathered around Judas suddenly spread out. In a blink the field swelled to several times its original size. Wherever it passed, Arcturus' lightning faded into nothing and the space came under his control. Anything unfortunate enough to be caught inside - be it physical of energy - immediately was rent to its basest components and was destroyed.

Arcturus pulled back his arm and flung Ruin toward his foe.

As the blade left his grip all the world around it warped. The sword tugged at reality as though possessed of an intense magnetic field. Those scattered bolts of lightning changed trajectory and flowed toward it like rivers toward the ocean. With each additional surge of electric power Arcturus' attack blazed brighter, until it burned like the sun.

Was he throwing his weapon? No - he was creating and throwing a small star! With such power it seemed anything in its path was destined for destruction!

Judas felt the danger crest upon him with an intensity he hadn't felt since the Great War. His red eyes seethed as the breadth of his mental energies were brought to bear. His field of control burgeoned out further with incredible speed, voracious and undeniable. The two mighty and opposed power eventually met.

The darkness gobbled up the small sun like a hungry beast.

What followed caused eyes to bulge and jaws to drop.

Countless bolts of electric energy were released inside the field. They evaporated before they could spread far, and Judas' field of power similarly began to dim. The conflict of these two power was so intense everyone could feel it like a mountain on their chest.

Eventually, Judas' power waned and cracks appeared in his bubble. Lightning began to follow the fissures toward their target.

The demon elder was too slow to escape. The thunderblade cleaved through his weakened defenses and pierced through Judas' chest.

His red eyes were wide in disbelief as he stared at the crackling weapon jutting from his body. It was inconceivable that even the full extent of his power was unable to fend off this blow. It proved that Arcturus was strong - stronger than a demon elder!

Yet defeating a beast like him was not that easy! Gods and demons were not as frail as the humans they walked among.

Half of the thunderblade had cleaved through Judas' armor and pierced his chest. It released its deadly power in a burst which caused the demon to double over. The deluge of electricity was so intense it caused Judas' body to sizzle and smoke, and gouts of lightning were belched from his skin as it split. Even then, the wound was not fatal.

Hundreds of years had passed since the demon elder had faced such a loss! If his opponent was a group of gods, one of the Supremes or perhaps an elder demon higher in the hierarchy he could accept it. Yet Arcturus was none of these. He was a man, and that fact made his poor showing that much more shameful.

"You really are a rare specimen." Judas rose back to his full height. With another pulse of energy he eliminated what lightning remained in the air around him. Black burn marks and the wound left in his chest began to heal at once. "But killing a demon of a higher order will take more than that."

Arcturus hovered in the air, bathed in electric light. He stared at the beast with a solemn face. Even an elder demon could not last long if he were subjected to more attacks like the last.

The Governor did not respond. In lieu of words he gathered his strength and, like the Thunder God of legend, lightning crackled all around at his beck and call.

Arcturus Cloude had the power to overcome a demon elder. However, Judas was not helpless. His capabilities were plain for all to see. What's more, the power Arcturus wielded was far greater than a human body could withstand. Commanding such strength had to come with a physical cost. It was unlikely he could maintain this fight for long.

Judas' Hilt of Annihilation was more than a one-trick pony. It possessed incredible powers of deconstruction, the likes of which could atomize nearly anything it came into contact with.

In other words, Judas only had to get Arcturus within range of his field of control. Then it wouldn't matter how strong Arcturus was - he would be detonated into infinitesimal particles and slain.

It was a viable plan. Executing it, however, would be very difficult.

Arcturus stood at a safe distance, a thunderblade in each hand. As more orbs of destruction came toward him he used the weapons to cut them apart before they could be a threat. Those fractured orbs multiplied into the thousands and converged on the Governor like a dismal rain.

Attacking them was no use. Arcturus' wings beat faster.

These wings did not just give him incredible speed, but a field of electric defense as well. As the smaller robs came into contact with them the bolts of lightning kept the foul energy at bay. Those bubbles popped across the wings, causing nothing more than a ripple before dispersing.

No doubt about it. His lightning wings were also some kind of relic. They augmented his speed, defense, attack and who knew what else.

The Master Demonhunter tore across the battlefield at incredible speed, a sword of lightning in each hand. Protected from the demon's attacks he launched into a flurry of his own. Judas was on his back foot and could do nothing but defend himself. Arcturus left him no space to counter.

"We've seen the best parts. The longer we dally, the more troublesome things will be. Come, it's time to go."

Wolfblade gave the order to retreat and his Dark Atom soldiers complied.

The conflict between Arcturus and Judas still raged, yet the Dark Atom was throwing in the towel?

Cloudhawk didn't care. He had no stake in who won - the demigod or the demon. His mission was complete. With Dawn slung over his shoulder he prepared to teleport to safety. However before he could a wave of indescribable pain struck him. It felt like every cell in his body was exploding at once.

Fuck fuck fuck! The stimulant wore off!

Cloudhawk immediately collapsed to his knees. His whole body went stiff and was wracked with pain. He couldn't get back onto his feet.

"You aren't going anywhere!"

"Brothers! Kill them!"

The cries for blood rang out all around him. Waves of Elysian soldiers charged in for the final blow. Hammont Seacrest led them in their assault. It was clear to everyone here that these wastelanders were dangerous lunatics - every one of them. If they escaped it would mean the threat to their realm would never diminish.

They wanted to run? Not if he had anything to say about it! They all died today!

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