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Book 5, Chapter 111 – The Big Day

 Cloudhawk sat silent and cross-legged, heart placid and thoughts empty. When his eyes closed he could feel the ebb and flow of the universe, like a tide. Before him rested a sword enveloped in green fire, tempering it.

The calm of this moment came five days after the war for control of the southern wilds. An idea had swept across the wastes like a raging tornado, borne by large numbers of evangelists preaching the revolution.

Through word and deed they tried to inspire wastelanders to rise against savagery, throw off oppression. Their message was that no one needed to live in indignity any more, like the cursed generations before them. Instead they should pick up their weapons and fight to regain the respect taken from them so many centuries ago!

Such a thing would have been unthinkable and impossible before today. Wastelanders themselves had always seen themselves as more beast than man. From the moment of their birth they were expected to wriggle through the filth like insects, skittering from one dark corner to the other. Simply living seemed like too much to ask, much less living with dignity.

But as the conflict between Skycloud and the wastes grew over the last few years, incredible things began to happen. Great battles were won in the face of overwhelming odds, and from those ashes emerged a group of harbingers wise to the change that was occurring.

Most importantly, from the wastelands emerged their greatest hero. Cloudhawk.

This man, a product of their own home, wielded the power to stand against the might of the Elysians. Wastelanders lived in a culture where strength was respected and none were as strong as their new leader. What's more, he was always on the front lines of the fight, his power on full display as it shook the authority of the godly realm.

Greenland grew in prestige and prosperity. It was a magical tale that inspired every southerner.

Greenland was now the heart of the south, where its mightiest soldiers and most brilliant scientists gathered. The food it produced could support millions, and that was just the beginning. From the city came water purifiers, weapons, armor, vehicles and countless other boons. All of which were provided for the betterment of the wasteland.

Cloudhawk's city had become the promised land for so many. A utopia everyone hoped to see and participate in.

Under such a banner more and more rose to the occasion. People were beginning to realize that you didn't need to stand by and wait for destiny to happen. So long as you were willing to work you could mold fate to your own liking. Life was what they chose to make it.

Destiny could be changed. Who didn't wish to see life work in their favor?

Cloudhawk didn't bother with the changes outside. He had plenty of trustworthy, capable people he knew could handle things. Wolfblade and the Khan of Evernight were men rich in experience, eager to help Cloudhawk on his revolutionary path. Whatever Cloudhawk wished to see happen, they made into reality.

Thud, thud, thud.

Cloudhawk turned his head toward the sound of heavy footfalls.

A stalwart figure crowded into the room.

He was a two-meter tall armored behemoth who was covered in plate armor. He was powerful and intimidating, but the armor opened up to reveal not a man, but a beautiful woman. Dawn looked down at Cloudhawk sitting before her.

"Are you getting used to the Dawnbreaker Armor?" He asked.

Dawn's talents lay in light and earth, and as such those were the relics she was capable of resonating with. After defeating Dumont and his armor Cloudhawk confiscated their things and had them thrown into prison. This remarkable suit of armor was given to Dawn as the spoils of war.

"At first it was unfamiliar, now I'm getting the hang of it!" Her eyes traveled down to Terrangelica, lain upon the floor between them. Her brows shot up. "My sword!"

Cloudhawk nodded. "I've finished reforging it. Pick it up, take a look for yourself."

Dawn was delighted. She reached out took back her weapon.

The sword didn't look any different than it did before, but closer inspection did reveal new details. The steel blade had once been smooth as a mirror but now was covered in faint lines, which knotted together in a meticulous pattern. It did not take away from the sword's beauty, but in fact added to it.

Dawn closed her eyes and reached into it with her mind. There she sensed the real differences as its resonance was stronger and more complex.

She gave Terrangelica an experimental horizontal swipe. With the motion the lines etched into the blade came to life. Power surged forth with that glow, filling the space all around her. All the dirt beneath her feet sunk almost a foot as though an immense, invisible weight had collapsed.

"You really were able to put the two relics together!" Dawn ran her hand along the sword in awe and disbelief.

Cloudhawk indeed had managed to imbue Terrangelica with the power of Oren's gravity glove. By combining the two, Dawn's weapon reached a whole new grade. Both gravity and earth were within its power to manipulate. Terrangelica now stood among other legendary items like Cloudhawk's gauntlet, Arcturus' Ruin and Selene's Transcendent Crossblade.

Dawn had emerged from war with the incredible Dawnbreaker Armor as well as a greatly empowered weapon. Her mental prowess was far greater than most veteran demonhunters', and with these two relics she could probably go thirty to fifty rounds against the old drunk without losing footing!

Cloudhawk looked at the sunken dirt around them. "You need more practice."

Dawn did not see Cloudhawk move, but with his words the ground beneath them was restored to its previous state in an instant. Dawn was somewhat surprised, for she did not see Cloudhawk use any sort of relic to do it. Was he really already capable of calling his powers without the help of a relic?

"How did you do that? Incredible!"

"I'm remembering more and more from my inheritance. I am coming to understand a lot about the nature of power. I have grown passed the need for relics and now I can begin to mold energy, even create it." He smiled at Dawn's gaping expression. "Don't look at me like that. I'm not comfortable with this power yet and it isn't stable anyway, I can only manage the most basic stuff, nothing worth much yet."

"That's already abnormal, alright?!" Dawn glared at him in frustration. "When you master this power what will make you different from a god? Here you are running around with us little folk, slow down and let us catch up won't you? How are we going to get to play with you if you get too far ahead?"

Dawn's reaction was uncharacteristically intense. Cloudhawk's display had gotten to her. He merely shrugged.

Cloudhawk wasn't desperately chasing more power. What was there to be dissatisfied with? There were none in the wastelands who could challenge him and only a handful in Skycloud. To him such power was more than enough, but as head of a team, as a leader, as a king... it wasn't sufficient. It was Wolfblade's hope that Cloudhawk would accomplish what the Demon King before him had failed to do - take the fight to the gods themselves.

Cloudhawk, of course, was not focused on that ambition yet. He wasn't even certain he could handle Arcturus. He wasn't alone in any of this. Dawn, Selene, the drunk and so many others were wrapped up in his destiny.

As such even if Cloudhawk didn't think about himself, he had to think about his friends. He had to protect the world they were building. To this end he had to take advantage of this time - when the Cloud God slumbered and the others of his ilk did not know if him - to get stronger.

Suddenly Dawn's anger melted and instead emerged a deep melancholy. With a deep sigh she said, "I know you're carrying a lot. I just hate that I'm not strong enough to help you carry more of it."

"Just keep doing the best you can," Cloudhawk replied.

"That's always been the person I am. To work on myself, damn anyone else's opinion!" Dawn raised her head and fixed her eyes on Cloudhawk. "That's no good anymore. I'm not the same person after I decided to walk with you. The six months you were gone were some of the hardest in my entire life. I had nightmares wake me every night. I haven't felt myself for a long time."

Cloudhawk was taken aback by Dawn's sudden candid revelations. He felt both guilty and nervous.

"Cloudhawk, you have to know I like you."

When she said it he didn't know how to respond. How did he feel about her after everything that had happened? He couldn't say. If she were in danger Cloudhawk would risk his own life without hesitation, just like he did at Sanctuary. But he also vaguely remembered where his mind had gone after being captured by Judas, when he was on the cusp of death. The figure in white that had been there with him was not Dawn.

Dawn continued to stare at him, eyes firm. "I don't care what anyone else thinks, I don't even care what you think. I just need to say it. I'll wait for you, and I'll walk with you shoulder to shoulder no matter what road you choose. Until death, no regrets."

Cloudhawk's heart sounded like thunder in his ears. He didn't want to be cruel or abuse anyone, but how was he supposed to choose? Not only because there was another in his heart, but because Cloudhawk knew full well the life he was fated to live. There would be no safety, and in all likelihood he would not die a natural death. What right did he have to drag anyone else with him down this dark future?

Cloudhawk was about to open his mouth and respond when Dawn raised a hand to silence him. She chuckled brightly. "You haven't changed, still the same thick-skulled idiot. You don't need to say anything, I know what you're thinking. Really, I don't think there's anyone in the world who understands you better than I do."

Cloudhawk had the power to dominate most anyone who rose against him, but he still didn't know how to protect himself from this woman.

"Stop wasting time." Dawn grabbed his hand and started to drag him along. "Today's a big day. You have to be there."

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