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Book 6, Chapter 92 - Frost vs Phoenix

 "Quick! We're running out of time!"

One of the groups had managed to push through several conflicts and was nearing their destination. Frost was among them. The group he led was the largest of the four.

It was designed that way since Frost didn't have the same stopping power as Cloudhawk, the Cloud God, Janus or the Khan of Evernight. To offset this he was sent with Blaze and a host of other demonhunters to bolster their chances.

After fighting their way through several ambushes, their numbers had been shaved down to a third. Those that survived were the strongest.

"I never thought the day would come I'd be fighting by your side," Blaze said. He recognized the tremendous changes Frost had undergone.

He used to be Skycloud's rising star - the realm's promise for a bright future. Impeccably handsome, heroic, strong and accomplished. Unyielding in his demands of perfection, both physically and in his actions. The old Frost never tolerated flaw or fault. Of course, this made him the object of affection for every young woman in the realm.

The Frost of today was a different man. He was unshaven, his hair knotted and dirty, and clad in plain commoner's clothing. He looked like a man whose twenty-odd years of life had been a heavy burden. His eyes, however, were still the sharp cold orbs Blaze remembered.

And his rise in strength was practically inhuman! He wielded prowess no less domineering than the older generation he was replacing. So far, no one they'd encountered was able to stand in his way. How he'd managed to get so strong so quickly remained a mystery.

Blaze had also heard some interesting things. Rumors that Arcturus had died at Frost's hands. He wasn't sure whether such stories were true or not, after all Arcturus treated Frost like a son. Would the younger man return this kindness with the edge of a blade?

What happened to cause it, if it were true? It was hard to guess.

"Stop the small talk. We're nearly there.

Frost's tone was as cold as his name, and calm as a lake surface. His eyes were fixed forward and in them Blaze caught the hint. The League commander raised his hand, ordering the men to stop. They took defensive formation just as a scalding gust wafted toward them from the corridor.

Suddenly an intense heat descended on them. Every breath burned.

A woman with red hair and crimson clothes stepped into view. She was gorgeous, valiant and imperious. When she looked upon the group that approached she did so with disdain. "It's about time."

Everyone, Blaze included, was frozen in place. The resistance they'd encountered so far was strong, so it was especially strange that their objective was defended by a single person. Frost and his crew numbered over a hundred. However powerful this woman was, she was vastly outnumbered.

Phoenix Igna had some with the first group to Skycloud not long ago. Since then she had kept out of the public eye. Few knew of her, even Blaze was unfamiliar with this strange figure. But she was young and unknown. How could she be a threat to them?

What they did not realize was that she was the universally acknowledged powerhouse of Dragemere!

Phoenix couldn't measure up to the likes of Arcturus. However, at peak form she could take on three Master Demonhunters on her own. Without a doubt it was Frost's bad luck to meet her in this cramped corridor.

Blaze and his demonhunters did not yet understand the danger they were in. Their opponent was just one woman. It wasn't like there was another Arcturus simply hanging around to stand in their way!

Phoenix's lips curled into a derisive smile.

She jumped into the air and spread her arms. Fire splayed from them like the wings of a mighty bird. A blast of intolerable heat buffeted the soldiers, so intense that the floor glowed red. Around Phoenix the walls, floor and nearby statues began to melt. Their molten remnants began to creep down the hallway. At last, Blaze and the others realize what they were up against.

"Everyone together! We can't waste time!" Their greatest advantage was numbers.

General consensus said that ten or so veteran demonhunters was enough to take down a demon. Among their crew were at least thirty, and the rest were at least experienced. Individually none of them were a threat to Phoenix. But together, utilizing their different powers, they were dangerous.

Phoenix erupted into a pillar of flame. They quickly engulfed the corridor. All at once everything was flown into a fiery purgatory.

Besides being incredibly potent the fires also spread quickly. In the blink of an eye they consumed the hallway and the chamber beyond. All at once it was clear why this Master Demonhunter did not come with any allies. Her fires did not discriminate. It was better to fight alone than to fight with one hand behind your back for fear of harming allies.

Such a tactic was also more in line with Phoenix's volatile personality.

Blaze reacted quickly. He gathered his men close and brandished a red banner. Thrusting the shaft into the ground, a shell of invisible energy spread from this central point. It absorbed all the fire and heat that came close.

Lucky for them their enemy's ability was fire-based!

Blaze's relic was called 'The Fire Spirit's Covenant,' and its powers lay in absorbing heat and flame. It then changed what it consumed into pure energy and used it to empower attacks.

Blaze was also a young man of lauded reputation in Skycloud. At one time he was counted among the other greats of his generation; comparable to Frost, Dawn and Selene. Times had changed, but he was no slouch. This relic also served to boost his inherent power.

A look of displeasure darkened Phoenix's face. Her wings of fire spread out and thrust forward, belching a tidal wave of fire.

Blaze put all of his strength into maintaining the protective shield. It served him well and the Master Demonhunter's attack was swallowed up when it reached him. Meanwhile the other men with him engaged their own shields and together they weathered her rage.

"You think you can stand against me with such a paltry force?!" Anger was clear in the woman's voice, as though they'd openly insulted her.

She decided to stop playing games. Her enemies activated their relics and a storm of attacks were flung her way. Due to the confines of the hallway it was difficult for her to dodge. Phoenix was forced to take a number of blows head on, though they crashed impotently against a shield of fire. Lightning, ice and blades of wind pelted her defenses but accomplished nothing.

She was too strong! What's more, her strength differed from the other elite that had come with her.

Bruno, Ash and Lucian each had their talents. But to varying degrees all of them relied on their talents and equipment. Phoenix, on the other hand, assailed her enemies with pure power. Of the four masters her mental energies were the greatest.

Even a Master Demonhunter would struggle against a few dozen demonhunters, much less the hundred Phoenix faced. Yet despite the overwhelming numbers she pressed forward.

Frost had watched the exchange and recognized the woman's plan. Her aim was to close the distance between her and her enemies, then once she was among them the concentrated fire would decrease. They would hold back so as not to harm their fellows. With a little breathing room she could tear apart that hateful banner protecting them and reduce her enemies to ash!

Blaze grit his teeth. "Hold your ground! Don't give her an inch!"

Phoenix did not put much of her training into physical resistance, nor was she a talented martial artist. However with the advancing flames she moved with frightening speed. There was time enough for one more attack, one more concentrated barrage before she was among them.

No time! It was their last chance!

Frost's fighting instinct dragged his eyes toward an opening.

Phoenix was indeed strong, but it was as much a flaw as it was a boon. Her abilities made her overconfident. To her, they were nothing more than insects. All she wanted was to get this annoyance over with.

Frost remembered the first lesson Arcturus had ever taught him: No matter the circumstances, it was a fatal flaw to disregard one's opponent. You could be verbally dismissive and act with disdain, but in your heart you had to take every threat seriously.

His old master was never wrong.

This woman relied on her power too heavily. Even against a wall of enemies, she pressed forward without hesitation. Frost could see that her wall of fire was dimming in places. An ordinary soldier might miss it, but not him.

From the beginning of the fight up to this point, he'd held back. Frost waited for his chance, quiet until it was time to go for the throat!

A streak of silver lashed out. Rather than a man wielding a spear, Frozen Dirge dragged its bearer along with it. The glimmering gemstones set upon the weapon's surface released a burst of frigid energy.

"Hm?" Surprise crept into Phoenix's eyes. This school of minnows had been hiding a little shark!

Frost threw everything he had into a headlong charge. His spear bloomed with ice-cold power that shot forward like an arrow. It carved a path through her defenses. The roar of ice and fire in conflict filled the chamber as his attack smashed into Phoenix's chest.

"Die!" Frost released a second blast!

A sweeping wave of power ripped through Phoenix and spread out down the corridor. Frost's glacial explosion cooled the molten corridor and filled it with steam.

"Is she dead?!" Afraid and wary, the other demonhunters looked at one another for confirmation.

Frost's blitz was expertly executed. It was incisive, well-timed and masterfully controlled as though he'd done it a thousand times. Blaze could see that Arcturus' pupil wasn't the same. He'd lost something. The motivation that was driving him before was gone. But what emerged from that was even more terrible than before.

He was still young, too. Not even thirty. Frost's potential seemed limitless, destined to achieve the very peak of human achievement.

Arcturus Cloude was never wrong.

Blaze stared into the mist, searching for any hint of movement. Had Frost's attack been enough? An ordinary foe would have been slain, but he knew that the woman they faced was unlike any they'd met before. Fear still had its talons in him.

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