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Book 6, Chapter 93 - Blood of the Phoenix

 "Well done!"

A voice rose from among the flames. There was a menacing quality to it - like a volcano on the cusp, battling a thousand years of pressure. From between raging fires emerged a figure, tall and alluring.

Shock played on the faces of the invaders. Surely they didn't think it would be so easy? But the surprise in their eyes was clear as they watched the woman step forth.

The blow to her chest had torn Phoenix's clothing, revealing the enticing curve of her breasts but she paid it no mind. The gathered men had no time to admire her figure as the fear that gripped them prevailed over all.

Phoenix stood before them unscathed!

Frost had seen it clear, his blow had pierced right through her chest. His flood of power was enough to freeze flesh and shatter bone. Yet she stepped out from the fires without a mark on her, as though none of it had happened. Her delicate flesh bore no marks.

Everyone grappled with what they witnessed. Had their eyes deceived them?

A dangerous light shone in Phoenix's eyes. "Irritating bugs. You were foolish enough to think I was just a combative demonhunter. Now you see, the reason I am the mightiest in Dragenmere is because of my invincible body!"

Her voice roared through the corridor like a hurricane. A shiver passed through the invaders.

Few were capable of surviving even a single attack from Phoenix. So awe-inspiring was her strength that they ignored her other abilities. It was a deadly mistake.

One of the demonhunters screamed a challenge and flung a windblade toward her. Phoenix's only reaction was to smirk and let it come. The attack bit into her, ripping flesh and carving through her organs. It passed straight through, leaving a gruesome gash from her left shoulder to her right hip.

"She... she's been cut in half!" Blaze muttered the words, almost to himself. A blow like that had to kill her, didn't it?

"The truth is that I am not a combat-oriented demonhunter. Not really. My talents lie in healing."

Not a single drop of blood leaked from the ghastly wound. All that emerged where faint sparks of fire. They bonded to the broken skin and formed it back together like welding metal. A few minutes later the red heat dissipated and her injuries were simply gone - all in less than a second. Nothing remained to show she'd been struck.

How was this possible? Under that supple skin was there only fire?

"My relic is called 'Blood of the Phoenix,' and it is different from any other. My body has been filled with particles that are activated when I am hurt. Any wound you deliver is healed right away. So long as I have an ounce of mental strength left, I am unkillable."

Blood of the Phoenix... it worked like Cloudhawk's Castigation Fire.

They both were microscopic biological particles that infiltrated the body and directly instigated an effect. Cloudhawk's powers were highly destructive, even capable of devouring other relics. Phoenix's abilities could be used for deadly attacks, but also had incredible healing properties.

She had superhuman regenerative abilities! No matter how fatal the blow or gruesome the wound, they meant nothing to her!

Her Blood of the Phoenix responded passively to stimuli. As long as Phoenix did not exhaust her mental stores she was invincible. She couldn't even kill herself if she wanted to. And her vast mental cache nearly rivaled Cloudhawk and Arcturus!

Her status as the best in Dragenmere was certainly not because her realm lacked capable people. With abilities like hers, was she even human? Who could stand in her way? Horror bloomed on the soldiers' faces, and Phoenix smirked in satisfaction.

"If I just stood here and let you attack to your heart's content, do you think you can beat me?" Her eyes were fixed on Frost. "Young man, you've got at least some skill. I can appreciate that. Come with me and I'll let you live."

Not an ounce of expression showed on Frost's cold face. "I am not interested in your nonsense."

A raucous laugh bubbled up from Phoenix's throat. She laughed so hard tears trickled from her eyes and more of her ample chest peaked through her torn clothing. At any other time such a scene would have them en howling in delight, but at this moment they hardly noticed. Their minds were filled with her dark laughter, filled with bloody promise.

"Alright, then there's nothing more to say!"

Immediately her flames burst forth. The tattered remnants of her clothes were turned to ash.

Her fury was on full display. In Dragenmere she was the unbreakable goddess, with a reputation for her short temper and explosive moods. Back home, even her Governor and High Priest feared her. Now she would prove to this young arrogant man why he should fear her, too.

These whelps had no idea what horror they were in for!

"I will turn you to ash!" Master Phoenix became a pillar of violent flame and charged forward.

Blaze roared back: "Attack!"

In his mind they were doomed. She was too strong, hardly even human. Their only option was to throw themselves at her with everything they had and hope to exhaust her mental powers. It was the only way to stop her regeneration.

Of course it was easier said than done. She was almost on par with the legendary demonhunters of old!

Hysterical attacks were flung her way, launched with wild abandon. Many were consumed by the fires surrounding Phoenix. Some got close enough to land a blow. Of course, those healed right away.

Phoenix drew on the full power of her relic. Stabs, chops, and breaks regenerated in an instant. Even headshots couldn't put her down. Once the Blood of the Phoenix was fully engaged healing any wound took less than a second. Nothing they could do would slow her down!

"Insects! Die, all of you!"

She opened her mouth and belched a plume of fire. It crashed against the combined shields of several demonhunters, shattering them instantly. Her foes scattered and were flung through the corridor.

Blaze hadn't yet regrouped when Phoenix leaped into the air, dashed across fifty meters and slammed into their unit with her right shoulder. Her arrival brought a heat so intense that the corridor started to melt. Her point of impact bowed and turned white hot. Blaze's men scattered, but no less than eight were to slow. They were reduced to bubbling puddles.

"You can't run!"

Phoenix rushed into the fight alone against a hundred demonhunters. They may as well have been children. She snatched up one veteran and summoned her flames. The man howled in agony as his body burned away.

"I'm not done yet! I still want to play!"

Her hideous shouts rang across the corridor. What were once eyes were now brilliant burning coals. She lurched toward two men trying to flee and turned them to carbon before they could take another step. In the meantime, she'd taken a dozen blows from nearby enemies. Any other demonhunter - even Masters - would have died several times over from the onslaught.

She didn't even bother to defend herself.

She was unbeatable. Absolutely, completely invincible! As the invaders died one after the other, they were convinced no one living could defeat this monster. Even Cloudhawk couldn't save them. So how could they continue to fight? What was this except a suicide mission?

Blaze and Frost were being pushed back with the rest of their soldiers. A dismal helplessness darkened Blaze's face. "We can't win."

"Not necessarily. I have a plan." Frost's cold, calm facade never faltered as he watched Phoenix inch ever closer. "But I need you to cover me."

For a moment he was incredulous, but it quickly hardened into resolve. Cover him? Easy for him to say! Who could even get close to this beast without being immediately killed? Frost was asking him to sacrifice himself. For a heartbeat he stopped to consider and in that time a flood of thoughts raced through his mind. And then, resolve.

"Go!"

Frost and Blaze dashed at Phoenix, one on her left and the other on her right.

Blaze took the lead. He brandished his war banner and thrust it through Phoenix's body. The direct impact was nothing, but right away the banner started to devour her fiery energy. All at once the fires around her dwindled to nothing. A beautiful naked body was revealed.

"Commendable bravery!" Phoenix snarled a hideous grin at Blaze. Her arm shot out and grabbed him by the throat.

He knew it wouldn't be long before he caved. Blaze didn't know what Frost planned, but if Arcturus' pupil was going to act, now was the time.

Frost had swung around to Phoenix's flank. Her mental abilities were remarkably strong, but her constitution was not. The Master Demonhunter's reaction times were average and best, especially while distracted by Blaze and his banner. By the time she realized it was a diversion, Frost had already plunged his sword into her back.

The ice-cold blade slipped easily through her flesh. Phoenix could feel its cold power seep into her but remained dismissive. "What a boring trick!"

However many times they tried it was all the same. Her mental power was at full tilt - they could not stop her!

But in that moment she felt something different. The Blood of the Phoenix stuttered and stopped. It was like another power had sealed it off. But... how? She'd never encountered anything like this before!

The sword... it was the sword! That was the problem!

The blade he wielded was Rhimeshard, restored by Cloudhawk. The treasured weapon had been gifted to him by Arcturus, so it was only right to return it to its proper owner.

Rhimeshard was not any more lethal than any other sword, however it did have a very special power. Any relic it came into contact became covered with a thin layer of frost. This effectively 'turned off' the relic, locking away its powers.

Phoenix reacted. She first struck Blaze and sent him flying. Before she could turn to deal with Frost, though, he had Frozen Dirge poised for a second strike. He stabbed it through her and into the ground, pinning her in place.

"Freeze..."

Phoenix screamed at him in unmitigated rage. But Blaze's banner drank her fires while Rhimeshard sealed the Blood of the Phoenix. She could not fight back. Slowly the ice crept over her, and before long a glittering statue was locked in place in the center of the corridor.

Mistress Phoenix was caught in the midst of an angry counterattack that would never be delivered. Unable to move, her mask of fury glared powerlessly at her attacker. She was not dead, but for the moment she was unable to defend herself.

As he stood over her frozen body, the words of Frost's fallen master whispered into his ears.

Fortune is ever in flux, and all can be utilized. A moment's tragedy can be made into a boon. The most auspicious instant can also be one's doom. Understand this, and you will always have a way to victory.

Phoenix had been too overconfident. She truly believed she was invincible and thus made no effort to protect herself. She considered all attacks beneath her.

Indeed these powers were what made Phoenix great. But it was also exactly what Frost could use to defeat her. He turned her greatest strength into her downfall.

Frost walked over to Blaze. There was a small, fist-sized wound burned on his broad chest. Unassuming though it was, it was only the surface manifestation of a terrible truth. All of his internal organs had been burned beyond repair.

"F-frost.. it.. it is.. you." He spoke in halting, gasping breaths. There was a smile on his face. "You di-... did it. You b-beat that mo... that monstrous w-woman. So sss... strong."

Frost looked upon him with the same flat, emotionless stare. "Any last words?"

A sad looked stole the smile from Blaze's face. He fought through the pain, and in a strange voice said, "I ha-... have a son. He's... he's three. Talented. I... I hope h-... he makes it."

There was no response from Frost. He said nothing, did nothing. But Blaze closed his eyes with a contented sigh and died in peace.

1. Chinese euphemism are honestly the best. The phrase is 'spring light blooms forth'.

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