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Book 6, Chapter 98 - Exchanging Eyes

 The Avatar and her Master Demonhunters had been defeated.

When it was over, the Cloud God appeared among the Elysians and called for mediation. Fighting stopped. Green Alliance troops withdrew.

Extensive damage had been caused as a result of this chaos. However, Wolfblade had taken every effort to minimize the destruction. He held back at the proper times so that Skycloud's defenders did not suffer too grievously. Although the scale of their conflict had been large, casualties were smaller than they had been at the battle for Sanctuary.

Skycloud's Temple was gone, off into the heavens. Nothing remained of the realm's leadership. To this end Cloudhawk ordered the Cloud God to remain and establish order. Phain, Dawn and Janus were also commanded to help him avoid any further troubles. Years of conflict had been disastrous for this once-flourishing land, it could not withstand another tragedy.

Next Cloudhawk tapped Meadow's leader, Autumn, to look after Greenland and the wasteland's new capital as well. The Green Alliance and all matters pertaining to it were left in Wolfblade's hands. It gave him the space he needed to treat his wounds, but more importantly see to Selene.

The Cloud God, through his connection to the other divine, gathered information about Sumeru's mobilization. A huge host had been dispatched to their world. It was entirely made up of immortal gods, from its highest officers to its basest soldiers.

No human contingent could fell even the most common godly infantryman. After all, they were gods! With nearly perfect bodies and tremendous power, with hundreds of years of combat experience, there was no matching them.

Did this spell the beginning of the end? Were humanity's days numbered?

Cloudhawk got himself checked out by Hellflower. After looking him over, she gave her assessment. "Your injuries are serious. You got lucky."

He'd suffered two nasty blows from the gods during his escape. The first one caught him in the lung, and the other in his heart. Indeed he had been lucky; his dimensional abilities got him out quick, and his regeneration reversed the damage before it was fatal.

"My wounds aren't important. What about Selene?" He paid no attention to his state. In a few days he'd be fine, so long as he took the time to rest. He was far more concerned for Selene.

Everything that had happened was because of her...

The wounds she'd suffered - both physical and mental - were deep. Without question she'd carry these scars for the rest of her life. He couldn't think of a darker or more painful experience. Not only had it shattered her, she would never let go of the grief it caused.

With his own condition handled, he left to see Selene. When he arrived, someone he hadn't expected was already there.

"I figured you'd be the first one to stop by." Wolfblade greeted him with a knowing grin. Indeed he knew very well how Cloudhawk's mind worked. He spoke up before Cloudhawk could form the question. "Her situation is not a happy one. Her body suffered under the tyranny of a will that was not hers. It's certain that the power she wielded will leave behind many long-term consequences."

Cloudhawk scowled. "Is there any way to fix her?"

"The first step is to remove one of the Eyes of Time," he replied. "The God King's relic does her no favors."

"Just one?"

"One is enough. In fact Selene has a faint talent for the powers of Time. If she did not, the relic would have consumed her a long time ago. However that talent is weak - too weak for her to master such a powerful artifact. Perhaps encouragingly, because the God King flooded her with his power there may be a time in the future when she can control the Eye in her own right."

Cloudhawk didn't really understand, but he trusted Wolfblade's determination. The Eyes of Time were strong. Perhaps if she used them against the gods in their war it would help wash away some of her guilt. Selfishly, he had to admit that they would be a great advantage for the Alliance.

He could tell Wolfblade had more to say. "What else?"

"Allow me to explain. We plan to remove Selene's left eye, which has been damaged because of the power she wielded. However, the damage does not appear to be insurmountable. With the right materials and methods, it could be repaired."

"What's your idea?"

"My King has a very particular constitution. Assuming we can restore this relic to working order, I believe you can use it. My plan is to have you and Selene exchange eyes. A simple surgery could restore her sight and empower you with insight into time."

"Is that possible?"

"Of course."

Of course. Like everything else, this had to have been part of Wolfblade's plan.

He wouldn't be surprised if he somehow connived a way for Selene to be chosen as Avatar. He knew she would be given the Eyes of Time and eventually the relic would fall into their possession. When that happened the eye would come to Cloudhawk and he would have a powerful time relic as part of his arsenal. Cloudhawk, the new Demon King, would steal a portion of the God King's power.

Was all of this part of Wolfblade's plan to construct a new Demon King? He didn't go too far down that rabbit hole. What he faced was alarming and oppressive. More power was an urgent necessity.

He was by no means weak, and with the God King's power there would be few in this world able to stand against him. In the coming war against the gods it would be a considerable advantage.

"Then hurry it up."

Cloudhawk stepped passed him into the operating theater and laid down. Reaching out, he gently took Selene's left hand and threaded his fingers through hers. Her skin was cool and soft.

What was to come would be hard. But so long as the people he cared about were by his side, it didn't matter what he had to face. He did it gladly.

Hellflower pulled on her gloves, lowered her goggles and stepped into the room. She approached a cabinet and extracted a scalpel. "Are you ready?"


Two days later.

Cloudhawk sat on a balcony in Greenland's central fort. The sun's warm glow hung over the city.

Bandages covered his left eye. The right looked out over his domain with the same bright glint it always had. Wolfblade approached from inside with Hellflower in tow, and the two looked him over. They determined the surgery to have been a success.

"How do you feel?" Wolfblade asked.

"Not great. The left eye feels like hot iron."

"The Eyes of Time are an implantable relic. Its class require a high threshold for use. It is expected that you will struggle at first to accommodate it. Perhaps luckily, the left eye has been damaged so your body will be less inclined to reject it. Since you can use any relic, it is only a matter of time before you start to feel more comfortable."

With his explanation complete, Wolfblade had Hellflower remove the bandages. Cloudhawk's recovery time was rapid so when his eye was revealed there were no signs of where cuts were made. What was striking was its color. Unlike the flat black of his right eye, the left was a strange sort of dull silver. Its pupil was completely dilated and murky, like an old man with bad cataracts. Beyond that, though, there didn't seem to be anything special about it.

"A complete success!" Hellflower was quite pleased with her work. "I am simply the best at what I do."

"But why can't I see anything through it?"

"Nothing to be concerned about." The wily one-eyed demon grinned. "You'll get used to it."

Wolfblade assured him that the blindness was temporary. Cloudhawk's body was superhuman, no injury was final. What he'd traded with Selene was his cornea, so over time it would settle and go back to normal - only combined with the Eye of Time.

The relic worked like any other eye. Once Cloudhawk mastered its powers he could see through it normally, and also engage its power to see into the future. It was a total benefit to Cloudhawk, no consequences were expected.

Of course, for now the eye was useless. Until it was awakened Cloudhawk was effectively a cyclops.

Wolfblade went on in his even, erudite tones. "I'd wager the God King did not anticipate that one day his powers would be given to his rival."

Cloudhawk thought it strange. With dominion over the powers of time, could the God King really not know what would come? How could anything be hidden from such a creature?

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