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Book 7, Chapter 16 - Pass

 Tyranny was a wind-type relic. With every swing it birthed hundreds or thousands of cutting gales. Solid objects were shredded in its wake. The might of it was frightening and the winds locked down a whole area.

Opponents had to weigh hunkering down or trying to run through the deadly attack. Weaker challengers were defeated outright by this opening attack. Stronger ones found it hard to move safely and had to take it head on.

Nothing had survived so far against Mercury's Tyranny! Even defensive relics of similar class were rendered useless, unless their bearer was much stronger than him.

His was a name that held weight in Fulmulta. He first earned a place among the Mighty Ten when he was very young. Among his generation it was widely believed he had the potential to become a Master.

It was Mercury's character to try and hide or downplay his faults. He never revealed his feelings or shared his reasons. But this time it was obvious. Lance had shamed his brother who was even more talented than he had been. It was a slight against their family name. How could they let it stand?

"He's too strong, we'll never beat them!"

Idonea had started to tremble. Mercury's opening attack was enough to convince her she was way out of her depth. There was no way they would win. Apollo hadn't even joined in yet.

Surrender! The thought kept ringing through her mind.

This wasn't a test, it was a chance for revenge. Idonea didn't care about any inner circle, she had a specific goal. Getting in the middle of this conflict wouldn't do her any favors. But it was already too late. She didn't even have a chance to open her mouth.

Mercury already had Lance locked down. From several dozen meters away he leaped through the air as more power coursed through the saber. Another hurricane of biting winds spun around his weapon like a tornado.

Thousands of strikes in one!

If this didn't kill Lance outright it would make him a cripple! Idonea had no time to defend herself. Although the brunt of it was aimed at her companion, some residual power was flung toward her. In that instant, as she prepared herself, it felt like gravity came crashing down.

"Interesting."

Cloudhawk felt the power take hold. It was different from the kind Terrangelica used. Dawn's relic tried to crush opposition with thousands of pounds of force. Tyranny, however, highly compressed the air around them - squeezing on all sides. The former's intent was to flatten, the latter to implode.

This Lance weakling clearly hadn't beaten Mercury's cousin. He won through underhanded tricks! He'd been lucky that Jupiter wasn't experienced, that was how he defeated him. Fighting Mercury was like trying to defeat a god by comparison.

As Tyranny came screaming down, Mercury was confident he had him.

But his confidence was shattered when Cloudhawk waved a hand. Instantly all of that crushing pressure disappeared. From within Cloudhawk's sleeve a beam of purplish-red light was cast out. Striking like an angry python, it ignored Mercury's domineering power.

Shit! He pulled Tyranny back into a defensive position. Moments later the room shook as an ear-piercing explosion tore through.

When his whip struck the sword sparks filled the air. Clear scorch marks were left on the steel where it'd suffered from high heat and voltage. All who witnessed it couldn't believe what they'd seen.

He'd moved so fast. No one saw exactly what Lance did. The whip crossed the distance in a blink then disappeared like a bolt of lightning. Although he had surprised Idonea many times already, she still couldn't believe what she was seeing. It was like he was a completely different person.

What just happened? How had Lance been able to move so easily despite the pressure? And with a perfect counterattack! It was so impressive he suddenly seemed much closer to Mercury's level than people thought.

"He has a special relic. It lets him create a vacuum." Mercury scowled. Being knocked back by this punk put an embarrassed lilt in his bearing. Apollo looked on in open suspicion.

Tyranny's pressure was based on control over air. Anyone with a relic that created vacuums could easily counter it. But knocking Mercury back with a whip strike like that couldn't just be explained away. Lance had to have strength to back that up.

If Cloudhawk were facing Terrangelica's powers he would have had fewer options. Mostly, use his superior physique to fight through it. But air pressure was different. His control over the superstring turned air into a vacuum with only a thought.

"Apollo, let's deal with them together."

"I just need a little backup," Cloudhawk told Idonea. The whip in his hand crackled with fire and electricity. "I'll handle these two."

Mercury brandished his sword and came in for another attack. Apollo joined him and as he lifted his sword there came a cascade of stars. Orbs of energy peppered the area like a meteor shower. Cloudhawk and Idonea were both caught in it.

So that was his power. The Nebula Blade allowed him to call a rain of stars. The wide-scale attack was deadly, especially in a closed environment.

But Idonea did not remain still. Plucking a necklace from around her throat, she hurled it into the air. Suddenly it began to change, stretching longer then connecting at the ends. A portal now hung in the air between the two groups.

Cloudhawk's eyebrows shot up. "What? Spatial power?"

Idonea wasn't impressively strong, but she was lucky enough to have inherited her father's abilities. The necklace she carried was called Spacefetter.

The chain-like edges of the portal began to rotate. The murky space in between solidified until it was clear as a mirror.

Anything that touched the mirror - physical or energetic - was sucked in and flung out the other side. While from the outside it looked razor thin, inside was another story. How much space actually existed between the two points was determined by the relic's bearer.

Idonea absorbed Apollo's attack and in the next instant she moved her hands. The mirror rotated ninety degrees and fired the energy toward Mercury. All of a sudden he had hundreds of burning lights bearing down on him like machine gun fire.

"Better than I thought."

Idonea's combat skills were undeveloped, but that didn't mean she was weak. Her low-grade necklace didn't give her a way to use her spatial talent for direct attack. Instead she used her foes attacks against them. It was more of a defensive relic.

Apollo and Mercury were caught off guard and weren't sure of their next move. Cloudhawk exploited their lapse by attacking again with the whip. It struck Tyranny again in the exact same spot and this time sent it flying.

Apollo moved like a phantom, so far his shadow could hardly keep up. Cloudhawk had heard that the Mighty Ten's leader was strong and so it seemed. He relied more on his martial skills than his mental energy.

Quick as the wind, he leaped across several dozens of meters with his sword aimed for a killing blow.

Cloudhawk responded with the whip. It wrapped around the Nebula Blade and tugged it askance. It cut nothing but air. Apollo reacted quickly, loosening his grip and plummeting toward Cloudhawk with a crushing kick.

But when he came in range something altogether miraculous happened. His dramatic attack was cut short when Lance caught him with a fist to his face! Both men were knocked backward.

He blocked Apollo's attack?! That could only mean he had a good constitution on top of his mental abilities. Mercury lashed out again, birthing another storm of windy blades at Cloudhawk's back. He was too distracted by Apollo to notice.

Idonea called out then manipulated her necklace. The portal swallowed up most of the attack and flung it back toward Mercury. It was the best she could help.

"Enough!" A voice boomed across the hall. "Pass. Let them through."

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