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Book 7, Chapter 40 - Allegiance

 These crystal orbs were advanced information devices, records of days past. They preserved data in a unique way and as a product of divine technology, it required mental power to use.

Although activating them was trying, the result was wide-ranged, three dimensional representation of what happened. Users were able to experience everything that happened as though they were there.

After relaying its information, the crystal orb dimmed and fell from the air. Cloudhawk caught it in his palm and looked it over with a solemn expression.

Such a small thing contained such staggering information...

Parts of it were accelerated so it passed quickly, but it chronicled the final months of this species' existence. It was sad and disheartening.

The demands of the crystal were so great that only a Master Demonhunter or stronger could access what it held. Manufacturing such items had to be difficult, more difficult than humans could manage. Cloudhawk figured the Demon King had left them here on purpose.

Dawn, Phoenix, Bruno and Natessa stood on unsteady feet, as though waking from a dream. Was that how the old world died?

Cloudhawk delved into several more of the crystals, spying their contents. Each one chronicled the same scene; a thriving world infected and destroyed by the touch of the gods. None of the crystals showed Cloudhawk's planet, but he knew it had suffered the same fate.

He gathered them all up and decided to take them with him. "This is critical information. We need to bring it back to everyone."

"It's incredible... these gods are like locusts. Countless numbers of them out among the stars." Dawn ran a hand over her helmet. "But this information doesn't tell us how to fight them. If you put this out there I think it may just cause panic."

Gods really were like locusts. A plague, moving through the universe, devouring one species after another. They moved out there, searching for targets to consume and with each planet taken their numbers swelled. It was a process that had been going on for millions of years.

Dawn even wondered if there was more than one 'Mount Sumeru.'

It would make sense. The Demon King, once leader of his sect of Gods, was merely supplanted by another leader stronger than him. Godly society was probably much larger than they thought. Like ants they had nests all over the cosmos - each one with its own queen.

Think of the scale if every godly system was just one in a nearly infinite whole... Were humans really so insignificant by comparison?

Their world wasn't special to the gods. Just another rock spinning through the darkness. Human civilization was just one more of an untold number already crushed beneath their boots. Gods were a massive species spread all across the galaxy, all unified toward a single purpose. They had endless lifespans, high intelligence and power, and a tight-knit society.

Humans, by comparison, were a species that hadn't even figured out how to leave their home planet. They were insects, to be squished on a whim by their betters. Any struggle seemed hopeless, which made Arcturus Cloude's grim determinations seem correct.

What Cloudhawk was doing could achieve nothing. Nothing but hasten his species' march toward destruction.

"That's exactly why this information needs to be put out there. Against a powerful enemy we need everyone to fight together. Maybe they'll realize the stakes." Cloudhawk felt the weight of his responsibilities bearing down on him. He finished putting the crystals away. "We can't allow the Elysian lands to continue to fracture. We have to unify everyone against this threat as quickly as possible."

Dawn nodded emphatically. She thrust her sword skyward in a pledge of devotion. "Fuck the gods! Let them come, we'll cut 'em down! We've stuck it out for this long, what's there to be scared of? Only the short-sighted fools, and they can go jump off a fuckin' cliff."

As she said it Dawn glared pointedly at Natessa and the others. The former Giant of Hell's Valley, in particular, glowered at the words.

Phoenix was quiet, her brow knit in thought. For all her strength she couldn't take on a Supreme. But even if she could, what difference would it make? Insignificant, a drop in the bucket.

Cloudhawk was a right bastard, but she had to admit that he was stronger than her. While she didn't like it, the truth was the world needed someone like him. He was at least brave enough to stand up and shout the truth. How many would see reality and choose to hide their head in the sand? Who would choose to fight among themselves when a threat to every living thing loomed on the horizon?

Based on what the crystals showed, Arcturus' plan was the impractical one. Over time the population of the Elysian lands would dwindle until nothing remained. Humanity would be robbed of its strength and fade away.

Dawn spoke up. "So what should we do about this place?"

"The Demon King must have left this place here for a reason. Leave it alone for now." Cloudhawk then turned his attention to Phoenix and Bruno. "Let's get out of here, then we can talk."

Cloudhawk left a marker here in case he wanted to return.

This world's dense jungle cover was a fabrication. Every tree and living creature they encountered. One had to wonder how long such a project took to complete. The former Demon King left quite a scene in his wake.

An underground city with limitless energy below, and a forest to protect and provide above. Hidden from any prying eyes that might be watching from out in space. It seemed obvious why the Demon King would make a base here. But, it appeared he couldn't make full use of it before his end.

"Dad! I found you!"

Bruno and Idonea rushed excitedly into each other's arms. Bruno hugged her tight. "Idie, what are you doing here?"

She cast a quick glance toward Cloudhawk. "It's a long story. Let him tell you."

Cloudhawk obliged, telling Master Bruno about everything that had transpired in Stormford and beyond. Bruno came to understand the circumstances but was stunned at how fast it had all occurred. This young man's methods were... surprising, to say the least. Had he really bested four Supreme gods?

"What did you say? Kirin, he..." Phoenix trembled, her hands clenched into fists. An angry fire burned in her eyes. "All of these years, everything I've done for my realm... this is how they treat my family? These false gods... they all need to die!"

The Igna family had been just her and her younger brother. Now Phoenix was alone. This news shook her whole world. Her anger consumed her.

At last the real face of the gods was revealed, and it was ugly. All of her fighting and sacrifice meant nothing. But most laughable of all? There were still blind fools willing to fight for those monsters!

"Masters, when Sky Fortress was destroyed four Supremes were either killed or captured. We also have many Elysian prisoners." The time was ripe, Cloudhawk thought. Bruno and Phoenix were at the tipping point. "If any of the other four realms came after Skycloud my people would lose - but how long would that war last? And at what cost?"

"Hmph! You want me to go back and make your case for you. Fine!" Phoenix cast her hand dismissively. "But send me back with the crystals and I'll show them what we learned. That will be enough to convince them. One thing you need to understand is that I am not your subordinate. I do this for revenge. I'll tear those bastards off their golden fucking pedestals!"

So be it, he thought. So long as she got the job done. Hers was a powerful voice in Dragenmere.

Next his eyes turned to Bruno. "And you, Master Argyris?"

Bruno took his time, mulling over the implications. Once they started on this path there was no turning back. If there was any hope for victory then maybe it was worth fighting. Right now, however, the strength of their foes seemed overwhelming.

Phoenix slapped her hands on the table and shouted. "Coward! Have you knelt so long you forgot how to stand on your own? You want to keep being a boot licker? Go back to your masters and ask if they've have you, knowing what you know!"

"How can you say such a thing!" Idonea's own anger flared. "How could you say that to my father?!"

Bruno held out a hand to silence the young girl. He looked at his daughter, then back to Phoenix. He sighed. "Fine... I'll help."

With things having progressed to this point, standing on the sidelines was impossible. The army of the gods was bearing down. Only together did they stand a chance.

"Good. Time's short, let's get to it." Cloudhawk felt inspired by the win. They had the memory crystals and the support of two Master Demonhunters - bringing the four Elysian realms in line was as good as done.

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