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Book 7, Chapter 58 - Destruction

 It should have been expected. The gods would not leave their future undefended.

The metallic surface of the tree began to swell in odd places. It was the tadpole like things, which too were made of metal. They pushed out from the surface and whipped their tails at the intruder Belial.

Cloudhawk and the demon both saw it. The creatures they saw at tadpoles were actually a sort of sack. Inside were shapes, humanoid outlines encased in divine armor. These were gods, fetal divinity growing within the tree.

Boom-boom-boom-boom!

Each one of the tails struck like a missile. Belial raised his hand to summon a shield, protecting himself from their ire. The intensity of it caused his shield to bow.

So many... there had to be hundreds of these sacks and more were appearing every second. Each one of them was the beginning of a new god. Hundreds, maybe thousands of them from a single tree!

Even one god was trouble. They enjoyed limitless lifespans, tremendous power and a unified will. It was not surprising, then, that Cloudhawk had trouble believing so many could come from this tree. Was this how they multiplied? How many gods were there?

He could see that Belial was almost completely swallowed up by liquid metal. With speeds faster than the naked eye could follow, the tadpoles assailed his shield from all sides. Were it not for the perpetual energy from his dark furnace, the Elder's defenses would have already failed.

The attack he faced was brutal and straightforward. They continuously launched kinetic blasts of energy, stolen from the power of the godly bodies contained inside. Cloudhawk saw it all from nearby, certain that these were real gods and not the lifeless armor he'd seen on the jungle planet. They released powerful mental attacks on top of the protective sacks' own power.

However, they were still too underdeveloped to attack at full strength. They couldn't use relics or fight their way out of the membranes, and so fought from within.

Godly society was clear-cut. They were separated into the upper echelons and lesser gods. Supremes, the upper crust of their race, were leaders and elite. Their appearance was rare by comparison whereas lesser gods were the grunts. They were much greater in number, but weaker in strength.

Facing them now were the godly soldiers. They didn't rise to the level of the Cloud or Light gods, much less Marshals like the Dragon and War gods. But that didn't mean they weren't trouble. All were comparable to a weaker Master Demonhunter.

Gods were born warriors. They possessed great mental strength and formidable defenses. With the wealth of knowledge that came from their unified society, even the strongest humans were at a loss. Against hundreds or thousands of them, the fear was real.

Belial was on the back foot. He focused on keeping his defense engaged. Although the tadpoles were underdeveloped and couldn't leave their tree, it didn't mean they were weak. Under a concentrated and continuous attack, even someone as strong as Belial was at risk of collapse.

Crack! At last it happened. After a thousand consecutive attacks, the Elder's shield failed. One of the tadpoles slipped through and darted toward Belial with the speed of a bullet. He summoned his mental power to create whirring black sickles, which carved the tadpole in half.

There was a crash. The sack sloughed to the ground and vomited forth the immature god. It struggled limply for a few moments then grew still. Without the nourishment of the tree, the fetus quickly began to fade.

But the tree reacted quickly. It sent out a tendril of liquid metal that scooped up the body and dragged it back inside. Once safely within the odd womb, its wounds recovered and the young god's will came reawakened.

Only by completely destroying the membrane and the god inside could you put them down for good!

At last Belial understood that he couldn't overcome this tree, not with all the fetal gods inside. It dawned on him that his desperate plan for escape had failed. There had never been any hope of success.

The attacks continued to grow in speed and savagery.

Even with his empowered abilities, Belial's impermeable defense had faltered. It took only an instant for him to be struck several times, suffering a number of wounds. More of the tadpoles were closing in with every passing second, gathering together to form a liquid metal cage.

The Elder demon couldn't escape! Another wave of attacks resulted in the dark furnace being wrenched from his grasp and destroyed. Belial was helpless, but as the demon neared the precipice of destruction Cloudhawk reacted.

From the onset Cloudhawk had hung back to watch the battle. He knew Belial was throwing himself into mortal danger and helping at the beginning would only have doomed them both. Instead he hid in interdimensional space and observed, waiting for the right moment when the tadpoles were all distracted by Belial.

Now he knew the opportunity had come.

He could sense the composition of this divine tree, an enormous divine forge that built new additions to their race. Leaping from between dimensions he appeared at the foot of the great tree with Godslayer in hand. Cloudhawk reared back and hacked it at the structure.

For an instant the tadpoles froze. They recognized the danger almost immediately, however, and swung around to meet it.

By then Cloudhawk had already appeared in the center of the tree. With another swing of his arm, Godslayer released a blast of black-purple lightning into the core. It filled the space and ruined everything it came in contact with.

Belial, from the corner of his eye, watched him act. Inwardly he screamed. Bastard! He's trying to destroy the tree!

He knew that the tree was indeed the godly ship, only changed. IF it was destroyed he truly would have no hope of escaping this doomed planet!

Hundreds of tadpoles streamed toward the center of the tree, trying to kill Cloudhawk before he could do any more damage.

But Cloudhawk was not Belial. He could be wherever he wishes. Every few seconds he blinked from existence and appeared somewhere else, each time cutting apart another swath of the tree. Godslayer left terrible destruction in its wake.

At last the tree released an eerie, shrill sound, like the final gasp of some terrible beast. It collapsed in on itself, forming a lake of flashing metallic liquid. A grotesque rain of embryonic gods fell without the tree to support them.

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