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Book 7, Chapter 80 - On The Eve of War

 Luciasha and her people arrived at their destination without issue. A sprawling, bustling city stretched out before them. Southern Capital's population was several million strong by now, easily holding the title of greatest city in the wastelands.

People were still pouring in from all directions, like streams toward the ocean. And - like the ocean - the city happily accepted everyone. The travelers were welcomed like old friends.

Inside the capital, it was like leaving the wastelands behind. The gritty soil had been transformed, becoming moist and black. Luciasha could even see small streams that stretched out from the center of the city. They sparkled in the light of the sun, bringing nourishment to every part of this place. Vibrant patches of green were everywhere she looked.

Giant mushrooms sprang up at even intervals, which provided food and energy for the different districts they passed through. There were towers that hummed with power which offered defense or deterrent, like loyal soldiers standing silent vigil.

An enormous defensive shield enveloped the whole place, with three internal layers and three external layers. Not far from the borders was a towering mountain of crystal like something out of a fairy tale. It shimmered in an odd, ethereal way.

Luciasha had heard that the entire crystal mountain had been moved here by Cloudhawk. Since she wasn't here she dismissed them as tall tales, for who had the sort of power to accomplish a feat like that?

The city was rich in resources, enough to support the city and its people for thousands of years. With such surplus the city's defenses were kept strong to dissuade invaders.

The immigrants from Crescent Moon shuffled onto an airship bound for the center of the city, Greenland.

Luciasha had never been an Elysian land, but she imagined they had to be just like this. Here in the Southern Capital, demonhunters were empowered to twice their ordinary strength. With the help of Psionic Towers that swelled to five or ten times. With such abilities they could do whatever they liked.

Hundreds of Seraphs worked ceaselessly. With surprising speed they built structures and repaired damage. How had this place been built with astonishing speed? Because they weren't building the city so much as summoning it. Structures rose from the sand and soil as rough architectural cutouts before being polished as needed. With the complicated steps of ordinary building eliminated, everything was done much faster.

Mental energy was the primary resource powering it all. With enough mental energy, everything was possible.

A large group had gathered in the heart of Greenland. Thousands, mostly Elysians and mostly women and children. They were neatly arrayed in groups and slowly made their way toward a central tower.

Luciasha looked at it closely. The tower was made from some kind of black metal she wasn't familiar with. It was enveloped in light, like it was burning something. But despite the huge plumes of fire she felt no heat.

This was the Psionic Tower built by Belial. A furnace that burned Source as its fuel.

At the tower's base a group fed Source into a small port. Huge amounts of mental energy were released that quickly spread all across the city. Cloudhawk had succeeded in using this power to reinforce the phase stone and open a gate.

The gate was stable and Cloudhawk didn't need to remain here to keep it open. Although the amount of energy required to keep it open was staggering, the Psionic Tower was up to the task. So long as Source was continuously fed into the furnace, and until Cloudhawk chose to close it, the gate would stay open. This was how the exodus would be accomplished.

"Cloudhawk did all this? Amazing..."

Luciasha muttered the words to herself with a conflicted heart. She was both proud of his accomplishments and worried for him, for she knew there was no going back from the path he walked.

What sort of future would he meet?

Revenant's voice cut into her thoughts. "Are you going to see him?"

After a moment's pause Luciasha shook her head. "No. He doesn't need any distractions. Besides, we're from different worlds now. It's enough for me to know he's ok."

Sometimes meeting old friends brought nothing but trouble. Looking up was hard, just as hard as looking down, and Cloudhawk was at the top of a mountain she would never climb. If there was no reason to trouble him then why should she? Luciasha also knew Cloudhawk, and he would be happy just knowing she was somewhere safe.

"Let's get ready to cross the gate."

The line toward the gate moved quickly. In less than forty minutes the portal loomed before her. It swirled like a vortex, four meters across. Three people could pass through abreast. What waited for them on the other side? Judging by the looks on the faces around her, Luciasha was not alone in wondering.

But the choice had been made. A terrible war was on the horizon and there was nowhere left to hide. This was the last, best option. Escape to a place where the war couldn't touch them.

Luciasha turned her head and looked out over the city they'd crossed through. She didn't know if she would ever have an opportunity to see it again. It was possible her next steps would bring her away from this world forever. She thought about the last twenty years of her life, of everything that had happened. And before her... a question mark.

What would her new life be like? What would the future hold? Luciasha took one final look at the child in her arms and stepped forward. She vanished. Revenant was one step behind.

The mass evacuation was only beginning. Denizens of all the Elysians lands and non-combatants from all across the wastes were streaming into the city. Although the process was quick, the sheer scale of people they were trying to move was mind-boggling. Families of soldiers fighting in the war had priority, and others would follow afterward.

Cloudhawk sat within his fortress with the towering form of Legion by his side. Together they watched the ceaseless stream of humans passing through the gate. Every passing minute was more people, escaping destruction.

"Everything appears to be going well," Legion noted.

Cloudhawk wasn't happy with the rate of progress. "It's too slow. We should open up several more portals to make sure everyone gets through. We don't need these women and children here when the fighting starts. Only soldiers."

Legion did not express an opinion. For a moment he tilted his head, distracted, and said, "The Cloud God calls me. He's learned something."

Cloudhawk and Legion both went to seek out the former Supreme. "What is it?"

The Cloud God's 'voice' boomed in his mind. "Sumeru's vanguard will arrive soon."

Cloudhawk's face darkened. "This fast? What's going on?"

The Cloud God answered by linking his consciousness to Cloudhawk's. Images flooded his mind and he saw it clear. A colossal force stretching out across space, rapidly approaching. His enemy seemed to have felt a change in the earth. They knew Cloudhawk was preparing to fight back. To answer this several dozen divine ships were dispatched from the main force. They were enveloped in staggering power and streaked toward earth at tremendous speed.

Judging by what he saw, they would arrive soon. Cloudhawk turned to Legion. "Prepare for war."

The battle between man, god and demon was about to begin.

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