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Book 7, Chapter 86 - Taking the City

 The giant octopus released a tidal wave of mental energy. Those tentacles which the humans had fought so hard to destroy reformed in an instant. All of the headway they'd made through the bitter conflict was erased in the blink of an eye.

The bastard creature also had incredible regenerative abilities!

After restoring its tentacles the octopus heaved it frame out of the ground. It was committed to using its full strength to show these insects their place.

Now the difference between it and a true octopus was evident, for the amorphous body they'd seen so far was only its top half. Beneath the surface was the rest of its form, a sort of thorax with tentacles large enough to move it around like legs.

It was a hideous giant of a thing! A half-octopus, half-titan monstrosity that stood three hundred meters tall. Wreathed in tentacles, the mountainous entity towered over its foes. Its main eye was enormous and shone like a jewel, with countless smaller orbs surrounding it and peering off in all directions.

"Don't be reckless! Look for a weakness!" Natessa weighed her foe. It was huge and wielded great power, including the ability to regenerate itself. Normal attacks weren't going to kill it, but that didn't mean it was invincible. Everything could be killed, they just needed to find out how.

Awkaend and eboncrys artillery fired ceaseless into the monster's form. The cavern was afire with different elemental attacks. It responded by slithering several tentacles over, which released a shield of protective energy. Fire, ice, wind and artillery blasts were absorbed by the tentacles suckers as they slammed into the shield.

A slew of different attacks. Powerful regeneration. Sturdy defenses. How could they have known this fiend would be so formidable! It was almost mythical. Between its many skills and high intelligence, the combined forces of lesser beasts and human soldiers seemed outmatched.

It released an ear-piercing roar. The smaller eyes peppering its head glowed like red beacons before sending that power to the main eye.

"Watch out! It's going to attack!"

A ray of intense destructive energy exploded from the monster. It pierced the horde of creatures and the humans behind, instantly disintegrating everything it came into contact with. Even the ground below was erased, leaving a smooth trench behind.

These worthless pests dare to challenge me?! The incredulous thoughts swam through the monster's head as it prepared for another attack. It lumbered forward out of the hive. If this next assault succeeded it would eradicate most of the Greenland attackers.

In this instant the Shepherd God threw herself into the fight. Sitting upon the Dragon King she dashed over the shield toward the octopus' head. The fiend sensed her charge and reached out with several tentacles to meet her. Spears of ice, fire and lightning screamed through the air.

The dryad, standing on the dragon's back by Autumn's side, stretched out its hands and blocked them.

Angry filled the colossus' mind. It abandoned its attack on the troops below and lifted its head, aiming the eyes toward the encroaching god. But she was one step ahead. She released a beam of light from her flute which drove into the large, central eye of her foe.

A terrible howl of pain shook the cavern. The octopus reeled back in agony and tried to stagger away from danger. IT seemed she had found the monster's weakness, which was also its strongest weapon.

Natessa watched it all happen. "Attack the eye!"

The Shepherd God withdrew and was replaced by the soldiers and Awakened. They focused their attacks on the beast's central eye with everything they could muster.

Writhing tentacles were raised to deflect what it could, but the Shepherd God had come by for another pass. With her beams of light she cut them all down. Regenerating them took time, which allowed many of the humans' attacks to find purchase.

Deafening screams of pain erupted as the octopus' central eye was destroyed. A gaping, bloody hole remained. Falling into its side, the monster flailed and writhed in agony.

The pain was so great it could no longer focus on controlling the lesser beasts. Taking this opportunity, the Shepherd God reasserted her dominance. Like a swarm of hungry locusts they descended on the octopus and began to gnaw at its body.

Under this fierce and unending abuse, the colossal monster was torn to pieces. Even with its incredible rate of regeneration, there was no coming back from this brutal end. Judging by its power the thing was as terrifying as a god or demon. It was another highly evolved creature from the far reaches of space, but it ultimately fell at the hands of humans.

With the fall of its protector, the hive was exposed. Soldiers closed in and swept through, eradicating nearly everything. A few were spared and kept under the Shepherd God's control. Perhaps they could be tamed and used to the benefit of humanity.

At last, the threat that menaced this underground city was largely eliminated.

Azura led her troops inside, where they found scores of animal eggs piled high to the ceiling. Inside were the unique, empowered beasts they'd eliminated to get here. What served as their progenitors were squirming sacks of flesh, endlessly belching more eggs into the chamber.

"Time to smash some eggs," Pigblossom growled.

"Hold!" Azura raised her hand. "They might be useful, don't destroy them. A few of you stay behind to keep watch, the rest let's pull back."

Her idea was simple. Many of the monsters down here had special abilities. They were more like divine beasts than mutants - special artifacts. Tools. And tools could be used by humans.

Azura thought about Cloudhawk's pet bird. Strictly speaking, Oddball wasn't a legendary sort of creature like Autumn's crystal Dragon King. There were probably many beasts on this planet that were stronger. What made divine beasts special and unique from relics was that they could grow and become stronger.

After so many years with Cloudhawk, Oddball had grown strong. Divine beasts which grew without the aid of a master were weak, but if they were nourished by a demonhunter's mental energy they became dangerous.

Thinking of it like that, then this area was clearly a breeding ground for some advanced civilization.

It was a civilization that had some connection to the gods - probably victims, like humans. This was a remnant of their long-lost people, it would be foolish to just throw it away. Azura believed that if they culled the wild adults, these eggs could be domesticated and made to benefit her species. Maybe in a few decades every denizen of this planet could come here and pick a divine beast for themselves.

This hive wasn't a problem. It was a treasure trove!

After securing the hive, troops spread out to continue cleaning up the rest of the beasts. With the help of the Shepherd God, the process was quick and smooth. The underground city was nearly ready for habitation.

When their work was done, Natessa led the force back to the surface. There the emigrants were gathered up and escorted by Greenland soldiers underground. Living quarters were assigned without issue. The abandoned metropolis was large enough to accommodate millions if need be.

It was a home that came equipped with plenty of resources. The surface plants weren't ordinary foliage, but advanced energy collectors. Light from the sun was gathered and converted for use below the crust. Besides a few copses that had grown naturally, most plants were tightly connected to batteries.

As a result there was plenty of light, water, food and everything else a functioning city required. There was even a system of automatic urban repair, cleaning and maintenance of the hive. Its constant flows of energy kept the hatchery functional and under control. All told, the city was a perfectly equipped living environment.

Over the next twenty four hours one hundred thousand people settled into their new homes. Lucia stood among her clean domicile of alien construction, marveling at how different it all was. She felt a comforting sense of security here, beneath the planet's jungle shell.

She wasn't alone. The vast majority of residents were women, children, the elder... people who were weak or infirm. To them Emerald Star's abundant utopia was the perfect place to ride out the coming war.

"Look at how big you've grown, Azura."

As Luciasha was touring the city she came across the young woman and muttered the words to herself. She remembered the day they met. It was because of her that Azura came under Cloudhawk's care. Now, only a few years later, little Blue had grown tremendously.

It seemed anyone caught in Cloudhawk's orbit changed dramatically.

Luciasha didn't approach Azura, it was neither the time nor the place.

People were still coming into the city and Greenland's soldiers were busy seeing to everyone's safety. Azura and her compatriots watched in satisfaction. A new home was being built, and they were an important part of that. Over time the population of Emerald Star and its underground city would grow.

Back on earth, Cloudhawk gradually felt the weight of his responsibility for these people ease. Now that they were out of harm's way, he could focus on unleashing his full strength against Mount Sumeru.

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