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Chapter 128 - A Mighty Confrontation

 More and more copies of the demon emerged as the battlefield shrank. It was getting difficult to move as a sea of black liquid closed in. A wave of it rose up suddenly, blocking the sky above and casting its shadow over Cloudhawk.

It crashed into him, and the new Demon King was swallowed into a world of darkness. Everywhere he looked there was nothingness, not even solid ground to stand upon.

This was a strange fiend. However you attacked him it only made him stronger, for the original would reform and copies would emerge from the bits that were cast off. Somewhere within the sea of darkness was also a sapping power that was drawing Cloudhawk's strength away.

"Your efforts are futile. Die and let this be over with!"

Cloudhawk had been swallowed into the belly of this monster. Crokel's transforming and devouring powers meant that anything caught inside his body would be dissolved. The inevitable could be delayed, but not avoided.

How long could Cloudhawk maintain his defenses?

Belial's face was crestfallen. "Crokel's fighting method is unique. His body is a weapon, highly toxic to any living thing. If even a drop touches your skin it will be absorbed and attack your organs. Even gods or demons can't protect themselves for long."

Indeed, Crokel's method of dealing with his enemies was different from all others. He did not possess the strength to level mountains or boil rivers, but his was a threat no less dire. Sinister, abominable poisons were his tool of choice. Every inch of Crokel's body was a weapon whose toxic makeup seeped into a victim's soul at one touch.

Death came in two steps. First, the poison took control of one's will and mental powers, turning them into Crokel's puppet. There was little hope of resisting by this point. Second, Crokel robs the victim's mental power and uses it to make more copies of himself. Eventually the victim becomes another piece of Crokel, and at that point everything that they were has died.

No one - gods and demons included - dared underestimate Crokel's terrible powers. When the Elder of the Second Seal appeared on the battlefield, disaster followed. All who were unfortunate enough to be devoured by Crokel inevitably became a part of him. In this way he could eliminate whole armies.

Like the original, the Second Seal's temporary army was immortal. Its ability to corrupt and transform all that it touched meant almost nothing was a threat. The best hope was to survive as long as possible and hope the Elder ran out of mental energy.

Of course, this was not easy. What Crokel absorbed bolstered any mental energy he used in the attempt. Cloudhawk had his mobility robbed with the lock on spatial power, so dealing with a host of foes this large was much more trying.

Cloudhawk's field of deflection kept him and his allies safe for a time. Any time a portion of Crokel drew near it was repulsed, but in the process it sapped some of Cloudhawk's mental strength. Under this assault his shield was steadily shrinking.

Crokel's voice screamed through everyone's mind. "Your end has come!"

"Yeah?" Cloudhawk put Godslayer away and replaced it with a sword of brilliant azure light. It pierced the sea of black crushing in around him and released a burst of power. Suddenly, a sizable portion of the black fluid ceased to be.

"The Blade of Oblivion!"

Crokel knew this relic well. Wasn't it the weapon of the Grand Elder?

The Blade of Oblivion was among the five greatest demonic relics. Compared to the Demon King's Cuirass - which greatly enhanced spatial ability and connected the bearer to multidimensional space - Legion's weapon was not very inferior. How could such a treasure suddenly appear in Cloudhawk's hands?

Had Legion known the Elders would try this? Had he warned Cloudhawk, helped him prepare? Crokel didn't have the answer, but it was too late to second-guess. Cloudhawk struck again and another portion of Crokel's expansive body vanished into smoke.

"You are not as strong as the King that came before you - not even as strong as the Grand Elder in his prime. Even with the blade your doom is inevitable!" Crokel did not retreat. On the contrary he pressed in closer. "Your mental power is mine!"

What did it matter if he came with the Blade of Oblivion? Crokel did not fear the successor and his insignificant power. Did this human whelp think he could kill the Elder of the Second Seal? It was a hopeless dream, for if even a single drop remained Crokel would resurrect.

Cloudhawk lashed out as fast as he was able. Each time his shields grew weaker, hanging on by a thread.

But just as Crokel heaved a final attack toward Cloudhawk's shield - just as he stood on the precipice of victory - a burst of power was released from the successor's body. It tore through the fabric of reality, and as it waned Cloudhawk and his companions had vanished. They reappeared a thousand meters away.

Impossible! How could he teleport when they sealed the area? Crokel had ordered his men to lock down Cloudhawk's abilities specifically. Somehow, though, the successor was not contained and saved himself from Crokel's attack.

Cloudhawk stood with Godslayer in one hand and the Blade of Oblivion in the other. Burning red eyes gleamed from behind his mask and a hissing voice slithered through. "You think you can lock me down?"

Belial and Abaddon were just as stunned that Cloudhawk was able to escape these bounds. It meant that he had a deeper mastery of space than even the previous Demon King! It was because his talents were unique and singular. Crokel's attempts to disrupt space-time here did not affect the flows themselves, only the relics that sought to manipulate them.

How could anything negate the fundamental fabric of space? If space was frozen, how could anything - physical or energetic - move inside of it? The only way to deal with Cloudhawk's powers was to flood an area with disruption which targeted spatial relics. This interference weakened the resonance between relics and the flows they changed until no effect was possible.

It was a restriction that even the former Demon King could not overcome. However the foe Crockel faced today was not the fallen king, but his successor. Cloudhawk was capable of summoning the powers of space at will. Although the result was not as powerful as what he could accomplish through the armor, it was enough to help him escape the Elder's grasp.

Is this why Legion chose him? Crokel was shaken by the unexpected turn, but he did not fall apart. He was prepared to see this through to whatever end. After all, the demon suspected there was more to the human than what was on the surface. It seemed his intuition was correct. "Everyone, together!"

No matter! The successor was still within his grasp! Crokel's order spurred the surrounding demons to action, nor did he stay still. He knew what was at stake, losing meant Gehenna would no longer be safe for him.