GDK 1002: Sea of Faith
The battle of the gods and Aethernia were things that had occupied Han Shuo's thoughts for the past few years. Both the Goddess of Destiny and God of Light were really cryptic about the whole thing when they revealed that Han Shuo's involvement might be necessary in those affairs. Not to mention, they also mentioned that the Fringe and the Twelve Divine Dominions were heavily intertwined with it. The two of them hadn't revealed too much about the matter to him back then, and even though Han Shuo had tried to seek out that information himself, his efforts were in vain.
Currently, the battle of the gods had begun, with the Dominions of Life, Light, Water, Darkness, Destruction and Death already participating, sending cascading effects across Elysium. According to Nestor, no dominion would be able to avoid the upcoming battle, even the weakest of them all, the Fringe.
Yet, Han Shuo still had no idea what the whole affair was about despite that, so it was a fatal weakness for him. He had traveled far and risked himself much to come to the Dominion of Darkness so that he could finally get answers once and for all.
"Oh?" Han Shuo said, "I still have no idea about the battle of the gods and Aethernia, so pray tell."
Amon looked at Nestor and the God of Destruction, who nodded, before he said, "Let's talk inside."
Amon reentered the darkness from which they had emerged while the other two followed suit without hesitation. Han Shuo could now vaguely see a huge shrine in the clouds within the boundless darkness. It was so grand that it was ten times Pandemonium's size, seeming like it was stacked up from a few mountains. Han Shuo couldn't help but respect the sight's marvel. Seeing the three head towards the grand shrine, he also followed behind.
Just as he was calming down, he felt that the shrine was a terrifying vortex filled with dark element with a density hundred times more than normal. A kind of weak, but mysterious force flowed towards it from all directions, slowly seeping into it. He tried to feel it out and noticed that it was the power of faith for the God of Darkness. It came in an endless stream of trillions of tiny strands.
He turned to Amon and noticed that right after he entered the Shrine of Darkness, the power of faith began to gather towards him. When he squinted, he was surprised to find that the strands suddenly turned into colorful lights. The Shrine of Darkness almost resembled a huge beast with its mouth open, swallowing up all the power of faith coming from the God of Darkness's believers.
Some lines were thick as arms while others were thousands of times finer than hair. When he tried to sense them, he found that the thick ones had the aura of highgods while the really fine ones had auras so weak he could barely feel them. Soon, he came to the conclusion that the stronger the aura, the more powerful the source of the faith. The finest ones probably came from normal folk without cultivation.
He noticed that the three of them were waiting for him at the center of the Shrine of Darkness - a space filled with stars that looked like a portal to a whole different realm. The strands of faith were really concentrated there and slowly flowed like a wide ocean. Most of the power of faith streaming from every part of the universe was pouring into that strange region while the rest flowed into Amon.
When Nestor saw him enter, he pointed at the starry space and said, "This is the sea of faith where the Quintessence is submerged."
Han Shuo snapped alert when the discussion was finally beginning. "Sea of faith? Submerging Quintessence? Does it need to be nourished by it?"
"If we want to use the power of Quintessence, we need to constantly refill its power by submerging it in the sea of faith at set intervals to cleanse all the impurities that form on it. Only by doing so can we continue to use its power," Amon explained.
Han Shuo hadn't been aware that Quintessences had to be cared for so deeply. He had thought that once an overgod received it, they would be able to use its power indiscriminately. When he was on the Profound Continent, he noticed that many lesser planes had lots of shrines that proselytized their faith to gain more followers for the power of faith to fuel their respective gods.
Han Shuo had initially thought that to be a method used to bolster the power of the Domain of Divinity. It seemed it also had an important role to play for Quintessence Overgods too. If they had to constantly refill the power of their Quintessence, it was no wonder they would scramble to build shrines and gain followers even on the lesser planes.
"What happens if a Quintessence isn't refilled or regularly cleansed by the sea of faith?" Han Shuo asked.
"Then, the bearer of the Quintessence will die! More specifically, the Quintessence will make our divine souls perish before seeking out a different bearer and fusing with them," Amon explained with a heavy look.
"In other words, if you no longer have believers in any world and use up your power of faith, you will be abandoned by the Quintessence for another replacement?"
"That's right." Amon hesitated, but he continued his explanation. "Quintessence Shards are unique items in that regard. Once a Quintessence abandons us, it will seek out another suitable god that has fused with a Quintessence Shard and absorb the shard to convert it into power of faith. Quintessence Shards are essentially crystallized forms of faith.
"As long as the new bearer of the Quintessence manages to obtain believers before their power of faith runs out, it will be fine. The Quintessence will be able to sustain itself with the incoming stream of faith."
"Can overgods without shards also obtain the Quintessence after your souls are smothered out by it?"
"Of course!" the God of Destruction, Cratos, answered. "But that only applies if nobody else has shards. The moment they fuse with the Quintessence, they will have to immediately garner the power of faith to feed it or end up just like the previous bearer. Usually, that hardly happens. We will not allow a demi-overgod cultivating the same energy as we do to garner the critical number of believers... That is also the reason why Nestor didn't care about powerful demi-overgods like Logue or Dagmar, but worried a great deal about Han Hao."
Nestor didn't seem mad at Cratos for using him as an example. He nodded and said, "To us, even lowgods with Quintessence Shards are a hundred times more threatening than faux-overgods without one." Chuckling, he continued, "Had Han Hao not formed a new Quintessence himself, I would've killed him even if the Goddess of Destiny disapproves of it."
Han Shuo humphed at hearing past matters brought up. "Seems like as long as the gods with Quintessence Shards can ruin your faith and steal some of your worship, they will eventually be able to replace you. I had thought that you were eternal existences."
"There is no such thing as an eternal existence," Cratos said with a laugh. "Even that powerful being who brought you from another universe was exterminated by the Allmother. The Allmother herself, which most consider eternal, had also almost perished in her solitude in Aethernia."
Han Shuo's expression immediately changed. All this time, he had only learned about Gu Tian Xie, the Exalted Demonlord, from the Cauldron of Myriad Demons. Even though he suspected the Twelve Overgods knew his true identity, he couldn't be sure of it until now. To think that he had tried to lay low after coming to Elysium in fear of being discovered.
"Does that mean you weren't tolerating my presence in the Dominion of Darkness back then solely on the Goddess of Destiny's account?"
Amon's lips curved into a disdainful smile. "On her account? Hehe, she doesn't have nearly enough clout for that!"
"That means I don't owe the Goddess of Destiny any favors then," Han Shuo said with a chuckle.