GDK 1003: Her?
"Why are you telling me about the relationship between the sea of faith and Quintessence? And what does the battle of the gods have to do with Aethernia opening?" Han Shuo asked.
"I only want you to know that we who stand at the apex of Elysium are not irreplaceable, and that we are bound by the Quintessence," Amon said.
"Just like how we obtain faith from our believers, someone else also draws worship from us. A huge part of the faith we receive is channeled by the Quintessence to the Allmother!" Nestor said with a serious look. "Put a little harshly, we Overgods are merely the slaves of the Allmother. Through us, she monopolizes the faith of all life and the moment we are no longer able to generate sufficient faith for her, we will be replaced."
After he said that, Amon and Cratos grimaced. Han Shuo widened his eyes in realization. It seemed that being an Quintessence Overgod wasn't that amazing of a deal after all. The Allmother that created the world had a tight leash on them and used them to harvest the power of faith for herself. While the Twelve Quintessence Overgods seemed impressive and powerful, that was merely a tangential benefit. Even though they stood supreme to most others and could use the power of Quintessence, they were shackled by an obligation they didn't ask for.
"Why would you dare discuss this with me?" Han Shuo asked after some thought, "You make it sound like you won't be able to escape the grasp of the Allmother no matter what. What happens if she finds out about it?"
Cratos smiled and took a deep breath. "The situation has changed. Many years ago, a really powerful being came here through a crack between two universes. We Overgods and the Allmother both felt the terrifying might of that person. You should know who I'm talking about."
Han Shuo knew that they were talking about the Gu Tian Xie, the Exalted Demonlord. As Han Shuo's power grew, he came to understand how truly powerful that person actually was. Even he could be sure he wouldn't have to fear Quintessence Overgods once his ascension at the Diablo Realm is complete, so the Exalted Demonlord, who was a realm higher, was surely almost unmatched in this universe. Only the Allmother could conceivably harm him.
"I know who. Go on," Han Shuo said and waved for him to continue.
"He had torn through the barricades between the two universes. Right after, the Allmother ordered us to join her and take out that person before he could recover. It would be hard for you to imagine, but that battle was so destructive that many lesser planes were completely annihilated entirely from it. The twelve of us only managed to force him back while the Allmother was the one who truly dealt the finishing blows.
"After so many years, I still remember how distressed I felt when I thought about that person. I didn't think anyone but the Allmother could possibly be so powerful to the point of being able to destroy an entire plane in one gesture. It's far too terrifying!" Cratos said with a forlorn sigh.
It was the first time Han Shuo had heard someone else describe Gu Tian Xie's power. Being able to level an entire plane and making it sound so easy was no joke indeed. Back when he first received the memories containing the demonic arts, he was doubtful about whether it could actually reshape entire landscapes so easily, but now he knew that even that wasn't the full extent of the power.
"He was utterly exterminated," Han Shuo said softly.
Amon and the rest didn't think that Gu Tian Xie had lost because he was weak at all. They exchanged painful glances. Cratos continued, "He didn't lose because he was weaker than the Allmother. It was probably due to the fact that he had spent too much energy tearing through the universes before the fight. Had he not done that, it would've been hard to say who would've won. Even then, the Allmother was injured heavily from the fight."
Amon's face grew cold when he added, "At that moment, the Allmother caused our Quintessence to go out of control. Our soul and Quintessence flew towards her. During that time, we clearly felt the power of faith and divine energy we had gathered over aeons flood towards her rapidly as she recovered just as quickly.
"Had it not been for that person's divine artifact unleashing one last strike before leaving, the twelve of us would've lost our souls and Quintessence. We would've completely perished for the sake of her revival. It was then when we suddenly realized that she had a leash on all of us all this time. We can be slaughtered by her at any moment!"
"Thanks to that person, we finally got to know where we truly stood!" Cratos said. "The final strike that person unleashed injured the Allmother even more while we, initially loyal to her, began to hesitate.
Amon said, "She knew better than anyone that we were already looking to betray her, so she used the last of her power to enter Aethernia. Before sealing its entrance, she said that not even all the energy in this universe combined will be able to force Aethernia open. She also said that she would recover everything she had given us when she reawakens. Naturally, she wasn’t just talking about the Quintessence, but also our lives.
"She was absolutely certain that the otherworldly being wouldn't survive even after his escape due to the lingering energies in his body," Cratos said. "And that was in fact true. That person ended up falling in the end. What she didn't predict, however, was how he used one last resort before perishing to drag your soul here from another universe! We learned about you from the Goddess of Destiny after the fact. We were only able to ascertain you cultivate that person's energy after you came to Elysium. As the Quintessence had fused into our souls, we are unable to cultivate any other energy than our own, so we place our hopes in you. We want you to open Aethernia once more!"
This was rather shocking for Han Shuo to hear. He had only just learned about what truly happened back then and why Gu Tian Xie had a grudge against the Allmother. The Allmother had been recovering in her private retreat the whole time and would come out from Aethernia once she felt her power had recovered enough. Then, she would go on to take care of the Twelve Overgods, who surely weren't able to sleep well at night knowing that fate would eventually catch up to them.
"So you're saying that we should break into Aethernia and kill her together before she recovers?" Han Shuo said after some thought.
Cratos nodded without any intention to hide it. "That's right. We don't have a choice. Once she recovers to some extent, she'll reclaim our Quintessence along with our souls. We have been her puppets for untold aeons and gave most of the power of faith we received to her, yet she still wants to kill us. There's no way we would go down without a fight."
"Had that person not shown up, we wouldn't be able to do anything to her even if we found out that she had been raising us like pigs to be slaughtered. Her power far exceeds ours and even the twelve of us working together won't be able to harm her. Fortunately, that person has left us with one final hope, and her heavy injuries allowed us to take some initiative for ourselves," Amon said.
Han Shuo looked closely at the three of them and said, "It sounds like you don't just want to kill her. Is there something that you desire within Aethernia?"
Amon, Cratos, and Nestor's eyes glowed but they didn't answer, but that was enough for Han Shuo to confirm the existence of such a thing. The fact that Quintessence Overgods like them showed emotion unintentionally upon mention of that thing meant that it was so impressive that it even shook their mind state for a second.
Since they didn't seem like they intended to reveal that, Han Shuo didn't press them on it. That matter was still a little far off and he could just ask them about it before they actually departed for Aethernia.
"Even after knowing a bit more about Aethernia, I still don't know why you all held the battle of the gods so soon," Han Shuo said.
"We feel that the Quintessence has been demanding more and more faith lately and is growing out of control. Even though we are unable to feel her presence, it seems like her control of our Quintessence has only increased with time. There's not much we can do about it even if we try, so that can only mean the Allmother might emerge from Aethernia soon," Amon said with a grim look. "The battle of the gods is also a key to open Aethernia, so if she's going to emerge, we have to rush to hold it to get the edge on her."
Han Shuo felt a little pity for them. They feared the Allmother far too much. He was also a little shocked to hear about her eventual re-emergence. As he posed a huge threat to her, it might be the case that he was the first one she would deal with instead of the Twelve Quintessence Overgods.