After subduing Pegasus and Graeae, Han Shuo gave them a task: to loot all the valuable goods inside the Shrine of Ice.
Pegasus and Graeae had naturally adapted discerning eyes for valuable treasures over the years. After implanting seals in their brains, Han Shuo gained absolute authority over their lives or deaths and therefore had no worries that they would be disloyal.
The two were truly afraid of Han Shuo. They wore sour faces as they flew about the frozen mountains in search of valuable goods for Han Shuo.
If they hadn’t run into Han Shuo, they would have remained untouchable characters on Profound Continent - that was the biter. Perhaps this was the treatment they deserved for their errant intentions when Han Shuo explained he was heavily injured.
Ayermike Cotton, the expert who helped found Lancelot Empire, had truly taken Han Shuo as one of his own and worked for him sincerely after learning of his ambitions to unify the entire Profound Continent under Lancelot Empire. Han Shuo had always maintained proper respect towards Ayermike Cotton, totally unlike how he treated Pegasus and Graeae, yelling orders without giving thought to their feelings.
While the two hung their heads dispiritedly and bustled around for Han Shuo, Han Shuo and Ayermike Cotton chatted to day's end like two old friends.
“You mentioned earlier that a god from the Shrine of Ice had manifested here. What kind of strength did he wield?” Ayermike Cotton was extremely curious about the comer from the Shrine of Ice. He had lived on Profound Continent for a long time and had long been aware of how formidable the Shrine of Ice was.
“He’s a midgod. Very powerful. If it wasn’t for the fact that he was unable to utilize his full strength and was hit by my sneak attack, I’m afraid I wouldn’t be here talking to you now,” Han Shuo explained, smiling slightly.
“Really didn’t expect that the comer would be a midgod. What a horror.” Ayermike Cotton was daunted. He, too, was familiar with the ranking between gods and what it meant to be a class lower.
“He had underestimated his enemy. Serves him right that he lost,” Han Shuo giggled.
“You have destroyed the foundation of the Shrine of Ice on Profound Continent. Surely they aren't going to leave the matter at that. Have you thought of a fallback for if those people were to traverse across material planes and come here in person?” Ayermike Cotton wasn't clueless. He had been around for centuries after all.
Han Shuo kept silent although the question had long irked him. Han Shuo had learned a lot from Bechymos, including the fact that it was possible for gods from high-level material planes to come to him via an interplanar transportation matrix. In the last battle, the only reason that Han Shuo could mount a sneak attack on that midgod envoy, injuring his soul and forcing him to retreat was that the envoy manifested by using Tiana as the medium. If the midgod envoy were to personally make the journey to this plane using an interplanar transportation matrix, Han Shuo knew that based on his current strength, he wouldn’t have the slightest chance of a victory.
“I haven’t found a solution yet. This problem is really giving me a big headache.” After some time, Han Shuo finally shook his head and sighed helplessly.
“Sigh, I suppose that's a bridge you can only cross when you come to it. Let’s hope he doesn't actually come here physically,” Ayermike Cotton was just as helpless. His strength was limited and he couldn’t think of a solution to solve Han Shuo’s problem. All he could do was comfort him verbally.
“Don’t worry, there is always a solution,” Han Shuo said while pretending to be relaxed. His mood, however, was getting heavier and heavier.
As far as Han Shuo was aware, there really was no one else on Profound Continent that could pose him any serious threat, that was, besides the Primordius Dragon serving its role as the planar guardian. In fact, he wasn’t even afraid of the Primordius Dragon. However, there were countless experts on other material planes. Should a midgod from another plane have descended on Profound Continent, Han Shuo wouldn't likely have lived to breathe another whiff of the atmosphere. Han Shuo had offended spider goddess Rose the last time. And now, he had injured a midgod of the Shrine of Ice. There could very well be a day that they decide to straighten out their grudges. This pressure was really weighing down on Han Shuo.
“So what do we do next? Do we proceed with going to the Church of Light’s sacred mountain?” Ayermike Cotton, who knew Han Shuo’s plan, couldn’t help but ask.
After a moment of hesitation, Han Shuo shook his head, forced a smile and said, “Let’s postpone that for a while. I have suffered injuries from this expedition. Who knows what sort of secret weapon might await us on the sacred mountain. I really have no confidence in handling the situation if the same thing over here were to repeat over there. Hmm, let’s go home first. When I have recovered from my injuries, we will wipe out the Church of Light. I can make use of this period to properly think about how to deal with the potential crisis in the future.”
“Sure, I’ve been missing Lancelot Empire a whole lot. Surely, a lot must have happened in the empire during the past five hundred years while I was incarcerated by the Primordius Dragon. I wonder if the people and royal kin of Lancelot Empire still remember me?” When speaking of Lancelot Empire that he had helped build, Ayermike Cotton would always feel a sense of gratification and satisfaction. This was also one of the reasons he was so amiable and sincere towards Han Shuo after learning that Han Shuo was executing his unfinished undertaking.
Ayermike Cotton considered Han Shuo as one of his people largely for the fact that he had originated from Lancelot Empire. Furthermore, Han Shuo was an expert with sufficient strength to make great contributions to the empire. Both of them had common interests. To top it all off, Han Shuo’s temperament was very much to his liking, so it was only natural that Ayermike Cotton’s attitude towards Han Shuo had improved so drastically.
Pegasus and Graeae did not slack as Han Shuo and Ayermike Cotton conversed. Before long, the two had finally collected every item of value to the Shrine of Ice. Pegasus took the lead as the two approached and stood before Han Shuo. He cupped a few space rings in his two hands and respectfully presented them to Han Shuo, “It’s all inside these. Some of the items are really good. Please inspect them, my Lord.”
Han Shuo did not take the space ring. Instead, he smiled at Ayermike Cotton and said, “The Shrine of Ice has operated for many years and naturally they would possess some interesting objects. But, you know, at my level of strength, most material artefacts are just junk in my eye. Besides, I have injuries that I need to treat. I will have to trouble you to process these for me.”
“That won't be a problem. I’m rather skilled when it comes to matters of this aspect. Hehe, back during the years of military campaign, I had destroyed many small nations and did this quite often,” Ayermike Cotton said as he put on a rather sinister and mischievous smile.
“Thanks a lot then. Alright, let’s leave this place. I reckon that news of the destruction of the Shrine of Ice will soon spread throughout the entire continent. The Shrine of Ice has always been the most fundamental power of Kasi Empire. Its destruction will definitely deal Kasi Empire a severe blow. I believe that they will be powerless against our Lancelot Empire from now on.” Although injured, Han Shuo was nonetheless in a great mood as he had exacted his vengeance against the Shrine of Ice.
“That’s right. Without the Shrine of Ice, Kasi Empire will surely sink into great chaos. The only reason that this nation had been so firmly under the control of the House of Pillon all along was that the Shrine of Ice had been acting as the deterrent force. Now that the Shrine has perished, the House of Pillion will face a bumpy road ahead in maintaining their wield over Kasi Empire,” Ayermike Cotton was very familiar with Kasi Empire. It was immediately apparent to him that a power struggle would soon take place in Kasi Empire.
“Let’s move,” said Han Shuo. The group of four departed from the Shrine of Ice unruffled and returned to Lancelot Empire along the path they came from.
As they passed through the Dragon Valley in the depths of the Dark Forest, Han Shuo hesitated for a moment and decided not to scout for the Primordius Dragon in case it had returned to the Dragon Valley. He kept his cool and steered clear of any reckless stunts.
As they approached the Cemetery of Death, Han Shuo’s two avatars separated from his main body. Both of them then entered the Cemetery of Death to recuperate from the injuries done to their bodies. Han Shuo’s main body, since it cultivated in demonic arts, had recovery speeds that far exceeded his two avatars. By the time they passed the Cemetery of Death, his injuries had basically healed. Therefore, he did not need to enter the Cemetery of Death and instead brought Ayermike Cotton, Pegasus, and Graeae to Sunshine Valley.
This time, Han Shuo did not stay in Sunshine Valley for long. He went to talk to Jasper and the others, letting them stay in Sunshine Valley for the time being and continue to familiarize themselves with Profound Continent. He then had a brief discussion privately with Trunks before taking the trio of basegods to Lancelot Empire’s Ossen City.
Ayermike Cotton had left Lancelot Empire for too long and was very longing of his country. As not to cause any disturbances in Lancelot Empire, Han Shuo did not reveal Ayermike Cotton’s identity to anyone. Besides, Ayermike Cotton wasn't one for vanity. He had obtained everything he needed five hundred years ago. He was even worshipped like a god back then.
The reason for Han Shuo’s decision to return to Ossen City was to greet Lawrence in person and further discuss the plan of all-out assaults on other nations while allowing Ayermike Cotton to revisit the capital city.
After arriving in Ossen City, Han Shuo slotted Pegasus and Graeae into the Dark Mantle, turning them into the two most terrifying trump cards of the covert organization. They would be in charge of handling some of the most dangerous and difficult missions of the Dark Mantle. The presences of these two basegods in the Dark Mantle would ensure that any shady businesses of Lancelot Empire could be carried out successfully.
For example, during a war, the two could be deployed to get rid of the opposing forces’ commanders and leaders, or perhaps to cast a formidable magical matrix - things that would fix the final outcome of a battle in no time. It was impossible for Han Shuo to do all these things personally. Their presence could save Han Shuo a lot of time and effort.
Han Shuo would not bring experts from the Abyss realm to this world except in the last resort. After all, Abyssal creatures didn’t resemble humans on Profound Continent. The arrival of Abyssal experts on this plane would surely cause an unimaginable panic among the people of Profound Continent. Han Shuo had no wish of becoming a public enemy to the whole of Profound Continent.
But in any case, given the power Han Shuo currently possessed, not to mention the mighty experts under his control, even without utilizing his Abyssal experts, it wouldn’t be of much difficulty for him to achieve world domination.
Soon after Han Shuo had settled Pegasus and Graeae into the Dark Mantle, and Ayermike Cotton had sorted through the great number of goods obtained from the Shrine of Ice, people from the Calamity Church who had traveled great distances paid a visit to Han Shuo.