GDK 854: Show of goodwill
Of the Five Sovereigns, Ossora was relatively low-profile and friendly. In their countless struggles for control over the Omphalos, Ossora was usually on the defensive. He didn’t fight unless he had to.
Han Shuo was led to a relatively secluded, peaceful pavilion in the Omphalos. When he met Ossora, it struck Han Shuo how ordinary he looked with his amiable smile on his face all the time. He looked like your typical middle-aged neighbor, not at all fearsome or forceful as the rumors described.
Although Ossora was an overgod of earth energy, Han Shuo did not sense any particularly intense energy aura coming from him. In fact, Han Shuo did not get the impression that this guy was at all a mighty god. The aura he emanated was mild and calm. It felt as magnanimous as the ground he was stepping on instead of overwhelming and piercing.
If it wasn’t for the few late-stage highgod experts standing behind him respectfully, Han Shuo might even have overlooked this stranger in the pavilion, for he seemed too ordinary.
Han Shuo walked up to Ossora alone. With a natural and relaxed smile, he said, “Hello, I’m Bryan.”
An expert who could completely conceal his aura to the point that even Han Shuo could not notice it must have possessed extraordinary strength. Needless to say, Han Shuo was no ignoramus. He wouldn’t have been disrespectful to Ossora just because he seemed ordinary.
Ossora turned to look at Han Shuo who was walking in. He laughed lightly and gestured at Han Shuo in a friendly manner, saying, “Come, come! Over here. Haha, no need to be too polite. It’s an honor to meet the famous Bryan at last. Your reputation as a genius pharmacist in the Death, Darkness, and Destruction Dominions precedes you!”
Han Shuo knew that from the moment he informed Luolong of his name, the information would have spread all over the Fringe though the network of stringers. And before long, they would figure out his identity and origins. Therefore, Han Shuo was not surprised that Ossora knew about his identity as a pharmacist. He calmly replied, “You flatter me, Lord Ossora. I may be well known in three Dominions, but Your Lordship cannot be more famous in all Twelve Dominions!”
Ossora put on a bitter smile after hearing Han Shuo’s compliment. He replied, “More infamous than famous, no?”
Han Shuo stared blankly for a bit before he laughed and said, “Aren’t they pretty much the same?”
“They are,” Ossora smiled and said, “However, we Fringedwellers will always be discriminated against by those in the Twelve Dominions. They may step into the Fringe and even assimilate with the society as long as they have sufficient strength. We Fringedwellers, however, will never be able to blend into their society. It’s such a shame!”
Ossora spoke the truth. Those who could not live in the Twelve Dominions could come to the Fringe for shelter. However, the Fringedwellers would have to face countless hurdles to live in any city of the Twelve Dominions. Most of the cities would bar Fringedwellers from entering.
In their eyes, all those who lived in the Fringe were thugs, murderers and godhunters. They did not want any Fringedwellers to step into their cities and disrupt their stability.
“It’s the same living anywhere. But there wouldn’t be a problem if a character of your level wishes to travel around the Twelve Dominions, would there?” asked Han Shuo smilingly.
Ossora shook his head and lightly sighed as though he was holding onto hidden sorrows. However, he did not explain it to Han Shuo.
After taking a short pause, Ossora looked at Han Shuo smilingly and asked, “You’ve been doing well in the Darkness Dominion’s City of Shadows. Why would you come to the Fringe?”
“Well, nothing much. I just feel that a place filled with conflict would be better for cultivation,” Han Shuo, naturally, would not tell Ossora his real reason for coming to the Fringe, which was to grasp it under his rule.
Ossora took a few intense looks at Han Shuo as though he knew that Han Shuo did not speak his true purpose. However, Ossora did not ask any more questions about it. He thought for a moment and said, “Well, now, let’s talk business! I’m aware that you could refine some pretty miraculous medicines. There are battles constantly breaking out in the Fringe and there is great demand for your medicines. The Omphalos has its rules. If you wish to set up your pharmacy in the Omphalos and do business here, you will have to overcome a number of hurdles and meet a hefty few requirements. But I can help you skip through all that. All I ask in return is the preemptive right to purchase every batch of medicines that you produce.”
Han Shuo had stayed in the Omphalos for some time and he knew the cost to set up a business in the Omphalos. On top of having to pay a large amount of black crystal coins as registration fees, they also needed the approval of at least three Sovereigns. And if they were approved, the businesses would be taxed half of its income. The conditions were so prohibitive that Han Shuo could not imagine the effort it would take to set up a Celestial Pearl branch in the Omphalos.
However, there was another type of shop in the Omphalos that wasn’t required to pay any registration fees or taxes. This unique type of shop was called a Sovereign’s Shop. As the name implies, they were assets of the Sovereigns themselves. As administrators of the Omphalos, each Sovereign possessed ten Sovereign shops. There may have been thousands upon thousands of big and small shops in the Omphalos but there could only ever be fifty Sovereign Shops.
Han Shuo stared blankly for a moment after hearing Ossora’s proposal. He asked in an uncertain voice, “You mean…?”
Ossora nodded and answered, “Yes, I will make one of my Sovereign Shops available for you. You should know the benefits of a Sovereign Shop. Their masters and workers have residential rights and do not need to pay any fees for staying in the Omphalos.”
Han Shuo did not immediately agree. He raised one brow, looked at Ossora, and asked, “The only condition is the preemptive right to purchase the medicines I personally made?”
“Yes, it’s that simple,” affirmed Ossora.
Han Shuo smiled respectfully and replied, “The offer sounds too good to be true. I dare not accept it rashly. Lord Ossora, let’s not mince words. Why would you offer me such a great gift?”
Ossora kept silent for a moment before he suddenly chuckled and said, “To me, it’s much more interesting to become friends with a character like you than to be enemies. You are not the kind of person who would bow to anyone. I’m not as naive as certain people who think it’s possible to make you a servant. And in order not to make an enemy of you, I should express goodwill in advance. This would also make cooperation in the future a possibility. Haha, I have no intentions of malice. It’s alright if you are not willing to take my Sovereign Shop. I won’t force it on you.”
“Why would I not take it?” Han Shuo smiled and replied, “To refuse such a gift would be impolite. Thanks for the gift!”
“Luolong, you will be in charge of this matter,” instructed Ossora. Then, he turned to Han Shuo and smilingly said, “You are a decent lad. But still, be cautious in the Fringe. I hope that I will get a good return on investment on my Sovereign Shop.”
Han Shuo nodded smilingly but said nothing. He knew that Ossora did that so that they wouldn’t be enemies for a while. Given how Han Shuo had been acting, it was only a matter of time before conflicts arose between Han Shuo and the four Sovereigns. Ossora, meanwhile, would be able to avoid the conflicts. He could even use them to gauge Han Shuo’s actual strength. If Han Shuo could diminish the strengths of the other four Sovereigns, that would be great news to Ossora who would remain unharmed.
Even if it emerged that Han Shuo was actually weak enough to be killed by the other Four Sovereigns, Ossora could simply retake the Sovereign Shop he gifted to Han Shuo. No matter the outcome, Ossora would lose nothing. There could not be a better investment for Ossora to make.
Ossora and Han Shuo chatted for a while. Ossora gave relevant instructions to his followers before he nodded at Han Shuo smilingly and left.
After Ossora left, Luolong came forward to congratulate Han Shuo for receiving a Sovereign Shop tens of thousands of square meters in size. He would take care of the chores of setting up the Celestial Pharmacy branch on Han Shuo’s behalf. The previous tenant of the shop was evicted in one day.
Every inch of soil in the Omphalos was worth a shit ton of crystal coins. There were just fifty Sovereign Shops in the entire city and Han Shuo was gifted one soon after arriving in the Fringe. Many envied the treatment he received but no one dared cause him trouble.
Han Shuo had thought about placing the headquarters of the Celestial Pearl Pharmacy in the Omphalos before coming to the Fringe. The most lunatic and top-notch pharmacists were all in the Fringe. In addition, poisons, crystal cores, and ingredients banned in the Twelve Dominions were sold here in abundance. The Fringe was a paradise for Han Shuo who cultivated in the sinister demonic arts.
Han Shuo had no plans of starting business soon. After securing the shop, Han Shuo continued to instruct his servants and the Five Elite Zombies to purchase the materials needed for reconstructing the Pandemonium. They spent nearly three months and an untold fortune to purchase the materials. Han Jin had also dug out some more materials from the mountains and valleys nearby.
Finally, the party started returning to the Pandemonium. Han Shuo re-activated the Yin-gathering Formation and the elemental energies started assembling in the valley. Goron and the others were amazed by the intensity of elemental energies.
After creating rooms for his followers in the Pandemonium and settling them down, Han Shuo and the Five Elite Zombies started building their future home. Earth Elite Zombie hid deep underground. He spent a year excavating an enormous underground palace. Metal Elite Zombie carved out stone chambers in the mountains surrounding the valley. The Five Elite Zombies had also erected numerous sturdy structures in the valley.
For two years, Han Shuo and the Five Elite Zombies worked on the Pandemonium without rest before they finally completed the mega-construction. The valley had been turned into a treacherous place where every step could mean certain death. The Yin-gathering Formation at the center had become surrounded by several dozen big and small demonic formations. Colorful miasmic gas shrouded the valley, limiting visibility.
During those two years, some Fringedwellers had wandered there or tried to explore the area, but all of them would miraculously disappear without a trace. Over time, nobody dared step into the region.
With everything in place, Han Shuo gathered all his men and to give the first of the many commands he would give in his conquest for the Fringe.
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