GDK 863: A gathering storm
Polo was a late-stage highgod of destruction. He was a well-known, prestigious character in the Fringe and in the Godhunter Alliance. His reputation was comparable to Han Hao’s.
Given his great strength and status, it was only to be expected that Polo wouldn’t easily bow to another expert’s command, especially when he did not know if Han Hao had the strength to defeat him.
After exhausting his energy when escaping from Salas’ pursuit, Han Hao had been feasting on the energy of other experts. That which did not kill him only made him stronger. Han Hao’s overall strength had now advanced to a new realm and he was certain that he could kill Polo.
Han Hao was never one to waste words. He knew that in order to make Polo yield, he had to demonstrate that he could completely overwhelm him in power. No words could be more convincing than an actual battle.
When Han Hao thrust his bone spear, insurmountable energy made of intertwined aura of death and killing intent exploded from it. Polo was taken aback. He seemed wary and hesitant.
Polo could sense that Han Hao had completely transformed after two years. Both his demeanor and his gaze had become even more sharp and menacing. At that moment, he looked ready to destroy anything in his path.
Both the followers of Han Hao and Polo remained still while watching their leaders. They wouldn’t do a thing without their leader’s command.
After the intertwined aura of death and the killing intent, circular undulations were emitted from the tip of the bone spear. Each of the undulations formed its own Boundary of Death in a split second. Before Polo could even react, Han Hao had directed all the divine energy in his body into one point and was thrusting towards Polo with his bone spear.
With one thought of his mind, the seven bone spurs detached from his spine and shot towards Polo in graceful and captivating arcs.
The boundaries deployed by Han Hao would not obstruct his bone spurs. On the contrary, they would enhance the firepower and stealth of his bone spurs. Polo, having been caught off guard, exerted all his energy to defend himself.
An intense flash suddenly burst out around Polo. Following that, all the boundaries Han Hao deployed abruptly vanished. The bone spurs hovered a few meters around Polo as though they had formed an invisible cage around him.
The godhunters around them knew that Han Hao and Polo had exchanged blows during that intense flash of light, but they could not tell what the results were. They watched the two leaders attentively while staying vigilant towards their opponents, ready to fight at any moment.
Those followers of Polo were rather nervous because Han Hao’s godhunters had greatly outnumbered them and had caught wind of the savagery of Han Hao’s godhunters. They knew that if Polo was to fall out with Han Hao, they would suffer the same fate as those who were once their victims. The divine energy in their bodies would be used for advancing another person’s strength.
Han Hao wore a tranquil expression while staring intensely at Polo. He said to Polo, “Let me tell you this: soon, the status quo in the Fringe will be set anew. If you do not bow to my command, even if I spare your life today, someone might take it away tomorrow. Your happy days in the Fringe are over!”
Polo showed a mixed array of emotions on his face, including a few traces of dejection. He looked deeply into Han Hao’s eyes for long before hesitantly asking, “That expert, Bryan, the one who destroyed the Empyrean Peak but still managed to escape from Salas, who is he to you?”
Han Hao stared blankly and hesitated for a moment. He waved his hand and formed a boundary enveloping them before he answered, “He is my father.”
Polo was astounded. It took him a while but he finally made up his mind. Wearing a bitter smile, he nodded, “Well then, I must oblige.”
Han Hao nodded. He removed the barrier and announced to everyone, “From now on, Polo and all his followers are mine!”
“Put away your weapons,” instructed Polo to his followers with a dispirited face.
No further explanation was needed. Everyone knew that Polo had submitted. From that day on, Han Hao and the godhunters he commanded became a powerhouse in the Fringe that no one dared belittle.
Over at the Pandemonium, Rose, Romon, Zovic, the Five Elite Zombies, and others gathered in a meeting room. The news about Han Shuo intruding the Empyrean Peak and massacring Salas’ followers had spread to every corner of the Fringe. Luolong and Han Hao had delivered the news to the Pandemonium, asking their inhabitants to exercise extreme caution.
During the recent time, Romon, Zovic, Goron, and the others had been sweeping away ten or so forces that were located around the Pandemonium. Some surrendered, some were butchered.
But just as they were most motivated to expand their territories even further, they were informed that Han Shuo had intruded the Empyrean Peak. Rose immediately commanded that they cease all expeditions and stay in the Pandemonium.
All of Han Shuo’s experts in the Fringe had gathered in the underground palace. Rose, Romon, Zovic, and Goron were wearing grave faces in these uncertain times. Salas was a Sovereign that every Fringedweller was afraid of and Han Shuo’s whereabouts were currently unknown. They did not know if the Pandemonium could survive until Han Shuo’s return, or if he would be returning at all.
“Salas’ followers have been searching for Master very actively. His scouts have reached even the borders of our Pandemonium. As we have recently wiped out many of the nearby forces, this place won’t stay hidden for long,” remarked the vexed Zovic.
“Agreed. Given the manpower and connections Salas possessed in the Fringe, it won’t be long before he sieges our base. Sigh, should we disperse for the moment and reassemble after we have news about Master?” suggested Luolong.
“We won’t leave. It’s not easy building the Pandemonium. We will never allow this place to be damaged!” Metal Elite Zombie seemed full of mettle as he said, “Besides, the bunch of you are underestimating the power of the Pandemonium. We and our father have put a ton of effort into building this place. Its defensive power is nothing you can imagine! Hmph, even if Salas himself tries to break into the base, he will have to pay a great price for it!”
Han Shuo and the Five Elite Zombies had spent a great deal of effort and energy on building the Pandemonium. As the architects and builders, they knew just how brutal the Pandemonium could be. They were not the least bit afraid even if it was one of the Sovereigns who would be attacking them.
“I believe in Master’s power. Salas’ Empyrean Peak has been wrecked and his experts have been massacred by Master. I reckon Salas can’t muster much force against us!” remarked Romon.
“Given the extent of Salas’ influence in the Fringe, we cannot avoid capture even if we evacuate from the Pandemonium. We might as well take a shot and stay. I believe that Master will rush back to the Pandemonium as soon as he recovers. We just have to hang in here until Master returns,” said Zovic.
“No one will leave the valley,” commanded Rose calmly who had been silent all along.
Everyone in the meeting room knew that among them, Rose was the person most trusted by Han Shuo. Therefore, the party stopped debating and accepted Rose’s decision.
Back at Ossora’s underground palace, Luolong went to his Sovereign and reported, “My Lord, I have just received news that Salas has learned about the presence of Pandemonium and its location. He is gathering his troops and marching towards the Valley!”
Ossora thought for a moment before he asked, “Any information that points to Bryan being in the Pandemonium?”
Luolong shook his head and replied, “None whatsoever. Ever since he mysteriously disappeared from the Empyrean Peak, there has not been even a word of news about him. The followers of Salas and the other Sovereigns have searched the entire Fringe and yet, they found not the tiniest trace of Bryan.”
“This Bryan - what a guy!” exclaimed Ossora who seemed rather impressed. Then, after thinking for a while, Ossora said, “Alright, I shall visit the Pandemonium and check out the situation. I’m going solo.”
Luolong was astounded as he did not expect that his mighty and all-important Sovereign should handle the matter Himself. After hesitating a bit, he asked, “But, my Lord, wouldn’t that be a waste of your time?”
Ossora shook his head smilingly and replied, “This Bryan guy is definitely worth my time. I will go check out the situation at the Pandemonium and see if his followers are worthy of my help.”
Luolong only became more puzzled and confused. However, he did not ask any more questions and respectfully dismissed himself.
On a mountain peak near the northwest of the Pandemonium, Salas’ followers were gathering and rapidly growing in number.
Those experts that perished or were injured on the Empyrean Peak were just a portion of Salas’ followers. The rest of them were scattered in every corner of the Fringe. Although Salas has suffered great losses, his army has not been completely wiped out. And indeed, he was able to muster a great number in little time.
Within a short few days, five or six hundred gods had gathered on the mountain. These ferocious experts who dwelled in every part of the Fringe had heard of the tragic attack on Empyrean Peak. As followers of Salas, they had been riding roughshod over other Fringedwellers in the name of their Sovereign. It was needless to say just how angry they were about the Empyrean Peak getting flattened.
During recent times, the scene of devastation at the Empyrean Peak was widely narrated among the Fringedwellers. These followers of Salas saw the schadenfreude in the gazes of other Fringedwellers. People who used to take detours to avoid them now seemed as though they were not afraid of them anymore. This made them deeply realize the impact Salas’ downfall would have on them.
Even if not for Salas, they must destroy the Pandemonium and Han Shuo for their own sake. They knew that that was the only way they could preserve the special privileges they enjoy in the Fringe.
The Fringedweller were very realistic. Although Salas was not defeated in battle, Empyrean Peak having been destroyed and Han Shuo remaining alive made everyone think that Salas wasn’t as mighty as they imagined. This has far-reaching consequences.
Half a month later, a thunderbolt streak across the sky. Salas finally appeared on the mountain.
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