(unedited)

GDK 945: On the brink of war

Andrina seemed just as vigorous when inside the three Boundaries of Death. There was no sign that she was affected by Weakness, Fear, or Aging. A gaudy, blazing radiance that was even brighter than the sun shone from her chest and it lit up the region.

The oval spheroid in the center of the energy crystal resonated with the gaudy radiance on Andrina's chest. It gave off a burning radiance as it shot towards Han Hao with tremendous power.

When Han Hao saw that Andrina was immune to the Boundaries of Death, he immediately changed his attack strategy. In an instant, he drew the element of death powering those boundaries into his bone spear and he abruptly retreated to avoid the rolling crystal ball.

“Wanna run?” Andrina sneered. She opened her palm and started moving her little fingers as though she was playing an invisible harp.

The crystal ball under Andrina’s control was extremely agile. It maneuvered around like a fighter jet. It turned and tracked Han Hao firmly, not giving him any chance of escaping.

Despite the grave situation, Han Hao’s heart remained as calm as still water. His bewitching eyes glistened with sinister lights. Then, suddenly, he stopped and stood his ground.

Whoosh!

The seven bone spurs behind his back violently shot out and aimed themselves at the sneering Andrina. Simultaneously, he hurled the bone spear in his hand. The shriek and wails of hundreds of thousands of tormented souls sounded while wisps of ink-dark smoke emanated from the bone spear. They spread and curled around the bone spear before turning into an enormous, malevolent, hideous face.

A chilling, frigid wind blew out of nowhere. The bone spear which was supposed to be inanimate suddenly transformed into a terrifying, ferocious monster. It opened its enormous mouth lined with sharp teeth. A sinister killing intent condensed from hundreds of thousands of tormented souls erupted.

The sneering Andrina was jolted and she put on a shocked expression. She didn’t expect that the normal-looking bone spear would contain such a terrifying amount of sinister power!

Before Andrina could react, the bone-spear-turned-monster swallowed the crystal ball of Andrina’s with its enormous mouth and it started chewing.

Crack… Crack…  It sounded as though the energy crystal projectile that was harder than diamond was being broken down into pieces.

Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh!

The seven bone spurs whistled and surrounded Andrina in an instant. They emanate a frigid and insidious energy.

This made Andrina even more shocked. She immediately turned her attention to the seven bone spurs that had her surrounded and gave up on the crystal ball which was devoured.

A most luminous light burst from Andrina’s chest, quickly transforming her body into sparkling and translucent, living crystal. Quickly after that, a blinding light emanated from her. It was so luminous that even the structure of spacetime was altered by it. The seven bone spurs that had surrounded Andrina could only dither back and forth as they could not lock onto her location.

“Who are you? Why does your aura seem so familiar?” shouted the crystalized Andrina with the same ice-cold face while glaring at Han Hao who had the bone spear back in his hand.

Han Hao was never talkative when fighting. Without even acknowledging the question, he charged at Andrina.

As he moved, he violently flung his enlarged bone spear about, causing hundreds of thumb-sized energy crystals to fall off the bone spear. Those energy crystals were devoid of all energy and they had become the most ordinary rock.

When the crystal ball was devoured by the bone spear, it was cut off from Andrina, its power source. After the energy inside the crystal divine weapon was exhausted by Han Hao’s energy, with nothing to replenish its energy, it crumbled and was destroyed.

“Identify yourself! I don’t want to hurt the wrong person!” shouted Andrina again when she saw that Han Hao ignored her question and charged at her.

Han Hao remained silent. He hurled the bone spear in his hand forward.

The bone spurs that flew out of Han Hao’s back were unable to lock onto Andrina and attack her. The bone spear that trapped thousands of tormented souls, however, seemed to be immune to the luminous light. It pierced through the layers of shields made of light and went straight for Andrina’s chest.

Andrina’s face yet again jolted. The blinding light shield all around her suddenly vanished as she took out a beautiful astrarium that had various constellations and stars etched on it. It flew out as though it had a mind of its own.

Ting!

The astrarium shot forward to intercept the bone spear. Upon contact, a most bizarre energy surged into the bone spear. Those tormented souls located at the tip of the bone spear were annihilated into puffs of faint grey smoke.

Han Hao’s eyes glistened. Without thinking, he raised a hand and took back his bone spear. He decided to activate the energy of the Quintessence Shard and demonic art. He was going all-in.

Han Hao sensed that the astrarium contained the energy of destiny. He had rarely encountered experts cultivating in this energy. He knew that the edict of destiny was the most abstruse and mysterious of the Twelve Fundamental Forces. The energy on the astrarium was also extremely formidable, far too much for those tormented souls in his bone spear to withstand.

After making up his mind, Han Hao took back his bone spear and charged at Andrina without hesitation.

This main body of his was extremely tough. He had spent way more time and effort enhancing his body than on his bone spear. And recently, his body had successfully incorporated a Quintessence Shard of Death. It could even be said that the most terrifying weapon Han Hao had was his body.

Andrina could tell that Han Hao was going all in. All of Han Hao’s previous attacks were through ranged weapons and he wore a very calm expression, almost as though she wasn’t taken as a threat. But Han Hao now wore a grave expression and he was obviously much more concentrated.

The formidable power that Han Hao had revealed so far made Andrina feel threatened and distressed. If not for the astrarium that her mother had given her, she would have been injured by the bone spear just then. Therefore, Andrina was getting worried when she saw that Han Hao was going all-in.

“Who are you to Bryan?” she suddenly shouted when Han Hao was just meters away from her.

Han Hao, whose mind was concentrated on killing his enemy, was startled. He halted just a dozen-something meters before Andrina, sized her up with a rather puzzled look, and asked, “Who are you? How did you know my father?”

Andrina was astonished and she exclaimed, “What?! You are his son? How is this possible?!”

Han Hao slowly descended to the ground, looked at Andrina calmly, and asked, “Are you his friend or his foe?”

“Friend, of course! I used to be his bodyguard! I happen to be looking for him. Why don’t you bring me to him?” answered Andrina in a giggling smile.

Han Hao did not immediately reply but stared at her attentively as though judging if Andrina was telling the truth. After a while, Han Hao replied, “I’m busy. My father is at the Pandemonium of the Fringe. You can go look for him yourself.”

Upon finishing those words, Han Hao turned and left without even giving Andrina another look. He could sense that Nestor was rushing to this spot at full speed and he must not linger in the area any longer.

Although Han Hao was returning to the Fringe, he must take a detour to avoid running into the Overgod of Death. Therefore he cannot travel with Andrina.

Before Andrina could say anything, Han Hao had vanished into the distance. She pouted and complained, “What a jerk! I know where the Fringe is and I know how to get there myself!”

Andrina continued to gaze in the direction Han Hao left with her eyes that were glistening with strange lights. She mumbled to herself, “The energy that this fella deliberately released is clearly from the Quintessence Shard of Death. And he did not use his full strength just then. Hmm, I heard that Nestor has gone to the Fringe. Could it be that Nestor is after this fella?”

After thinking for a moment, she grumbled, “If it wasn’t for Bryan, I would definitely be going to tell Uncle Nestor about you!”

Andrina made a face and let out a ‘humph’ in the direction Han Hao left before she headed in the direction of the Fringe.

***In the Destiny Goddess’ Shine.

The Goddess of Destiny’s figure gradually took shape and appeared in the shine. “Andrina, I’ve brought you something - it’s your favorite crystal!” a benevolent, graceful, and melodious voice sounded through the shine.

After a long while, the Goddess shook her head and laughed. She said to herself, “I guess I should have known, this girl could never stay put… But I think she wouldn’t venture too far this time. She would be quite safe with her new power.”

The Goddess cast her gaze to the Fringe. Her eyes looked as though a pair of astrarium with constellations of stars slowly revolving. It was as though she was an extremely complicated automaton instead of a living being with flesh and blood.

“O, Han Shuo, I hope you could unseal Aethernia with the energy He had left you…” murmured the Goddess as she gazed at the Land of Chaos.

***

Over at the Pandemonium.

Han Shuo who was in secluded cultivation suddenly had an uneasy feeling. He couldn’t help himself but exited his gymnasium, flew above the Pandemonium and gazed in the direction of the Destiny Dominion. He mumbled, “Could it be that Han Hao met an accident over there?”

Han Shuo always trusted the senses of his soul. He started weighing if he should head to the Destiny Dominion to have a look.

“My Lord, I have news,” it was at this moment that Zovic came to him and reported to him respectfully.

Han Shuo smiled and asked, “Is it from the Omphalos?”

Zovic nodded and replied, “There was a small mishap, but things ended exactly as Your Lordship has predicted. The Overgod of Death did not attack Young Master Han Hao. He had left the Omphalos and most likely had left the Fringe,” Zovic gave Han Shuo a quick summary before he explained everything in detail.

“The temptation of the Quintessence Shard was so great that it had destroyed every bit of rationality in Dagmar, drove him to do something as foolish as intruding into the Omphalos. Humph, if it wasn’t for Tyre and Logue’s deliberate stalling, Dagmar would have died in there!” Even though Han Shuo wasn’t anywhere near the Omphalos when it happened, he easily figured out the truth from Zovic’s recount.

“Many of Dagmar’s most powerful followers had their divine bodies destroyed. Even though Dagmar escapes with their divine souls, there is still a long way to go for them to regain their original strengths. After this incident, Dagmar is no longer a threat,” remarked Zovic smilingly.

“Never ever underestimate a man who has gone insane!” Instead of being as optimistic as Zovic, Han Shuo gravely instructed, “Pay special attention to Dagmar. An overgod who has lost his rationality could do things that we cannot foresee. Tell everyone to not leave the Pandemonium for now.”

“Understood!” answered Zovic solemnly.

“Alright. You are dismissed,” Han Shuo nodded and sent Zovic away. After he left, Han Shuo stared in the direction of the Destiny Dominion with his brows slightly bunched. He mumbled, “If Han Hao is alright, then what was that feeling about? Hmm… Andrina should be in the Destiny Dominion. Could it be that something happened to Andrina? That makes no sense. No one would dare touch her in the Destiny Dominion…”

After thinking for a long while, Han Shuo still could not come up with any possible scenario. He decided to stop thinking about it and go back to preparing his defenses against the Godhunter Alliance who will be invading very soon.

With the Overgod of Death now left the Fringe, the Godhunter Alliance had no reason to stall their invasion any longer and his Pandemonium would be fiercely attacked.

***

The day after, on a hazy bald mountain at the outskirts of the Fringe.

All twelve Hegemons of the Godhunter Alliance were gathered on the top of the mountain with their armies of godhunters scattered all around them. Those ferocious-looking godhunters that numbered in the tens of thousands had completely occupied the mountain.

Although the Godhunter Alliance had existed for eons, this was the first time that all twelve Hegemons had gathered. It was also the first time that they attacked any forces on a united front.

There, an old man with a compassionate face, wearing the bright white gown of a Church of Light priest, smiled and asked the Hegemons for their attention.

But he was interrupted before he could begin his speech. “Judas, why are you still wearing that stupid white-priest clothing? Haha, don’t tell me that you are still wishing to return to the warm embrace of the God of Light?” teased Dhaka as he looked at the Hegemon of Light with a mocking expression.

“If he could return to the God of Light, I would have long been summoned back to the Shrine of Ice!” sneered Tuckamore, the Hegemon of Water.

Judas seemed somewhat embarrassed. He put on a grimacing smile and explained, “It was the God of Light who had forsaken me. But deep in my heart, I still hope to serve Him. If He could forgive my sins, I might actually return to His side.”

“Hahaha, return to His side? To do what? Backstab Him again?” Dhaka laughed without the slightest scruple. He cupped his hands towards Judas in salutation and remarked, “I have nothing but absolute respect for you, Judas. Not only for the fact that you were once a Keeper of the Light, but that you are still alive despite having committed such an atrocious act. Truly, you are the most treacherous and strongest among us Hegemons.”

“You are flattering me,” said Judas humbly. He then turned and bowed towards an empty space and piously said, “Praise be to God of Light! I will strive to live for as long as possible, till the day the Quintessence leaves Your Body!”

“That’s enough. I have no interest in listening to your prattles. Let’s get moving already,” said Dagmar in an annoyed manner after letting out a cold groan from his white bone throne.

“O, Dagmar, Judas may be the strongest, but you are without a doubt the most heroic among us! To infiltrate and strike at the center of the Fringe all by yourself - that is indeed a boost to our morale. Haha, if we win this war, you would be all thanks to this meritorious deed of yours!” said Regis, the Hegemon of Thunder in a mischievous smirk. He added, “However, it would have been even more admirable if you had killed Tyre, Logue, and the other Sovereigns instead of running from them. Then we can just swoop in and pick up the pieces. Don’t you think?”

“Regis, you wanna fight?” Dagmar’s face turned dark and he challenged Regis, “I have defeated you four hundred years ago, and I can do it again today!”

“Let’s see about that!” Regis grinned and stood up. It appeared that he really wanted to duel Dagmar.

Throughout its existence, the Godhunter Alliance had been fractured mostly because of the hostility between the Hegemons. They would mock and ridicule each other and add salt to each other's injury.

“Hold up, not now. Let’s destroy those in the Fringe first. After we defeat our enemy, you may fight as much as you want,” said Judas smilingly. He raised his voice and said, “Alright, let's all get back to business. Now, how do we split the forces?”

“I’m taking down Bryan!” Dagmar let out another groan and leaned back on his throne. He had suffered enormous losses in the Omphalos but had failed to obtain the Quintessence Shard from Han Hao. He was determined to force Han Hao to reveal the location of the Shard and kill him.

Unlike the Overgod of Death, Dagmar had seen Han Hao use the Quintessence Shard with his own eyes. Therefore, even though Dagmar couldn’t find the Shard on Han Hao back in the Omphalos, he still had his eyes fixed on Han Hao. He will never stop until he obtains the Shard and kills Han Hao.

“Asser and I are close to Dagmar. We will join him in attacking Bryan and the Pandemonium,” said Dhaka as he cast a glance at Asser.

Asser nodded after Dhaka finished his words. They seemed to have agreed on it earlier.

“Really? Do you need three Hegemons to defeat the House of Han?” asked Tuckamore, the Hegemon of Water. He felt that Dhaka had the least workload and disagreed with the arrangement.

“Erm… The House of Han is very strong. I know that because I have fought Bryan before. Besides, Dagmar’s strength has now reduced. So it’s quite fair that the three of us take the Pandemonium together,” Dhaka was replying to Tuckamore’s question but his eyes were on Judas.

Judas thought for a moment before he beamed and said, “I think that makes sense. Tuckamore, considering that Dagmar had suffered a misfortune, let them go together.”

Although Tuckamore had made sarcastic comments about Judas just then, he seemed to still have some respect for him. Tuckamore nodded and said nothing more about it.

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