(unedited)
GDK 947: Payback

The Fringe was neither large nor small. Dhaka, Dagmar and Asser spent only around ten days searching the place with their subordinates to reach Han Hao's abode near the Pandemonium. On the way, Dhaka and the rest didn't encounter even half a soul. It was as if the chaos of the Fringe had all subsided. It was so calm that it seemed a little imposing.

The unnatural calm prompted them to be even more careful and wary. They were in somebody else's turf, after all. Even with their strength, they didn't dare act with abandon, especially when they knew the other side would definitely be lying in hiding and waiting for them.

Dhaka, Dagmar and Asser each scanned different parts of their surroundings with their divine souls to ensure no hidden foe would ambush them. With Salas around, Dhaka and the rest didn't ask much. They kept their thoughts mostly to themselves.

Finally, they reached the vicinity of the three mountains.

In the distance, Dhaka saw a black fog that brought a certain stench out of the valley. Suspicious, he shot Salas a glance and said, "Salas, are you sure this is the place?"

"It should be here," Salas replied solemnly. He found it rather weird himself as his divine soul sweep didn't detect any sign of other souls. What in the world was that guy up to?

"There's nobody here at all!" Dagmar said. His white bone throne emanated a field of death aura to keep the black miasma from touching his body while carrying him to the valley between the three mountains.

"Let’s go take a look," Dhaka said to Asser before the two of them caught up to Dagmar. There was a pungent, soury smell wherever the black miasma wafted by. It was a clear sign of poison, but Dhaka and the rest were powerful enough that this wouldn't affect them.

Salas didn't follow along and merely watched curiously from afar, observing the details in the surroundings.

Having had the experience in Pandemonium, Salas was really wary of anywhere remotely related to Han Shuo. He knew that anywhere Han Shuo had him bring people to was definitely somewhere to beware of, so he didn't dare to be too daring.

Without Dhaka and the other two's orders, their subordinates remained where they were. These godhunter elites from the three Divine Dominions had been working loyally for the trio for many years. Not only were they strong, they were also well disciplined and wouldn't act on their own accord without explicit orders.

The trio explored the valley and saw nothing but some weird runes on the walls of the mountains. Their senses picked up not a single sign of life.

Soon, they returned to Salas. Dhaka said, "The place should be fine, but it seems like they're all gone. I believe they are aware that we were coming, so Han Hao probably had his forces group up with the House of Han."

"That's indeed possible. They are probably well aware that they can only stand a chance against us if they pool their forces," Dagmar said in agreement, but with some impatience in his tone. "I think we can give up on this place and go straight to Pandemonium, right?"

Given all that, Salas believed that he had done all he could. The valley was indeed deserted. If he forced the three of them to search the mountains thoroughly, it would only make him look suspicious, so he nodded his agreement without saying anything else.

"Let's go to Pandemonium then. I believe that unless they decided to give up their foothold in the Fringe entirely, the House of Han would be there," remarked Dhaka as he prepared to instruct his men to leave.

"Wait!" exclaimed Dagmar as he raised a hand. There was an odd flash in his eyes.

"What is it?" Dhaka exclaimed, "Did you notice anything?" He knew that Dagmar was a cultivator of death energy, so his soul searching skills would be much more proficient than his own. Most faint soul reverberations might escape Dhaka and Asser's senses, but it would be detected by Dagmar.

"There are a few weak soul reverberations in the valley. I felt a pulse or two just now. Let me double check one last time." A soul energy slowly spread out from Dagmar. It seemed that he was deploying a special technique to detect the weak pulses in the valley.

Dhaka and Asser knew that Dagmar was not his usual self thanks to the Quintessence Shard, but given he had cultivated death energy to the overgod level and his usual penchant for not making things up, not to mention his target was Han Hao, he wouldn't lie about it so casually.

As expected, Dagmar used his unique sensing method and pointed at the three mountains. "There's no need to leave. There are people within the three mountains, but a kind of special energy was infused in the valley to block our divine soul sweep. Bryan is formidable as expected. He almost tricked us with that barrier of his!"

"How do you know the one who deployed the barrier wasn't Han Hao?" Salas wondered.

"He isn't that capable! Back then at Omphalos, I managed to get a good feel for his strength while my subordinates held him back. He's not nearly as powerful as you say he is. Without the Quintessence Shard, he is a normal highgod. I can crush him easily like a bug!"

"Dagmar, are you sure they are hiding in the mountains?" Dhaka ascertained once more.

"I'm sure. There are people in all three of them," he replied confidently. He took a short pause before he continued, “Dhaka, Asser, there are three mountains, so each of us will search one of them. There will definitely be many twisting paths within. I'm sure the mere Han Hao wouldn't be able to escape the three of us!

He then immediately turned to his subordinates and instructed, "Come with me. The miasma in the valley isn't anything troublesome. Move!”

Not caring whether the other two Hegemons would do as he said, Dagmar charged straight into the valley.

After a moment's hesitation, Dhaka said to Asser, "Let us go too. Dagmar's soul detection is rather decent, and we've worked together many times. He is indeed pretty good on that front."

Asser agreed and zoomed towards the valley in the form of a black beam. His subordinates followed along without a hint of hesitation.

"What about you, Salas?" Dhaka asked, not in a hurry to leave.

"I'm fine, let's go." Salas shrugged. If he didn't tag along, Dhaka would definitely be suspicious. He had to join despite knowing the risks involved.

"Alright, just tag along with me. I can look after you as well," said Dhaka smilingly, no longer hesitating after hearing a satisfactory answer. He charged in with his subordinates too.

When Dhaka and Salas arrived, Dagmar and Asser had gone quite far in. The two Hegemons picked the smaller mountains, leaving the tallest and most intimidating one for Dhaka.

Dhaka secretly cursed the fact that the other two only wanted to cooperate in name, but wouldn't hesitate to cut corners. Everyone in the Godhunter Alliance was self-centered and that was something nobody could change.

"Let's go!" He still did what he should. He found a path into the valley that could let in three people side-by-side at once and entered with Salas.

"Lord, there is a barrier here as you suspected!" one of Dagmar's subordinates reported. His voice reverberated and echoed across the network of tunnels and made its way into Dagmar’s ears.

The moment they entered, they encountered countless branching paths. Thankfully, Dagmar knew that that would be the case and had his subordinates split up to make sure all the paths were searched.

The way he saw it, the strongest one in the mountains was Han Hao. When he fought his avatar back at Omphalos, he thought he knew the extent of his power and no longer considered him a worthy foe. He believed that his subordinates alone were enough to take on the mid-stage highgod Han Hao.

As such, he didn't think twice when he spread his men thin. He wasn't afraid they would be ambushed at all.

"I’m coming!" Dagmar charged in from another tunnel with utter bliss.

There were layers of light within the tight cavern. The first layer was filled with the energy of death, with the following ones being water, fire and other common energies. The last layer, however, was special. Even Dagmar couldn't quite tell what it was.

He gave the barriers a quick feel and without any hesitation, began destroying them.

Contrary to his expectations, the barriers didn't seem to possess much defensive power. When his bone spear pierced into it, the layers of the barrier crumbled easily. Even the last odd layer fell apart much easily that he'd thought.

"Come!" Dagmar shook with anticipation at the thought of Han Hao falling to his godhunters.

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