GDK 970: There's No Predicting Fate
Within the Sky Annihilation Formation, Dhaka struggled to no end. By now, thirty percent of his destruction energy had been depleted thanks to the various forces that suppressed him. Though angered he was, he was helpless against the forces within the formation and unable to break free from it at all. Not to mention, he had to constantly be on guard for the sneakier attacks.
After some time, the mysterious forces in the formation seemed to be affected by some other force as it weakened. Elated, Dhaka used this chance to concentrate all his destruction energy into a lance which he used to pierce across the formation's bindings and broke free.
Outside, the smiling Judas slowly kept a cross away. Looking at Dhaka, he asked, "What's wrong? Are you trapped too?"
Dhaka's eyes shone when he saw the cross. "Is that one of the four divine artifacts created by the God of Light back then?"
Judas was quite surprised as he didn't expect Dhaka to be aware of that too. Nodding, he said, "That's right. The Holy Grail, Olive Branch, Crucifix, and Angel Sculpture are indeed forged by the God of Light. The Olive Branch is in the hands of Gyál whereas I have the Crucifix. Haha, if not for having one of the divine artifacts, even I wouldn't be able to get you out of there."
Surprised, Dhaka shook his head with a bitter laugh. "For you to possess the Crucifix and not be eliminated by the God of Light, Judas, you really are impressive."
"You flatter me too much," Judas said with a bow. "Praise the God of Light's bright mercy that illuminates us all!"
Within another formation, Han Shuo's expression changed as he pursued Ossora. He suddenly seemed to lag mid-flight. Han Shuo’s consciousness was connected with each and every formation in Pandemonium, and the changes coming from the Sky Annihilation Formation didn't escape him. A sudden force had affected the yuan energy of the formation, allowing the trapped Dhaka to escape. At the same time, he felt another chilling aura that informed him of an approaching enemy.
Before Han Shuo could take any action, the Hegemon of Water, Tuckamore, suddenly appeared. Scanning the surroundings, he smirked. "Interesting. I didn't think Pandemonium would have the upper hand!"
When Tuckamore appeared, Asser, who was being pursued heavily by Wasir and Salas, immediately broke free from their encirclement in a spurt of energy. He came to Tuckamore's side and said, "Pandemonium's far harder to handle than we thought. We must join hands to be able to wipe it out!"
Tuckamore nodded. "I really didn't think that the toughest place in the Fringe wouldn't be Logue or Tyre's place, but rather Pandemonium."
When Ossora saw Tuckamore and Asser together, he also tried to join their side.
Han Shuo's expression was grim, but he didn't stop Ossora's movements, for the tens of stone pillars that were sustaining the formation began to fracture. The energy fueling the formation suddenly vanished.
Dhaka and Judas eventually showed up. When they set sights on Han Shuo, they made sure to keep their eyes glued to him, lest he made any sudden moves.
"I didn't think you'd come to Pandemonium too," Han Shuo said to Tuckamore and Judas, "Where is Logue? Is Osteoburg done for?"
Judas was wearing an old, white and tattered robe. He had a gentle look on his face, completely unlike a bloodthirsty Hegemon. He smiled and answered, "Osteoburg is indeed done for, but that cunning Logue managed to escape."
"What about Tyre?" Han Shuo asked after some thought.
Logue's escape was within his predictions. Given his cunning personality, he would definitely escape without care for his subordinates if things got dangerous for him. It wasn't a huge feat for him to leave alone, given how long he had spent in Osteoburg.
However, Han Shuo was surprised that Judas and Tuckamore had come to Pandemonium instead of going to Tyre’s base which was closer. Their presence here meant that the battle against Tyre was over.
Judas hesitated a moment before he said, "Tyre has vanished along with his subordinates. When Balintan and Kauze reached the Shrine of Destruction, they didn't see a single god, nor Tyre. So, the two of them also came."
Han Shuo knew that the two of them were the fire and life Hegemons who were in charge of attacking the Shrine of Destruction, which was Tyre's base of operations in the Fringe. It seemed that the two of them returned from the shrine empty-handed.
While the Fringe was large, there were only five truly powerful factions, namely, Logue's, Ossora's, Wasir's, Tyre's, and Pandemonium. With Tyre gone missing, Logue escaped, and Ossora as well as Wasir being in Pandemonium, the place became the pivotal location the Godhunter Alliance had to wipe out. As such, the Hegemons of the Alliance came to Pandemonium by sheer coincidence rather than planning ahead to do so.
Hearing Judas's explanation, Han Shuo's heart sank. He had thought that Tyre and Logue would either resist their attacks or come up with a plan. Little did he know they would run without offering any resistance and buying him any time.
Han Shuo had planned to take out the Godhunter Alliance's split forces one after another. For one, the two Hegemons that had gone to Glacial Peak had been stuffed into the spatial rift by him. They wouldn't be able to return to Elysium within thousands of years. Regis, Isaiah and Miller, on the other hand, had been sealed in the underground secret chamber, while he was about to deal with Dagmar, Dhaka, and Asser.
If he had just a little bit more time, his divide-and-conquer strategy would have worked and Judas and the rest would have come marching to their deaths. Yet, the opposite happened. Judas and Tuckamore not only managed to save Dhaka, but they had probably also let Regis and the rest out.
As if he had guessed what Han Shuo was thinking, Judas smiled and nodded. "It's just as you thought. Balintan and Kauze have gone looking for those three. They should be able to free them soon."
When Judas said that, Han Shuo felt his heart skip a beat. He could feel the strong undulations coming from the chamber where he sealed Regis and the rest, which suggested that they were indeed about to be broken free.
He grimaced as he slowly despaired, thinking that there was really no predicting fate at all. Even the best of plans could be knocked awry by the slightest variable. As long as Judas and Tuckamore had been one day late, he would've been able to deal with Ossora, Asser, and Dhaka for good while sealing Regis, Isaiah, and Miller off for good.
Even if the rest came later, with Wasir, Salas, Han Hao, and Andrina's powers as well as the advantage of being on home ground, he was confident he would be able to stop at least two of the four from escaping Pandemonium.
Now, things had gone beyond his control. The true fight was about to begin and he didn't feel like he stood a single chance.
At that moment, a white bone throne came flying towards them from a distance and stopped beside Han Shuo. Seated in the middle of the throne was Han Hao. He looked around wordlessly and hovered closer to Han Shuo. "Dagmar's dead."
His words caused everyone to startle. Judas took a glance at the gloomy-looking Dhaka before looking at Asser. Shaking his head with a resigned look, he lamented, "I didn't think that Dagmar would be so pathetic as to be wiped out by a former subordinate. To think that I even supported him..."
Han Shuo was a little relieved to hear the news. After going through all his thoughts once more, he said, "Seems like a battle must happen. If I can kill one or two of you before the rest comes, we might be able to survive!"
Dhaka smirked and said, "In your dreams! Don't think I don't know how Han Hao was able to defeat Dagmar. Hmph, even if he was able to kill him, he isn't any of our match!"
He glanced at Wasir and Salas, the latter of which caused his eyes to burn with hatred once more. "Those two, and you, stand no chance against me, Judas, Tuckamore, and Asser. There's no way you'd be able to kill one or two of us!"
However, Judas raised his hand to stop the mocking. He turned to Han Shuo and said, "Tell us the secrets of the energy you cultivate and Pandemonium. I will allow your divine soul and your wives and children to leave, but Salas and Wasir must remain!"
To Judas, this battle no longer held much of a point. He basically had full control of the situation, so he could just let Han Shuo’s soul leave as a gesture of generosity. Han Shuo could always spend a thousand years cultivating to regain his current strength, not to mention his family and friends would be safe.
"Bryan, this sounds like a proposal you can accept," the cold Wasir said, out of Han Shuo's expectations. He seemed neither elated nor dejected. It was as if he hadn't heard what Judas said at all. He didn't seem to pay his potential death any mind.