GDK 980: Winning People's Hearts
Jack was the most famous toxin brewer in Omphalos. The toxins he made were famous for having no competition among everyone else's in terms of toxicity and solubility.
When he was young, he was a scion from a notable family in the Water Dominion. However, he had never tried hard cultivating water energy. Instead, he had been too deeply engrossed in the art of brewing. When the power balance in his large family shifted, his parents took the fall and he was also hunted down. He only managed to escape after much difficulty.
Carrying all that hate in his heart, he survived and plotted to use the acidic toxic fumes he synthesized to eliminate all six hundred plus members of his family. Within a single night, he reduced all of them into bloody fluid, leaving not a single one of them alive.
Before he did so, he was completely unheard of, but right after, his name sent shockwaves across the Water Dominion. From then on, the dominion's authorities spared no effort to hunt him down, dead or alive. Being quite weak himself, he had no choice but to lay low and disguise himself as he left the dominion for the Fringe.
On the way, he continued improving his toxin-brewing skills, killing many of the enforcers that came his way and becoming public enemy number one. However, his carelessness caused him to douse his left hand with poison accidentally. Had he not reacted quickly enough to amputate himself in the nick of time, he would've been reduced to a pile of ones.
Being a top fugitive, he would definitely be wiped out if he dared to leave the Fringe. But in the Fringe, he could brew as much poison as he wanted. He had made quite a lot of progress in the past few years but it was not enough for self-preservation as he wasn't competent in combat at all. If his enemy managed to get close to him, he would be killed before he even had a chance to use the toxin.
By now, many refugees had already left the Fringe, though Jack knew that doing so would be suicide for him. All he could do was stay and hope he would survive the troubling times ahead. Dying was the last thing he wanted, and when he noticed Celestial Pearl Pharmacy was the only establishment that remained in Omphalos, it became his new safe haven. He didn't care whether they had anything to do with his poisons or not. All he did was visit them for some news about the situation at the Fringe.
Apart from Jack, there were many other toxin brewers who couldn't hold their own in a fight but were still experts in their own field. Some of them weren't just weak; they were disabled in one way or another and the Sovereigns didn't care much for them, leaving them to their own fates instead.
"What are we going to do, Master Jack?" asked Kohler, a fellow toxin brewer adept at infusing weapons with poison in the courtyard of Celestial Pearl Pharmacy.
Despite Jack looking like a middle-aged man with his long beard, frizzy hair and unkempt clothes, he liked being addressed as 'master'. It made him feel far more important than his current station.
"How would I know?" Jack shot him a glance and turned back to the dozen others who were dressed more or less like him. "The Sovereigns can't even protect themselves, so they wouldn't bother with us. This is the only place that hasn't closed up yet, so I hope they'll be able to keep us safe one way or another. Sigh... The Godhunter Alliance is really far cruel. They kill people like it's merely a daily passtime for them. I heard they'll feel unnerved if they don't kill a few people each day. If they run Omphalos, I doubt any of us will be able to survive.
"What are we to do..." said another with a long sigh.
"Let's just wait it out. Hopefully, Celestial Pearl will be able to find somewhere safe for us to stay. I doubt we'll be able to stay in Omphalos any longer," Jack said as he leaned lazily against a pillar. He was just as worried as the others, but his past experience allowed him to cope slightly better.
As they spoke, Akley stretched lazily as he approached them. When he arrived, all those in the courtyard anxiously got closer and asked about the goings on in the Fringe. Akley loved the feeling of people anxiously flocking to him. Smiling, he waited for them to calm down before he turned to Jack. "Oh, Master Jack, you're here too? Haha, I thought you were making a lot of noise about our establishment being a scam and not providing quality products.”
Jack seemed a little awkward. He kept quiet and didn't say anything. When Omphalos was still at peace, he complained that the concoctions Celestial Pearl Pharmacy produced were too average to justify the high asking price. It was nothing but an outright scam to him.
Akley smirked at seeing that reaction. Turning to look at the rest, he said, "Tyre has fled without a fight and has been missing since. Logue has been defeated and lost a lot of subordinates, so he had no choice but to flee from Osteoburg. Ossora has betrayed the Fringe and joined Isaiah, while Wasir has joined the House of Han to form the last defense line against the Godhunter Alliance. Even though the Fringe is a large place, only the House of Han will be able to protect it."
His words caused many of them to drop their jaws in shock. Akley's claim that the two most powerful Sovereigns, Logue and Tyre's instant defeat, was far out of their expectations. Ossora's betrayal was also a huge blow for their side. The news was nothing short of despairing.
However, Akley proceeded to drop another bombshell, telling them about how Han Shuo and Wasir teamed up to deal a huge blow to the Godhunter Alliance. It burned all their despair away in an instant and ignited another blaze of hope. Even though some of them were skeptical about it, they wanted to believe that the news was true.
"What are you implying, Akley?" Kohler said, noting the subtext in his words.
Chuckling, Akley said, "Even though the Sovereigns don't care about all of you, the House of Han appreciates your talent and skills in these unique fields. I, on behalf of the House of Han, have the right to accept your application to join Celestial Pearl Pharmacy. As long as you are part of us, the House of Han will ensure your safety. The Godhunter Alliance will not be allowed to touch you!"
They all knew what that meant. The moment they joined, they would lose their freedom and serve the House of Han instead of being allowed to do as they liked. Even so, no price was too high if it meant they would be able to survive.
Akley wasn't in a rush to hurry them at all. He smiled and waited for these amazing toxin brewers to make their decision, but he wouldn't have to wait for long. A few seconds later, someone took the initiative and said, "I'm willing to join. I've long heard that you treat your own rather well. Joining Celestial Pearl is the same as becoming a member of the House of Han. I can't ask for anything more."
After the first deal was sealed, the rest followed smoothly. Even Kohler agreed to Akley's offer after some deliberation. Only Jack, the former scion, was still hesitating about the matter. The Sovereigns had long noted the potency of the toxins he brewed and had sent people to recruit him, but he refused all their offers. Perhaps his refusal had offended the Sovereigns, causing them to leave without taking him along. Someone that prideful like him would definitely find it much harder to let go of his autonomy compared to the likes of Kohler.
After everyone else agreed to join, Akley smiled and turned to Jack. "Master Jack, my lord has told me that he respects your mastery of the craft and has asked me to make you a special offer. As long as you are willing to join us, you will be put in charge of all matters relating to toxins. Apart from that, my lord promised to restore your lost arm."
The moment he heard that his arm could be restored, he lost his cool and yelled, "What?! Restoring an amputated limb is a thing of legend! Only the most powerful gods of the edict of life can do such a thing! Does your lord have such an ability?" While Jack was an expert at toxins, the art of healing was beyond him.
"Of course. Our lord's accomplishments in the field of healing is far beyond what you can imagine. He said that he can easily restore your arm and he will do so - as long as you join us. So, what will it be, Jack?" Akley knew that the deal was as good as sealed.
As expected, Jack nodded without much thinking. "Alright. I'd like to see what miracles his lordship can use to restore my amputated arm!"
Now that even Jack had joined them, basically all the unaffiliated talented folk in Omphalos served the House of Han. Celestial Pearl Pharmacy would be able to stand on their own in Elysium even without Han Shuo's explicit support.