GDK 983: Undercurrents
A cold breeze blew through the unexplored depths of Omphalos. However, that kind of cold wasn't the kind felt by the body, but rather the soul.
Strange figures could be seen moving about outside Omphalos, all of whom seemed to have hostile intentions. Obviously, they were godhunters. With the Sovereigns of the Fringe having hurriedly retreated and resigning the lives of the denizens of Omphalos to fate, none of them would survive the moment the Godhunter Alliance descended upon them.
Chaos broke out within. By now, they would die even faster if they tried to leave with the godhunters lingering outside. The denizens of Omphalos had been driven onto the brink of extinction and were helplessly awaiting their final judgment. There was nothing they could do about it, and that desperation had permeated throughout the whole place. All of them seemed lifeless and dispirited.
The only exception to that, however, were those in Celestial Pearl Pharmacy. The toxin brewers that Akley had recruited felt a sliver of hope thanks to the assurances for their safety. It was thanks to that tiny bit of hope that they had joined the group and handed over the recipes and knowledge they had spent much of their life researching.
These people saw their life's work as more important than their own lives. Even though Akley had promised that they would be fine, they didn't fully believe him. That was the reason they handed over their secrets to Akley for safekeeping.
After all, they wouldn't want their life's work to be lost from the world even if they didn't survive. In any other situation, they would never hand over their secrets to Akley, but with their deaths looming over them, each day that passed was a day risked not passing on the fruits of their labor. At the very end, they had come to terms with their possible demise.
Akley, naturally, was overjoyed to suddenly receive so much new knowledge. Even if those toxin brewers really ended up dead, the House of Han would be able to put their knowledge to use and propel Celestial Pearl Pharmacy to new heights. As such, he happily accepted their magnum opuses and had his men guard the secrets.
Soon, half a month passed. Gradually, the folks in Omphalos noticed that the frequency of godhunter sightings outside were increasing. They grew even more despaired as they awaited their doom.
Finally, the main army of the Godhunter Alliance and all the remaining Hegemons arrived at Omphalos. The leader of this excursion, Dhaka, kept telling them about the wealth that was hidden within. The other Hegemons didn't seem to doubt him one bit and were all intent on taking a huge share for themselves.
With Dhaka running everything, the godhunters soon mustered their resolve to raid Omphalos clean. That was also the day when Han Hao received word from Polo about Logue and Tyre's whereabouts. Han Hao wasn't in a rush to look for the two of them as the situation at Omphalos seemed far more urgent. He knew that there were still some members of the House of Han there, as well as many other toxin brewers, who had already joined the house according to Akley's report.
"Sir, we shouldn't head to Omphalos now. The Hegemons are already within. Our forces might not be able to match up with theirs," Polo said with a respectful bow.
This wasn't even a fight he would consider if Han Hao had not decided to go through with it. While Polo didn't dare to doubt Han Hao, he couldn't shake the feeling that they were engaging in a futile effort.
"It's fine," Han Hao said, not explaining much. "We're not sending everyone there. I'm only taking a small team including you. We aren't going there to fight the Hegemons to the death. Instead, we're going to rescue the other members of our house."
Polo's expression turned even grimmer when he heard not all of them were going to sortie. While he mocked Han Hao for his foolishness in his mind, all he dared to do was not. "Alright. We'll do as you say, Lord."
He didn't say anything else and proceeded to get his elite subordinates to coordinate with Han Hao on the plan.
Meanwhile, Logue and Tyre were jittering with excitement. Logue had never expected Tyre's plan to actually work out. He didn't know that Tyre and the current de facto leader of the Godhunter Alliance, Dhaka, were brothers. So, he really thought that the alliance had chosen to gather around Omphalos, giving him this hope of overturning the battle at the Fringe.
"Get your men ready, Logue. Hehehe... Once all the Hegemons enter Omphalos, I will detonate the explosives within and wipe them all out. The two of us will take care of the small fries outside before going into Omphalos to take care of the aftermath," Tyre said with a smile. He looked at Logue and thought, once the other Hegemons are dead, you're the first one my big brother and I will kill. By then, everything in the Fringe will be mine.
"Don't worry, they're all ready. Tyre... You really are amazing. I didn't know how you managed to sneak all those energy crystals inside. After this battle, the Godhunter Alliance will no longer pose any threat to us, and you will be the true ruler of the Fringe!"
Tyre didn't seem to mind one bit. "The two of us will rule the Fringe in the future. We'll split it with Omphalos as its border. Haha, without your help, I wouldn't be able to do many of the things I've done. I will be counting on you from now on too."
"Oh, you're too kind." Though Logue replied with a smile, he thought, once the Godhunter Alliance is done for and the situation in the Fringe stabilizes, I'll definitely be the first one you wipe out. He kept thinking nonstop of how to conserve as much of his power as he can to deal with Tyre's potential betrayal.
Now, it seemed that Tyre was more powerful than him, so he had to make quite a number of contingencies for that. Tyre himself was also wary of Logue doing just that. If he didn't suspect him at all, he wouldn't have asked Logue to join him. After all, he and Dhaka were enough to take out the godhunters with or without Logue.
The Godhunter Alliance wouldn't fall for it that easily as Tyre had thought. No matter how much Dhaka tried to convince them about the wealth there and the weaknesses of Omphalos's defenses, they treaded carefully after having suffered such a huge loss at the hands of the House of Han. That was especially the case after Asser recounted their experiences at Pandemonium to the other Hegemons.
They didn't enter Omphalos all together like Dhaka had envisioned, instead sending some of their subordinates to scout the way out. Only after they got a clear picture of Omphalos's situation at the absence of any powerful enemies would they enter.
There was nothing Dhaka could do about this. He made sure to use the magical mirror hidden in his sleeves to inform Tyre to be more patient. Naturally, Tyre had long considered this possibility. He informed Dhaka to bring some men with him to search the Sovereign's shops. Tyre had prepared some rather huge stashes of black crystal coins and left them within the shops to hook the Hegemons for good.
In the past many years, Tyre had earned quite a number of such coins from Omphalos and he was willing to part with them to take over the Fringe. This way, he could ensure that the scouts the Hegemons sent in wouldn't discover that Omphalos was empty and leave before he and Dhaka could wipe them all out.
Dhaka then confidently entered with a few others. The other Hegemons seemed to yield slightly after seeing the one who proposed the plan enter so readily. However, they didn't dare to trust him completely. But if word came that there really were riches within ready to be plundered, they would be the first to scramble in. So, Dhaka entered with some of his own men and the other Hegemons' men.
Upon seeing the godhunters enter, the various other gods tried to hide. Dhaka naturally couldn't care less what happened to them. He ordered the godhunters to kill anyone that entered their sights. The vagabonds weren't particularly powerful in the first place. If they stood a chance, they wouldn't have hidden themselves away in Omphalos to begin with.
Some who knew that Celestial Pearl Pharmacy was still operating tried to escape towards the establishment, seeing it as their final safe haven. Soon, their actions attracted the attention of many godhunters, who headed in that direction all the same.
The godhunters who were on a killing spree no longer believed that a powerful foe was waiting in ambush within. Their actions grew more daring by the moment. Before long, cries of fear and pain could be heard closer and closer to Celestial Pearl Pharmacy.