GDK 986: Only One Sovereign
Han Shou had appeared so abruptly in the midst of Logue and Tyre's men that he shocked all of them. The slaughter was still happening in Omphalos even though the sun was already beginning to set. The men, who discovered someone had popped up among them, cried in surprise, "Who-who are you?"
Not all of those men knew Han Shuo. These so-called elites had been left by their leaders at the Shrine of Destruction and Osteoburg. All they did was cultivate and protect those two places without taking a step outside.
"Tyre, Logue, come meet me!" Han Shuo said with a hearty laugh from up high.
The two of them who were at both ends of the group immediately paled when they heard his explosive voice. They had no idea whatsoever why he would be here of all places, right when they were about to execute their plan too.
Tyre especially had a bad feeling about the whole thing. After reflecting on their previous actions and ensuring that he hadn't made any mistakes, he exhaled heavily and smiled before he went over. As he headed there, his mind raced to find a way to wipe Han Shuo out.
By the time Tyre saw Han Shuo, he noticed that Logue had arrived earlier than he did from behind the group. He seemed to be laughing and chatting with Han Shuo, much to Tyre's relief. Han Shuo probably didn't know what was up yet.
"Bryan, I heard you suffered a huge loss at Pandemonium. The two of us can't even protect ourselves well, so we apologize for not being able to come to your aid. We're truly sorry," Tyre said with a hint of grief, "We underestimated the power of the Godhunter Alliance. We didn't think that they'd overwhelm the whole of the Fringe so quickly. So far, we haven't received one bit of good news. I think we'll be hard pressed to defend the Fringe, Bryan."
Han Shuo found it rather weird that Tyre wouldn't be aware of their victory over the Godhunter Alliance even though he shared the secret of the energy crystals with Dhaka. There was no way he wouldn't know because the two brothers had their own means of communication.
After a pause, Han Shuo's lips curved into a sly smile. It was now plain that Dhaka was hiding the truth from him in order to get him to eliminate the Hegemons. Han Shuo wasn't in a rush to take any action yet so he could buy more time for Han Jin and Andrina. Instead, he faked a deep sigh and said, "Pandemonium's now completely ruined. The thousand soldiers I had there were all killed. Faced with the Godhunter Alliance's sheer might, there was nothing we could do but watch as our own comrades were killed. All I could do was protect myself!"
His anger seemed to intensify at that point. He glared at Tyre and continued, "Why did Balintan and Kauze come to Pandemonium? Why didn't you two stop Judas and Tuckamore? Tyre, you didn't lose any men at all, while Bolten and Kauze brought plenty of them. It didn't seem you bothered to fight them at all. Why did you not come to save us even though you had so many troops at your disposal? You said you would help us before the battle began, but what did you do instead?"
Han Shou got more and more agitated as he doubled down on the accusations, putting up a rather convincing act of being pushed to the edge. Among Tyre and Logue's troops weren't just their direct subordinates. There were many other smaller factions that had temporarily submitted to their leadership, but they were far from loyal, and Han Shuo's words were directed at precisely these people. As expected, some of the men cast doubtful glances at the two of them.
"We did in fact not engage Bolten and Kauze in battle!" said the leader of a relatively large faction, Karp.
"Not to mention, most of those who perished in the battle at Osteoburg were one of ours, not those twos!" said Slank, another leader. He took the chance to say what he really meant now that Han Shuo was openly chiding them. "Sir Logue, you've used our men as cannon fodder the whole time. Of all 193 brothers of mine, only 75 remain! Nearly two-thirds of them perished! Ante and Krull lost all their men too! What about you? Your loyal followers are mostly unharmed. You took advantage of us and sacrificed us! Logue! Do you remember what you said when you tried to recruit us? You said you'd treat us the same as the rest and protect us the best you could, yet what did you do?!"
Slank's words cut much deeper than Han Shuo's and sounded even more justified. Han Shuo was just faking his anger, after all, while Slank truly had a bone to pick with them. He was filled with resentment for his comrades' deaths.
"Slank, the reason your men suffered heavy losses was due to their own incompetence," Logue said coldly, still smiling, "Each one of my men is an elite and are far more powerful than you all, so it's no surprise they die less often. Are you planning to turn against us now because of this?"
He shot Tyre a hidden glance, hinting that they should deal with Han Shuo right now. At the very least, they had to chase him away so he didn't continue to ruin their plans.
Before Han Shuo came, these two dissatisfied leaders didn't really dare to make their misgivings heard, for no overgod was going to stand up for them. They didn't even dare to resist. But now, they were all too happy to take this opportunity Han Shuo provided them to vent their complaints.
Tyre also started to grow anxious. He secretly signalled Dhaka and learned that their group was about to leave Omphalos soon, while the other Hegemons had all gone in. Yet, now, he had to make sure the various faction leaders listened to him and calm the situation down.
While most of the Hegemons were within, they left quite a number of subordinates outside, enough in number to match up with his and Logue's men. He couldn't afford to have his own troops fracture now. While it was fine back then, Han Shuo's arrival was a catalyst to his troops' destabilization.
After hesitating for a bit, Tyre suddenly said, "Why are you trying to sow division at this juncture? The survival of Omphalos is at stake! What in the world are you planning?"
Han Shuo laughed loudly with a hint of anger before he pointed at Tyre. "Oh, Tyre, if you can't own up to your own deeds, you can never be the ruler of the Fringe! You simply see those who joined you as cannon fodder and keep using them as your shields in battle. You can even sacrifice your friends for your own sake! Even though you knew Pandemonium was in danger, you just sat there and watched. With you in charge, the Fringe is sure to be doomed!"
The other leaders were filled with even more worry and began hesitating. It seemed that they no longer intended to fight with Logue and Tyre. Han Shuo's words simply described the two of them far too well. They were leaders that didn't care for their livelihoods at all and would be happy to dump them into the abyss.
"Bryan, I know you're grieving because of Pandemonium's destruction, but if you continue to spout those baseless words to incite us, don't blame me for not taking our previous friendship into account." Tyre took a deep breath and calmed his tone of voice, but it was plain to see that this was his final warning.
"Friendship? Hahahah! Since when did you care about that? I lost nearly a thousand comrades, and it's all your fault! If Bolten, Kauze, Tuckamore and Judas hadn't been there, we would've been able to hold on. It's all because of your incompetence that my comrades are dead!"
"You've gone mad!" Tyre no longer hesitated and formed a long spear with destruction energy as he charged towards Han Shuo. When he struck, a tense atmosphere filled the air. The spear pierced through everything with such destructive power that it was as if it had pierced space itself, revealing the odd colorful fabric within.
The moment he struck, Logue also acted, but his approach was different. He concentrated death energy into a giant cobra that opened its mouth wide in an attempt to swallow Han Shuo up.
The rest just watched as the three fought, thinking that there was no way Han Shuo would stand a chance with two Sovereigns attacking him. They then turned their attention to Slank and Karp. These two would suffer the same fate.
Slank, Karp as well as a few other faction leaders could feel the malice coming from the two Sovereigns' subordinates and knew that they wouldn't be spared if Han Shuo fell. Now, they hoped that Han Shuo could hold back against those two long enough despite having nothing to do with him beforehand, all in the hopes that he could buy them time to escape. The moment they saw an opportunity to leave, they wouldn't hesitate. There would be no more serving as the shields for Tyre and Logue.
With that in mind, they hoped that this new and upcoming ace in the Fringe would be able to hold on. If he could help them escape, they would even serve under him, the man who dared to go against two powerful Sovereigns. At least, it would be much better than serving those Sovereigns that didn't care for their lives at all.
"Hahaha, so you got mad when I pointed out your mistakes!" Han Shuo laughed as if he wasn't facing off against two powerful Sovereigns. His laughter reverberated all the way to Omphalos. Right after, he suddenly struck. Thirteen avatars appeared in mid air, six of which with the energies of death, destruction, darkness, water, lightning and wind fused together. The new Domain of Divinity spread out and enveloped the space around them.
Suddenly, Logue and Tyre's attacks were neutered. Both the spear and cobra shattered in an instant. The overlapping six avatars looked down on them like a god would mere mortals. His cold eyes were cruel and merciless. With a single push of the hand, insurmountable pressure came down against Logue and Tyre, pressing them almost instantly into the ground and half burying them in the process. Everyone was shocked silent.
Tyre and Logue's men as well as the other faction leaders were flabbergasted. They looked at the godly avatar floating in the sky in utter shock. Logue and Tyre were still partly buried in the ground, looking completely distraught and confused. It was as if they were laughing one moment and crying another as their mental faculties broke down.
"What five Sovereigns? There is only one Sovereign in the Fringe!" Slank muttered when he snapped out of it. Though it wasn't loud, the words rang clearly in everyone's ears. Indeed, there was only one Sovereign.
Those words seemed to echo nonstop as everyone there snapped out of their stupor and looked up at Han Shuo like he was the one fit to rule the Fringe. The others like Tyre, Logue, Wasir and Ossora were mere side characters compared to him.
"Impossible... How can this be?" Tyre, who used to be recognized as the number-one Sovereign, seemed completely out of it. It was as if all his motivation and fighting spirit had been smothered at the sight of the gigantic avatar.
"Tyre, we still have one move! Use it!" Logue cried when he saw Tyre's confusion.
Tyre snapped out of it and laughed like a maniac. "Yes, indeed, I do have one final resort! The situation is still salvageable!"
By now, he no longer cared whether Dhaka and the rest managed to escape and telepathically triggered the detonation mechanism he planted underneath Omphalos. However, Han Shuo merely watched his panicked attempt at a comeback as if everything was still under control.
As expected, Tyre's expression immediately changed when he realized there was no response after his detonation signal. It was impossible. He jumped out of the hole and turned towards Omphalos. "Why?! Why?!"
Logue also grimaced at seeing Tyre's reaction and snapped his head to Han Shuo, who was smiling mockingly at them. He immediately figured that Han Shuo had done something to thwart their plans.
"Tyre, I think it's Bryan's doing. The explosion is no longer possible," he said with a pained look.
"No, it can't be!" Tyre cried. His madness seemed to trigger something as a loud boom came from Omphalos. That instant, the whole ground shook as the sound rang so loud it felt like the world was collapsing. Even though it was quite far away, everyone could feel the horrifying effects.
Han Shuo's smile immediately vanished when his eyes widened in stupor. He saw thick smoke coming from the area ahead, unaware of what was going on. In a panic, he tried to sense Han Jin, Andrina and Han Hao, the three of whom he cared the most about.
Immediately, he relaxed when he found that they were fine. He then sensed that the explosion had only ruined a fifth of the Omphalos - the region ruled by Tyre. It seemed that Han Jin and Andrina's plan had worked, but Tyre still had one last trick up his sleeve to make it explode in some capacity.