GDK 989: Balance
Kauze's soul felt like it was being subjected to a strong, windy force inside the cauldron that could extinguish it at any time. The strength of his consciousness coupled with the cauldron's ability to manipulate souls allowed Han Shuo to extract all of Kauze’s life experience - even the memories he'd forgotten. As long as there was some remnant of that remaining, Han Shuo would be able to use soulscouring to reconstruct it.
Han Shuo's consciousness spread out in Kauze's mind like a web that latched onto his soul, digging out memories from the depths of his psyche. Kauze, being a life cultivator of this level, no longer had a set lifespan. In his long life, he had experienced all sorts of defining moments, so it would take Han Shuo at least a day or two to properly comb through his memories. Kauze had lived for ten thousand years, after all, so he had an ocean of experiences to speak of.
Han Shuo wasn't interested in his daily affairs, nor was he some pervert that enjoyed peeking into his most private moments, so he focused on his target as he searched. Something that pertained to the survival of the godhunters was no doubt among Kauze's most important thoughts, which usually shone brighter than the others. They quickly swept past him before the one Han Shuo wanted surfaced before him.
His consciousness wrapped around that deep memory and used soulscouring on it to replay the memories. It was something that had occurred centuries ago, relatively recent by the timescale they lived by. Back then, Kauze hadn't become an overgod nor a godhunter yet and was a mere tribal chief in the Life Dominion.
Not only was he not a godhunter, he was someone who discriminated heavily against them. One time when he faced off against godhunters in the Life Dominion, he was betrayed by a cousin in his tribe and trapped by the godhunters in a valley.
It didn't take long before the tribesmen that came with him were made short work of by the godhunters, including his wife and child, during the time he was held back by other godhunters. He was powerless to do anything as he watched his wife be violated and his son quartered. It was something that was burned into his memories.
The Hegemon back then was only a late-stage highgod, but Kauze was an early-stage highgod and had no choice but to take it all without being able to do anything about it. Before this, he was someone who actively hunted down godhunters in the Life Dominion's various cities, which made him their archenemy. However, the Hegemon of the Life dominion managed to capture him, through which Kauze learned something about godhunters.
That person had told him that godhunters were something integral to Elysium. Every single god's existence would result in there being too much energy of their respective type. If the type of energy in Elysium surpassed a threshold, the balance of energy will shift and affect the Quintessence Overgods really negatively.
As a result, he told Kauze that godhunters would never disappear from Elysium as their presence helped cull the number of gods in Elysium to prevent such an event from happening. They were essentially pest control for the Quintessence Overgods. He denied every justification for Kauze's actions, calling them a fool's errand. The God of Life allowed the fights between the gods and godhunters to happen. Even the deaths of his own subordinates wasn't really a bad thing.
In the end, Kauze managed to survive. The guards from various cities of the Life Dominion managed to make it in the nick of time and saved Kauze after only a part of his divine power was absorbed. Having lost lots of it, his powers dipped greatly. When he returned home, he saw that his traitorous cousin had taken his place to become the new tribe leader. Needless to say, Kauze was easily defeated and chased out of the tribe.
With the betrayal and his family gone and power stripped away, he changed completely and abandoned his faith to the God of Life. For vengeance, he became one of the craziest godhunters. he started from consuming the weaker gods and slowly recovered his own divine power. In a century, he managed to kill his cousin as well as the other tribesmen that had turned their backs on him. Even the Hegemon that once subjugated him wasn't able to escape. Kauze tortured his soul by burning it with venomflare for two hundred years, slowly roasting it away to cause as much suffering as he could. He became the new Hegemon of the Life Dominion and quickly grew in power to become an overgod.
Han Shuo exhaled as he carefully kept Kauze's soul away in a special corner of the cauldron. He used the cauldron's power to wipe out the impurities from his soul, leaving behind only the purest essence of his understanding of the arcane laws of life for Han Mu.
"Sigh, he's a pitiful soul too." After learning of his experiences, Han Shuo no longer felt any hate for Kauze. He was just as much a victim of circumstance and despair. There was no way he would be able to get his revenge after losing his power, after all. Having nothing else to lose after everything was taken away from him, including his years-long fate, it wasn't surprising he did what he did.
"Father, is it true that godhunters exist for a reason?" Han Hao asked once Han Shuo transmitted what he could to him.
Nodding, Han Shuo said, "Too many gods will cause there to be too much energy. When any of the twelve types grow too much, it will result in something that the Quintessence Overgods don't like. So, godhunters exist to maintain that balance."
Han Shuo immediately recalled the upcoming battle that would come before the opening of Aethernia the Goddess of Destiny and God of Light mentioned, which would cause even more gods to die. Was the death of gods another precondition to the opening of Aethernia? A grand battle occurred in Elysium at regular intervals, during which many gods fell. Many talented geniuses perished before they were able to reach their full potential that way.
And in all those pivotal moments, the Goddess of Destiny would show up to cause things to calm down. Back then, Han Shuo didn't know why this kept happening, precisely, why the goddess waited for years of fighting to pass before stepping in to resolve the conflict. Part of the answer to that was found in Kauze's memories, which informed some of Han Shuo's own guesses.
"Balance?" Han Hao suddenly said, "Father, do you mean that the Twelve Great Overgods tacitly allow the godhunters to exist?"
"I'm sure you've seen how powerful Judas and Nestor are. Either one of them will be able to wipe out all godhunters in the Twelve Divine Dominions. Not to mention, Andrina said that even the Goddess of Destiny didn't wipe out the godhunters that killed her lover. Andrina herself almost died from being sapped dry. Yet, the goddess didn't do anything about it. I believe Kauze's explanation has merit. There is no reason why the Twelve Great Overgods would tolerate the existence of the godhunters if there wasn't a good reason for them to."
"So that means even if I unite the godhunters and attack the Twelve Divine Dominions, the Twelve Great Overgods won't meddle in my business?!" Han Hao said as his eyes glowed.
"If you operate in their interests, they naturally wouldn't do anything to you." After some thought, Han Shuo continued, "However, the gods that live in the Twelve Divine Dominions provide power to them through their faith. Essentially, they need that power but also can't let the number of gods grow too much, striking a fine balance. So, there are limits to how much you can act. Otherwise, the Twelve Great Overgods will turn against you, and we are still not their match, so you have to be careful."
"Understood, Father. I will do just that."
Right that instant, two high-pitched whines could be heard approaching from the distance. Soon, Salas and Wasir came to Han Shuo. Salas seemed rather agitated as he said, "Bryan, the divine guards of the Twelve Divine Dominions are marching into the Fringe. It seems that they're here to deal with us and the godhunters."
Han Shuo nodded. "If they want to maintain balance, the Godhunter Alliance can't be allowed to grow too powerful. There are probably too many of them right now, so they're trying to cull some numbers."
"What do we do, Father?"
Han Shuo looked at the fearful godhunters that had lost their seven Hegemons and said, "You're the new leader of the godhunters. You can decide what to do. I believe you should first take them under your wing."