Not much had changed in the Fringe during Han Shuo’s absence. Murder, plundering, massacre, rape, continued to happen as always it always does in the Land of Chaos. Big and small scale battles could be easily found in the perimeter of the Fringe.
The big and small factions took notice as soon as the House of Han stepped into the Fringe. But when they noticed that the person leading them was Han Shuo, they scuttled and ran as far as they could.
Han Shuo was just too infamous in the Fringe and no one dared offend him.
Sanguis, Bollands, and Gilbert were as though apex predators that were introduced to a flock of lamb. They would often venture away from the company by themselves, away from Han Shuo’s protection, and return with scratches and injuries.
The three who cultivated demonic arts understood that they must temper themselves by bloodshed if they want to rapidly raise their strengths and that the Fringe was the place most suitable for them to do so. The more they fight, the stronger they become.
Sometimes they would strike together and sometimes they would go alone. They would only attack forces that weren’t too strong and improve their strengths through the death of their victims.
Han Shuo had allowed them to venture around by themselves for he knew that the three had decent strengths and were very treacherous. The injuries that they suffered were minor and they would completely recover in one or two days. He thought that it was unlikely for them to be defeated by forces in the Fringe.
After making a few assaults by themselves, they started bringing a few squadrons of the House of Han guards with them. Those House of Han guards who had been tempered for ages were bloodthirst as well. With those guards, they were able to destroy many more forces along their way. Many of the forces would avoid them.
“The Fringe doesn’t seem as frightening as what they’ve told us. All those we have met aren’t all that powerful,” remarked Sanguis who had been in high spirits for the last few days. After killing a mid-stage highgod in a duel, his confidence swelled. He had become rather overconfident.
“Haha, we are just too strong! For the Fringe is truly chaotic. Not only there are large-scale battles everywhere, each Fringedweller is fiercer than the next. This is truly a wonderful place most suitable for our House of Han!” said Gilbert. He was also feeling very delighted for he could finally unleash the energy in his body and kill to his heart’s content. It was obvious that he liked the Fringe very much.
Bollands, however, wasn’t having their overconfidence. He swept his cold glance at the two and said, “The Fringe is infamous on the Elysium for its perilousness. The most dangerous and treacherous criminals from all Twelve Dominions are in this Land. We have not met any truly formidable enemy because we have not stepped into the deeper parts of the Fringe and those true powerhouses knew of our origins. They are afraid of our Patriarch’s power and therefore have been avoiding us. Don’t be so presumptuous to think that the Fringe is nothing dangerous and drop your guard.”
Bollands had considered the two as his closest friends ever since what they had gone through in Witherbone City. Otherwise, had it been somebody else, Bollands would only coldly puff in disdain instead of giving a lengthy, insightful lecture.
Sanguis and Gilbert, being young and reckless, did not take the advice to heart. Sanguis smiled mischievously and said, “What you said does somewhat makes sense. But I still think that other than the Four Sovereigns, there aren’t any other particularly strong forces in the Fringe. I’m sure that even without using Master’s reputation, we could still establish ourselves in the Fringe!”
“That’s right. The leaders of most forces possess just early-stage highgod strength – nothing remarkable. The three of us in addition to fifty guards could easily gain a footing. Right, why don’t we head to the Omphalos first? I believe that we can easily reach the Center by ourselves,” suggested Gilbert excitedly.
Sanguis’ eyes lit up and he enthusiastically agreed, “That’s right! We should get there before the others. With Master protecting them, our Matriarchs and the others would be just fine without us.”
“No! If any bad thing happens, how would I explain myself to Senior Brother?” Bollands bunched his brows and rejected the proposal without thinking.
“Come on, old guy. Don’t be so paranoid, it will be just fine. Come on, let’s go. We will wait for them in the Omphalos. After all, we have figured out the general direction.” Sanguis laughed heartily and proceeded with the plan, belittling the dangers ahead of him.
Gilbert laughed mischievously, went and pulled Bollands as he said, “It’s alright, Master will not be angry at us for doing so. Come on, don’t spoil the mood!”
If Sanguis and Gilbert had not tried to risk their lives to stand up for Bollands in Witherbone City, Bollands definitely would have decisively halted them and brought them back to the company.
But Bollands now considered Sanguis and Gilbert as people he trusted the most after Han Shuo. Seeing their enthusiasm, Bollands felt rather reluctant to spoil the mood. After hesitating for a moment, with Gilbert dragging him, Bollands went along despite his gut feeling telling him no.
With that, Sanguis, Gilbert, Bollands, and fifty House of Han guards, separated from the main House of Han company, began heading to the center of the Fringe – the Omphalos.
At first, they had run into relatively small forces that were led by early or mid-stage highgods. With Sanguis, Bollands, and Gilbert easily defeating those highgod leaders and the terrifying team-combat strength of the House of Han guards, the party was able to easily crush their enemies and went deep into the Fringe without much resistance.
Sanguis and Gilbert became even more excited and overconfident. They had forgotten of the fact that the deeper they venture into the Fringe, the more dangerous it would be. They would shout and cheer along their journey.
But their streak was about to come to an end. When they got very far from the main company of the House of Han, some of the major and ferocious forces deep in the Fringe took notice of them. They were not aware of their association with Han Shuo due to the distance and Gilbert and the others had even avoided revealing their association with Han Shuo because they wanted to prove their power.
Finally, a group of Fringedwellers led by a late-stage highgod expert intercepted them on a mountain.
And there was more than one late-stage highgod!
The enemy forces were made of one late-stage highgod of death, one late-stage highgod of wind, a number of early and mid-stage highgods, and a bunch of midgods. They numbered in the hundreds. Their strength had far exceeded that of Bollands, Gilbert, Sanguis, and their fifty guards.
“You guys seemed to have been indulging yourselves in killing indiscriminately. Hehe, to attack Sovereign Logue’s followers, how brazen!” the late-stage highgod of death said in a mocking smile. He looked at Sanguis, Gilbert, and the others who had been surrounded and immediately gave the ultimatum, “You have two choices – you can bow and pledge your allegiance to Lord Logue or you can fucking die!”
It was only now that Sanguis and Gilbert realized that the Fringe was nothing like the Darkness and Death Dominions, that the Land of Chaos was indeed filled with extremely formidable experts and they were extremely brutal.
Sanguis, the strongest of the three, was confident that he could defeat a mid-stage highgod expert. Against a late-stage highgod, however, he stood no chance at all.
Their enemy had two late-stage highgod and six to seven highgods in early and mid-stages. It was clear that they had no chance of winning.
Sanguis and Gilbert suddenly looked at each other with a hint of despair in their eyes. They finally regretted not heeding the advice and being too arrogant.
“Friend, we are members of the Pandemonium’s House of Han!” Bollands suddenly stepped forward and said in a moderate attitude. Unlike Sanguis and Gilbert, he remained as calm as usual. The mind that he had tempered through overcoming perils and hardships had proved useful during critical moments.
“What? Pandemonium? House of Han?” the face of the bald late-stage highgod that had a mocking smile suddenly jolted. He asked, “Who are you to Lord Bryan?”
“This is his disciple,” said Bollands as he pointed at Sanguis.
Bollands heaved a sigh of relief after seeing the person’s reaction. He thought, <i>Senior Brother indeed has a terrifying reputation in the Fringe. I guess with his name, we would be out of danger.</i>
The bald highgod put on a grave face and sized up Bollands, Sanguis, and Gilbert for a while as though weighing his options. Then, suddenly, he shouted, “Kill all of them! Leave none alive! Otherwise, if Bryan finds out, we will cause the Lord a lot of unnecessary troubles. If any of you fails and they manage to escape, I will skin you!!”
“You dare?” shouted Bollands in a ferocious voice. He was alarmed.
“Haha, why do we not? You think that we are afraid of you just because you are associated with Bryan? Hahaha, with all of you dead, he will have no idea who killed you. How would he find out that it’s me? Let me tell you outsiders something, we Fringedwellers are all fucking nuts. There’s nothing that we are afraid of doing!” said the bald highgod as he laughed wildly. He did seem very much like a lunatic.
After having a good laugh, he gestured and commanded, “Attack!”
Bollands’ heart jolted. He knew that they were in deep shit.