During those five years, Profound Continent was engulfed in war. Lancelot Empire, Kasi Empire, the Brut Merchant Alliance, Angela Empire, Oden Empire - all nations big or small participated in the war.
With Helen Tina and Burt Zili cooperating in the dark, Lancelot Empire’s military campaign to invade the seven grand duchies was a success.
Oden Empire - the mightiest nation on the continent, formed an alliance with Kasi Empire to constantly expand their territories. Countless smaller nations that bordered the two were annexed. Angela Empire even lost more than half of its territories to them. Brut Merchant Alliance too was in a perilous situation, hardly resisting Oden Empire’s stronger and stronger assaults.
Soon after occupying the seven grand duchies, Lancelot Empire faced the invasion coming from the kingdom of orcs. This round of military offense from the orcs was much fiercer and more violent compared to previous times. Even Firenze, the commander of the Howling Legion, had great difficulty defending the southern border. With the majority of Lancelot Empire’s troops allotted to the southern border, the military strength of the entire nation was basically held up by the southern border.
While the southern border faced constant assault from the Orc Kingdom, Kasi Empire took advantage of the situation to launch their attacks on Lancelot Empire. After taking down the seven duchies with great difficulty, Lancelot Empire wasn’t given the time to digest its repercussions before having to suffer heavy blows from enemies.
The orcs’ reckless invasion made citizens of the empire live in fear. But things over in Brettel City were unexpectedly smooth and steady. Under the management of Jack, Dorcas, and the others, the city had even grown more prosperous.
The territories that formerly belonged to the seven grand duchies were now managed by Jack, Dorcas and co. Among them, Dorcas had obtained everyone’s acknowledgment for his outstanding talent in military strategy and shared the title of military genius with Firenze.
Brettel City and the seven grand duchies on the east of Lancelot Empire, were natural barriers to the Empire. During the past few years, as the mighty Oden Empire had been constantly pressing hard on the Brut Merchant Alliance, not only had Brettel City been living peacefully with the Brut Merchant Alliance, the two even secretly joined hands in resisting the greater threat that was Oden Empire.
Through Stratholme the old monster’s description, Han Shuo gradually gained an understanding of the present situation on Profound Continent as well as the relationships between various nations.
After Stratholme explained the situation of the continent, Han Shuo squinted and started to carefully examine the old monster.
Back then, Stratholme the old monster had managed to completely digest the Origin Crystal of fighting aura and fused his soul with it. Although he had yet to attain the realm of basegod, it may be assumed that he was close to achieving it.
Being in the realm he was, Han Shuo understood that the fighting aura cultivated by some on Profound Continent didn’t belong to any of the twelve mainstream energies.
Of the eight elemental energies - light, darkness, earth, fire, wind, water, lightning, death - and four edictal forces - fate, space, life, and destruction - fighting aura didn’t fit into any of the twelve fundamental forces.
Fighting aura was a type of energy formed by mixing the elements of light and air. Just like summoning and the loot energy Datara cultivated, it was categorized as non-mainstream energy. However, as fighting aura was partly the element of light, while air was one of the most abundant elements, there was quite a number of people who cultivated in the energy of fighting aura in various material planes. In fact, this non-mainstream energy had one of the highest numbers of cultivators after the twelve fundamental energies.
Back in Tarrag Canyon where Han Shuo ran into the Soul Race, he found twelve orbs containing energies that could be fused with one’s soul. However, the twelve spheres did not completely correspond to the twelve major fundamental forces. For example, the rather special energy of life and fate was not among the twelve. On the contrary, the fighting aura in which Stratholme cultivated was in one of those spheres. The Origin Crystal of Summoning which had an even smaller count of cultivators was amongst the twelve orbs.
Although fighting aura wasn’t one of the twelve mainstream energies, it had nonetheless a sizable following on various major material planes. This indicated that fighting aura had its own uniqueness. Stratholme the old monster seemed to be a truly lucky one. Not only since he managed to escape from the six-horned tribal king of the Soul Race, but he had also successfully fused his soul with the Origin Crystal of fighting aura.
“Any big movement from the Church of Light and Calamity Church during these few years? How did you escape from the six-horned tribal king? Also, why are you here?” Han Shuo questioned Stratholme after thinking about his words for a moment.
Stratholme put on a smile, casually pulled a chair, and sat down. He turned Han Shuo, who was still standing tall at the same place and indicated to him to sit down as well. He continued to explain, “Back then, at the Church of Light’s sacred mountain, the six-horned tribal king was probably injured in that battle with that Saintess. After the two of us separated, I immediately went to the extreme north of the continent and sought a place to cultivate. As for what happened when I cultivated, I have no idea. In any case, the six-horned tribal king did not come knocking at my door.”
Stratholme took a short pause, looked at Han Shuo, and continued, “Things after that point were relatively simpler. After my soul had fused with the Origin Crystal of fighting aura, the six-horned tribal king could no longer locate me. By then, the seven grand duchies were already occupied by Lancelot Empire. There was nothing much that I could do about it. But, after all, I’m the State Preceptor of the former Verdun Dynasty. The people of the seven grand duchies are also my people. Therefore, I decided to stay in the seven grand duchies, perhaps this could be considered as having kept to my duty.”
After listening to Stratholme, Han Shuo nodded to show that he understood. Stratholme was the protector of the seven grand duchies. Even though the seven grand duchies were now captured by Lancelot Empire, with Stratholme within them, Lancelot Empire and Brettel City would surely take him into consideration and not do anything they shouldn’t to the people of the duchies.
“The Calamity Church and the Church of Light, have they been quiet these few years?” Han Shuo again asked.
The old monster forced a smile and shook his head. He answered, “The ceaseless war that swamped Profound Continent had very strong religious influences. The four major religions on Profound Continent - Calamity Church, Church of Light, Shrine of Ice, and the Druidic Order - all participated in the war. Even some of the smaller religions took part in it as well.
“Oden Empire, the strongest nation on the continent, has the Church of Light vigorously backing them. The citizens living in nations that Oden Empire has invaded will be converted to be followers of the Church of Light. Kasi Empire has the backing of the Shrine of Ice. Angela Empire has the Calamity Church. While your Lancelot Empire is currently backed by the Druidic Order.
“From what I see, the whole reason that Profound Continent is in this state of war has absolutely everything to do with the four major religions!”
After taking a tour of the Abyss realm and becoming a god himself, Han Shuo was naturally well aware of the struggle between the four religions. It was inevitably linked to their fight over the power of faith. Han Shuo reckoned that among them, Calamity Church would be even more ruthless. To constantly kill and slaughter, causing destruction and death, that ought to be precisely what they wanted to see.
“It appears that behind every country is a religious influence. Hmm, what about the Kingdom of Orcs and the Brut Merchant Alliance? Do they have the backing of any religion?” Han Shuo bunched his brows and asked.
“They are just the same. The orcs have their orc god. Meanwhile, the Brut Merchant Alliance has the Soul Race behind them. That Tarrag Canyon, from merely a restricted area, has now turned into the Brut Merchant Alliance’s holy land. Isn’t this world an interesting place?” Stratholme explained with a bitter smile. He found the situation to be rather silly.
“So it seems. Haha, although I’m a little surprised, it’s not that hard to swallow,” Han Shuo understood what those people were fighting for. The Brut Merchant Alliance could be considered as one of the significant powers. As the six-horned tribal king of the Soul Race possessed outstanding strength, it was not hard for him to obtain the trust of the merchants of the Brut Merchant Alliance.
“In that case, what about my Brettel City?” Han Shuo stared fixedly at Stratholme with his glistening eyes and said, “Although your strength has improved a great extent, you have yet to become a god, and cannot receive the power of faith yet.”
Stratholme the old monster shrugged and replied in a helpless voice, “Of course I don’t have the qualification of obtaining the power of faith. However, that beautiful woman you brought out from the underground world then has been preaching for the spider goddess Rose like a mad woman. She even established a couple of her shrines. Currently, in Brettel City and the seven grand duchies, there really are lot of followers that worship spider goddess Rose.”
Upon hearing those words, Han Shuo’s face turned cold. He groaned, “Although she has changed her body, name, and identity, she is still Adele. How dare she cause trouble right on my turf. She must be tired of living.” After a short pause, Han Shuo creased his brows, looked at Stratholme the old monster, and asked, “Others might not know of her intentions, but you should. Why didn’t you kill her?”
Stratholme forced a smile and shook his head. He answered, “Although I could kill her, I would have to give you face, wouldn’t I?”
“What do you mean?” Han Shuo was puzzled.
“She claimed herself to be your woman, and have close relationships with several of your other women. What’s more, she has obtained the trust of His Majesty the King. What position am I in to harm her?” After a short pause, Stratholme furrowed his eyebrows dramatically and added, “Besides, this woman is not simple. She seems to have experts secretly protecting her. Even I would have some reservations.”
“She sure has some capability, but this would be the end of her,” Han Shuo sneered.
There were quite a lot of people who live in Brettel City and the seven grand duchies. All that power of faith added up would make a considerable amount of energy. Han Shuo, as the master of Brettel City, would absolutely not allow others to take what belonged to him.