Within the night, the indiscernible shadow of a woman appeared and motionlessly stood by Konrad's side. For an hour, she did nothing but stare at him, before vanishing as silently as she had appeared.
The sunrays spreading within the sky marked the end of the night; the first full sleep night Konrad had experienced since his arrival in this world. He stood up, asked for his two goons to handle his shift and shot toward the marketplace.
The inner court marketplace was a bustling location that rose and slept alongside the sun. It was mostly run by eunuchs who traded goods and services in exchange for coins or items of value. The only things not sold were weapons for those were forbidden by palace laws.
Palace maids and eunuchs alike were welcomed as customers. Palace maids, however, were not allowed to do business here. This was the eunuchs' turf!
Konrad stepped into a pill shop and exchanged one purple crystal for two high-grade True Spirit Restoration pills as well as six hundred red crystals of change, then returned to his shift.
"I have been meaning to ask. You said all the influential races of this world possess some kind of natural aura while powerful cultivators also possess preternatural presences. Right?"
"That being the case, why did the previous body's owner not feel anything special from the Holy Consort?"
Although Konrad had never met her, he still held the memories of his predecessor. But from those memories, he couldn't sense any extraordinariness from the Holy Consort. And although outstanding, her beauty definitely wasn't enough to be dubbed as the country's number one.
"And what makes you think that the one he met was the Holy Consort?"
Indifferently asked the system.
"Would anyone dare usurp her appearance in her quarters?"
"That I do not know. But what I do know is that the highest-ranking members of the imperial family such as the Holy Emperor, the Holy Empress, and the Holy Consort, are all saints. There are ways to hide the bloodline aura, but the natural presence and pressure brought by cultivation cannot be hidden. And theirs can force any mortal to his knees."
The rest of the day was uneventful. And upon finishing his shift, Konrad cloaked his face and directly strode toward the eunuch he had hidden earlier.
"Hm! Hm! Hm!"
The eunuch struggled through muffled screams, but there was no one to come to his aid. If left unattended to, it was not impossible for him to die of starvation or thirst before someone discovered him.
Konrad once again knocked him out, then untied his bindings and tossed the stolen identity token back toward him. That settled, he changed his appearance to that of an ordinary youth and stepped toward Iliana's embroidery pavilion.
Climbing the walls, he sneaked in, moved toward her private quarters in light steps, and dived in.
She was sitting on her bed with her legs stretched and her back resting against her pillow to read a book when the sound of footsteps reached her ears, and the unknown man dived in. But considering timing and the disguise which was obvious to her eyes, she reckoned it was her brazen eunuch suitor.
She coolly stated, once more ignoring his impoliteness.
"I am indeed. Are you ready to go on a date?"
Konrad inquired will gliding toward her in silent steps.
"If you can hold up to your end of the bargain."
A winning smile was painted on Konrad's lips as he pulled out a bottle containing two nail sized sky-blue pellets.
Upon seeing them, Iliana's eyes lit up, and she almost struck out to snatch it from his hands but resisted the temptation.
Without a word, she stood up and walked toward her wardrobe.
"Are you also dissolute enough to stand there as I change my clothes?"
"I am dissolute enough. I'm even dissolute enough to help you change."
Seeing her silky green hairs cascading below her waist, Konrad inwardly cursed the palace customs that prevented her from releasing them during the day.
"I will be waiting by the stream."
But Konrad didn't wait for her to snap and left. He moved past the doors, exited the residence, and walked toward the stream. Watching the undulating waves, he stood there with his arms clasped beneath his back.
He would not have to idle for long to see her form appearing by his side.
She was dressed in the same format of the close-fitting cyan robe, but her hairs were unbound, fluttering at her back without restraints. Within her hands, she held a brown lyre which she carried with apparent affection.
"The lyre is my family's ancestral instrument. I learned to play it from my father at an early age. Allow me to play you a tune."
Konrad nodded and sat at the edge of the stream. She did the same, adjusted the lyre within her grasp, and began playing.
The methodical brush of her fingers against the strings created a soothing melody whose notes snatched Konrad from the woes of the world.
Yet, as those notes went beyond his ears and strode toward his heart, Konrad could sense the melancholy hidden within them. It was a form of yearning, yearning for distant memories, yearning for those moments she didn't know to cherish in times now past.
Yearning for the love and protection of elders once taken for granted.
Yearning for the simplest of pleasures now forever beyond her grasp.
Yearning for that moon hanging in the sky, whose watchful eyes enlightened her in the dark of night, revealing her dreams, simple, yet, unattainable.
The melody carried on, and Konrad lost tracks of time, his eyes had moved from the strings to stare into Iliana's as he sought an understanding of her through the notes she played.
Then she stopped, her misty eyes moving from the lyre to stare back at him.
"How would you title this?"
She asked without much expectations.
"As I Yearn for Regrets Under the Waning Moon"
Simple yet grabbed the essence of the tune.
"I didn't think you would have an ear for music."
"I don't. I have an ear for a woman's woes."
He honestly replied and laid onto the ground with his head resting on her lap.
"Are you not afraid of me pushing you into the stream?"
"Have you forgotten? You said it yourself, I'm stupid."
She considered slamming the lyre on his face but advised against it and chose to set it aside.
"What do you really want from me?"
Konrad wanted to say that adding her to his harem was imperative to keep his balls but advised against it.
"I want you to be mine in body and soul. To possess and own you, from this day, until you draw your last."
"That in life, you belong to me. And that in death, your ghost still belongs to me!"
The overbearingness within his words took her by surprise. She had not expected that youth's level of boldness to reach such heights.
"Are you qualified to say such words? Let's not even consider your cultivation that is still far from the True Knight Rank. Let's not even consider your status that is likely to be of common origin. As long as I wear the dress of a palace maid, beside the emperor, any man that extends his hands toward me is punishable by death."
"Or do you think that I would be interested in a common tryst?"
She had not lain. All the females of the inner court belonged to the Holy Emperor. Only the Holy Emperor could grant them to those of his liking, and while it was not rare for them to be used as political tools, any man caught getting too close without permission would face a brutal ending.
But Konrad didn't care.
Because he had already decided that since he was given the unique opportunity of reincarnation, the entire world would belong to him!
The beauties of this world didn't need emperors. They only needed Konrad!
"You want more than a tryst. You want someone to sweep you off your feet, and in broad daylight carry you out in the open for all to see."
"Someone who dares brazenly take your lips."
"Someone to hold the sky when it threatens to collapse."
"Someone like me."
And before she could say anything else, his lips flew toward hers.
She knew him bold but had not expected his boldness to reach such heights.
His overbearing kiss pushed her into his arms, and together they fell onto the ground.
But in the distance, the floating shadow of a woman observed that scene with a frown.
The shadow vanished, and in an abnormal timing, dozens of arrows flew from behind the nearby trees and shot toward the kissing pair.