"Those are your words. You mustn't forget about them."
"How could I?"
An unattainable fantasy even within the cultivation world, love everlasting eluded many dreamers. Though their lifespans outpaced mortals' by enormous margins, though their youths could stretch across centuries and even millennia, ultimately all feelings waned, dragging alongside them crumbling pledges.
In the same fashion, although this Partnership of Equals forever bound them, it held no weight on their hearts. If the bound remained, but the feelings withered, what was the point?
However, Iliana could sense that Konrad's emotions for her weren't love. Appreciation, trust, care, desire, passion, possessiveness, all shone within his eyes. All except "love."
Perhaps because of that, he could remain consistent across the countless years to come. But for that very same reason, she would never hear the three magic words. The thought pricked her heart.
She lowered her gaze, leaning against his chest with her arms wrapped around his back, and breathing in his scent. It soothed her mind, dispelled her hidden worries, and allowed her to relish in the instant of their entangled bodies.
If Konrad was aware of her inner thoughts, he let nothing transpire on his face, gently stroking her hairs while their warm bodies remained pressed onto one another.
Then they parted. One after another, the slumbering ladies awakened, and Konrad sent the Kracht trio back to the outside world. They were on the eve of the wedding with the preparations complete.
Although they started on such short notice, with the vast resources at house Kracht's disposal, organizing a lavish celebration was entirely doable.
Konrad checked on Holger and Koloman to make sure they both were ready, then returned to cultivation. A quick assessment made him realize that while unlocking the first God-Meridian took him three hours, the second one would at least take fifteen. Between now and the wedding's start, he barely had enough time.
Meanwhile, he could also not neglect his spiritual cultivation. To reach the first step Transcendent Priest Rank, he first needed to expand his soul force to a certain threshold, then condense a Transcendent Avatar.
Clearly, to assiduously cultivate both the martial and the spiritual path to the pinnacle would take a monstrous amount of time, even for him. Therefore, it was time to take shortcuts.
Konrad stepped into the system to check his exp count, and was pleased to see that following the previous orgy cultivation session, it leaped to more than 298,000,000 exp.
"How do you wish to proceed?"
The system asked while Konrad browsed through the various tools available.
"Although the digit is charming, the reality is brutal. After I exchange the 150,000,000 exp for the Holy Elemental Baptism recipe, I will only have 148,000,000 left for my personal use. Then, I still have to collect the ingredients.
low-grade Soul Expansion Pills cost 2,500,000, mid-grade 5,000,000, and high-grade 7,000,000 exp. Fortunately, I got quite a considerable number of them from the inquisition department. I can save some exp on that end."
The church, after all, specialized in spiritual cultivation. Its resources in that area were simply unimaginable.
"Then we have the meridian problem. Pills helpful in the condensation of supreme meridians are most likely inexistent within the Holy Flame Empire so I can only buy them. However…"
Konrad didn't even bother checking the exp requirement. Just by looking at the category those pills were standing in, he gave up all hopes of purchasing some in the near future.
As for defying fate and increasing his quantity of God Meridians…
"Do you have a way to help me increase my quantity of God Meridians or transform some of my Natal and Concealed Meridians into God level ones?"
"All things I can offer you are restricted to the Divine Rank. When we go beyond that level, I can no longer help you. Even if there were another way, it would be beyond the scope of my abilities. At least for now, I can't help you."
Since even Supreme Meridian Condensing Pills stood in the list of Divine Rank items, Konrad already expected that the system couldn't help him. However, something still bothered him.
"What's the difference between the Divine Rank and godhood?"
"The Divine Rank is the ladder to godhood. Those at that rank are referred to as Sages and are the true masters of this world. For the Ancient Crystal World's denizens, Divine Rank experts are indeed godlike. But they are by no means gods.
The simplest way to see that is their lifespan. Although one hundred thousand years is a tremendous amount of time on mortal standards, it is, after all, a finite number. How can you call yourself a god when you're not even immortal?"
The System's words echoed within Konrad's mind, dispelling his doubts.
"As for your God Meridians, while I can't help you, that doesn't mean you can't help yourself. If you can refine the blood of a fallen Peak Stage Divine Transformation expert or of a Divine Ascension expert, you can transform Supreme Meridians into God Meridians."
Konrad's lips twitched while his mouth filled with the need to curse the system's ancestors. Alas, it didn't have any.
"Let me ask you. How old is this world's first civilization?"
"This world's oldest civilization dates to roughly one million years ago."
"And since then, how many Divine Rank experts appeared in total?"
"Less than one hundred."
"Less than one hundred…among them, how many reached the Divine Transformation Stage?"
"Forget about Divine Ascension, no one ever reached the peak of Divine Transformation in this world."
Veins pulsed on Konrad's temple as he struggled to restrain his rising fury.
"Are you making fun of me?"
The system honestly replied, without consideration for Konrad's face. However, at the verge of throwing a fit, his eyes shone with enlightenment, and he clapped in understanding.
"Oh, I get it now. Regardless of what meridians I have, if I can reach the peak of the Divine Transformation Stage, I can turn them all into God Meridians."
"Finally…however, do remember that without a supreme foundation, you will never reach that level. Therefore, you should work hard. Still, I hope you won't lose yourself in dreams of grandeur. Condensing ninety Supreme Meridians on top of the eighteen God-Meridians you already possess is…unlikely.
Keep in mind that someone who can condense twenty-seven Supreme Meridians can aspire to godhood. Gods with one-hundred-eight God Meridians are few and far between."
Konrad's face contorted into a frown.
"Why do you know so much? Aren't you just a glorified robot? It almost sounds like you come from the higher realms."
Konrad didn't insist, exchanging 150,000,000 exp for the Holy Elemental Baptism recipe then exiting the system.
While it definitely wasn't cheap, by the time he obtained the ingredients, he could freely upgrade his ladies talent and physiques without having to rely on system exp. In the long run, that decision would save him a lot.
Afterward, Konrad swallowed a low-grade Soul Expansion pill and began the refining process. His soul power increased substantially, and although he still wasn't at the Transcendent Rank, another half-step had been taken. He then refined another two, causing his soul power to expand until it seemed to reach a barrier.
Only after achieving his first soul transformation and creating his Transcendent Avatar could he destroy that barrier and officially step into the Transcendent Priest Rank.
He spent the remainder of the night solidifying his cultivation, until dawn announced itself, marking the beginning of the wedding day.