Konrad's eyes opened to the sight of Jasmine processing her gains at his front with her body stilled bare, and refined by her improving cultivation. It appeared the flame mark altered his perception of time and he had only left for an instant.
He stopped his cultivation, got dressed and waited for her to finish while pondering the critical issue of whether to reveal his true parentage or not. He wasn't concerned about her freaking out as he could effortlessly modify her memories if he so wished.
But doing so would denaturalize a relationship he was starting to find rather entertaining. And as he tackled the issue within his mind, Jasmine's eyes opened.
"How long have you been staring at me like that?"
Konrad had not realized that while lost in thoughts, his eyes had locked on her naked form with a blank stare.
"Hum, hum. I have been meaning to tell you something relatively important."
"I'm a demon."
"I'm a demon."
"I heard the first time."
"It didn't seem like it."
The fast exchange caused Jasmine's eyes to blink at breakneck speed while droplets of sweat formed on her forehead.
"What kind of demon?"
"An incubus. Wait…that's what you're worried about?"
Seeing her eyes shine with a sense of awareness, Konrad realized she was more concerned about the nature of his demonic heritage than with him being a demon.
"No wonders…the first time we met, I knew there was something off about you, but I couldn't put my fingers on it. Afterward, I thought it was just a result of your cultivation, but now it doesn't seem to be the case."
Back then, he used his demonic aura to make her more "open to suggestions."
"Why aren't you…frightened?"
He could smell no fear from her body, a reaction vastly different and more irrational than Iliana's when she first learned of his true nature.
"All I know about demons is hearsay. Paragon spirits are supposedly the noblest creatures of the Holy Continent, but Wenzel is a true degenerate. In other parts of the world, serpents are supposedly symbols of sneaky and untrustworthy behavior. Yet, in the Holy Flame Empire, they are among the highest-ranking noble races. As for us humans, we are branded as slaves whose sole worth is to serve. Who cares about you being a demon, as long as you're not the type that needs to kill and torture to grow…it doesn't matter."
"The "who" is more important than the "what."
"Demon or not, I will still conquer you!"
Konrad was speechless. He had not expected her to be this broadminded and somehow felt ashamed of his initial apprehension.
"That being the case, what would you say about signing a contract?"
"A contract? An actual demonic contract like in the legends?"
"Not quite. What I offer you is the Partnership of Equals. If you accept it, you will become a true member of my household, and we shall share mind and blood. Among other things, your cultivation speed will soar."
"In a nutshell, you will always have a slice of my pie and I of yours."
Jasmine's eyes lit up. She didn't care about all the mentioned cultivation benefits. What truly grabbed her attention was that the terms were very similar to a marriage contract!
Hehe, she had yet to put a ring on his finger that he was delivering himself to her doorsteps? Of course, she would not let him go!
In theory, forcing a demonic contract was impossible. Both parties had to be willing for it to occur. Of course, there were ways to force willingness.
Konrad cut his lips, causing blood to trail down his chin and paint his mouth in red.
He then waved his sleeves and conjured five purple pentagrams that hovered around the two of them.
"Jasmine, step forward."
She didn't hesitate, stood up and walked toward him.
"Are you willing in all conscience to abandon your humanity for my demonic blood?"
"I am willing."
"Are you willing in all conscience to forsake your lineage and ancestry for the right to join my household?"
"I am willing."
"To forever brand your soul with the mark of my lineage?"
"I am willing!"
"Then I, Konrad of the house of Talroth welcome you to the fold of demonkind as my chosen kin and bind myself to you through spirit and blood!"
Massive purple light exploded from the pentagrams and shrouded the two of them while Konrad took Jasmine within his arms and kissed her with his bloodied lips. Parts of his demonic essence flew past his mouth, dived into her and mixed with her bloodline, turning her from a pureblooded human being to a half-succubus.
Her cultivation base experienced another breakthrough, going from the fifth step Adept Knight to the first step True Knight and from first step Adept Priest to the sixth step Adept Priest.
Meanwhile, her innate comprehension level and cultivation talent were added to Konrad's and a part of his to hers.
Thus, the pact was sealed.
Konrad then placed the harem ring on her finger and left her to adjust to her new self.
In the meantime, within a pavilion of the Holy Empress' palace, two breathtaking women were engaging in a chess match.
One was dressed in an elegant backless white maxi dress that outlined her perfect hourglass figure and possessed curly silver hairs and eyes that made her paragon spirit heritage evident. She was the Holy Empress, Verena Kvass.
The other was a crimson dressed woman with long ink-like hairs and slit blue eyes that were the only thing discernable beneath her silver mask. She was the Holy Consort, Else Metze.
And with the Dowager in seclusion, those two were the most powerful women of the Holy Flame Empire.
"Your last move was not bad. Reshaping Wenzel's memories to make him forget who truly harmed him and then using him to turn Yvonne against the emperor and gain her support. I must say I'm impressed."
"But are you not afraid that when his majesty comes looking for answers, I will reveal the little stunt you pulled?"
Although she rarely intervened in matters of the inner court, the Holy Empress was fully aware of the various consorts' daily moves. That night, she had been monitoring Else and was surprised to see her intervene in a matter directly related to the emperor for the sake of a eunuch boy.
More surprising was that despite knowing that she was being monitored, Else didn't hesitate to act. And while she subsequently used that matter as a tool to obtain the support of Wenzel's mother, it was clear the original intent was to save that boy.
Verena was perplexed as to why Else who never made any rash move would risk offending the emperor for the sake of a seventeen years old eunuch.
"As the leader of the inner court, your majesty is by right my older sister. That being the case, I don't see why I should be afraid of my older sister revealing my secrets. Also, if there is something, we can all agree on, it's that antagonizing the emperor is your favorite activity."
Else nonchalantly replied while moving a black pawn.
"Touché. I do not care about any of that. I'm more interested in the eunuch boy you seem so fond of. Could he be a man you snuck into the palace to be your little lover? Or is there a deeper story here?"
Verena teased with her lips curled in a mischievous smile.
"I didn't know your majesty had such an interest in gossiping."
"Don't all bored women love spicy gossips? As the country's most unentertained woman, it is only natural that I also have some interest in them."
Verena replied while moving a white pawn.
"If you're that interested, why not make a full inquiry? Investigate as you wish and see what you can find out. I have nothing to hide."
"Will you really not mind?"
"As long as your majesty doesn't go beyond a certain point, I will of course not mind."
Verena's interest was only heightened.
But looking at the chessboard, it seemed Else's pawn was about to reach promotion. As for what it would turn into, she didn't know.