"The nerves! Who the hell are you?!"
Submitting to Konrad was one thing, being verbally abused by a nobody was another. As a pureblooded golden-eyed lioness, if there was one thing Freya didn't tolerate, it was being disrespected by those she deemed inferior. And while Jasmine's cultivation had risen to the first step True Knight Rank, Freya didn't put her in her eyes.
"Your new mistress!"
Jasmine announced with complacent glee. But at that time, Konrad chose to bring her back to earth.
"Actually, if Freya can complete her task, I might promote her."
"I'm the master of the contracts and can adjust them however I wish to."
"Meaning that I can also modify yours if I wish to."
"Do I wish to…?"
Konrad murmured while rubbing his beardless chin, and his words caused Jasmine to unfasten his neck and stare at him with stupor.
She complained while aiming her now wobbling index at his self-satisfied face.
"I am a demon!"
"Tricking is my birthright!"
That girl was too brazen. If he didn't start putting some shackles here and there, wouldn't she try to overturn the world?
Wanting to deprive me of my beauties? In your dreams!
I will have you, and I will also have them!
"Now that you've joined my household, you cannot escape. So, you might as well make the best of it. Think of this as a test of virtue. If you perform well enough, who knows what will happen in the future?"
Initially, Freya had been incensed by Jasmine's rude and possessive behavior. But now all discomfort had been replaced by deep satisfaction. A woman's status in a polygamous husband's house often depended on the dowry she brought.
She was going to bring more than fifty million purple crystals!
Could that little maid compare?
"When I'm promoted and my cultivation restored, I will properly deal with you!"
She inwardly swore with a radiant smile.
And Konrad who had unobstructed access to her thoughts couldn't help but blink.
"Hum, hum. Back to proper business. For how long is your pass valid?"
The reason why Freya could come and go within the palace was that thanks to Else, she had obtained an imperial pass. That pass was only granted to women that had strong connections to the inner court and could only be used for a certain amount of time.
Past the deadline, renewal was necessary.
Freya had been using hers for some time already and should be close to its expiration date.
"I still have three weeks."
"That's more than enough."
While she completed the task, he would make some additional arrangements and gather as many resources as he could.
"It's unfortunate that I have to leave this female paradise so soon…oh well, to enjoy beauty, you first need to breathe."
Although he managed to keep his neck so far, Konrad didn't want to take extra chances. Even if he held no interest in the faraway Barbarian Continent, he wasn't going to sit and wait for the Holy Flame Church to come knocking on his doorstep.
How was that different from courting death?
He could return with great pomp when he was powerful enough!
The girls were sent on their respective ways with Jasmine still fuming and pondering her future course of actions.
Konrad then woke Ralph and Alan, his two eunuch subordinates and gave them errands.
"Ralph, your job is to contact Hans for a new business opportunity. This time, tell him to get ready for an auction. But the goods are not things he can take responsibility for so he should prepare accordingly. Just tell him that we're going a full grade higher and insist on the plural of "the goods." I give him four days and will send someone to deliver them when he's ready."
"As for you Alan, I want you to obtain a complete map of the imperial palace as well as the hierarchy and cultivation levels of guards at key locations. The more you can find the better. You have three days."
The imperial palace was not a mill. You couldn't get out because you wanted to. And even with Konrad's current cultivation level, escaping it would be no simple feat.
Hearing his task, Alan was puzzled.
"Are you trying to smuggle something in or…"
But the glower he received from Konrad shoved the rest of his words back down his throat.
"I hope I do not need to remind you of the importance of discretion. Execute these tasks well, and I will handsomely reward you."
It seemed he attached extreme importance to those tasks. That being the case, there surely was great wealth to obtain!
"Rest assured that we will not fail you!"
They proclaimed and immediately went on their ways to tend to the tasks. As for the kitchen shifts…to hell with that!
For the sake of great wealth, they could certainly endure some punishment! In any case, the weather was not that good recently. It was time to call in sick!
And seeing them disperse, Konrad no longer wasted another second and headed toward the embroidery department to meet Iliana.
With the news of her new status having spread, her treatment had undergone drastic changes. The title of maid was removed and replaced with that of Honored Palace Guest. She also received an entire courtyard and several maids to attend to her daily needs.
But although on the outside it appeared this change was out of consideration for her changed status, it was nothing more than a new way of monitoring her.
If they truly wished to show consideration, they could have just sent her back to her household.
But they didn't. And perhaps until the day her father died, she would have to stay within this mockery of a golden cage.
From times to times, the figure of the unruly Konrad would flash within her mind to improve her otherwise sullen mood.
But today, as she sat at the edge of the spring where they had wrestled for their lives, it wasn't in her mind, but in the spring that she saw his figure manifest itself.
"Really? Am I now starting to hallucinate?"
She wondered with a frown.
"Not quite. But then again, I suppose I am the physical manifestation of all female fantasies."
A smug voice came from her back.
She spun, and her eyes widened to the sight of Konrad who looked at her with his usual mischievous grin.
"Don't flatter yourself. Beside Daphne, no one fantasies about you."
She retorted. Daphne had not wasted any time to corrupt her ears with Konrad's "exploits." Something she most definitely didn't want to be aware of.
"Why is it that I sense the unique smell of jealousy?"
"Because you're a conceited manwhore."
"Flattery will get you everywhere."
But through that small exchange of words, her mood had already been lifted.
"Since I've nothing better to do, I might as well listen to all the nonsense you have to say…"
From her tone, it looked like she was doing him a mighty favor. But Konrad was well aware that should he now turn heels, the quality of her day would only worsen.
He sat by her side, and for the next hour, brightened her mood through stories and pleasantries.
They were now lying on the ground by each other's side, and unbeknown to her, Iliana's head was getting increasingly closer to his.
"Do you want to leave the palace?"
"Of course I do. But that's impossible."
She replied to his inquiry.
"That might not be true. If you want to leave, it's not difficult. Kiss me, and in a week when I'm ready to leave, I will come to fetch you."
Iliana turned toward him with incredulous eyes.
"You want to flee the palace?"
"Flee is such a terrible word. I'd rather say I want to go sightseeing."
And hearing the confirmation from his lips, concern replaced Iliana's initial shock.
"Don't be rash. If escaping the palace was that simple; many would not have died trying to do so."
Not everyone was willing to spend a lifetime within the confines of the imperial palace, and many had died trying to escape it.
"I will naturally not do something I'm not certain of. If I say we're ready to leave, then we are ready."
While his confidence had alleviated some of her fears, Iliana still wasn't convinced.
"If you can really pull it off. No need to say one. I can give you a thousand kisses."
"You got yourself a deal! See you in a week."
With that said, he stood up.
"Leaving so soon?"
Iliana blurted out, then realized she had betrayed herself.
"Oh? Is that longing I feel?"
But as she turned her gaze away from his, he planted a soft kiss on the right corner of her lips, then vanished in a haze of light.
She cursed with her cheeks flushed red.
Following that little escapade, Konrad returned to his assigned kitchen duties and handled both his work and his errand boys' to avoid raising too many questions. But while he prepared the last radishes, a trio of eunuchs walked into the small kitchen.
From their attire, it was clear they were head eunuchs.
"Are you the low-ranked eunuch Konrad?"
Asked the one at their helm.
"I am indeed. What can I do for you?"
"The Holy Empress summons you!"
The radishes he held within his hands dropped onto the ground while his black eyes widened and droplets of sweat formed on his forehead.
"Are you sure there isn't another Konrad?"