So fast? How was that possible?
Konrad was not just taken aback by the head eunuchs' sudden words. He was horrified. The timing was too perfect for this to be a coincidence and made him reminisce how his predecessor had been sent to his maker.
"You know, I'm sure there must be a misunderstanding. With such a vast inner court, an innumerable amount of Konrads must exist. Surely, you've mistaken me for another one but fret not, I won't take offense."
"By the way, Konrad is not even my first name. It's just a nickname used by the buddies. My real name is…Darnok. Yes…Darnok."
"Have a good day."
He politely replied while picking up his radishes. For the first time in his life, he clung onto legumes with greater passion that he would a woman!
The head eunuchs exchanged confused glances. Why was that boy having such a strange reaction? Could it be that they'd really gotten the wrong person?
They had especially been instructed to come to this place, and his face perfectly fit the "Konrad's" description.
"Are you challenging the Holy Empress' verbal decree?"
The most senior of the three asked in a threatening tone.
"How could I dare, but I'm only a small fry within a sea of giants. I have no connections and only tend to legumes and cooking within this small kitchen. How could the empress have ever heard my name? To say nothing of my name, how could she be aware of my existence? That's why I say you must have found the wrong person."
"My life is not important, but if you accidentally offend the Empress…the consequences..."
His voice trailed with a long, sorrowful sigh that caused the trio to question the accuracy of their information. His words were logical. Only one with significant background could enter the empress' sight. Who was he to receive the honor of being summoned by her majesty? It made absolutely no sense.
For an instant, they didn't know what to do.
"Should we first go back to verify the information?"
"Go back empty-handed? How are we to explain the failure of such a simple task?"
"If we have to fail the task, at least let's have something to show. Also, that boy looks fishy."
"Yeah, Darnok? Isn't that Konrad in reverse? Does he really think we were born yesterday?"
"Sons of bitches! Was it not for me not wanting to risk getting ahead of myself, I would have already slapped you to death!
Konrad silently cursed while being dragged toward the empress' palace. And following a series of teleportation circles, he was brought to the entrance of a massive residence that stretched across two hectares with tall supporting pillars evoking ancient Greek architecture.
Without ceremony, the eunuchs pulled him inside and brought him over to two personal attendants that awaited their return.
During all this time, Konrad adopted the meek and submissive attitude befitting a low-ranked eunuch while silently cursing all the ancestors of his "guides."
Soon, they reached a white marble door in front of which the two attendants stopped.
"Your majesty, the eunuch has been brought over."
In a creak, the door opened, and the two attendants led Konrad inside a brightly lit room where thirteen other attendants played card games alongside a silver-haired woman whose eyes had yet to meet Konrad's.
"You can all leave."
She declared and instantly, the attendants by her sides as well as the two that brought Konrad over, all exited the room.
The woman then rose to her feet, but Konrad who kept his eyes locked onto the ground below couldn't appreciate her beauty.
"Why the sudden display of bashfulness? As I recall, when you shattered Wenzel's "jewels," you didn't have such reservations."
"End! My life ends!"
But then Konrad recalled the blurry sight of the woman that saved his and Jasmine's lives and vainly hoped that the one standing in front of him was his mysterious savior.
"Hum, hum. Your Majesty must be jesting. How does a little servant like me dare harm the belongings of the sixth prince? I do not have that courage."
Even at the pillory, he would not admit to it! But his words caused a light chuckle to escape Verena's lips.
"Look at me."
Konrad's gaze rose and fell upon a sight that forced him to stare dazed for a few seconds. In terms of beauty, beside that mysterious, blurry figure, the woman in front of him effortlessly eclipsed all those he had ever met. But that beauty didn't just come from her natural charms.
It came from her unfathomable cultivation that caused every strand of her body to ripple with subverting force. And although she spoke gently, the irresistible might of a ruler surrounded her ever words.
"Stand straight. I want to take a good look at you."
Driven by her irresistible voice, Konrad let go of the submissive display and stood at full height.
Verena's hands were clasped beneath her back as she walked circles around him with nods of approval.
"Not bad. Seventeen years old, fifth step Grand Knight, eighth step True Priest. Sky-high innate strength, speed, and resilience. I can even see a perfect dual cultivation physique."
He was like an open book for her to browse through. Nothing could escape her gaze.
The situation was terrible.
"I can see why Else is so fond of you. You can be trained into a true powerhouse."
The Holy Consort was fond of him?
Verena stepped away from Konrad and sat in the middle of a blue velvet armchair with her mesmerizing legs crossed and her right cheek resting on her fist causing her curly silver hairs to cascade on the right.
But with those words, Konrad realized she couldn't see through his bloodline.
"It's rare for such an outstanding human being to exist outside of the Barbarian Continent. Where are you from?"
Her following words confirmed it. But although Konrad's apprehension had drastically shrunken, his vigilance remained intact.
"I was born and raised in this Holy Flame City. Your majesty can easily verify this by checking the records of the eunuchs."
"I've already done that, but I don't believe it. You entered this palace as an ordinary eunuch boy without any cultivation and in a matter of a few months, your cultivation skyrockets to the current level?"
"Not possible. You either deceived your examiners or someone helped you deceive them."
"Or perhaps, I'm looking at this the wrong way, and you're a completely different person from the one that entered the palace?"
Konrad fought hard to control his heart rate and prevent body movement from betraying him.
"Your majesty is jesting. The imperial palace is a well-known place of opportunity. There is no rule stipulating that those of high cultivation cannot enter as eunuchs. I merely believed I could build myself a grand career within these walls and concealed my cultivation from my examiners to avoid trouble. It's not like they had the means to see through it."
"No need to justify yourself. I do not care about your identity. About your origins and connections to the outside world. I do not care about Wenzel. None of these are the reason for your presence here."
"I want you to serve me. To abandon all allegiances, you might have to anything or anyone else, and serve me wholeheartedly. Become my pawn if I want you to, and my knight if I so command you. Agree, and I guarantee that within five years, I can make you a Semi-Saint."
"And before you turn thirty, I will help you achieve sanctification."
Verena offered with her silver eyes locked on Konrad and observing his every move.
Odd. Why was there no fluctuation within his mood?
"I respectfully decline!"
His explicit rejection caused her to stare blankly for a few seconds.
"Did you not hear what I said?"
"I heard. And I respectfully decline!"
His words intensified Verena's suspicions.
"Did you not say you wanted to build yourself a career? A once in a lifetime opportunity now stands in front of you. Why do you reject it?"
"My apologies your majesty, but I'm only a small fry. I have no intention of becoming a pawn in the inner court's political intrigues. Please forgive me!"
What a joke! Wanting to turn me into a tool for your political warfare? Are you out of your mind?
I am always the one to play women. When was it time for the roles to be reversed?
Wanting to bait me with the hope of sanctification? In your dreams! I, your father, will become a god!
Who cares about sanctification?