Iliana yelled as Wolfgang's body crashed into concrete. Alarmed, she rushed toward him, but by the time she reached his side, he was already standing up.
Unlike Konrad, however, besides dust and a trembling fist, there was no visible damage on his body.
"Good. Very Good. You are by far more outstanding than I believed. With such battle power and cultivation talent, you are bound to become a mighty saint in the future. Entrusting my daughter to you, I have no worries."
But although he let nothing transpire on his jubilant face, Wolfgang was horrified. In the ways of the Holy Flame Empire, he was of the previous generation. In that time, his bloodline and physique ranked among the best within the entire country, and only a rare few such as the crown prince could surpass him.
Never did he expect that in a contest of ten blows, he would be sent flying with a single one! And while he didn't sustain as much physical damage as Konrad, that was because his true cultivation was leagues above his. Was he truly at the same level, his current state would have been…unimaginable.
As for Iliana, only now did she realize how much she'd underestimated Konrad's true might.
Odd, she could swear he didn't possess such a tyrannical physique when they were first attacked!
"Is demonism that powerful?"
She wondered while her father straightened himself.
Konrad, on the other hand, didn't feel like there was anything wrong with this. He was piling up bonuses upon bonuses with his bloodline, physique, and cultivation method. A different result would have been odd.
"Let's return to the mansion, a feast awaits!"
Wolfgang gave none of them time to complain, warped them in golden light and flew back toward the Kracht mansion.
With a Semi-Saint leading the way, the trip would only take a few seconds. They bypassed the gates and landed at the doorsteps of the main hall.
Unceremoniously, Wolfgang opened it, bringing the two inside the hall lit by artificial white light orbs that hanged below the high ceiling and on ivory pedestals.
As soon as they stepped past the door, Iliana and Konrad were greeted by a procession of aligned butlers and maids forming two perfect lines on the right and left while in the distance, a small group of individuals whose body features reminisced of the usual Kracht's stood with radiant smiles.
Leading them was a beautiful woman with auburn hairs held in a high chignon, and a pair of eyes that would seem identical to Iliana's was it not for hers being the normal circular pupil of the human race.
She was Iliana's mother, Zamira.
"Iliana, welcome back!"
"Young lady, welcome back!"
Led by her mother, the relatives and servants warmly welcomed her, and their voices caused her eyes to once again be overrun by warm tears.
And without restraint, she ran into her mother's grasp. The painful decade of isolation had finally come to an end.
She was home!
"It's alright. Now everything is going to be alright."
As for Konrad who witnessed the scene, he, of course, had nothing to say.
A moment afterward, Zamira's eyes rose from Iliana and locked onto him, at first taking him for Iliana's escort, then reckoning that knowing her husband, the escort would not have been able to go beyond the main gate on this particular occasion.
"Who might that young man be?"
Although he was dressed in eunuch clothes, she didn't wish to strike at his dignity by reminding him of that.
But Wolfgang's immediate reply caused her and the entire hall to fall silent.
"Your future son-in-law!"
The procession was quickly reduced to a scant few close relatives that alongside the main protagonists entered the dining hall.
At the firm insistence of her father, Iliana was given the honor seat. A position that allowed her to keep all the gathered individuals within her eyesight.
What no one had expected was that Wolfgang also arranged a seat for Konrad to stay by her side.
The servants were quick to serve the wine, and Wolfgang to raise his cup for a toast.
"To the return of my beloved daughter and the arrival of her betrothed!"
But the relatives who still were digesting the news could not reply struggled to give a prompt reply.
"Dad, please stop!"
Iliana interjected, not knowing where to put her face.
"Stop what? I didn't hear you reject the gambling match. In fact, you seemed to be more concerned about his safety than mine?"
"Ahh, the sorrow of raising a daughter!"
Wolfgang's words only caused more confusion within the gathered relatives, with Zamira not being able to keep her mouth shut any longer.
"Could you explain the situation?"
She asked with apparent confusion.
"That is simple. Your good daughter came back with Konrad who presented himself as our son-in-law, which she didn't deny. I have tested the goods, and it is fine material. The next generation of house Kracht should be outstanding!"
Even at the pillory, he wouldn't admit that he had been sent flying with one fist at the same cultivation level.
But his words caused Konrad to spit the wine he was leisurely sipping and the gathered individuals to show strange expressions.
You have tested the goods?
What do you mean by that?
But no one dared call him out. Instead, they let their odd stares do the talking.
And quickly, Wolfgang realized the error.
"Hum, hum! I mean to say that I've tested his cultivation. Truly outstanding. He should not be older than seventeen but has already reached the fifth step Grand Knight Rank. His foundation is also rock solid and can certainly compete with the ninth prince."
The ninth prince was the youngest of the imperial princes and the most talented after the crown prince. He was eighteen years old, and his cultivation had already reached the ninth step Grand Knight Rank and was rumored to be very close to the Arch Knight Rank.
But although they all knew Wolfgang wasn't a man to speak lies, they had a hard time believing that out of nowhere appeared a man capable of rivaling with the second most outstanding imperial prince.
Zamira, however, cared very little about any of that. Her eyes moved between Iliana who fidgeted within her chair and took furtive glances at a Konrad who nonchalantly held the empty wine glass within his hand.
"Why do I have a feeling that my daughter is being sent into a lion's den? Or is it a wolf's? Also, why is it that Wolfgang so readily agrees? This is fishy…"
But as she looked at Konrad, his eyes suddenly rose to meet hers, and he greeted her with a radiant smile that seemed to be saying.
Zamira came from the barbarian continent. Her temper was wild and unrestrained. If something annoyed her, she would punch it. And Konrad's face gave her punching urges.
Tolerance! She had to be tolerant.
"Very well, arranging the daughter's marriage is the father's duty. I have nothing to say. However, I have two questions."
"First, how is a eunuch fitting to wed…anyone."
"Second, did he prepare the dower?"
Those two questions brought everyone back to seriousness. Regardless of Konard's status within the inner court, he came out with the clothes of a eunuch. That being the case, how could he turn into house Kracht's son-in-law.
But to this, Konrad was prepared.
"My real status is kept secret by the Holy Empress and will be revealed in a year. By that time, there will be no issue in marrying Iliana."
Using the empress as his backer, he suppressed the apprehension within those people's hearts.
But Zamira wasn't done with him.
"Very well. The marriage is delayed for a year. Now let's discuss the dower. Can you afford a count's daughter?"
Before marriage with nobility could take place, unless something else were agreed, an exchange of gifts should take place.
The future husband would provide a dower, and the lady's family the dowry. The dower was a constitution of assets granted to the lady by her husband upon marriage. Assets that would remain under her name and could be used for her to live comfortably should anything befall him.
In a nutshell, it was security.
But for Konrad whose entire wealth was composed of two purple crystals and six hundred red crystals, he couldn't afford that security.
At least not until Freya returned in success.
Iliana didn't want such things to tamper with their relationship, so she was about to speak up when Konrad's voice echoed.
"How much would the dower be?"
"A fair price would not be less than five million purple crystals."
*Cough* *Cough* *Cough*
Konrad's body was thrown off balance, and he almost fell from his chair. Robbery, this was robbery!
But seeing no one, Wolfgang included, bat an eyelid, he realized the crux of the issue. Iliana was now the heir to house Kracht's estates. Whoever married her would one day control a substantial share of the entire Kracht's wealth.
Thus, how could her dower be cheap?
"You will receive it in a week."
His words caused all the Kracht to stare at him with wide eyes. Could he really put out such a sum?
However, Wolfgang had something else in mind.
"Actually, I do not want a dower from you. My daughter will never need to rely on it. There is, however, something she needs. Something you can obtain for her that is worth more than a billion purple crystals."
"But know that there is substantial danger involved. Danger because you stand to offend many powerful parties."
All eyes instantly fell on Wolfgang.
"What would that be?"
Konrad asked without blinking.
"This year's quota for a Holy Flame Baptism. If you can obtain it, we can sign the contract right away. I can even ensure half of my family's estates will directly fall within your hands."
Konrad was astonished. House Kracht was leagues above the likes of house Schoner, and their net worth was absolutely close to a billion purple crystals. Half of it was a monstrous wealth.
What kind of benefit could that Holy Flame Baptism bring that Wolfgang would be willing to give up half his house for it?
"You may not know this, but children of nobility receive flame baptisms from the church. The higher the father's nobility rank, the more quotas they can obtain. Those flame baptisms enhance spiritual energy, physique quality, and cultivation talent.
As the daughter of a count, Iliana should have been eligible for four flame baptisms. But due to her previous status, that was impossible.
Now, although she's perfectly eligible, she's past the age limit."
One quota could be used every three years up until the age of twenty.
"However, that is inconsequential. If you can obtain that one Holy Flame Baptism, her cultivation and talent will skyrocket. The opportunity comes only once in a hundred years. And the date is approaching. Many outstanding children of high nobility will fight for that quota. And it's not impossible that imperial descendants will be present.
Therefore, if you choose to fight for it, you will definitely offend many people.
What is your choice?"
With the Transformation Skill to hide his true identity, Konrad wasn't afraid of smacking some pompous nobles. And if they annoyed him, he would just take the opportunity to snatch their women and expand his harem!
Maybe even if they didn't, he would still snatch them!