"Who are you?"
Koloman replied without a shred of hesitation.
"Good. You didn't necessarily have the wrong idea. It's time for you to leave. However, if I'm not mistaken, the crown prince will pay you a visit before you can do so.
Either he wishes to keep your feud quiet, or he has some misgivings about killing you. Let's test the waters. Pack your things and leave. When he intercepts you, act like you always did. If he tries to kill you, I will summon you by my side and hide you within my space treasure for a few days.
If he doesn't, I will use the opportunity to get a better understanding of that new opponent of mine."
After laying down the directives, Konrad left, heading toward his own quarters.
The wing reserved for house Kracht was currently full of bluster. The Kracht fillers had returned with news of Konrad seizing victory in the first round, which caused both Iliana and Daphne to beam with joy.
However, for more than an hour, Konrad was nowhere to be seen. All the contestants had already returned to their camps. Only he failed to show up. Apparently, once the priestesses came to lead them to their chambers, he silently vanished.
At first, they didn't think much of it. However, when the time count was approaching the two hours, worry started filling their minds.
"Where is that bastard?"
Iliana wondered while fidgeting with her fingers. Meanwhile, Daphne combed her hairs in front of a mirror. Seeing her dedicated hair-brushing, Iliana's nervousness worsened.
"You've been combing your hairs in front of that mirror for more than an hour. Can't you do nothing else? You're making me nervous!"
Daphne didn't spare her a glance, carrying on with her hair-brushing.
"You've been fidgeting with your fingers for more than an hour. Can't you do nothing else? You're making ME nervous!"
She retorted while keeping her eyes glued on her reflection within the mirror. Both shared the same nervousness, they just had different ways of showing it. Iliana wanted to yank those damnable hairs but restrained herself.
"Should we go look for him?"
She asked after a short sigh.
"Where would we go? It's not like he's lost right? He's probably diddling a priestess or two."
Daphne replied to reassure herself.
"Not a priestess, actually. Just another man's wife."
A brash voice echoed within their minds. Instantly, they turned to seek its source, only to see light particles bypass the walls, and dive into the room. In a twister, those light particles reformed in Konrad's shape.
He stood at the center of the chamber, with an impetuous smile plastered on his face.
The first to react, Daphne cast her comb aside and threw herself into Konrad's arms. He welcomed her, with open arms.
"Aren't you overreacting a little bit, it has not been that long. Did you really miss me that much?"
"Of course, every day not spent by your side makes me feel trapped in a bitter sea."
She flattered. Meanwhile, Iliana who never lost her priorities crossed her arms beneath her chest and daggered Konrad with her eyes.
"Others rushed back to their quarters as soon as they go the opportunity, but you…you…were actually diddling someone? Couldn't you even wait after seeing us? How can you be so heartless?"
"So, I take it you also missed me? Don't worry, she doesn't mean anything."
Iliana indexed Konrad's forehead with her trembling finger, suppressing the urge to castrate him.
"If you don't change your ways, I swear I will make you a cuckold!"
Fearless, Konrad patted Daphne's head while she rubbed her face against his chest.
"Now that I know you have the thought, the problem is easily solved. I will just take you days and nights to make sure you don't have the strength to go look elsewhere. Come, come, let's start your new regimen."
Iliana who knew the might of her beloved demon was terror-stricken.
"Wait, wait, I was just talking nonsense."
She blurted and tried to run toward the door. Unfortunately for her, she couldn't surpass Konrad in speed. He grabbed her waist with his left hand and pulled her onto his left shoulder while keeping the docile Daphne within his right.
"Licentious bastard, let go of me!"
"As a licentious bastard, I absolutely cannot let go of you. To bed, we go."
But it was to no avail, her clothes were dispatched, and Konrad made right on his promise to leave her no strength to look elsewhere.
Actually, by the time he was done with them, neither Iliana nor Daphne had the ability to stand.
News of the first round's end spread throughout the nobility circles, with the appearance of the Kracht underdog none had expected beforehand. However, not a soul believed the Kracht youth capable of defeating Holger and coming out on top. The quota already belonged to him.
Still, as per custom, many noblemen and women began making their way toward the church in anticipation for the second round. Busy with the tasks Konrad had entrusted to him, Wolfgang wasn't joining the fun. Instead, Zamira and Wulf replaced him, attending the competition in his stead.
The first day was coming to an end, and as per Konrad's orders, Koloman prepared to flee back to his house. He left behind Irmhild and the supporting members that didn't participate in the first round and made his getaway.
However, by the time he stepped out of the church's range, a towering, silver-haired figure appeared in front of him.
Naturally, it was Elmar.
Seeing the crown prince appear out of thin air, Koloman's eyes shone with a mixture of anger and fright.
"I don't know why your highness is meeting me today away from prying eyes. Have I done something to deserve your attention?"
There was defiance within Koloman's tone as if regardless of Elmar's might, he couldn't bring himself to show him deference.
Strangely, Elmar observed his face in silence with his eyes void of emotions.
That long, silent stare triggered a wave of discomfort within Koloman's heart.
"You are Emilia's little brother?"
Elmar asked, breaking the silence, and hearing that name caused Koloman's eyes to burn with anger and killing intent. Of course, this display was nothing but an act controlled by Konrad's will.
"I am indeed. Your highness really has a good memory. I didn't think that after all those years, you would still remember a small fry like me."
Emilia Slesinger was the only daughter of the Slesinger duke. She was a warm and gentle soul loved by all that made her acquaintance. She was also a mesmerizing beauty.
Unfortunately, almost forty years ago, she committed the terrible mistake of falling for the crown prince Elmar. Unbeknown to Emilia, he used her to obtain inside information on her house, steal and sabotage many of their businesses within the capital, all while keeping her under the illusion that he loved her.
He also used the information he gleaned from her to prepare the assassinations of many key members of house Slesinger.
By the time she realized what he'd been up to, it was too late. She personally witnessed her Semi-Saint uncle butchered by Elmar during a dreadful night.
The realization that she'd been stupidly contributing to her family's demise was too hard to bear.
Out of shame and grief, she committed suicide, only leaving behind an apologetic note. When they realized what had transpired, many of house Slesinger lost all affection for her and cursed her name for their losses. Her own father didn't mourn her, blaming everything on her "stupidity."
At the time, Koloman was eight. Yet, the events remained firmly engrained within his mind and fueled his hatred of the imperial family.