Winged serpents and paragon spirits had been at odds for more than a hundred thousand years. Although the winged serpents had been feigning submission for the last thousands of years, the von Jurgen firmly believed they were just biding their time. Therefore, they would suppress them at any given opportunity.
Elmar's position as crown prince wasn't always as secure as it was now. He was the first of eight sons, the strongest and most outstanding in cultivation talent. However, he wasn't always the craftiest.
The best at scheming, his second brother used to cause him a lot of trouble and almost led their father into deposing him. Back then, he'd genuinely fallen for Emilia. However, when the second prince got wind of it, he stealthily informed their father, the holy emperor.
He flew into rage and left Elmar with only two choices. Either using the situation to his advantage to deal severe blows to the winged serpents or abandon his title of crown prince.
Elmar chose the crown prince title.
"You are a fool. I could legitimately kill you, and none would blame me for it.
However, for the sake of your sister, I will spare your life this once. In return, you must never leave the confines of house Slesinger in a lifetime.
If you do, your life ends."
Elmar then vanished as silently as he'd appeared.
"A sentimental crown prince? Unexpected. However, I can use that to my advantage."
Knowing that Elmar meant to dispose of him after the competition, Konrad couldn't sit like livestock awaiting death. The original plan was to disappear and return to the palace after the competition with his eunuch status and the empress' token. However, now that he'd entered Elmar's radar, more caution proved necessary.
Another problem was how to defeat Holger. In the wilds, with Man-Breaker in hands, he obviously didn't fear him. In the competition, however, it was a whole other matter.
In his True-Spirit Form, Holger was almost invincible beneath the Transcendent Rank. To defeat him, Konrad would either need to master the powers of his physiques, increase his cultivation, or learn a fourth circle spell.
The last option, he could do with the system. However, this was bound to raise questions he didn't wish to answer.
Fourth circle spells and above were all controlled by the Holy Flame Church. Besides the sovereign prince houses and the imperial family, none could access them without submitting to the church.
Even the dukes were no exception. How then could he explain his ownership of one of them?
However, as he pondered his options, a knocking sound came from his doorstep.
Iliana and Daphne were currently resting by his sides. Unwilling to disturb them, he silently snuck out of bed, got dressed in a large blue robe open at the chest, and stepped toward the door. At the same time, he activated his Origin Sight to see who he owed the visit to.
What he saw caused puzzlement to flash within his eyes.
Pulling the handle, Konrad stepped outside and closed the door behind him.
There, two palace ladies were waiting for him.
"What are you doing here? And what do you want with me?"
The palace ladies looked at him with a smile, and each pulled out a box they extended toward him.
"Congratulations, her majesty, the holy empress is offering you a treasure. With it, victory is yours."
"Congratulations, her grace, the holy consort is offering you a treasure. With it, victory is yours."
"However, you can only pick one of the two."
Konrad who hadn't anticipated such development stared flabbergasted at the two.
Meanwhile, within the imperial palace, Verena and Else were meeting for their weekly chess match.
"Which one do you think he will pick?"
Verena asked while moving her chess piece.
"Yours is too eye-catching. There is also no certainty he can use it. He should pick mine or none at all."
"I tend to think yours is the most eye-catching."
Regaining his wits, Konrad lowered his gaze to the two boxes presented to him and opened their lids.
Within the holy consort's box, he saw a golden pill rippling with terrifying force, while within the holy empress' box was an ordinary looking dark-blue scroll.
Using his Origin Sight, he analyzed the nature of the two items.
"Low-grade Fourth Circle Spell: Lesser Storm Elemental."
Two bombs had just landed into his hands. A rare item, Saint-Origin Pills contained the essence of deceased Saints and were naturally condensed upon their death.
Swallowing it, he could bring his physiques to higher levels even without the help of the system. It would also be of great use when he reached the Transcendent Rank and needed to unlock his meridians.
Better, it also granted him a chance to unlock a special physique linked to the deceased Saint's constitution. However, for a few days after swallowing it, holy essence would swirl around him like a beacon.
As for the fourth circle spell, due to its storm element, even among low-grade fourth circle spells, it was extremely powerful and could contend with most mid-grade fourth circle spells.
The problem was that in the Holy Flame Empire, only two houses had access to that spell.
House von Jurgen and house Kvass. Outsiders were never allowed a glance. The implications made it arguably worse than the Saint-Origin Pill. How were these gifts? Obviously, they'd sent time-ticking bombs to his doorsteps!
"You can thank her majesty and her grace on my behalf. However, those gifts are too heavy, and I dare not accept them."
He then turned heels and was about to leave when Else's representant's voice echoed.
"Her grace wanted me to tell you that there will be at least one Saint present during the next round. Your disguise cannot fool him. However, the protection of the holy essence left by the Saint-Origin Pill can help you pass that hurdle."
Konrad hesitated. With his current bloodline level, he could indeed not deceive Saints. Only by reaching the next stage could he fool them.
That Saint-Origin Pill clearly was the most sensible choice. However, his debts toward the holy consorts were pilling up, and soon, he wouldn't be able to pay his due.
More importantly, her motives and the nature of her relationship with the previous Konrad remained unknown. At this point, getting too close to her was unwise.
"Tell her grace that her concern is appreciated but unnecessary. If I cannot win depending on my own strength, then I can only blame my uselessness."
He declared, walked back into his chambers, and shut the door into their face.
Knowing that they'd failed their mission, the maids sighed, turned heels and left. Thankfully they would both return without success.
As soon as he locked the door, Konrad stepped into his new space treasure where he'd been hiding the demonic beasts. The system's voice then echoed within his head.
"Are you going to do it now?"
"Yes. I wanted to wait and make further plans first, but I suppose there is no other way for me to win and evade scrutiny.
Exchange 2,500,000 exp to promote me from Pureblooded Incubus to Dream-Weaver!"
"As you wish!"