The stadium once more fell to silence and stupor. However, unlike with Holger's case, it wasn't due to shock. Instead, confusion was to blame. Among the thousands of spectators, less than a tenth comprehended what had just occurred.
"Interesting. Each got knocked out with a single slap. However, it was so fast that most people could only register a single sound. As for the move, it was even more challenging to follow.
That boy's speed already reaches the mid-level Transcendent Knight Rank. Among those present, only the counts, margrave and dukes can follow him effortlessly."
In the Holy Flame Empire, high-level Transcendent Rank cultivators could receive the title of counts. Low-level Semi-Saints of margrave, and high-level Semi-Saints of dukes.
As for Saints, they were eligible for the sovereign prince title. Therefore, among the nobles below, only the counts or above flawlessly witnessed Konrad's move.
Seeing his performance, Heinrich couldn't help but reevaluate him. Although he'd received news of Konrad's previous results, he didn't place many hopes on him. After all, his cultivation level was by far insufficient.
But now it seemed like he'd severely underestimated him, and that this lack of foresight was about to cost him money.
"No wonders the von Jurgen resorted to the Saint-Origin Pill. His performance must have frightened them."
Still, Heinrich wasn't optimistic. If speed was the strongest tool at Konrad's disposal, perhaps he could seize victory from Nils, but defeating Holger was impossible.
He shifted his attention to Verena and Else and saw pleasant surprise flash within their gaze. Clearly, they also didn't have a full grasp of his abilities.
Of the two, Verena's surprise was the highest. After all, she had no knowledge of Konrad's demonic lineage. The only thing she knew was that the last time she saw him, he was a mid-level Grand Knight. Now he had reached the Arch Rank in both the martial and spiritual path.
Better, his physique and battle power seemed even more outstanding. She couldn't believe that this was merely the result of hard work and suspected that some hidden expert was dedicated to training him.
Her suspicion fell on Else for an instant, but she soon rejected the thought.
"I'm curious of how much progress he actually made."
The unknown often terrified the many. Konrad received no ovation. Instead, terror-stricken eyes observed him from afar. Of course, there were a few exceptions.
"WOOOHOOO! See this? This is my daddy! My big daddy! No one can compete with him!"
Daphne yelled from her seat. Iliana threw her a disapproving glance, but for once, she said nothing. Although she didn't agree with Daphne's "unique" word choice, she was just as elated by Konrad's performance.
Of course, she also knew that the real challenge had yet to come.
Wulf who sat by Daphne's side almost spat blood, and seeing the odd gazes of the spectators in the vicinity, he didn't know where to hide his face.
"Unfilial daughter, shut up at once!"
"Good. Very good. The stronger, the better!"
Holger's heart overflowed with joy. No one could imagine that right now, the person who most desired Konrad's victory was him. The more outstanding his performance, the more relief Holger felt.
As for Nils, her eyes brimmed with fighting intent.
Held by important matters, Elmar wasn't among the spectators. However, he would appear during the next round.
"We will take a one-hour break, then carry on with the semi-finals."
The battle royal had come to an end, with only four contestants remaining. Of the four, only one had shown the full extent of his skills and clearly didn't belong to the party.
As for the rest, they still held immense hidden strength. The spectators were full of excitement, and when the semi-finals' matchup appeared, they almost leaped from their seats.
"Nils von Jurgen vs. Anselm Kracht!"
Most believed that this would be the last match with suspense, a clash that would leave profound memories within their minds. Some, however, were more skeptical.
"Who do you think will be the victor?"
"Hard to say. My money would be on the ninth prince, but that Kracht boy looks like one hell of a freak."
"Yeah, who knows what else he has up his sleeve?"
The hour passed by in a flash, it was time for the semi-finals' beginning!
"Nils von Jurgen, Anselm Kracht, on the stage!"
As the bishop's voice echoed, Konrad stood up. This time, he could no longer evade Nils' gaze. There was no point trying to do so. As the two walked toward the stage, their eyes met, and he could see the burning determination shining within hers.
Eyes interlocked, they stopped three paces away from one another. Tension was palpable between them. Tension most attributed to the upcoming clash. The most astute, however, felt something odd. As if there was old enmity among them.
Nils, especially, could hardly constrain her soaring emotions.
"You should concede."
Konrad declared. His tone calm, and indifferent.
His words, however, sparked the outrage within Nils' heart.
"Oh? And why is that?"
"Because you and I both know that you are not my match."
Although they maintained a level tone, all the spectators were cultivators and thus possessed great hearing. In particular, Transcendent Knights and above could hear everything, and they all felt Konrad was conceited.
Nils' lips curled into a smile. Yet, there was no joy on her face.
In her eyes, Konrad could only see bitterness and resentment.
"I've been thinking about what you said, and it makes a lot of sense. I was most likely being muddled.
However, the more I think of it, the more I want to beat you up. And now, I just want to beat you senseless to vent the frustration within my heart.
That's the only reason why I am here, so why would I concede?"
That straightforward reply took Konrad aback and caused the eyes of those capable of hearing to widen in astonishment. The more they looked at the stage, the more they felt like Nils was adopting the stance of the rejected young lady seeking revenge on a disloyal partner.
Was there a secret relationship between the two?
But weren't they both men? Could this be…one of those instances?
"Nils, remember that under no circumstance, you can use your True Spirit Form."
Holger reminded in a mental message. He could clearly see that Nils was taking the battle to heart and feared things getting out of hand. In her True Spirit Form, because of the otherworldly charm and dreamlike appeal she would exert on men, Nils' male disguise would collapse.
Therefore, their father, the holy emperor, had forbidden her from using it in public.
Her lack of words heightened the worry within Holger's heart.
"The first round of the semi-finals now begins!"
As soon as the bishop's voice echoed, holy quintessence erupted from Nils body alongside vast spiritual energy.
She stretched out her hands, summoning her silver and dark-blue energy swords while maintaining her eyes locked on Konrad.
"Why be so stubborn? It's not like I impregnated you and refused to take responsibility."
Nils replied by swinging her sword at Konrad's neck. He leaned back, letting the sword tip bypass him while throwing a palm strike at Nils' chest.
She met his palm with the pommel of her other sword. A wave of spiritual energy burst from the collision, causing disturbances within the wind.
Nils took several steps backward before stabilizing herself. However, Konrad remained where he initially stood without any damage.
With that single exchange, Konrad's superiority was revealed. In her human form, Nils could easily defeat an ordinary fourth step Arch Knight. However, although Konrad was a level below her, she still wasn't his match.
Was it not for the Saint-Origin Pill and her new physique, she would have suffered internal damage.
Thanks to his Origin Sight, Konrad was well-aware of Nils' new physique. Beneath the Transcendent level, she feared no blow. However, to him, that was inconsequential.
"Learn to quit when you're ahead. My next move might not be this merciful."
Alas, Konrad's words only renewed Nils' smile.
"Careful, one would think that you deeply care about my well-being. I don't think this is how you treat -mere acquaintances.-"
"Aren't you going to summon your energy weapon?"
"Good. The more you look down on me, the more opportunities I have to take you down a peg. Maybe when I leave a sword mark on your face, you'll start taking me seriously."
Although it seemed like Nils was acting on fury, her heart was devoid of wrath. If Konrad really wanted to have nothing to do with her, she would of course not bother him.
However, she firmly believed that it was out of concern that he tried to push her away. If she were right and could pull out that concern within this fight, then she would never let go of him.
If she was wrong, then as farewell, she at least she wanted a hearty sword dance. And since she couldn't contend with him in her human form, she could only go all out. Consequences be damned!
"True Spirit Form!"
Just like in the forest, vast silver light erupted from her body alongside heavy grey fog. Her long silver hairs sprang free and erratically fluttered at her back while her skin glowed like a full moon within the dark sky, and a formidable force emerged from her body.
Her natural beauty and charm skyrocketed, reaching an otherworldly level that compelled the entranced gaze of both men and women.
Her cultivation rose from the third to the fifth step Arch Knight and Priest Ranks.
Seeing this, Holger's eyes almost popped out of their sockets.
"Nils, what is wrong with you? Stop this at once!"
But it was too late, seeing the mesmerizing war goddess hovering on the stage with a pair of swords in hands, no one had any doubt regarding her gender.
In the Saint's booth, Heinrich beamed with joy as if a long-lost gem had finally appeared before him. Meanwhile, Verena deeply frowned.
Nils paid no attention to the commotion she'd triggered and shot toward Konrad.