Even if Konrad didn't know the origin of the beverage, its effect alone was enough for him to realize that it carried extraordinary secrets. That Yvonne was willing to offer it to him showed that she'd let her guard down.
"Yvonne, since you're this straightforward, I won't be polite."
Konrad took the liquor bottle back into his hands to resume drinking alongside his new partner.
This time, knowing what he was dealing with, he steeled himself. Channeling his cultivation to refine the beverage as it slid down his throat. And indeed, he could feel the iron taste of blood concealed within. Blood that carried alongside it tremendous power, and could shred the bodies of those too feeble to endure it.
The blood of a high-level Sage!
Recalling the Flame-Mark's words, Konrad deduced that this blood belonged to the Infernal Cult Founder.
One of the few true demons to have descended onto the Ancient Crystal World.
And as he refined it, his cultivation skyrocketed. Like cabbage, Supreme Meridians upon Supreme Meridians condensed within his body. And by the time he emptied the bottle, five new meridians had formed within him, giving him a total of three God Meridians and eight Supreme Meridians.
However, although there still was substantial power within him, he couldn't condense the twelfth. It was as if some superior force barred him from that threshold, suppressing him at the eleven count.
But how could Konrad willingly accept such a fate? How dared anything bar his road to supremacy? He couldn't tolerate, and wouldn't allow it!
Revolving his Hundred Flowers Scripture, his eyes shone with purple light while similarly colored mist swirled around his form.
The scenery around him changed, turning into a vast wasteland where fire and brimstone ran amok.
Konrad's eyes rose to the sky, and there, the shadow of an indiscernible face appeared. Though no cultivation emanated from it, its presence alone was enough to make him feel like a tiny, not worth mentioning ant.
He despised that feeling, but the irresistible suppression came from his very bloodline. He couldn't fight it.
"Who are you?"
He asked the indiscernible figure whose pressure weighed down on him.
"I am the Overlord, the ruler of the Infernal Realm, sovereign of all demons within the multiverse.
A hoarse, authoritative and booming voice echoed within Konrad's ears, piercing his eardrums.
From the Flame-Mark and system, Konrad learned that four kings ruled the Infernal Realm. Each, governing his own Domain.
Dolgron, the northern king of hell.
Talroth, the southern king.
Ashara, the eastern king.
And finally, Urzul, the western king.
On the surface, those four kings were independent and in times of peace with the Celestial Realm, they fought for dominion, ruling their realms as they pleased without having to answer to anyone. However, in truth, they did answer to someone:
The Overlord had no name, his house known as the Overlord's house, and his power infinite. Although he didn't interfere in the political clashes of the Infernal Realm, his absolute domination of hell's lives was unquestionable.
But now, that Overlord stood before Konrad, and he couldn't understand why.
"Twelve is perfection, perfection is forbidden. If you insist on congealing the twelfth meridian, you must cross my tribulation.
Even a son of Talroth is no exception."
Konrad's heart was full of discomfort. It was as if the Overlord saw right through him, preventing any trickery from his side while effortlessly peering into his secrets.
"But if you choose to back off, I will let you return to your world and carry on with your life. Henceforth, within each Transcendent level, you won't be able to condense more than eleven meridians. What is your choice?"
The Transcendent Rank was the realm of transformations. The foundation of all future achievements. If Konrad missed a step, never would he be able to make up for it. On the road to supremacy, such a flaw was intolerable!
Therefore, he had no hesitation.
"Bring it on!"
Instantaneously, horrible black flames descended from the wasteland's sky, earth, and every corner to shoot toward Konrad!
Meanwhile, within the Infernal Realm's southern domain, a 1.9 meters tall man whose features were eighty percent similar to Konrad's sat on an amethyst throne with several succubi kneeling by his side.
That man was the southern king of hell, Talroth. And at the moment, he peered into a mirror-like image, observing Konrad's every deed.
"Your majesty, the Overlord's trials are nigh impossible to cross. Besides, the Infernal Kings and a scant few chosen, no one ever managed to surpass them.
That boy was born in a mortal world and never experienced any of our house's training or baptisms. Are you willing to let your youngest perish in such a way?"
Asked one of the succubi by Talroth's side.
Only top infernal talents were qualified to face the Overlord's Trials. Yet, among those that dared face them, ninety-nine out of a hundred would lose their lives. Having observed Konrad's progress until now, Talroth was truly unwilling to let that diamond in the rough perish under such circumstances.
"How could that be? Getting such a son wasn't easy. How could I let him lose his life in such a vain manner?"
Talroth had nine children, six born of willfulness, and three from contracts. For those last three, he had taken great cares and held profound expectations. And at the moment, Konrad was the one that showed the most promise.
Who dared harm him?!
Talroth stood up, stepping into the mirror, and crossing the multiverse to appear within Konrad's tribulation world.
When his shadow appeared within the wasteland world, Konrad's eyes rose to meet him. However, he could only see his back.
A tall, mighty back capable of shouldering all the woes in this world!
The Overlord's indiscernible face showed no surprise. However, though still calm, its voice was full of gravity.
"Talroth, do you dare interfere in my trials?"
The Overlord's voice boomed within the wasteland. Still, Talorth remained undisturbed.
"Overlord, besides lust, nepotism is what I'm best known for. Since my boy managed to reach this step, isn't it my duty to ease him onto the path of success?"
"If I cannot even do this, how am I worthy of being the Southern King of Hell?!"
Talroth spread his arms, causing dark-purple light to erupt from his body and collide with the incoming black flames in a titanic boom!
But even as his dark-purple light confronted the bulk of the Overlord's black flames, a few managed to spread toward Konrad, infiltrating his body.
Konrad howled, wrestling against the most horrendous pain he'd ever grappled with in his life.
But with Talroth suppressing most of it, it didn't take long before he overpowered its onslaught and overcame the tribulation, causing his twelfth meridian to morph within his body, and shocking power to erupt from his form.
Meanwhile, in the outside world, Yvonne had long since dropped her liquor jug, ready to stop Konrad's endeavor at all times. But as she eyed his body's changes, god-level force erupted from each of his pores, spreading throughout the room, and effortlessly suppressing even her.
"Could it be…that he succeeded?"
But while assumptions ran rampant within her mind, Yvonne could also fell that the God-level force erupting from Konrad seemed to stem from some distant power.
Was he truly...the son of a god?