Yvonne waved her hand, summoning a one-meter long broadsword which she extended toward Konrad. Lifting it by the flat of the blade, Konrad appraised it for a moment before grabbing its jade handle and giving it a few swings.
"A low-grade Holy Artifact."
"At the moment, this should be your limit. A higher grade and you most likely won't be able to exert one percent of its power. Alas, I don't have a hammer to offer you."
Konrad's cultivation was just reaching the middle-stages of the Transcendent Rank. He could indeed not wield mightier holy artifacts at his current level.
"Hey, how can you be so cheap? I heard the Tower of Rebirth hides God-Artifacts. Say, you wouldn't be concealing one from me, right?"
Yvonne rolled her eyes, knowing Konrad merely jested.
"There was no artifact on the Infernal Cult Founder's body. If he truly possessed a God-Artifact, then it's buried elsewhere.
That or someone grabbed it already. Though, I highly doubt that."
Someone capable of plundering the Infernal Founder's remains should have also obtained a large quantity of Divine Ascension Sage blood. Such a person would have surely become a world hegemon dominating the two continents.
To this day, no one matched such accomplishments.
"Since this is my head consort's gift, I will naturally accept it."
Konrad hid the sword in his space pouch and readied himself to take his leave.
Yvonne then wrote a letter, sealed it with her noble imperial consort token, and handed it over to Konrad.
"For the empress to believe in your success."
Konrad directly pocketed the letter, not bothering checking its content for he knew that whatever Yvonne wrote should be enough for Verena to believe him.
He held that much faith in her. As for Yvonne, she appreciated the gesture.
"I will miss you."
They said in tandem before Konrad activated his Invisibility Skill and left for Verena's quarters. He, of course, didn't intend to reveal all he'd done during his time with Yvonne. A mixture of truth and falsehood should be enough to satisfy Verena's appetite. In any case, it was time to seize the empress.
Once he stood far from Yvonne's quarters, Konrad dispelled the invisibility, then used the inner court's teleportation circles to reach the empress' palace in the shortest of times.
Having received orders to not block his path, the eunuch guards let him in and led by maids, he soon reached Verena's chambers.
Verena's voice came from behind the door, and alone, Konrad stepped in.
As per usual, she lied within her sofa, but when Konrad walked in, she shifted into a seated position with her legs crossed and her silver eyes eying him from head to toe.
"Seems like you've been doing well for yourself?"
"Isn't your majesty wondering how I'm still alive?"
News that Olrich burned all of Yvonne's eunuchs to ashes had already spread within the palace. That being the case, it stood to reason that Verena should have considered him dead.
However, her lips curled into a smile.
"Considering how much attention Else pays you, your relationship can't be simple. If you were truly dead, how could she sit still? Perhaps she would have already dropped all pretense to attack Olrich.
Since Else is not worried. Why should I be?"
Konrad had forgotten that detail.
"Moreover, I know Yvonne has twenty-five eunuchs. But only twenty-four were reported dead. Where could the last one possibly be?"
Originally, Yvonne only had twenty-four eunuchs. The twenty-fifth was naturally Konrad.
"Your majesty makes sense."
"Since you've returned, I assume the task is complete?"
"Congratulations, your majesty. From now on, Yvonne Voight will have nothing to do with the holy consort."
Konrad bowed and presented Yvonne's letter to Verena.
Reading it, her face brightened. In that letter, Yvonne claimed that as long as Verena took good care of Konrad, from now on, she would have her full support.
"How did you do it?"
Verena didn't believe Konrad could seduce someone like Yvonne, only hoping that he could slowly gain her trust to sow dissension between Else and her. However, the letter clearly showed he'd earned her absolute favor. She couldn't help but wonder how.
"I withstood one hundred of her moves at the same level."
Verena's eyes widened in shock.
Regardless of how talented, Verena didn't put Konrad on Yvonne's level. It wasn't that she looked down on him, but many hegemons of this era had miserably failed in that task.
To say nothing of others. Just knowing that the Celestial Church's Prime Disciple couldn't do it, was enough to prove how impossible a task it was. What secret skill did Konrad possess that he could succeed where all others failed?
"It seems like I underestimated you."
Still, Verena didn't lose sight of her priorities. Since Konrad managed to get that close to Yvonne and evade Olrich's palm, perhaps he also found out the secret.
"Did she give you any pertinent information regarding the emperor?"
Now it was Konrad's turn to be baffled. Never did he expect Verena to directly ask such a question.
"Don't look at me like that. Since you've survived that disaster, you must now know Olrich's true nature. Although such behavior only shows up when Yvonne is concerned, it is still there. The man even killed his son. How could I not be afraid for my life?
To tell you the truth, a decade after I married him, I discovered that Olrich smuggled dozens of newborns into the palace. They all vanished within his quarters, never to resurface.
What he did with them, I do not know, but since then, I spied on the smuggling process from the shadows. He was very cautious, only doing it once a year, and targeting the lowest echelon of society.
But several decades afterward, his cultivation skyrocketed, reaching the Holy Rank. Therefore, it is not hard to guess that he must have used them in some forbidden art to achieve sainthood."
Verena explained. This whole newborn refining thing was the main reason why she didn't dare bear Olrich children, dreading what he might one day do with them.
"Your majesty is correct. According to the noble consort, the emperor refined the souls of one thousand newborns to establish his holy foundation."
Although she'd already guessed the truth, thinking of the one thousand wailing infant souls, Verena still shivered. However, she quickly recomposed herself.
"What or who's next?"
"The loved ones."
Verena trembled while her eyes widened in disbelief.
"All of us?"
"From mother to children, from friend to lover.
All of you. No exception."
Seeing all her fears realized, Verena felt a crushing weight drop on her shoulders. The realization that centuries of care were nothing more than means to "fatten" her for the execution block struck her hard.
But soon afterward, determination shone within her eyes.
"That being the case, I cannot just wait for death. Before he kills me, I must kill him!"
Verena exclaimed while clenching her thigh.
Konrad found that reaction particularly satisfying and nodded in approval.
"What is your majesty's plan?"
Verena breathed in and out, cooling her emotions.
"The simplest method is to warn the Dowager. Alas, he's her last child in this world. I don't doubt that the worst she'll do is cripple him.
With such a fiend, we can't afford to leave room for comebacks. Crippling is far from enough. He must die, period.
Therefore, we'll have to do this ourselves. Thankfully, there is support. I suspect Else is also aware of the truth and making her own preparations. I tested the waters on several occasions, and each time I mention the possibility of Olrich using a forbidden art, she never shows surprise.
With her help and the support of our fathers, murdering one Olrich is not that difficult. We just need to create an opportunity to do it without raising alarm. We can't afford to have the world know it was done by us.
This will need further preparations."
Hearing Verena's explanation, Konrad frowned.
"Why not tip the head exarch? With such information, he would never hesitate to put Olrich to death."
However, seeing Verena's reaction, Konrad realized the issue within his words.
"Are you out of your mind? That art is most likely of demonic origin. The sentence for demonism is always family extermination. There is no exception.
If the church learns of this, Olrich certainly dies, but all of us follow him to the grave!"
Ah, he'd almost forgotten about that detail…