"I don't expect you to master the first layer anytime soon. In the meantime, I will be preparing the criminals for you to refine. I believe that with your talent; one to two weeks should be enough.
However, I must warn you. Even if you manage to master the first layer in less than two weeks, you might not be able to reach the second one in a lifetime. So, don't be discouraged by failure."
Olrich instructed with the stance of a doting elder.
"Moreover, I will send you resources on a weekly basis to help in your cultivation. You should soon reach the Grand Priest Rank so that I can bestow better resources and some artifacts onto you."
Konrad's eyes "shone" at the mention of weekly resources, as if the gate of heaven was opening to him. Olrich relished in the reaction, confident that the boy couldn't escape his palm.
"Adoptive father, I will definitely break through to the Grand Priest Rank in less than a week."
Olrich nodded, believing that a few days should be enough for a breakthrough. Meanwhile, he summoned an imperial eunuch to spread his decree and Konrad's new status.
"From now on, besides cultivation, your duties include serving by my side. This is also an opportunity for you to learn about state affairs and the inner workings of the court. In the future, you must shoulder some of my burdens!"
The way Olrich exclaimed such words while tapping Konrad's shoulders, would make the onlooker believe he truly was his biological son. A prince being raised for governance.
And knowing that he would use Olrich's resources and training to empower himself while screwing his women on the side, Konrad almost felt bad.
"Adoptive father, if you allow me, I will now take my leave."
"Of course, you should go explore your new art. By the way, your new status entitles you to a few privileges and tokens I will have delivered to your mansion.
Members of the imperial family are the only ones entitled to wear gold. However, since we can't have you wear the same clothing as princes, for obvious reasons, I devised a special robe for you. A black robe embroidered with a golden winged serpent.
Besides that, you will also have golden boots and a jeweled crown to serve as your proof of status. Those items are high-grade Semi-Holy Artifacts. Unfortunately, because your cultivation is too low, you can only wear them as decoration."
It seemed Olrich majored in making people speechless. Konrad's eyes showed his astonishment at the mention of so many treasures being bestowed onto him. Although he preferred relying on his cultivation to suppress his enemies, he didn't say no to a few artifacts to bolster his strength.
Unbeknown to him, Olrich was sharpening the sword that would one day drop on his neck.
Olrich believed the shock written on Konrad's face was due to the sudden mention of Semi-Holy Artifacts. Goods that he could probably not even dream of beforehand. Satisfied, he stroked his chin, with a "this is nothing to me" look on his face.
"Now go, I hope you will not prove my care for you misguided."
With Olrich's blessing, Konrad bowed and took his leave.
But on the outside, someone awaited.
Nils stood at the bottom of the stairs leading to Olrich's palace hall with her eyes locked on the entrance, awaiting Konrad's exit. Seeing those eyes that clearly showed she'd been waiting for him, Konrad frowned and went down the stairs.
Before he could pass her by, Nils' voice echoed.
"I only wanted to warn you. Don't get confused by father's deeds. He's not helping you. He's harming you."
Realizing that she was merely doing her goody two shoes duty to warn him of the imperial family's dangers in good faith, Konrad lowered his guard.
"I don't understand the meaning of the princess' words."
Nils shook her head, wondering why she was bothering in the first place.
"Didn't you see the opposition within the throne room? Not one person there approved of father's decision. All of them see it as the imperial family's disgrace. Adelar, who usually speaks very little even went as far as challenging father's wisdom.
Matter of fact, he indirectly called him an unreasonable buffoon. That being the case, how can he tolerate you?
To say nothing of him, past today, you will become the imperial family's most loathed member. They will all want your head on a spike. And the situation will only worsen as time passes. If even I can see this, don't tell me you can't? Or do you think you can rely on father's protection?
He can protect you during the day, but can he protect you at night?"
Nils turned to face Konrad, staring into those disturbing eyes of his as she carried on.
"To say nothing of the fact that you will start using up resources they believe belong to them. They will use any means from framing to murder in order to dispose of you.
Therefore, if you cherish your life, you should give up that new position on your own accord. Beg father to stop this while he still can. Otherwise, you're doomed to destruction."
As Nils' words, ended, Konrad's lips curled into a smile.
"Thank you, princess, for your warnings but what his majesty commands, I dare not reject. Your highness can afford to do so because you are his majesty's treasure. However, my status is low. Before fearing the reactions of others, I should first fear his majesty's.
Therefore, I cannot follow your advice."
Nils' face contorted into a frown. Though Konrad's words sounded reasonable, it seemed to her that those were mere excuses.
Wasn't the danger of becoming Public Enemy Number One of house von Jurgen, within the imperial palace, enough for him to beg for salvation?
Again, she shook her head.
"It is your life. Do with it as you please. However, the clout of the secluded elders is not what you can imagine, and they're all stuck-up aristocrats who care about face more than life. Fearing father's discontent is right, but he has use for you while they don't.
The difference is clear, and what you should do, clearer. Unless you have ulterior motives, of course."
With that said, Nils turned heels, ready to return to her quarters. In any case, she'd said more than she needed to. If that guy had some hidden agenda, saying more was useless.
"How could that be, my intentions are pure. I only wish to serve his majesty to the best of my abilities."
Konrad replied and turned his back toward her to head back to his mansion. However, he didn't expect that his casual words would provoke a violent reaction within Nils who stopped dead in her tracks, her body trembling, and her eyes wide open.