Krann's demonic energy spread through Konrad's veins, soothing his internal damage before rising to his soul to check possible issues.
He was relieved to see that besides some internal damage Konrad didn't have any injuries. His soul, as robust as ever. Thankfully the Infernal Soul Devouring Art magnified his soul power to impressive levels. Otherwise, it wouldn't have been a simple matter of spitting blood.
Konrad raised his hands, stopping Krann's worries.
"It's nothing, we've gained a lot today."
Konrad explained while his lips curled into a contented smile.
Krann's eyes showed his incomprehension, why was it that his master's heart seemed to overflow with happiness? Did he relish in pain?
However, as servant, it wasn't appropriate for him to inquire on the master's tendencies; so, he didn't. Instead, he focused on what truly mattered.
"What are the gains?"
"I'd already inferred that Adelar was our enemy. Confirming it was just a formality. But now, I can roughly guess the source of his powers. To say nothing of us, it's very likely that Olrich doesn't realize the gravity of his own situation."
Konrad explained while wiping off the blood on his lips.
"First, cultivation. There isn't really much to say on that topic. Ninth step Semi-Holy Priest, ordinary physique and no martial cultivation whatsoever. However, his spiritual talent is outstanding, and his soul power dreadful, rivaling that of Profound Saints.
In terms of fighting capabilities, Elmar is simply not his match."
Those were information Konrad gained from the system while he examined Adelar.
"As for the origin of that soul power, that's hard to say. But considering the nature of his bloodline, my money is on the Tower of Rebirth. It's likely he obtained the formidable inheritance of a previous Celestial Church leader and used it as foundation to develop his own abilities.
Though his blood is impure, he has surpassed its limitations, bringing his bloodline abilities to a level his pureblood peers can only dream of. And this is where it gets interesting.
His spiritual mist can seamlessly dominate the mind of those with inferior soul power. Within the imperial palace, how many of the emperor's men have already fallen to his control? His cultivation speed is fast, and he will soon reach the Holy Priest Rank.
Even if I didn't appear, it's very likely that before he could refine him, Olrich would perish."
Konrad couldn't understand how Olrich could be reckless enough to choose Adelar as one of his refinement targets. It didn't make sense. Taking his character into account, Olrich could never allow such a hidden danger to grow beneath his nose.
Was it that impossible to find another refinement target among his nine children? No, if it was just about fostering love, he could pick any one of them. Why was it then that he chose the most problematic ones, the most gif…
Konrad's eyes widened in sudden enlightenment.
"Could it be that from the beginning…if that is true, then I must be warier of him."
Although it was only an assumption, Konrad couldn't help but think it held merit, and the implications made him shiver.
"Master, what is the nature of his bloodline?"
"Half-fiend. However, the power of his fiend blood is sealed."
Konrad spent the remainder of the night in silent cultivation.
The next morning, three of his maids knocked on his doorstep to prepare him for his first official meeting with Olrich. They brought with them several items:
A luxurious black robe embroidered with a golden winged serpent around which nine stars hovered. A pair of golden boots, and a golden crown encrusted with nine holy crystals.
One maid helped him don the robe, while another tied his hairs to fit in the crown, and the last one placed the boots on his feet.
Olrich had not lied. Every single one of those items was a high-grade Semi-Holy Artifact that would fill the empires' dukes with envy. But unbeknown to him, those were artifacts Konrad could already make use of.
With a smile, he exited the mansion under the deferential gaze of the sixty servants. Konrad was forced to agree that Olrich mastered the art of currying favor. The maids were outstanding in beauty and the eunuchs competent and quick-witted.
However, among them hid two third step Semi-Holy Knights. It didn't take a genius to realize that on the one hand, Olrich wanted to keep an eye on him while on the other end, he wished to make sure the likes of Adelar couldn't easily take his life.
"Tss, tss, tss, adoptive father, you really are considerate."
Konrad sneered and walked toward the imperial hall where officials gathered beneath the gaze of the emperor who sat on his large golden throne with his holy crown resting on his head.
The courtiers formed two lines, the left one for the civil officials, and the right one for the military officials.
They stood in order of official ranks rather than nobility titles. Though the two were often matched.
With their age and status, Sovereign Princes and Dukes didn't serve as court officials. Therefore, the leading members of the court were the counts and margraves, with their cultivation going from the sixth step Transcendent Knight Rank to the fifth step Semi-Holy Rank. All came from ancient, Uradel families and could at some point in history retrace their lineage to a Saint.
"His grace, the imperial duke!"
The herald announced once Konrad reached the court hall's entrance.
His eyes swept the dozens of officials lining beneath Olrich. Then, he stepped forward, crossing the passage between the two rows of officials to stop before the stairs, in a slow, steady walk.
"Father, your son greets you!"
Konrad knelt in greetings, causing many of the officials' eyes to contort into frowns.
"Rise, my son, and stand on my right."
Konrad climbed the stairs to stand by Olrich's side and look down on the gathered officials whose eyes shone with displeasure and contempt. Clearly, they couldn't accept the reality of a human eunuch standing above them both in rank and title.
However, none dared challenge Olrich's will. All resentment and discontent they held remained suppressed within their hearts. From this height, Konrad could effortlessly see, that with only one gaze, Olrich kept them pinned in submission.
This was power.
Olrich rose from his throne, presenting Konrad with his right hand.
"Dear officials, I present to you my ninth son, his grace the imperial duke, Konrad von Jurgen. Pay your respects."
Olrich ordered, and though his tone remained mild, it allowed no transgression. In this current moment, Konrad firmly believed that whoever showed an ounce of disagreement or hesitation would perish on the spot.
He knew it, and so did the officials. Therefore, none dared delay and bowed toward him.
"Greetings, your grace!"
The dozens of officials exclaimed with their backs bent, regardless of rank and title.
Olrich was satisfied.
"From now on, his grace shall be by my side throughout all imperial meetings. Get used to him."
Though the officials couldn't accept this, they didn't dare object. Hubert Voight could afford to challenge Olrich, that was because his cultivation stood at the summit of the empire.
But across this vast country of billions, there weren't ten individuals capable of doing the same.
That was power. And Konrad became more resolved to make that power his. Except in his case, there would not even be one man able to challenge him.