Astarte didn't expect that she'd end up surrendering herself to the bogeymen of her childhood. Still, having reached this point, she couldn't falter.
A new wave of determination welled up within her chest, and as the contract's drafting ended, she stared deep into Konrad's eyes.
"What do I have to do?"
"Place a drop of blood on the contract."
Nodding, Astarte cut open her thumb, then pressed it on the demonic contract.
The letters glittered and dived in her forehead to lodge themselves in her soul.
Her eyes shone with purple light, and although the bloodline level hadn't changed, Astarte's cultivation talent and comprehension rose to brand-new heights.
Moreover, she obtained Konrad's Origin Sight and a unique physique. A physique high-ranking demons could bestow, but never possess:
The Infernal Armament Physique.
The first step to becoming a fiend!
Humankind was the most malleable race within the three realms. In ancient times, fiends were born from mighty demons experimenting on human beings, granting them aspects of demonism, twisting and overloading their bloodlines with infernal energies and unwittingly triggering the creation of the Infernal Armament Physique.
The height of a fiends' bloodline level entirely depended on its demon creator. The higher the creator's bloodline level, the more powerful the fiend's would be. Thus, although they could never rival their creators' bloodline level, the mightiest fiends, those created by the Demon Primogens, often surpassed the average high-ranking demon in terms of bloodline level.
Meanwhile, the Infernal Armament Physique not only provided them with dreadful strength, speed, and resilience, but it also drew from the demon master's essence to grant them a demonic weapon similar to their creator's lineage weapon.
In Astarte's case, it would, of course, be a war hammer, and while she still had no cultivation level, the formidable strength coursing through her veins convinced her that she could lift mountains!
Still, without the bloodline transformation and aspect granting, she, at best, qualified for a quasi-fiend.
"Thank you, master, for your blessings!"
Overflowing with emotions, she exclaimed and fell on her knees. In her mind, Konrad had already turned into an idol, a supernatural patron who in less than one hour completely transformed her life.
"Don't thank me so soon. For now, I withhold the other half of your boons. When I deem you worthy, you shall receive them. Meanwhile…"
A set of mnemonics flew from his mind to hers, embedding themselves in her soul.
Those were the mnemonics of a unique cultivation method he'd exchanged for her.
"This is the Battlelust Scripture. For now, I give you the Semi-Holy Rank version and will give you the higher ones as you progress. With this method, your growth pace depends on how much you fight. When you condense your Battle Will, your strength will sharply rise."
Astarte no longer had words to express her thanks, so she just kowtowed, and renewed her pledge of eternal allegiance.
With a mental message, Konrad contacted one of the Semi-Saint delegates who soon appeared within the room.
"You take her out on a night hunt. Her targets are low-level Arch-Rank experts. Preferably in groups of three or four. Help her locate the targets and prevent foreign interference. Besides that, do not help her in the slightest. If she can't defeat her foes, she can die."
"As you command, master!"
Astarte, who was starting to think of Konrad as a good person, was immediately disillusioned. The master did not lie; in his eyes, innocence really had no worth. As long as someone's death served his purposes, their blood would flow, guilty or not.
As the reality settled within her mind, she inwardly pledged to become a blade of unequaled value within Konrad's heart.
Then, alongside the Semi-Saint, she left for the hunt.
"Right now, her new physique only grants her ten-thousand kilograms of arm strength. Roughly equivalent to a third step Arch Knight. Moreover, she has no battle experience.
Making her hunt down groups of low-level Arch-Rank experts, are you not sending her to her death?"
Yvonne asked in incomprehension. While she could see that Konrad's actions stemmed from high expectations, she failed to grasp why he put such lethal pressure on a girl he'd just lifted from hell to heaven.
"If she can't even pass this test, she might as well not live."
"Odd. Why do you treat her so differently from all others?"
Hearing this, Konrad closed his eyes and lied onto the bed.
"Because she somehow reminds me of someone."
His mind then drifted to a scene that lied buried within his soul.
In a dark, rainy night, the Earth version of Konrad wobbled on one knee with blood flowing from his abdomen.
"To think that I perish not for the things I did, but for the things I can do…a pity.
There really is no justice in this world."
He sighed while seven men wearing Kevlar vests and black helmets surrounded him with firearms.
"Don't make this more difficult than it needs to be. Who knows, you might even survive for a few weeks. After all, they first need a thorough examination of your abilities."
Said the team leader while keeping his rifle aimed at Konrad.
Were I mighty, why would I need to endure this? Unwilling…I'm really…unwilling.
Alas, wallowing in unwillingness is the privilege of the feeble.
Oh, by the way, I'm pretty sure I screwed your wives…"
As the flashback ended, Konrad's eyes opened to Yvonne lying by his side, eyeing him with her hessonite hues. For a silent hour, they stared into one another's eyes, not saying a word.
The quiet exchange would have carried on, were it not for the knocking sound that disturbed the moment.
*Knock* *Knock* *Knock*
Their eyes shifted toward the door, behind which they could feel a maidservant's presence.
"Lord protector, please forgive the disturbance, but the eldest princess wishes to see you."
"Oh? Is that so?"
Konrad's lips curled into a fiendish smile, and he turned toward Yvonne who grinned with impish glee.
"Well, it seems like I will soon have a new sister. Do go easy on her."
"Tonight or tomorrow?"
"Since we're only here for a few days, the sooner, the better. Let's go with tonight."
They bumped fists, and he kissed the right corner of her lips.
"Tell the eldest princess to wait for me within the courtyard. I'm on my way."
He told the maidservant who patiently stood at the door, before rising from the bed and heading out.
With several leisurely steps, Konrad appeared within the courtyard, and there, Lena, the eldest princess awaited.
This time, she wasn't dressed in her royal golden dress. Instead, she wore a blue, laced, backless maxi dress that perfectly highlighted her curves and showcased her cleavage.
Konrad inwardly commented and stopped before her with his arms crossed beneath his back.
"Greetings, princess. I'd say blue suits you, but I'm sure you must have heard such perfunctory compliments at least a thousand times, so I will just let my entranced gaze express my thoughts."
Konrad jested, pulling a mild laugh from Lena's lips.
"The compliment's value depends on the person. As long as they come from you, protector, even perfunctory ones are a delight to the ears."