While the sight of Konrad's purple hues captivated Lena's eyes, his lips curled into a smile.
"In that case, allow me to say that you look ravishing."
With a bright smile, Lena curtsied.
"Thank you, protector."
"Now that the pleasantries are out of the way, may I know why you wish to meet me in the dark of night?"
Konrad asked, his jesting tone replaced by a serious, inquisitive one.
"I wanted to apologize, and if possible, dispel our misunderstandings."
Lena politely replied, with her fingers crossed and her breasts squeezed between her arms. Thus, enhancing her cleavage's view. Still, Konrad's eyes didn't shift from hers.
"Oh? Please elaborate."
"During the banquet, I didn't mean to antagonize you. I hope you can understand that both my father's life and my country's reputation were at stake. Therefore, I could only adopt that stance."
She began in an apologetic tone, and Konrad nodded.
"Moreover, though narrow-minded, my father is, after all, a seasoned cultivator with more than one thousand years of experience and centuries of reign. Even if he wished to poison you, there is no way he could have used something as strong and instantaneous as what caused my second brother's death.
Therefore, in one way or another, someone anticipated his move and tempered with your plate, hoping to blow the matter into what it currently is. That much is a fact."
Lena added while seeking answers within Konrad's gaze. But she was disappointed to see that no ripple flashed on his face.
According to her mother, Augusta, and her own observations, Konrad was the most likely culprit. How he accomplished it, however, was what they failed to understand.
Again, Konrad nodded. His smiling face undisturbed.
"I naturally understand these truths. But as a Holy Flame Dignitary, I have my country's face to preserve. Using such opportunities to wrest more benefits is how politics is conducted. As our future crown princess and empress, I hope you can learn from this event, and avoid falling into such traps in the future."
With a gracious bow, Konrad turned heels, startling Lena who'd not expected such a prompt departure. Men usually battled for the opportunity to admire her from afar. Why was it that this one looked so unimpressed by her charms?
Before Konrad could take another step, she held onto his sleeve.
"Please wait. As part of my apology, I wish to show you the royal palace's attractions."
"Oh? Sure thing. After you, then."
Konrad replied while freeing himself from her grasp.
Taking the lead, Lena led him through the royal palace. Though they seemed to be at a walking pace, their speed had already surpassed fifty kilometers per second. With a few steps, they arrive at one location which Lena would jovially introduce before moving toward another one.
This carried on until they dived into the inner court and stopped before the five meter's tall statue of a riveting woman holding a vase from which water poured into the fountain below.
Seeing that woman, Konrad was startled while Lena's eyes shone with adoration.
"Does the lord protector recognize this woman?"
"How could I not? Throughout the Holy Continent, who doesn't know the face of the Celestial Church's Founder?"
"And do you know her background?"
Konrad shook his head, his ignorance brightening Lena's smile who stepped closer toward him before carrying on.
"Though our ancestor's position in the Celestial Church was quite low, we, after all, originate from there. Therefore, I know a bit about the Celestial Founder's background.
Her name was Isylia. From her mother, she descends from the Warden while her father is an existence that in his time shook the Celestial Realm: The Great Primal Ancestor, founder of righteous dual cultivation."
Konrad's eyes shone with surprise.
"Her story is a tragic one. Though born with incomparable beauty, talent, and status, she failed to fulfill the most elementary of a woman's heart's desires: To bring her love story to a good end.
She fell for the most overbearing of the Infernal Realm's Seven Stars: The Infernal Founder, Marduk. A pity that their forbidden union not only bore fruits but caused her father's demise."
Again, Konrad's eyes widened.
"The Great Primal Ancestor is…dead?"
"If Marduk received the Overlord's protection, the same couldn't be said for lady Isylia. In such matters, women always carry the most blame. Leading gods of the Celestial Realm and members of the Warden's house were adamant on putting her to death.
The Great Primal Ancestor single-handedly battled all those mighty gods, and killed many of them, making God-Blood drench the Celestial Realm's sky.
And thus, forcing the Warden to make an appearance. While the Great Primal Ancestor was an existence on the Cardinal Lords and Infernal Kings' level, before the Warden, he could raise no storm.
Still, since he was born from Heaven's Origin, the Warden couldn't kill him without repercussions. Meanwhile, the Overlord's shelter of the Infernal Founder elicited outrage from many mighty infernal figures. And for some reason, Marduk went mad and attempted to kill the Southern King, Talroth's eldest son and head of the Seven Infernal Stars: Malkam.
Thus, antagonizing Talroth who'd remained neutral till that point.
Therefore, in a grand summit gathering the Overlord, the Warden, the Infernal Kings, and the Cardinal Lords, in exchange for the Great Primal Ancestor's life and the joint captivity of the twins, a compromise was made. I believe you know the rest."
"They were banished here to spread the faith and ended up killing one another for the futile hope of keeping their children safe. But why are you telling me all this?"
"Because on this particular night, as I wonder what can push a woman to harm her bright future for the sake of a lethal tryst, I feel especially close to the Celestial Founder."
Lena muttered and turned toward Konrad who could see the light of yearning flashing within her eyes.
"And why is that?"
He asked, as if unable to see through her thoughts.
"Because my heart…no...I want you."
She declared, her mesmerizing blue eyes intently staring into his purple hues.
"You appeared like the fulfillment of my dreams. From the moment I saw you, I knew that in this life, there could only be you."
While not losing eye-contact, she stepped forward, her face an inch away from Konrad's.
"I like your natural overbearingness that puts the men surrounding you to shame, your eyes whose beauty transcend this world, your decisiveness, your unconcealed heartlessness, your acknowledgment of your evil self, and all the things I have yet to find out."
Konrad frowned, his eyes betraying a perturbed look.
"But you are…"
"I know, I know."
Leaning in, she let herself drop on Konrad's chest and wrapped her arms around his back. Her warm, hefty chest pressing him.
"I'm your future crown princess, between you and I, there can never be anything. However, I cannot contain my feelings, because I know I will never find another like you."
Her grip tightened around Konrad's back while unwillingness to let go shone within her eyes.
At that time, her half-mermaid scent attempted to invade his senses.
In the classification of races, mermaids belonged to the bewitching clans. While their bewitching abilities couldn't compare to succubi, they were still substantial.
Of course, with his bloodline level, such tricks held no sway on Konrad. Still, he couldn't let that break the act.
As if resisting the urge to embrace Lena, his arms trembled while his heart beat faster.
"Could you…let me sing for you? I wish to let my songs tell you how deep in my heart you lodged yourself."
Lena whispered, following what she saw as his inner struggle.
And there it was.
"…as you wish."
Letting go of Konrad, she stepped back, sitting by the fountain to begin her chant. For some reason, the mesmerizing tune that followed perfectly meshed with the echo of trickling water by her side.
And concealed within that tune, Konrad could feel an enthralling force attempting to overwhelm his senses and lead him into Lena's arms.
So he just followed the scheme, and as if driven by instinct, stepped toward her and lowered his face onto hers. Even as his lips brushed hers, Lena's singing went uninterrupted. Only when she saw the flaring desire within Konrad's eyes and felt his palm on her cheek, did she stop.
Leaning in, she took his lips into hers for an ardent kiss.
A fatal mistake, because as their tongues intertwined, and his demonic saliva dripped into her throat, she could feel her body heating up with an eruption of lust.
The script went wrong.
Alarmed, she attempted to free her lips from Konrad's. But at that time, the orchid scent he restrained erupted with its full might, overriding her mermaid aura and overwhelming her senses.
"You're right, I'm overbearing. Since you made me want you, then I must have you. Whose betrothed you are…is absolutely inconsequential."
Konrad declared after breaking the kiss. Still, he held Lena's chin between his right thumb and index.
She stammered, her cheeks flushed red, and her eyes glazed with lust.
Konrad's lips formed a devilish smile as purple mist emerged from his pores to dive into Lena's.
"Wrong question. But I'm still going to give you the right answer. When you feel the need to scream my name, remember, it is Konrad."
Konrad replied with his eyes shining with purple, demonic light and Lena finally realized she'd thrown herself into the wolf's den.
Worse, it was now evident that from the beginning, they were being schemed against.
However, she couldn't give those thoughts much attention because as Konrad's eyes peered into hers, she could not resist the desire to pounce onto him and shred his clothes.