"Oh? If you're that interested, you can touch, you know?"
Following Yvonne's words, Konrad replied with a playful smile, causing her to roll her eyes.
"Considering how often I get to touch you, I have no need to show such eagerness.
"A pity, such a wasted opportunity. Clearly, I have given you too much favor."
Konrad lamented and stretched out his arms. Dark mist flew from his fingertips to wrap around the lingering souls of his twenty victims. The souls' vacant eyes showed no desire to struggle, and effortlessly, the dark mist pulled them toward Konrad who opened his mouth to swallow them within.
Before the Divine Spirit Rank, dead souls couldn't show consciousness, lingering at their place of death for varying time intervals before heading into the reincarnation cycle.
While Konrad used the Infernal Soul Devouring Art to refine the souls, pitch-black fog swirled around him, and his sclera went from white to black. But as his spiritual cultivation and soul power rose, Yvonne frowned.
Clearly, she could feel Konrad's spiritual cultivation already was half-a-step into the Semi-Holy Priest Rank. A full breakthrough was imminent.
Within his mind, Konrad battered the barriers of the Semi-Holy Priest Rank. Better than anyone, he could feel himself ready to break through that rank. However, as he approached success, darkness clouded his mind, and he entered a pitch-black world where nothingness reigned.
"Hm? What is the meaning of this?"
Konrad frowned while his eyes swept the empty perimeter. At that time, a voice echoed within his mind.
"Who are you?"
"What is your path?"
"What Dao do you pursue?"
As the mild voice echoed within his mind, Konrad had no answer to offer. Silence ensued.
"Without understanding the self, how can there be purity? Without purity, how can there be sainthood?"
"Go back. When you grasp your Dao and complete your Sublimation, you may return."
The darkness then covered Konrad, erasing his presence from the scene. His eyes opened to the sight of Yvonne standing by his side.
"Your Dao Sublimation is incomplete. Therefore, while you fulfill all soul power requirements, you cannot break through the Semi-Holy Rank."
Konrad nodded. Dao Sublimations served as an identification of the true self. An identification of the core desires that drove the individual on the cultivation road. There were thousands of roads with some being weaker than others.
Fortunately, cultivators could reject their primary road to enlighten themselves in a better one.
However, once the cultivator strayed from his chosen road, backlashes would ensue. At best, their cultivation would not be able to go a step further. At worst, they would fall back to the Transcendent Rank.
Following his demonic cultivation method, Olrich achieved Dao Sublimation in Heartlessness.
Elmar in Shielding, Adelar in Power, Yvonne in Invincibility and so on.
Those were all high-level paths. And it was hard to say if one trumped another. The strength of a sublimation chiefly depended on how challenging it was to maintain or fulfill.
The more challenging, the more powerful.
As for Konrad, he indeed experienced some difficulty in figuring out the most suitable path.
On the one hand, Invincibility seemed to be the most straightforward choice, but on the other hand, he felt that path lacking in one ingredient.
"Never mind, it can wait for a little bit."
Undisturbed, Konrad set aside those thoughts and turned heels. At the same time, he sent the royal guards several orders to restore the peace and summoned the delegates to bring Phantasm Orchids to whoever still needed them.
Meanwhile, Ernst sat on his throne with vacant eyes staring at the entrance. Suddenly, the crown prince rushed in alongside the third and fourth prince. In tandem, the trio dropped onto their knees, fright written all over their faces.
"Disaster, horrendous disaster! The elders…lost…and alongside the Water Temple's leaders, all perished!"
The crown prince sobbed and kowtowed in dramatic lamentation. The other two princes were no different. But strangely, no ripple flashed on Ernst's face, and he merely nodded in approval.
Standing up, he walked down the stairs with his arms crossed beneath his back. His still vacant eyes staring at the entrance.
"Father, say something! Our house's fifty-thousand years of inheritance has thoroughly collapsed, without any way to redress the situation! Over, it's over!
Why aren't you say…"
But before the crown prince could finish his words, Ernst's head abruptly shifted toward him.
"Father? Who's your father?"
Stretching out his arm, Ernst summoned his holy energy sword, brandishing it at his eldest son whose eyes widened in disbelief.
"Ernst asks, who's your father?"
The sword dropped on the crown prince's neck, lopping it off in one eruption of blood. The other two princes were startled, but Ernst didn't stop.
"Ernst asked you a question! Son of a whore, who is your father?!"
*Slash* *Slash* *Slash*
Ernst's sword cut through the crown prince's body like a knife through butter, hacking him till all his limbs lied in a blood pool, detached from his body. Seeing their eldest brother reduced to ten clean pieces bathing in blood, terror filled the other two princes. And as their brain finally processed the situation and gave them the order to run for their lives, Ernst turned toward them.
"Why is he not answering?!"
He roared, and staggering, the two princes dropped on their rear, eyes still wide with fright.
"Asleep…he…fell asleep…that's why he's not answering."
The fourth prince stammered, drawing an approving nod from Ernst.
"Ok. What about you, who's your father?"
Ernst seriously asked while walking toward the fourth prince. Hearing this, the third prince no longer hesitated and turned into a light beam to shoot toward the exit.
"Why is he running? Ernst hasn't asked him yet! Guilty, guilty! Son of a whore!"
Ernst turned into another light beam, stopped the third prince mid-flight by grabbing his right leg and aimed his sword at his waist.
"Help! Help! Heeeelp!
Father, I'm your son, we're your children! What is wrong with you? Please spare me!"
The third prince begged but to no avail.
"Nonsense! Ernst clearly sees the truth! Ernst has no children! Since you don't wish to speak true, Ernst can only kill you!"
Ernst's sword descended on the third prince's waist, cutting him in half.
With a one-hundred-eighty degree turn, Ernst vanished and reappeared before the fourth prince who shivered on his rear, not daring to stand up.
"Do you want to make Ernst repeat himself?"
"No…no…I'm the royal guard commander's son. You and I have absolutely no relationship. I just followed them to give the news!
They're really hateful! Incomparably hateful! How dare they try to cheat the monarch?!"
The trembling fourth prince replied while lowering his eyes onto the ground, not able to face the crazed glint in Ernst's eyes.
"Oh? The royal guard commander is Ernst's lifelong friend. As his son, in the future, you must become a pillar of the state."
"A pity that the state is lost, and the house facing destruction. But it's fine, Ernst placed Holy-Rank explosives all around the palace! Now that the elders are gone, we can detonate them and bring all those invaders to destruction!
Sacrifice ourselves to cleanse the state and become legends!"
Ernst exclaimed with his arms outstretched and his wide, crazed eyes facing the throne room's ceiling. His words almost caused the edgy fourth prince to lose his countenance and soil himself.
*Clap* *Clap* *Clap*
A clapping sound came from the entrance, forcing the two to turn toward its origin.
There, Konrad stepped in with Yvonne by his side.
"I must say it wasn't that terrible of an idea. A pity that the royal palace is now my backyard and I already had the royal guard secure all your explosives."