Seven ice blocks faced Konrad. Each stood at more than one hundred meters, and within them, barely discernible figures hung. And while the ice prevented any detailed analysis of those figures, it didn't take a genius to figure out that whoever was sealed on the ninth floor possessed extraordinary origins.
But before Selene could see through it, another figure appeared above the blocks. Again, it was a replica of Marduk. But this time, one of flesh of blood, or so it seemed.
The new Marduk sat crossed-legged on top of the middle block with his eyes locked on Konrad, and an early-stage Rising Saint cultivation base emanating from his form.
"To have managed to reach this step in spite of all the obstacles put in your road, I must say that I'm impressed. However, this is as far as you can go. No one, especially not Talroth's blood, is allowed to release the things sealed on this floor.
Return from whence you came."
Marduk ordered while keeping his arms folded beneath his chest.
With his Origin Sight, Konrad could see that while this Marduk was nothing but a construct from the Tower, it mirrored the real one and possessed his full Dao foundation.
Ignoring him, Konrad canted his head to the left, with his eyes never leaving the silhouette within the middle block.
"What are your observations?"
He asked Selene who'd remained silent since the manual's loss.
"These ice blocks are about one million years old and have been keeping those people trapped ever since. Six are dead. The middle one still lives…albeit in a comatose state.
As for their identity…considering levels and bloodlines, this is not hard to guess."
Hearing this, Konrad arched his eyebrows.
"They are most likely Malkam's retainers. Or rather, used to be. Every single one of them was an early-stage Minor God. The surrounding six were lust fiends, also known as satyrs. As for the one in the middle, he's a Pureblooded Incubus God.
According to hearsay, while my father failed to harm Malkam, in the attempt, he took down several of his retainers. Never did I expect that he carried the corpses into this world.
However, the ice is weakening. For the dead ones, it matters not. But for the Incubus God, this is a disaster. As long as he remains trapped within the Tower, I suppose he cannot raise any storm.
But if he manages to step into the outside, the consequences are hard to fathom."
Selene wasn't being an alarmist. Although without the World God's permission, regardless of the means or tricks used, foreign deities couldn't reside in a Mortal World for long, they could in a breath of time cause massive damages.
"Of course, if you could become the Tower's owner, you could easily suppress and trap his soul."
That Marduk could only seal and not kill this Incubus God clearly showed that he stood a step above the rest. Surely, his body was another treasure trove.
"If you get them, will you still let Gulistan offer my father's corpse to the merit stele?"
Selene asked, fearing Konrad would no longer care for the original arrangement.
"I should give it for two reasons:
A) If they cannot make up for their merit loss, when the Holy War begins, the Infernal Cult will not be the Celestial Church's match. A situation where the two forces are evenly matched and mutually destroy one another is the one that benefits us most.
B) Keeping the corpse is simple. But if I manage to manipulate the plague without Gulistan's God-Heart, I'm basically telling her that, at the very least, I have another.
It is difficult to estimate what she would do with that knowledge.
After all, if I can get a God-Heart, what else can I obtain? Risking the outcome to cling on Marduk's corpse is not worth it.
However, I'm currently considering a method to keep the undesirable out of the Holy Continent. If the Tower can help me achieve it, I might reconsider my options. But don't worry, since we completed an exchange, I shall not desecrate his body."
Konrad replied, and at that time, Marduk's voice echoed.
"Still not leaving?"
The three simple words carried overwhelming pressure capable of shredding the average Saint's eardrums. Naturally, on Konrad, they had no impact.
"What if I insist on staying?"
He coolly asked, the words causing Marduk's calm eyes to blaze with battle intent.
"Then, you must defeat me. If you succeed, not only can you claim the ice prisons, you can also become the new Tower Master. And considering that the Tower of Rebirth is, in itself, a God-Artifact, this is probably an excellent bargain.
Marduk vanished and reappeared before Konrad.
"…while my cultivation mirrors yours, my foundation stands at the top of the Three Realms. At the same level, not many are my matches.
I also bear the Tower's strength and won't mind using it against you. If you don't feel confident, you might as well step back."
Since Konrad reached the Tower's final step, even if Talroth's blood flowed within his veins, according to the Tower's rules, the Marduk Construct couldn't refuse him the opportunity to leave should he so wish.
Hearing this, Konrad was puzzled.
"You didn't get the memo?"
He asked in a frank tone that concealed no mockery. But to the construct's ears, it seemed like a glaring attempt to undermine its strength.
Clearly, this construct didn't have access to the previous Guardian's intel. And while it claimed being able to control the Tower's strength, its eyesight was limited.
Another battle puppet, really.
"Oh well, never mind."
As far as Konrad was concerned, there was no excitement to be had in this clash. If anything, fighting at the same level was unfair to this Marduk construct. It would be great if it could shoulder one hundred moves.
Without further ado, the Marduk construct stretched out its hand.
"Awaken, and enforce my will:
Dreadful demonic power erupted from its form while a massive, jet-black staff appeared within its hands.
Thus, the battle began.
Meanwhile, Yvonne sat crossed legged in her cultivation abode, with dark mist, golden light, and a formless force swirling around her form. Her father, Hubert, stood before her while holding his chin between his right thumb and index.
"Good, very good. You've now returned to the peak of the True Origin Saint Rank. And thanks to the more than three centuries of tribulation poison, you can directly leap through three ranks.
Add to that your three Divine Physiques and the changes in your bloodline, your battle power will reach a brand-new height.
Henceforth, I am not your match."
Hubert cheerfully appraised. Though the past events filled him with disappointment, Yvonne remained his pride and joy. The achievement of a lifetime.
The stronger she was, the more delight he felt. Still, there were things he couldn't comprehend.
"Though, I still don't get how you obtained this third Divine Physique and why your bloodline experienced such startling changes. Is this also a boon from that hidden expert?"
Though Krann served as a middleman, he quickly dismissed Hubert's assumption that he was the one behind the Kracht and Yvonne's growth. Only stating that the true master would soon show himself.
At the same time, Yvonne, Else, and Verena all kept Konrad's deeds secret.
"Time is almost up. When he returns, all will become clear..."
Yvonne began while opening her eyes. And at that time, vast pressures coming from the distant sky dropped onto the Ancestral Voight Palace and alarmed all its denizens.
"…in the meantime, it is time to fight."