"This is former Borxan territory. Though now, I suppose it's been partitioned among several tribes."
"Indeed, the former Borxan tribe's territory was split in three, with the Aran Tribe now occupying these lands."
Zamira and Astarte explained in turn as they approached the border tribe. Meanwhile, Else fed Konrad a succession of strawberries.
"Which reminds me, why didn't Olrich annex the territory?"
Konrad asked between two berries. The Borxan tribe was a large border tribe. Back then, under Olrich's orders, Wolfgang's army conquered the people, seized all available resources, but didn't keep the territory.
"The topography here is different from the Holy Continent. The border tribes are easy to attack but hard to defend. Although the Holy Flame Empire's troops could have annexed the land, soon afterward, they would have lost it.
Moreover, the nearby forests are infested with demonic beasts that would rain upon the newcomers. Capturing such a place is meaningless, only barbarian tribes are fit to occupy it."
Zamira clarified in a somewhat absent-minded tone as if reminiscing the past as she spoke.
"As I recall, this tribe's top expert is a first step Transcendent Knight. They don't have any formation master; therefore, their defenses are relatively weak, even on the area's standards."
For a border tribe to survive across centuries, relying on a few formation masters was inevitable. In the decades it occupied this territory, this Aran tribe had always been in a precarious situation.
Were it not for the Holy Flame Empire not finding a need to dispatch troops back in this area, they would have long since been exterminated.
"What's your intent? I know you didn't bother stopping here just to help my folks recover their territory. With the Jade Dynasty's current strength, you only need to casually dispatch a commander from the state's army to take care of the area. Hell, I could do it by myself."
Zamira began, and Konrad nodded in approval.
"Indeed. We're not here for a simple restoration. In fact, you'll have to delay the actual takeover for a little bit. But rejoice, I'm giving you the Northern Khanate in its entirety."
Konrad replied in a mild chuckle, causing Zamira's eyes to widen in disbelief.
"What do you mean by that?"
"Within the Barbarian Continent's secular world, I have objectives. The first is to force the Serkar-ruled Infernal Cult out of seclusion. As you know, those damnable Serkars obtained a massive quantity of merit from the slaughter of one billion citizens and some boons from Ashara and Urzul.
Ashara granted them a blood barrier that prevents anyone beneath godhood from stepping in unauthorized. Therefore, their headquarter is in an impregnable position."
Konrad explained while crunching another strawberry Else lowered onto his lips.
"Since we can't use force to gain entrance, let's try setting the garden on fire. We first take over the Northern Khanate, then have it invade the other three, turn the Barbarian Continent into a chaotic battlefield where none can find peace.
At the very least, that should allow us to lure some rats out. For that level of trouble, they will at best dispatch low-level protectors. We catch them, convert them, and have them sneak us in. Since my demonic powers are disabled, Else will do the conversion."
Konrad pursued, causing the consorts' eyes to expand further.
"Is that really necessary? I'm sure there must be more covert ways to gain access. How about relying on Diyana, Miraz, Jaenera, and Vozir?"
Astarte inquired. Miraz, Jaenera, and Vozir were the Infernal Cult spies Konrad gained from the Tower while Diyana was Gulistan's disciple and one of his latest harem addition back in those days.
But while they all possessed high status, their current situation within the cult was odd, to say the least.
"If we use them, on the one hand, the result is uncertain, on the other hand, we prove Gulistan's caution right. I don't mind either. But what I do mind is her being aware of my presence in the Barbarian Continent before I'm willing to reveal it.
But of course, that is only one reason. The second one leads us to the real reason for my presence in this land.
I need people to die. To die en masse. Not in the thousands, not in the hundreds of thousands or millions. No. At least hundreds of millions, and perhaps…even billions."
The startling words echoed within the carriage, causing Else's strawberry feeding hand to stop, while Zamira and Astarte no longer knew what to say.
But their stupor wouldn't last for long, because as the carriage approached the entrance of the bustling Aran tribe, guards blocked its path.
"Though death may not be their end.
Come, let me show you what I mean."
Konrad declared and stood up, stepping out alongside his beauties who followed at his back.
There, two olive-skinned guardsmen dressed in brown fur and leather armor blocked their carriage's path. The two men's cultivation merely stood at the True Knight Rank, but unable to grasp the depth of those they blocked, they showed no fear.
In any case, although in the recent years the practice was growing increasingly infrequent, clandestine Holy Continent merchant carriages passing by wasn't that infrequent a sight.
Konrad ignored them, his eyes peering into the distance toward the amalgam of tents that formed the Aran tribe. The tents weren't without structure, the closer they stood to the entrance, and the less land surrounded them, the lower their status within the tribe was.
As a system ability, Origin Sight didn't vanish alongside the loss of Konrad's cultivation.
And using it, he could see everything occurring within the tribe. And seeing that the source of the bluster was nothing more than a mass-human sacrifice, his lips curled into a smile.
"If you wish to cross our land, you must pay the toll and surrender ten percent of your slav…"
The guards began, but when their eyes locked on Else, Zamira and Astarte, any word on their tongue flew back down their throats, unwilling to disturb the beauty feast dazzling their eyes. Seeing their reaction, Konrad resolved to have the three wear masks in the future.
He raised his right hand, and out of nowhere, a gentle breeze blew on the two guards' necks.
In one clean cut, their heads flew. And from beginning to end, they never saw the silhouette of their killers and the origin of their deaths.
With a grasping motion, Konrad absorbed their souls and extracted the death essence produced by their demises. But unlike the Infernal Soul Devouring Art, the Blossoming Death Art didn't refine the souls, instead trapping them within its user for later use.
Before the two's bodies could drop on the ground, Konrad pulled them into a space ring, then stepped into the Aran tribe with his riveting beauties at his heels.
Just like him, they'd already swept the tribe with their Origin Sight, and with their understanding of the border tribes, the sight of human males tied on burning poles for an impending sacrifice didn't startle them.