Crushed by Astarte's Valkyrie Judgement, the two Zenith Ants collapsed onto the ground. Astarte made a grasping motion, pulling them toward her before shifting her gaze onto the Empyrean Tower where Konrad currently resided.
"Master, I have captured the intruders and are bringing them to you."
She alerted through a mental message.
Konrad approved while finishing his session with Zamira. But before Astarte could fly toward the Tower, Krann returned to the Jade Capital alongside his battalion. Astarte's eyes locked onto his, and seeing the urgency shining within, she could feel that his last trip didn't end in the wanted success.
Krann bowed, then, alongside his troops, vanished to reappear within the Empyrean Tower where Konrad was currently indulging in a Carnal Wine Pool. The Carnal Wine Pool was an invention of his, inspired by a famous Earth Tyrant.
Like the name implied, wine replaced water, high-grade cultivation wine that snuck past the pores to refine the body and enhance energy reserves while the cultivator rested inside. Twelve scantily clad concubines lied in the bath alongside him, tending to his body while he relaxed in their arms.
"Your majesty, why hasn't your true body been visiting the second floor as often as before? We can't dual cultivate as efficiently that way! Are you bored with us?"
"Your majesty, I've reached a bottleneck in my cultivation. Please help your servant breakthrough…"
"Your majesty, my breasts feel sore..."
"Your majesty, I think my butt is losing firmness..."
As the dozen of honied sounds invaded Konrad's ears, in a twister of jade light, Krann appeared.
"Master, please forgive my incompetence!"
He exclaimed while dropping into a kowtow.
"Relate the events."
Konrad ordered in a calm tone while stroking the cheeks of his concubines. At that time, Astarte appeared, bringing alongside her the two suppressed Zenith Ants.
"As you ordered, I led a battalion against the Celestial Church and crushed them at a rapid pace. However, never did I expect that the Wirth would rather die than compromise! Unlike the moon, dream and paragon spirit elders, led by Anatol, the Wirth elders all chose to offer themselves in sacrifice to the merit stele and expedite the opening of Heaven's Gate!"
Krann began while keeping his forehead plastered on the ground.
"Now, the Celestial Realm Devas have arrived. I counted more than three hundred. None beneath the Divine Rank. And among their leaders, several auras standing at the peak of Divine Ascension appeared.
Although I don't believe any Celestial Chosen was present, the leaders are definitely not too far from that level and are definitely God-Children!"
Celestial Chosen were to the Celestial Realm what Infernal Stars were to the Infernal Realm. The most outstanding youths beneath the age of one-thousand. Individuals close to that level could indeed not be underestimated.
There usually wasn't too great a gap among the various Chosen and Stars. Malkam's era was the only exception.
As for "God-Children," the name spoke for itself.
"Ravmalakh, Brahma, and Mara?"
Konrad inquired in the same level tone, and Krann immediately nodded.
"Yes, all of those devas are either from the Ravmalakh, Brahma and Mara lineages."
Hearing this, Konrad showed no reaction.
"Rise. This doesn't stem from your oversight. Even I didn't expect that house Wirth's determination was this profound. That Anatol managed to bring all his elders with him is, indeed, a surprise.
Rarely have we met such unyielding spirits. A pity that I couldn't personally see them off."
Konrad declared while standing up. And as he did, Astarte appeared to cover his shoulders with a bathrobe.
Having received his pardon, Krann also stood up.
"Though, if they think such a gathering is enough to vanquish us, they're in for a terrible surprise. Hidden Moon Pavilion, gather."
Konrad ordered, and instantaneously, one-hundred kneeling forms appeared before him. The Quasi-Paramount Knights and some of the Knight Generals Krann had brought with him stood between them. Except that this time, they all wore a black crystal armor with four pairs of black wings sprouting from its back.
That armor was a special creation from Konrad, forged from the Refinery Cauldron by mixing Formation Tools, divine crystals, offensive and defensive divine artifacts, and a massive quantity of God-Blood. Currently, he only had one hundred such armors which he used to form his secret guard out of his most outstanding knights.
Those one-hundred armors were comparable to Four-Winged Valkyrie Armors. They were even slightly stronger.
"Your August Majesty, the Hidden Moon Pavilion stands ready to execute your orders!"
The four Paramount Knights leading the remaining armored knights declared with clasped hands.
"The enemy will soon arrive. First, take control of the imperial palace's defensive formations, and stand ready to activate them when we so need. Unless it is absolutely necessary, I don't want to reveal your existence, yet."
"Yes, your majesty!"
The Hidden Moon Pavilion's experts exclaimed, before vanishing from sight to execute Konrad's orders.
"Krann, release your captives. I will refine their souls and begin a large breakthrough."
"Yes, my liege!"
Krann obeyed and with a wave of his hand, summoned the twenty-seven Celestial Elders who, at first, were startled to see themselves standing before such a licentious pool. But when their eyes locked on Konrad's golden hues, fright shone within!
"G-greetings, your Profane Highness! We…have come to surrender. From this moment on, our strength is yours to do with as you see fit!"
"Bad. You shouldn't look without my permission."
Konrad stated with a smirk. The scenery changed and the group reappeared in another location of the Empyrean Tower.
The elders were startled.
"Though, you misunderstand. Your strength is by itself negligible. It is your souls that hold my interest."
Konrad explained, then stretched out his right hand, activating the Infernal Soul Devouring.
"Wait, he said, he said if we surrendered…"
They stuttered, alarmed by Konrad's words and the rising dark mist erupting from his form.
"He lied. To this day, do you still not know that my people's words cannot be trusted?"
Konrad inquired in an amused tone while his black mist stuck into the Celestial Elders' forehead and pulled out their souls!
"Konrad, die like a dog!"
"Vile creature! Heaven and earth won't spare you!"
They roared in indignation, but to no avail. The black mist laced their souls and refined them where they stood, allowing Konrad to siphon every bit of their soul power.
The elders' bodies then fell limp on the ground.
Konrad relished in the meal while rubbing his hand over his stomach.
His eyes then shifted toward Astarte and the unconscious captives floating beside her.