In tandem, the two stepped toward the Wandering Dream Inn and barged in with fanfare. A receptionist awaited them at the entrance and led them toward an unoccupied table. Else, Zamira and Astarte who stood several steps away soon joined them.
Their orders were quickly taken, and the receptionist departed to prepare them.
"Since you now have my name, don't you think you should reciprocate by giving me yours?"
Qehreman asked. And who could blame him? Even now, Konrad kept his cloak on, preventing anyone from peeping at his real appearance. Although one was entitled to their secrets, no good friendship was ever built on deceit.
"Indeed. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Darnok, at your service."
Konrad declared, causing Else to bite her lower lip to avoid betraying the play with a burst of laughter.
"Darnok? Never heard of that one. However, it matters not. Since you decided to embrace the righteous path and turn over a new leaf, you should also take on a new, matching name. However, Darnok is the name you received from your parents; filial piety prevents us from abandoning it!
But since as Darnok you lived in evil, we can simply reverse it to give you your name of righteousness. Darnok in reverse…from Darnok, you will now be…Konrad!"
Qehreman exclaimed with overflowing passion and zeal. In that instant, he couldn't help but feel quite proud of his genius.
*COUGH* *COUGH* *COUGH*
The words caused Konrad to choke on his saliva, and cough without restraints. Else bit her lower lip harder, preventing the laughter she suppressed to erupt at full volume.
"Konrad, are you ok?"
Asked Qehreman, startled by the sudden cough.
"No big deal, no big deal. I was just…overwhelmed by emotions."
Konrad replied, holding onto his chest while Else tapped his back.
The talks then resumed, and as the duo exchanged, a waiter brought forth sumptuous silver plates of food. The establishment's trademark "Wandering Dream" wine came soon afterward.
Each was served one glass before the bottle was laid on the table for them to consume throughout the remainder of their meal.
"To be perfectly honest, with your faces cloaked as they are, although I have good feelings regarding you, I can't bring myself to fully trust you. Upright men have nothing to hide, and no need to conceal themselves in the shadows of a cloak."
Qehreman declared while gulping his wine in a crude but candid manner.
"Is that the reason why you don't wear one?"
Astarte straightforwardly asked, thinking that this crude wannabe hero was too far ahead of himself. How dared he criticize her master?
However, the words failed to trigger any reaction from Qehreman, who merely raised his glass.
"My chest is broad, my heart of gold, my shoulders light, my conduct upright, and my hands without sin. That being the case, why need I hide myself? If my looks repulse them, it is others that should hide from me, not the other way around."
Qehreman replied with his candor undamaged. His words struck Astarte speechless, and she no longer knew what to say.
"I will drink to that! Come, let's have a toast!"
Konrad proclaimed before butting his glass against Qehreman's and gulping his liquor.
"Truth be told, we're trying to avoid troubles. With looks like ours, wherever we go, problems ensue. If we didn't wear cloaks, to say nothing of having a peaceful discussion, it would be a miracle if state troops weren't trying to enslave us."
Konrad stated in a grave tone that pulled a scoff from Qehreman's lips.
"Aren't you exaggerating a little bit?"
"Not one bit."
The direct answer took Qehreman aback, but then he wondered if, perhaps, he wasn't being too pedantic, and no longer pursued the issue.
But Konrad didn't let it go and motioned for the waiter to arrive, which he did in mere seconds.
"Clear the inn in its entirety. I need to have a private discussion with my friend here."
He ordered, causing the waiter's eyes to widen in disbelief.
"We can't just clear the room because you…"
He began, but before he could finish his words, Konrad tossed a purse into his hands. Opening it, the waiter was startled to see one hundred holy crystals. His eyes almost popped out of their sockets!
Holy crystals weren't something one could have access to because of mere wealth. Only Saint-level clans regularly dealt in them! And even the scions of such clans couldn't toss one hundred holy crystals so casually!
These people's background was…unfathomable!
"As you command, as you command!"
The waiter bowed and excused himself, bringing the purse and order to his boss who didn't hesitate before making his move and announcing the restaurant's imminent closure, forcing the other guests out without a care for face!
Qehreman, who didn't see the content of the purse, appeared startled.
"Excessive. That was completely excessive."
He remarked while gulping down another glass of wine. The Wandering Dream Wine was a cultivation beverage. For mortals, it could extend their lifespans and reinforce their bodies. However, for cultivators, it would amplify the concentration of spiritual energy within their bodies and bring them closer to the next level.
Therefore, Qehreman wasted none of it. By the time the restaurant was cleared, Konrad had lowered his cloak, revealing his true appearance.
Unable to restrain himself, Qehreman spat the wine he was gulping down before losing himself in a round of coughing. Else, Astarte and Zamira waved their hands, preventing the wine from staining Konrad's face.
"No wonders…no wonders…"
Was all Qehreman could say, and unwilling to make things difficult for this good man, Konrad put his cloak back on.
"Now that this is out of the way let's discuss proper business."
Konrad stated while resting his chin on his clasped hands.
"You're finally willing to reveal the true reason for you bringing me here?"
Qehreman replied. Indeed, he'd never fully bought Konrad's story, and suspected some hidden motive. However, if Konrad couldn't harm him, there was nothing to fear. If he could, resisting wouldn't change the inevitable. Following him to get a better understanding of the situation was the best choice he could make.
"You misunderstand, though I conned you into this meeting, I didn't really speak lies. I genuinely find you fascinating and am impressed by your demeanor. Thanks to you, I might really step on a new road and transform the world for good.
And I do want something from you, but before that, I request we become sworn brothers."
"Master, you can't be serious."
Astarte blurted, speaking the words wreaking havoc within Else and Zamira's minds.
And though he didn't comment, Qehreman's eyes spoke the same.
"Serious, I'm dead serious. You must know that in my existence, though my servants are many, I have never taken a sworn brother. In fact, no one truly qualifies as my male friend."
Konrad began with his glass raised.
"If you become my sworn brother, heaven, and earth, be my witness. If your wife is a beauty, I shall not covet her. If your riches are many, I shall not dispossess you. If my success requires me to step on you, I shall refrain, and if you ever need my assistance, my hand will always support you.
Are you willing?"
Konrad asked while extending his glass toward Qehreman for another toast.