At first, it merely was scalding heat. But by the time half her body sank into the Ancestral Blood Pool, Yvonne could feel her bones, veins and internal organs seared by the massive God-Force within the Ancestral Blood Pond.
With her teeth clenched, and her eyes shut close, she stepped deeper into it while advancing toward the middle. There, she stopped, and let herself fully drop into the Ancestral Blood Pond. But soon, she realized that even sinking lower didn't come without a price. The farther in she went, the more pressure she faced.
And although there only was one-hundred meter of depth, she couldn't go lower than five. But even there, mightier, searing pain invaded her body. It was as if she'd been thrown into an erupting volcano that scorched everything but that last spark of life allowing her to feel all without ever being granted the grace of death.
To say nothing of seven days and seven nights. At this rate, it would be a miracle if she could endure three. However, the word "retreat" never crossed her mind. With her teeth gritted, she stretched out her hand, summoning a rose gold ring encrusted with a spellbinding black crystal.
Black crystal was a unique material Konrad first discovered within the Tower, through the Infernal and Celestial Founders' inheritances. As one of the key ingredients of the Hidden Moon Pavilion's Four-Winged Black Crystal Armors, it naturally was extraordinary.
On top of its heaven-defying durability, black crystal possessed one unique ability. It could store anything.
As she held that ring within her hand, Yvonne still recalled the day Konrad bestowed it upon her.
"Beloved empress, now that our reign begins, allow me to give you this."
Konrad declared while extending a small ring box toward Yvonne, who took it with a hint of curiosity. Opening the box, her eyes dropped on a rose gold ring, but focused on the black crystal encrusted within.
Within that ring, she could feel boundless, slumbering power. Such strong a force that if recklessly unleashed, it could blow the entire Ancient Crystal World into smithereens. Her eyes shone with a stupor, then rose to lock on Konrad's.
"How did you…"
She began, but before she could finish her words, Konrad answered the question trotting on her lips.
"The rose gold is just a convenient exterior. I forged this ring from several unique materials, including my World Devourer Blood. Moreover, it soaked in my Blood Origin for seven days."
Konrad explained, and his words caused Yvonne's eyes to widen in fright! The Blood Origin was the most vital part of a cultivator's lineage. Who dared mess with it? But never did she expect that Konrad's following words would astound her even further.
"But that's not the most critical part. What truly makes this ring astonishing is the peak-stage Minor God's soul I refined and trapped within the black crystal. It now serves as the nucleus for the ring, giving it vast, inconceivable power. If one day you face a helpless situation, regardless of how dreadful, I believe this ring will solve the problem for you. Throughout this Ancient Crystal World, there shouldn't be anything it can't tackle.
However, do recall that the Incubus God's soul acts as fuel, which makes the ring a consumable item. According to my estimations, you only have five full-power shots."
As Konrad's words ended, Yvonne sighed and shook her head.
"This is…too great a show of favoritism."
"You are my wife and empress. If I don't favor you, who do I favor? Yvonne, open your ears and listen well, I'm biased toward you. What can you do?"
Konrad chortled while enclosing the ring within Yvonne's palm. Hearing this, a mild chuckle escaped her lips.
"With such words, how can I refuse? I will keep it with me but out of plain view, to avoid sending the harem into an uproar."
"As you please."
While she recalled that day, a wave of warmth soothed Yvonne's chest, and her eyes shone with greater determination. Without hesitation, she placed the ring on her finger.
A vast devouring force kicked into gear, siphoning a vast majority of the True God level pressure and alleviating the burden on Yvonne's body.
Although the scalding blood baptism was unavoidable for success, at least, she no longer had to exert strength to contend with that boundless pressure.
Balling up to hold her knees, Yvonne silently endured the blood baptism, quivering as the inferno it unleashed consumed her from the inside.
Meanwhile, Verena stood vigil on the outside, observing it all with complex emotions.
Like that, one day passed, and still, Yvonne persevered.
But as the first day reached its end, from within the shadows of the Hidden Forest, five vast pressures erupted to lock on Verena and the Ancestral Blood Pond behind her. Her eyes contorted into a frown.
Immediately, she activated her Origin Sight to cover the perimeter, fast enough to see six dark-green beams emerge from the shadows and shoot toward her.
The dark-green beams tore through her form, or rather, the afterimage she left behind as she soared into the sky to avoid the blow.
Six short, pear-shaped women with dark-green eyes then emerged to surround her from all sides. Each boasted an early-stage Divine Ascension cultivation base and powerful physiques. Naturally, they were Zenith Ant elders.
Verena's frown deepened.
"Not good. Oh well, since I could sense them, it means they didn't come with Withering Leaves. At the very least, I don't have to worry about those."
She consoled herself before desperate odds while raising a force field to prevent the Ant elders from reaching Yvonne. Although they would not dare step inside the pool, Verena didn't doubt that to attack and injure Yvonne, they didn't have to.
Therefore, regardless of the cost, she couldn't allow them to pass.
"With you alone, how do you plan to stop us? If you know proper limitations, get lost now, and we will allow you to keep your life."
The leading Ant elder proclaimed with a fiendish grin.
But as the words echoed, Verena sneered.
"You're not qualified to control my life."
She declared. Following her words, golden light erupted from her body to morph into a golden armor at the back of which five pairs of wings fluttered.
Stretching out her hand, Verena summoned a long golden sword whose aura stood in perfect harmony with her armor and swept the six Ant elders with her magenta gaze.
"I heard cricket meat was a delicacy. Please don't blame me for wanting to sample it."