Chapter 88. Framing |
After making adjustments to his new servants' views on demonism, Konrad took them into his space treasure to sign Master-Servant contracts. With that out of the way, he brought them back to the outside world for the next phase of his plan.
With seven Semi-Saint inquisitresses, his reach greatly expended. Using their connections, across several hours, he enslaved another seventeen Semi-Saint inquisitresses and more than one hundred Transcendent level inquisitresses.
The church's low-level Semi-Saint force was barely over two-hundred-fifty. Now, almost ten percent of it had fallen into Konrad's hands, but this was only the beginning.
From the start, his target had always been the inquisition's vault. With the abundance of wealth and treasures it contained, Konrad could establish a firm foothold within the empire. However, with high-level Semi-Saints being the only ones eligible to access it, he had no hope of plundering it.
And assuming he did, the church would soon fall into chaos. There were two non-negotiable requirements to successfully leave the church with those resources: A solid plan that accounted for all variables, and someone to frame. A non-obvious target with a peculiar enough background that the raised doubts wouldn't come back to bite him in the rear.
"Who's the grand Inquisitress with the least roots within the church?"
Konrad asked his new slaves. In the inquisition department, low-level Semi-Saints were titled high-level inquisitresses while high-level Semi-Saints bore the title of grand inquisitresses.
Within the church, the status of Grand Inquisitress was comparable to archbishops', and among other things, their duties consisted of overseeing large operations to crack down on heretic groups and even frame innocent nobles with heresy to seize their assets and extinguish their houses if need be.
There were fifty of them in total.
"If we're talking about the grand inquisitress with the least roots, it would be Grand Inquisitress Margo. She's the aunt of the Kriegel Duke."
Taken by surprise, Konrad didn't immediately respond. Although the church didn't discriminate against talent, it was after all chiefly controlled by paragon spirits and was therefore prejudiced against the serpent race that once ruled the land now composing the Holy Flame Empire.
For that reason, unless not given another choice, most serpent nobles would avoid sending their children into the church, and those who could make it to the high level were few and far between.
"Cultivation and time spent within the church?"
"Sixth step Semi-Holy Priest. She's been in the church for more than a thousand years and rarely contacts her family. A social disaster, she has no friend or anyone that can boast knowing her well. What she does in her spare time is a mystery. However, she's very diligent in her work and never leaves rooms for reproaches. "
"How hard would it be to obtain an audience with her?"
"Impossible, unless there is a rock-solid reason. Although our exarchs tasked her with supervising the rest of the operations. She merely sends us directives through servants and mental messages.
She doesn't meet with us."
"Send her news that I attempted to commit suicide. If she's as diligent as you claim, she should have you lock down the news and personally investigate. Also…"
Konrad gave the inquisitresses his directives. Afterward, he returned to the dungeon cell to "commit suicide." When the preparations were enough, the tortured prisoners who'd gotten glimpses of his session with Hel were disposed of. In any case, those folks were not meant to live through the night. Like the one in the brazen bull who'd already burned to death.
Grand Inquisitress Margo Kriegel was focused on silent cultivation when news of the key Kracht prisoner's failed suicide reached her ears.
"Why didn't you gag him?"
"Hel wanted to hear him squeal…"
The one who'd reported the news muttered in a mental message. Although very creative in her handling of prisoners and with an excellent track record, Hel was well-known for the extreme pleasure she took from her work. This outcome was within reason.
"I expect you already handled the tongue loss?"
"We've stopped the bleeding. However, the essence devouring bugs are sapping his vitality and giving us trouble in handling the aftermath."
"Very well, prevent the news from spreading. I will personally deal with those."
Disposing of essence devouring bugs without fatally harming the subject was of extreme difficulty and required at least an experienced Semi-Saint. Hel's previous claim that she could handle it was a blatant lie.
Margo stood up and in a flash crossed the distance toward the dungeon where two high-inquisitresses were currently surrounding a nervous Hel who stood before Konrad's unconscious body.
Margo bypassed them, directly stepping toward the unconscious Konrad.
"Effective immediately, Hel is demoted to low-level inquisitress and banished to Ansfurt."
Ansfurt was a small, barren village in the southern parts of the Holy Flame Empire while low-level inquisitresses were usually of the Arch Rank. Such a terrible demotion took Hel aback. Was the next step to take her life?
Fortunately, this was all a play.
Margo never glanced at Hel, stretching her hand toward Konrad's chest. At that time, twenty-one high-level inquisitresses appeared out of thin air, and alongside Hel and the other two by her side, fired two-dozen offensive fifth circle spells at Margo.
Margo's instinct kicked in, in the blink of an eye, she raised defensive wards around her. However, the distance was far too short, and the timing too precise for her wards to change the outcome.
The wards shattered, and the dozens of fifth circle spells hammered Margo from all sides, sending her flying in the air and crash on the ground in a pool of her own blood, barely clinging on her life.
Although the highest among the twenty-four were two fourth-step Semi Holy Priestesses and the gap between each Semi Holy step enormous, this was after all a sneak attack carried out by twenty-four Semi-Saints. For Margo, the result was disastrous.
"What…is the meaning of this?!"
She barked with warm blood gushing from her mouth. At that time, Konrad's eyes opened, and he rose from the table he'd been lying on to sit within an available chair.
Upon seeing him safe and sound, Margo's mind made hundreds of assumptions, but none of them made sense. Unfortunately for her, to prevent the screams of the countless prisoners from disturbing those above, the inquisition's dungeons were enchanted with powerful wards preventing any noise from escaping.
"The meaning is…framing."
Konrad answered and raised his hand.
The twenty-four inquisitresses shot toward the grievously injured Margo with soaring killing intent.
This time, Margo, although badly battered, had the opportunity to respond with a high-grade fifth circle spell. Another deluge of magic erupted. The twenty-four inquisitresses were pushed back, while Margo again flew and crashed on the adamantine walls.
If before she could still cling on her life, Margo was now unable to do so. All strength left her body, and she passed out. Three of the inquisitresses then bound her with anti-cultivation locks and dragged her unconscious form toward Konrad.
"Suppress her injuries. She might still be useful in the future."
The inquisitresses used healing spells to pull Margo out of a life-threatening condition. Konrad then robbed her grand inquisitress token and used his Transformation Skill to assume her shape.
"Resume your activities."
Konrad ordered before taking Margo into his space treasure. As for the inquisitresses, they'd all been contracted. Therefore, he could summon them at any time.