There were three central parts to a eunuch's attire. The blue robe, the red hat, and the box. The box was tied to their belt and contained their "removed part" which they always carried on them due to the common belief that dying without a complete body would prevent reincarnation.
The hat was large enough to cover most of their forehead and was in itself a reminder that they should often lower their heads and look toward the ground. Eunuchs were not treated as men and were not expected to act like men. Although they wielded significant power within the inner court, they often walked and ran with slouched backs, except when dealing with individuals of equal or lower positions.
Strict hierarchy was the heart of the Holy Flame Empire.
At fast pace, Konrad carried the fabrics through the streets of the inner court and arrived in front of Iliana's embroidery pavilion. At the door, two maids stood guard.
"What's your purpose?"
"Delivery of embroidery fabrics."
Their robotic tone was commonplace among palace maids tasked with guard duties and inspections. Konrad presented the eunuch's token, and after inspecting it, they recorded his name and time of entrance, then let him in.
"Head Palace Maid Iliana has been waiting for the supplies. Hurry in."
Konrad adopted a deferential tone, maintained his back slumped to match the eunuch whose identity he stole and walked in.
The road left no room for ambiguity, and in less than a minute, he reached the central office in which several maids dutifully handled their embroidery tasks. Threads and needles intertwined and moved at breakneck speed, with the maids' focused eyes never shifting from their work. Order, discipline and efficiency drove the workshop.
They were led by a tall palace maid dressed in a close-fitting cyan robe that perfectly highlighted her well-proportioned curves. There was no excess in them, and they couldn't be compared to the likes of Faidra and Aliki. However, they only served to enhance the remarkability of her face.
A beauty that eclipsed a field of blossoming flowers. Her silky green hairs were held in the traditional bun allowed for head palace maids, and her slit emerald eyes contained inviolable pride and dignity which when combined with her lamia bloodline and cultivation base, gave her a natural, compelling aura that would lead normal men astray without them ever realizing it.
In his past life, Konrad had seen many beauties. But they were after all mortal without any striking aura to boost their presence. With time, all of them became mundane, and it was nigh impossible for him to stare due to a woman's appearance. But for an instant, he stared.
"A woman not to be trifled with."
That was his first assessment, and playfulness stepped aside for seriousness.
"This world is different from the Earth you came from. The powerful races often all possess their own unique charm while those with high cultivation bases also boast preternatural presences. That woman is at the eighth step of the True Knight Rank, and very close to the ninth. That matched with her natural assets, it is normal for you to feel dazed. In the future, you will have more surprises."
Informed the system in a relaxed tone.
Maintaining his slouched posture, Konrad stepped toward her at a hurried pace and presented the fabrics' container.
"The head eunuch sends his regards."
And at the moment she laid her eyes on him, Konrad used his Female Dream Theft ability and peered into her core, most primitive fantasy.
What he saw didn't startle him. But the system which shared his visuals was perplexed.
Iliana's slit eyes glanced at the eunuch for an instant, but before they bypassed him, she spotted an anomaly that arched her rounded eyebrows.
"The head eunuch mentioned that the head maid was graced with good fortune and would soon see her wish fulfilled."
And in a flash, her face contorted into a deep frown which then vanished as if nothing had happened.
"Is that so? Is the head eunuch flattering me to make up for the quality of the fabric? I need to review them to make sure you're not trying to swindle us. Come with me."
She ordered and led the way toward her private quarters.
In silence, Konrad followed, never letting his gaze rise until they passed the entrance toward her bedroom. Unlike their inferiors, head palace maids and eunuchs possessed their own private quarters which they could set up to their liking.
"Daring to use such parlor tricks to disguise yourself in the inner court. Is it bravery, or is it stupidity?"
Her sharp, chilling tone carried a threatening vibe that would put most ill at ease. But knowing full well that this was nothing more than a test, Konrad remained unfazed.
"The difference between the two is the likelihood of success. If you dare, you must have some confidence in your odds. Otherwise, it is indeed stupidity."
"And since I dare, I am of course fully prepared."
"Is that so? Well, I care not about your appearance. What I care about is the words you spoke of before. Can you really provide me with a high-grade True Spirit Restoration pill?"
From the words spoken earlier, she had deduced that he brought with him the promise of a True Spirit Restoration pill. For the sake of that item, she could look beyond his disguise.
"I can indeed. In fact, I can guarantee, you will obtain them by tomorrow evening."
Having slouched for too long, Konrad sat within the rattan chair in the corner of the room and exhaled a long breath.
Iliana paid no heed to his rudeness.
"How many can you obtain?"
"How many do you need?"
"Then I can get you two."
"What do you want for it?"
Anyone that did some digging would know that she could not afford those pills so if he came to her, it couldn't be for money.
"What are you not willing to give me?"
Konrad inquired while locking his piercing gaze on her to observe any potential change.
"As long as it doesn't go against my conscience, there is nothing I cannot give you."
The determination within her voice made her statement look irrevocable.
Inwardly, Konrad was startled. It seemed he had underestimated the value she attached to those pills.
"It seems you care deeply for the person you want to save."
Once more, a brief frown flashed by her eyes. But it didn't escape Konrad's attention.
"Don't look at me like that. Spirit Restoration Pills only have one use. You want two, it doesn't take a genius to figure out why. One is for you, the other is for someone likely to have been injured by a spiritual attack."
The correctness of his assessment played no part in the negotiation, so she didn't bother replying.
"Very well, I will not make things too difficult for you. What I want is simple."
He began, and his lips curled into a mischievous grin.
"I want to go on a date with you."
ραndαsΝοvεl ƈοmThis time, Iliana couldn't prevent surprise from showing on her face.
"Are you not aware that romantic relationships between eunuchs and palace maids are punished by death."
There were many cases of eunuchs and palace maids losing their lives for simple trysts. He seemed like a sensible person, and she didn't believe that a sensible person would dive into such a risky path.
"I am well aware. But I do not care. What, are you afraid?"
"It seems like you really are a stupid person."
Iliana concluded with her eyes wide open.
"Stupid or not, I will make you mine."
Unbridled confidence rippled within his words. Confidence that made Iliana wonder where his assurance came from. With the purple bead concealing any trace of his incubus aura, and the theft of the eunuch's appearance, Konrad looked no different than an ordinary human youth.
But even then, as he sat cross-legged on the rattan chair with his profound gaze peering into hers, the light shining within them made her unwilling to underestimate him.
"Very well, I agree. Come find me tomorrow night with the True Spirit Restoring Pills, and I shall entertain you."
There was nothing more to say. Konrad stood up, bridged the distance between them in three short steps, and brought his face an inch away from hers. She didn't evade, meeting him with coldness and defiance.
He said nothing and walked toward the exit with his hands clasped beneath his back.