Although Dawn barely showed itself, the Kracht mansion had already risen. No, rather than "risen," it was more accurate to say that it had not slept. While the preparations were complete, they still needed to pay attention to every single detail, from food to seat assignments to make sure no blunder would occur.
The leading Kracht servants moved about, guiding their subordinates through various tasks and preparing to receive the guest. Them aside, even the main Kracht Kinsmen failed to find sleep.
Using the resources Konrad put at his disposal, Wolfgang's cultivation was sharply rising. With a few more days, he could easily breakthrough the fourth step Semi-Holy Knight Rank. However, that wasn't enough. Konrad wasn't the only one eager for breakthroughs. The feeling of being coerced by a greater force and backed into a corner stifled the Kracht Patriarch.
Was he powerful enough, why would his daughter need to go through this fake wedding? Why would a Kracht son need to sacrifice his life? He could just obliterate the von Jurgen and be done with it.
Unfortunately, he didn't have the ability.
Meanwhile, Wulf paced back and forth within his chambers. Wolfgang aside, no one knew the full details of the operation. Therefore, Wulf's only knowledge was that the wedding day was bound to shake the city…an, perhaps even the empire. Success or failure would determine their house's future.
Although they never spoke such words in front of their ladies, the Kracht brothers knew very well that if the imperial family's ploy weren't thwarted, Wolfgang would get murdered so that they could fully take control of the Kracht assets in Iliana's name.
Such were the empire's politics.
Daphne, Zamira and Iliana were currently standing within the latter's chambers. Although they were still several hours away from the wedding time, Daphne dutifully combed Iliana's hairs while Zamira oversaw the process from the side.
As a former Barbarian Chieftain, the Kracht matron was never particularly fond of such things. However, for the sake of blending in, she had to learn. And for the sake of her daughter, she would supervise and make sure nothing went wrong.
The men might think that this was nothing more than a sham, but as far as Iliana was concerned, Zamira firmly believed that she was taking the ceremony with absolute seriousness. Whether she would have another such a ceremony in the future was a total unknown.
Therefore, she should relish in it while she still could.
Although the church didn't intervene in weddings, they followed its customs. The Celestial Realm's wedding customs. A pearl white gown hanged by Iliana's side. As if animated by heavenly forces, it shimmered and dazzled the eyes.
This enchanted robe was the standard wedding dress within the Holy Continent.
As she stared at it from the right corner of her eyes, trepidations overtook Iliana's heart. Trepidations Daphne felt.
"Why are you getting nervous? That dress is yours, just like the day is yours."
Daphne reassured, feeling Iliana's anxiety.
"But after all, this isn't really…"
"It doesn't matter. As long as you walk down the aisle by his side, all else is unimportant."
Bitterness and self-depreciation intertwined within Daphne's voice as she spoke. At the end of the day, the status of imperial consort still hanged above her head and therefore, as long as the holy emperor breathed, even a false wedding was out of her reach.
She may not care about status and conformity, but at the end of the day, even she could picture herself in that radiant gown by the side of the man that made her heart tremble.
Experience allowed Zamira to spot the small details within Daphne's face and reconstruct her thoughts. However, she didn't comment, allowing the two to carry on. If she held any peculiar thought, she showed nothing of it. Then again, she rarely did.
*Knock* *Knock* *Knock*
The knocking sounds pulled Konrad out of his meditation, lifting his eyes toward the door behind which a nervous servant awaited.
"What's the matter?"
"Young lord, it's time to prepare."
Time had flown by faster than Konrad expected. While he focused on cultivation, the sun had reached its zenith, dazzling the Kracht mansion.
"Very well, I'm on my way."
Konrad replied, stood up, and stepped out of his room. The servant girl led him to another room where Wolfgang awaited with a resplendent white robe by his side, and two servants ready to help Konrad don it.
"The church does love its artifices."
Konrad commented upon seeing the over the top white robe, shaking his head in disapproval.
That disapproval caused Wolfgang's lips to curl into a smile.
"While it's a bit excessive, it's the custom. For the sake of success, please bear with it. Also, you still must sign your marriage contract."
Konrad sighed and walked toward his fate.
While the groom and bride's last preparations carried on, one after the other, noble guests joined house Kracht's celebration. There was still more than an hour before the ceremony would officially start. However, dozens of nobles had already filled the seats of the wedding venue.
Most of them came from Briefadel houses, low nobility eager to build connections. Lords and Barons composed the bulk of the guests. Besides them, there were also a few viscounts and a scant few counts. However, neither margrave nor dukes were present.
The wedding venue was large enough to host hundreds. There would never be enough people.
At the wedding officiant's right was a door leading straight to the nuptial chambers. The couple would go past that door once the ceremony ended to consummate the wedding.
The seated guests exchanged greetings, jokes, and thoughts while awaiting the arrival of the future couple.
Custom demanded that the elders would come in first, and stand beside the officiants, then the bride and groom were led in by a group of maids who stopped at the marriage hall's entrance and allowed to stride toward their new fate side by side.
"The ceremony begins!"
The officiant announced upon receiving the news, causing the guest to instantly turn silent.
Two sets of people then walked in. Wolfgang and Zamira on the left, and Anselm Kracht's two "closest" relatives on the right. Since his parents were long gone, they could only find substitutes.
The four walked down the aisle, taking their respective spots at the left and right of the officiant.
Shortly afterward, a procession of maids in sky blue dresses laid the bride and groom in.
They were not allowed to exchange glances and words, but that never stopped mental messages.
Konrad asked as they stopped before the aisle with dozens of unfamiliar eyes staring at them.
"I was born ready."