The emperor's sudden appearance and blatant covering of the crown prince took many aback.
What bribe? The guard captain was a von Jurgen handpicked by the emperor himself and whose life entirely revolved around Holger's wellbeing. Who dared bribe him? Bribe him with what?
Even Olrich didn't believe his words. The only reasonable explanation he could come up with was that someone paused as Holger to entrap them all. That or Holger was the real mastermind behind the ploy.
But how could that be?
The emperor's pressure weighed heavily on Wolfgang, forcing him to take another step back.
"Do not falter. Help will soon arrive."
Konrad reassured Wolfgang through a mental message while maintaining his disguise of the wailing widow.
Although he couldn't tell who would join the fun, they'd created such a beautiful opportunity to take the imperial family down a peg. At the very least, the church would not stay idle.
Wolfgang's eyes regained their full conviction as he fired a defiant gaze toward Olrich. He then fell on his knees.
"Your majesty, all my life I've toiled for the empire, for the imperial family's glory. When the barbarians stirred north, it is I who received your majesty's order to lead the armies and suppress their advance.
When the two kingdom alliances threatened to rob our cities, it was still I who dispatched troops and opposed them.
Lastly, when your majesty's consort began forming factions and infecting the imperial court with her spies, it was still I who gathered the nobles, leading them into resistance!"
Olrich roared, however, Wolfgang didn't stop.
"Across centuries of loyal service, I have never asked for rewards, never asked for more land, honor, or wealth. Only asking to faithfully serve the empire. However…what did I gain in return?!"
Full of fervor, Wolfgang's words aroused the indignation of those surrounding nobles.
"Listening to your favorite consort, your majesty took my only daughter and niece into house arrest! Allowing one to fall into a decade long coma, and the other to suffer the humiliation of degenerating into a maid!
I ask your majesty, is this your reward for those centuries of service?
Your majesty then allowed them to return home, but when my daughter falls in love with my house's new talent and future hope; when out of jealousy the evil prince has him murdered during their wedding night, your majesty asks me…to forget about it?
Is this your majesty's reward? Is this how the empire pays back…centuries of loyalty? If so, then although I, Wolfgang, am but an ant in front of your majesty's boundless power, this ant must decline your majesty's -goodwill- and challenge oppression!"
Carried by Semi-Holy Force, Wolfgang's words boomed, spreading throughout the city, and echoing in the ears of the nobility and clergy!
"Good! Very good! Father-in-law, I have not raised you in vain!"
Konrad inwardly jubilated while observing Wolfgang's performance.
The soul-stirring show had in a flash turned the entire nobility against the imperial family. Although most didn't have the gals to oppose them, as long as resentment brewed, there were many places, for future counterattacks.
A country wasn't ruled by cultivation alone. Without an adequate balance of the people's hearts and needs, how could there be stability? Olrich understood that better than anyone, for that reason, he rarely used his cultivation to oppress his subjects.
However, he didn't expect that Wolfgang would so blatantly dare oppose him and spread his voice across the entire city.
If he couldn't redress the situation, then from now on, Olrich von Jurgen would be known as a fatuous ruler harming loyal officials for the sake of bias and lust!
At a moment when he'd already thoroughly offended the church, how could he bear such a charge?
"Wolfgang Kracht, do not twist truth and falsehood! I have always held you in high regards. That is why among so many vassals and official, whenever the country needed someone to stand for it, I gave you priority. I didn't bestow more honors, lands, and wealth upon you because I understood you had no use for them. That your greatest privilege had always been fighting for your country's prosperity!"
Olrich retorqued with a volume that easily suppressed Wolfgang.
As for Else's matters…he avoided them altogether, deflecting the talk from them. All believed that Else's doings were out of wild ambitions. However, the truth was that most of the things she did, at least those things known to all, were first approved by him. What else could he say?
"Wolfgang, I understand your pain, but you mustn't allow it to cloud your judgment and break the faith between lord and vassal! Otherwise, how can you face your ancestors?"
If Olrich didn't bring ancestors into the game, Wolfgang couldn't say anything. But since they were now a part of it, he could only strike hard.
"So your majesty still remembers the Kracht ancestors? Good, very good.
Fifty thousand years ago, our house founder was initially a Saint, and in his time, battled all under heaven to expand the empire's territory, protect the common people, and defend the imperial family's prestige.
He was your majesty's ancestors' sword brother. But that didn't prevent the past emperor from believing slander and let him get framed by corrupt officials. My ancestor was executed, his wealth confiscated, his lands split among the corrupt officials, and his name smeared for centuries.
From a sovereign prince house, the Kracht degenerated into a baron level house. And only after centuries could we clear the ancestor's name, and rebuild to the count level. Does your majesty know what my ancestor's last wishes were?"
Wolfgang gave Olrich no time to defend himself before pursuing.
"His last wish was that his descendants would never step into country politics again! That even if the country burned, and no one else was willing to defend it, those surnamed Kracht should not step forward!
Thank you, your majesty, for your reminder. We, Kracht, have been rejecting the ancestor's will for millennia. But today, thanks to your majesty, I am reminded of that pledge!
Since your majesty is unwilling to grant us justice, then henceforth, I, Wolfgang Kracht pledge to never again involve myself in the matters of the court! To forsake the country's needs, and like a man of low aspirations, live only for wealth and splendor!
Thank you, your majesty!"
Wolfgang kowtowed, and without another word, stood up to place the "brokenhearted Iliana" on his shoulder, and turn his back onto Olrich.
If Olrich couldn't stop him, his reputation as emperor was bound to take a crushing blow. Things had spiraled out of hands!
Moreover, Wolfgang's words had turned into shields protecting him and his house. If he died tomorrow, even if Olrich had nothing to do with it, the entire world would blame it on him!
Hateful! Incomparably hateful!
But as Olrich was about to give concessions and salvage the situation, a voice thundered from within the sky.
"I will give you justice."
Clouds of pure darkness bloated the sky, spreading across hundreds of miles.
The darkness attribute, the Holy Continent most scorned and dreaded attribute now wildly spread across the entire city.
Seeing it, Olrich shivered.
"No…not now…anyone but him."
But across the Holy Flame Empire, within the heart of the church, who else dared so blatantly display dark energies?
The dark clouds gathered, coalescing in the form of a two meters tall, middle-aged man with calf-length black hairs, a long Guan Yu like beard, and slit silver eyes that contrasted with the crushing dark forces surrounding him.
Seeing his arrival, there was not one man who didn't hold his breath.
Ranked second among the empire's Ten Great Hegemons, the lord of all winged serpents, and unofficial master of the serpent race. The one man, Olrich still dreaded to this day.
Sovereign Prince Hubert Voight!
"Von Jurgen boy, long time no see!"