As soon as Hubert departed, both Konrad and Wolfgang staggered and fell on their rears with droplets of sweats trickling down their foreheads.
In perfect tandem, they released deep sighs of relief while staring at the door that had remained closed from beginning to end, showing no sign of someone exiting.
They exhaled in unison. Although it might seem like they controlled the situation from beginning to end, in reality, it was incomparably dangerous. Any wrong move could have led them into the abyss of destruction.
Hubert, Olrich, Elmar, each was more dreadful than the other and could singlehandedly wipeout house Kracht. Since Hubert's arrival, it seemed the situation had thoroughly reversed to their advantage. But in fact, the tension only skyrocketed.
After all, unlike Olrich who, as emperor, needed to balance the hearts of his vassals, and Elmar who was shackled by his love for his two closest siblings, Hubert had nothing forcing him to act with restraint toward any of them. If he wanted to force them into spitting out the recipes, they could only die.
They'd both gambled on the excessive pride that would prevent him from resorting to such despicable means. They'd also gambled on his desire to unite the serpent race in a single block, a goal that would undoubtedly get harmed by Wolfgang's wrongful death.
Their gamble proved correct.
"Father-in-law, see why you should always trust me? In a single night, look at all the benefits we got. From now on, you should never doubt my orders."
"Loads of horseshit, because of you we almost lost our heads! Unless you perfect your acting skills, I'm not following your plans anymore!"
"How is it my fault? How could I know that the old monster was paying attention to my heart rate? At the end of the day, I'm only seventeen. You are more than two centuries old but didn't even warn me of the possibility!
Obviously, this is all your fault!"
"Me what? Did I say something wrong? Also, who is -you?- I'm your boss! Even if you want to curse, you shouldn't lose decorum!"
Wolfgang had to admit that as the senior cultivator, he should have warned Konrad of the possibility. In fact, to say nothing of a mighty Saint such as Hubert, even a Semi-Saint could effortlessly listen to someone's heartbeat and glean the inconsistencies.
However, he'd never expected that in that fast-paced and heated situation, someone would attempt to do so.
However, how could he so readily admit his wrongs?
"You can't have it both ways. If you're the boss, then you can't count on your subordinates to patch up your plans for you. If you want me to protect your rear, you should release me of my contract, and make me the boss instead!"
"In your dreams!"
*Bam* *Bam* *Bam*
A punching session began, with Wolfgang unable to strike back, and only remaining on the receiving end.
"Stop…stop…after all, I'm still your father-in-law!"
"Do you admit defeat?"
"I admit defeat. You're supreme, invincible, unparalleled under the heavens! Only you are worthy of being the boss of our group of mobsters!"
Wolfgang proclaimed with unparalleled zeal, causing Konrad to burst into laughter, satisfied.
"As long as you know!"
They then fell on one another's back, exhausted.
"Now, Iliana is safe, and so is house Kracht. The imperial family will also not dare make any move for the time being. However…father-in-law, you still need to take precautions. Especially since you're forsaking the Kvass. At the very least, you need to abandon the court to become a business magnate."
Wolfgang nodded in agreement. Following today's events, with his current cultivation, remaining a court official under Olrich's gaze was at best a terrible idea. It was time to follow the ancestor's will and retract from court politics.
However, with the Master-Servant contract biding them, Konrad could feel Wolfgang's reluctance. It wasn't that he clung on political power, but rather that as a court official, he could serve the common people and work toward bettering their lives.
Losing that ability, he couldn't suppress the bitterness within his heart.
"Don't worry. Being a court official is not the only way to help the common people. With unlimited wealth, you can build a plethora of infrastructures aimed at bettering their lives.
With your experience as an official, you already know what they need. With the resources I will bring you and the businesses we will start, both legal and illegal, you can amass enough wealth to royally take care of all those suckers."
The contract was truly a convenient thing. Wolfgang didn't need to voice his concerns that Konrad already understood them. Such a comprehension between lord and servant was rarely found.
"That being the case, tomorrow I will present my resignation to the emperor and open the Kracht merchant house."
"Good. I will dispatch a Semi-Holy inquisitress from the church to stealthily handle house Henlein and retrieve the remaining members of Zamira's tribe. That will fulfill the first part of my commitment to her. Next, we only need to wait for the first batch of ingredients from house Voight, then we can start breeding new talents."
Hearing Zamira's name, Wolfgang's mood soured. Regardless of how hard he tried to suppress his feelings, his love for her remained, and prevented him from fully accepting the situation.
Konrad felt his dismay, the sorrow of realizing the one he lost the most had never truly felt emotions as deep as his, and how easily she could forsake him for the sake of her tribe's future.
For that choice, Wolfgang both loved and loathed her. Of course, love trumped all resentment.
"Father-in-law, love is a short-lived fallacy. A tool leading us into joyful, but animalistic reproduction. Once you understand it, you realize there is nothing special about it. Why must you cling so hard on such a heart-wrenching emotion?"
Konrad inquired while stealthily gauging Wolfgang's thoughts.
"You don't understand, from the first time I saw her, I knew that regardless of who stood in-between, only she was worthy of following me on the long road of cultivation.
Unfortunately, due to the way we met, it is impossible for us to truly be one.
I don't blame you, I only blame myself for not seeing through her rooted thoughts early on. Perhaps if I did, the result would have been different. Perhaps I did and chose to avoid them."
Konrad didn't probe further. The knot within Wolfgang's heart would take time to untie. It wasn't a problem that could be resolved in a few words.
"However, I'm curious. You are so young, yet dare say such words, have you never been in love?"
Konrad straightforwardly replied.
"Father-in-law, let me ask you this. You're driving a carriage with your lover by your side, your mind focused on her and hers on you. What happens?
"We meet with an accident."
"You're driving a boat across the river, your mind revolving around her and hers around you. What happens?"
"We meet with an accident."
"You're walking across the street, hand in hand, her thoughts centered around you, and yours on hers, what happens?"
"We meet with an accident."
"Therefore, I say that to drive a successful relationship across decades, centuries, and a lifetime, at least one must remain sober."
A sober mind, before a blazing heart shall lead to an eternity of passion. At least, that is my philosophy."
Konrad declared, ending the two's exchange.
"Hopefully for you, you can stay true to those words. Though we all have our weaknesses, I suspect you just haven't found the one capable of taking you down a peg…yet.
In any case, my daughter is still waiting for you. Stop wasting time with me and go give her the night of her life!"
Wolfgang roared, and in another burst of laughter, Konrad returned to the space mansion where Iliana remained still and as riveting as ever.
However, her eyes shone with wrath!
"Here you are…again…did you have enough fun outside?"