As she heard Anke's words, Nils' eyes twitched. It would be a lie to say that her brothers' current conditions didn't make her heart ache. They were her closest relatives in this world and had always been at her side, supporting her through all endeavors.
However, as "Anselm's face" reappeared within her mind, her softening heart was replaced by rage.
"They only have themselves to blame. Who asked them to foment such an evil ploy? I will never forgive them!"
Hearing those words, Anke knew that all her words were like eggs thrown at a brick wall. As Nils' mother, she knew that her most descriptive trait wasn't her righteous heart.
No, it was her stubbornness! Once she set her mind on something, besides herself, no one could make her waver. Therefore, if she weren't willing to forget and forgive, regardless of what her mother said, she never would.
Aware of that, Anke shook her head.
"They have loved you in vain. In this world, what is good? What is evil? Born in the imperial family, how could say such naïve words? Ultimately, Olrich is to blame for this, raising you like a fledgling phoenix in a golden cage, and keeping the realities of this world, of this house, away from you.
Regardless of villainy, winners are hailed as kings. Regardless of kindness, losers are condemned as criminals. When imperial power is concerned, right and wrong exist only in the mind of the delusional.
House von Jurgen, doesn't have a living good person. If you don't learn to adapt, who knows when your corpse will join that of the -good people.-"
Hearing those words, Nils frowned. Deep down, she knew her mother's words correct. The imperial family was a den of wolves struggling for power and favor. All smiles were false, profit ruled supreme, and righteousness had no foothold. And the reason behind this was her father!
Because of how he ruled, of the "principles" he defended, the house took this callous shape. But toward her, although often strict, that same person showed incomparable love, and care. Hence, Nils deluded herself into thinking that he had his own difficulties.
But now, she was starting to wonder if this wasn't all a farce. The thought daggered her heart.
Anke then turned heels, ready to leave. But then, she stopped, and following a brief internal struggle, declared.
"In the imperial palace, Olrich von Jurgen is Heavens. If he cherishes you, no one can harm you, and your status is unshakable. But once he sees you as an eyesore, even the Divine Flame Lord cannot save you.
Use his favor to cement your position, instead of testing the limits of his patience."
Anke didn't dare reveal Wenzel's fate to Nils. In the imperial palace, no one dared. All knew that the emperor's love for that only daughter was rivaled only by his ruthlessness. Thus, knowledge that could deepen the rift between them wasn't something they dared bring to her ears.
Saying nothing further, Anke left.
But as she stepped outside of the mansion, she failed to realize that from the shadows, someone observed her.
Once she left, that person emerged from the darkness, revealing himself as the second prince, Adelar von Jurgen.
Adelar stepped inside.
The guards at the mansion's gate never realized his presence or entrance.
Undisturbed, he crossed the hallway until he reached the sealed gate behind which Nils lied. With a gentle shove, as if there were no lock, to begin with, he pushed the gate open and walked in.
Adelar's sudden appearance took Nils by surprise, and with a frown, she turned toward him.
"Second brother? What are you doing here?"
Nils defensively asked, unable to understand how Adelar snuck in.
Though handsome and refined, the second prince, Adelar von Jurgen, was an unremarkable, lowkey person. No one knew his cultivation level, and rarely did the world hear of his deeds. On the outside, he also never formed factions, didn't compete for the crown, and treated everyone with sincerity.
However, Nils believed him to be the most monstrous person of this wretched family.
No one could always smile. But Adelar always did. His face forever showing amiability and contentment. For that reason, Nils dreaded him even more than her father.
Unlike Elmar, Nils, and Holger, Adelar wasn't a pureblooded paragon spirit. That plus his excessively lowkey attitude made many dismiss him as inferior to Elmar in cultivation talent.
But Elmar disagreed.
"Only father knows Adelar's cultivation level. It's not that others don't want to, but they can't see through it. However, at the very least, he's my equal."
Those words of Elmar still resounded in Nils' mind. Their implication, as clear as daylight. Elmar was Crown Prince since birth. The resources at his disposal leagues above that of his other siblings. If Adelar could still catch up to him with that gap, then he was indeed a frightening individual.
"Can't a brother visit his confined sister? I thought you could use the company."
Adelar began, his voice carrying a melodious tone that lowered the listener's guard and put the mind at ease.
However, Nils didn't let that confuse her.
"Second brother, you and I aren't that close."
Adelar agreed and sat by Nils' side.
"Actually, I thought you'd want to know that our brothers are being framed."
Adelar said with his eternal smile, causing Nils' face to ripple with a new wave of astonishment. However, she quickly recomposed herself.
"What makes you say that?"
Adelar lied with his back against the wall and his hands resting on his thighs while his eyes locked onto Nils'.
"It's simple, really. Although they indeed had all the reasons in the world to want the boy dead, there are many questionable points. The first one being the men used to carry out the task.
Besides Holger's guard captain, not a single one of them could be identified. Their heads destroyed by Wolfgang. Moreover, don't you find it odd that in order to assassinate your friend, Holger dispatched his own guard captain? A man that obeyed only to him and could so easily incriminate him?
Even if he were that brain damaged, is Elmar that foolish?"
Nils had to agree that Adelar's words made perfect sense. To say nothing of Elmar, Holger could never commit such a blunder.
"Another questionable point is timing. As soon as the boy died, and before the assassins could even break out, Wolfgang appeared to dispatch them. As if he knew they were there beforehand."
As Adelar's explanation carried on, Nils' eyes kept widening.
"We also need to question how those assassins, whose strongest cultivator was merely in the Transcendent Rank managed to sneak into a core location of house Kracht guarded by the Semi-Saint Wolfgang, on the day of his daughter's wedding.
And if that's not enough, ask yourself why Hubert Voight appeared at that critical moment.
All those points combined clearly tell us that the whole thing was a sham meant to frame our brothers. The guard captain was either conned by an outsider posing as Holger or compromised in one way or another. Considering that he vanished before his execution, I'd lean on the later."
Nils' eyes shone with enlightenment.