"Therefore, I conclude that house Kracht is the real mastermind behind the assassination. Knowing that Elmar would eventually strike, they chose to deal the first blow.
Which then raises the question. Was Wolfgang so desperate that for the sake of striking back at the imperial family, he would sacrifice his house's number one talent?
I don't think so."
Again, Adelar grasped the core issue. With the shocking talent he displayed, "Anselm" represented house Kracht's future and once paired with the baptized Iliana, they could bring the Kracht to an era of splendor. No sane man would be willing to give up such a gem for that level of benefit.
"Meaning the dead boy is fake. The real Anselm still breathes, hidden somewhere, most likely being trained in the shadows to keep his life safe while bidding his time for his ascension and return."
Adelar concluded, causing Nils' eyes to brighten with a mixture of hope and expectations.
However, there was still something left to verify.
"Why are you telling me all this? With Elmar out of the picture, you're the one that stands to benefit the most."
The Holy Flame Empire followed strict agnatic primogeniture. The eldest son was heir to the throne, and if he died, the next oldest male prince would replace him. In the rare case that the crown prince was deposed due to heavy misconduct, the second prince still replaced him.
Therefore, Adelar would soon become the new crown prince. And it stood to reason that any truth that benefitted Elmar should have been buried by him. Hence, Nils couldn't understand why he was sharing his insight with her.
Adelar's smile remained unchanged.
"The competition for the throne is a family matter, though Elmar is my rival, he's, first and foremost, the eldest prince. His prestige is the imperial family's prestige. Its loss, ours.
My selfish motive is to use you to pull the truth out of Wolfgang's mouth, punish the Kracht, and save the imperial family's face. However, I can only do it if you're willing to help me.
If you are, I will help you escape confinement, and sneak out of the imperial palace to interrogate Wolfgang.
Hearing Adelar's offer, Nils floundered. Not because she wanted to help him clear charges. No, ultimately this whole thing began because Elmar was too greedy and wouldn't leave the Kracht any way out.
He only had himself to blame, and perhaps confinement would help him turn over a new leaf. At least, she hoped so.
Whether to escape the palace or not was the real source of her inner struggle. If she did, there was a slim hope she could find the truth about Anselm. However, what would happen when her father realized her disappearance?
Would she be back by then?
If she weren't, what would he do?
Those were questions that needed solid answers before she dared escape.
"By the way, the Prosperous Wind Third Prince will soon set out to claim your hand. Father has no way to stop this. In a few months at best, you will be a princess consort of the Prosperous Wind Empire."
With the recent events, Nils had almost forgotten that reality.
"Therefore, regardless of what you want to do, you have to do it now. You need to take the risk at this very instant. There will be no other opportunity because I won't risk offering you one past today."
Though mild, Adelar's words left no room for negotiations.
If she refused today, then this was it. Throughout this life, she would never meet him again.
"The last chance…
The conviction within her eyes convinced Adelar that his plan could carry on unhindered.
"Good, I will try to keep your disappearance a secret for as long as possible. Hopefully, you will be back before anyone notices."
Adelar then stood up and extended his hand toward Nils.
"Come, let's leave this place."
Nils looked at Adelar's hands with confusion, not sure whether he was jesting or not. However, the seriousness within his gaze seemed to indicate otherwise.
"Just like that?"
"Just like that."
Though still hesitant, Nils took his hand. Without any artifice, Adelar carried her outside, locking the door behind them, and leading her past the guards who seemed completely unaware of their presence.
In that manner, he brought her to the imperial palaces' exit. Nils' eyes were full of fright, from the Cold Quarter to the exit, there were at least dozens of miles. However, she could swear that Adelar only took nine steps to carry her over there.
"Could he be…a space attribute user?"
Space was one of the rarest attributes. Its users often finding themselves in the Great Void Empire's Space Temple. In the Holy Flame Empire, one hand was enough to count all the space attribute users.
Adelar was never on the list.
Why was he revealing that secret before her? Did he really trust her that much?
Adelar said while extending a silver bracelet toward Nils.
"What is it?"
"When you're ready to return, you only need to rub it three times, and I will send you back."
Those words confirmed Nils' suspicions.
"So…you really are…"
"Time is of the essence. Hurry up. I hope your trip will be fruitful, and we can together recover the imperial family's dignity."
Nils thought that perhaps she'd misjudged that second brother of hers, and knowing that she had no intention to help him regain anything, she felt guilty.
Still, she couldn't let go of the opportunity, nodded, and darted toward the Kracht mansion! As she vanished, Adelar turned heels, walking back toward his own quarters.
There, another paragon spirit man awaited. The third prince, Laurens von Jurgen.
"I suppose it went without a hitch?"
"Indeed. That child still has a lot to learn when it comes to dealing with centuries-old creatures like ourselves."
Adelar replied to Laurens' inquiry.
"I'm confused, why take so much trouble for house Kracht? You don't really intend to help Elmar, do you?"
Although Adelar had warned Laurens of his plan and asked him to make some arrangements, he didn't share his entire thoughts with him.
"From the moment Wolfgang Kracht dared conspire against us, house Kracht needed to be destroyed. Although he doesn't say it, father is of the same mind. However, with the church watching from the side, he needs a valid reason.
We will give him one. Nils has been abducted; that is reason enough to dispatch troops.
Nils was found captive in the Kracht mansion; that is reason enough to destroy them.
At the same time, her relationship with that Kracht boy doesn't seem simple. Perhaps we can use her to lure him out and execute that hidden danger once and for all."
Used to Adelar's lethal ploys, Laurens was undisturbed.
"You seem oddly concerned by this case?"
"We should all be. A point all seem unable to grasp is that Holger was in on the ploy, and helped frame Elmar."
Hearing those words, Laurens' eyes widened in disbelief.
"That is impossible, the relationship between the two is more solid than iron. Anyone can do it, except him."
"Yet, it is indeed him. If the usual Holger learned of his most trusted being swindled into an assassination attempt, he would have kept silent, and then presented himself as the sole culprit, not giving Elmar an opportunity to take the blame.
However, he did precisely the opposite. In fact, all his deeds pushed Elmar into the trap. Therefore, we're dealing with someone capable of making Holger risk destruction to entrap his closest brother. Neither Wolfgang nor Hubert possess those skills.
Such a terrifying individual and we don't know who he is."
Laurens' eyes shone with fright.
"Between the Kracht and the Voight exist someone earnestly working toward the imperial family's destruction. With luck, we can make him reveal a flaw.
If we can't, fine. Let's first destroy the Kracht trouble."
Laurens nodded in approval.
"Don't worry, the spies are ready. As soon as Nils steps into house Kracht, we will be alerted and can then let the guards discover her disappearance."
"Good. When the news spread and father's fury explode, you will offer to lead the rescue mission. Father will agree. You can use that opportunity to gain merit for future use."
Laurens nodded. However, he still had something troubling him.
"Won't Nils reveal everything afterward?"
"The bracelet not only allows me to locate and transport her but through it, I can also erase her memories from a distance. When we need her to forget our involvement, she will."
Tonight, the moon hung high in the sky, and as its light illuminated Adelar's face, Laurens couldn't help but find him more dreadful.