The glaring shock within Konrad's eyes perplexed Yvonne who couldn't hear the ongoing communication.
"Wolfgang, do you have a space treasure?"
"No, I do not."
Konrad wanted to ask Wolfgang to knock Nils out and hide her in a space treasure, but it seemed he would have to give up that task. He also considered asking him to leave Nils alone in the Kracht mansion while bringing all his kinsmen away, but due to the third prince's impending arrival, he also had to discontinue that plan.
"Alright, I will send someone to deal with this."
He needed someone fast, fast enough to get there, grab her, and leave before the third prince could show up. For the sake of not appearing too obvious, he would undoubtedly search other houses first. Therefore, there was still some time. However, the job not only required a Saint level cultivation base, but it also demanded someone able to go undetected.
Only Krann fit all the requirements. Therefore, Konrad asked Yvonne to dismiss the maid, then summoned him.
"Greetings, master! How may I serve you?"
The sudden appearance of the monstrous familiar caused another wave of puzzlement within Yvonne's mind. Still, she restrained her questions, sensing the gravity in Konrad's deeds.
Use your Transformation Skill to change your appearance and hide your energy signature, then dive into house Kracht to capture this girl, undetected."
Konrad sent Nils' image to Krann before carrying on.
"Bring her to a secluded, spot, away from the city, wait for the storm to pass, then tell her that if she wants to see me again, she should first stop causing me trouble. You have five seconds, go!"
Instantaneously, Krann turned into a suave middle-aged man with no discernible aura or cultivation. He then vanished from the scene, using his Saint-level speed to cross the distance separating them from house Kracht in the blink of an eye.
Long before Laurens could arrive with his troops, Krann descended on the Kracht mansion, knocked out Nils, and carried her outside of the city, all within the span of five seconds.
As per Konrad's orders, he kept her there, waiting for Laurens' team to enter and leave house Kracht in failure.
Following Adelar's will, Laurens searched six noble houses before heading toward Wolfgang's.
"Before you grab her, do not reveal any flaw. Act as if she merely snuck out of the palace without warning, and you're carrying out a routine search. It will still raise questions, but when matched with the interrogation she must have put Wolfgang under, he shouldn't have too many doubts.
Then once you find her, declare the charge and kill them all."
Adelar's words still echoed within Laurens' ears.
Soon, he reached Wolfgang's gate, and when they saw his golden robe, the guards fell on their knees.
"Greetings, your highness."
Laurens presented an imperial token, proof that he was acting under the emperor's order. The guards didn't dare stop him and undisturbed, he walked in. Bringing with him his small corps.
Although the guards couldn't bar his path, they still needed to report to their master. Therefore, they rushed back inside to announce Laurens' arrival.
Soon, Wolfgang stepped out. Welcoming the third prince with due decorum.
"Your highness, may I know what brings you to my humble house?"
"Nothing much. For some reason, that willful sister of mine escaped the palace in the dark of night. We've been looking for her since we discovered her escape, even browsing through the noble houses in the vicinity to seek clues.
People say she had a good relationship with your deceased son-in-law. Perhaps she's here to visit his grave? In any case, it's good if she's here, if she's not, we will conduct a small search for due diligence then carry on."
Laurens replied, with an amiable smile.
Inwardly, Wolfgang sneered. Had Konrad not revealed the ploy and taken appropriate countermeasures, he would have truly died full of grievances. Fortunately, one could always count on that cheap boss.
"Your highness is polite. Since this matter concerns the princess, please feel free to search!"
Laurens frowned. Such a reply didn't follow the script. Normally, Wolfgang should have directed him toward Nils, why was he acting as if she weren't here?
But quickly, he recomposed himself, and with a smile, dispatched his team to conduct the search.
However, as it carried on, Laurens' face formed an ugly grimace.
Nils was nowhere to find!
The Semi-Saints and Transcendent Knights swept every corner of house Kracht but to no avail.
"Your highness, why doesn't this seem like a routine search? It almost looks like you're convinced you should find the princess here?"
Wolfgang inquired with a deep frown.
"How could that be, we just…"
Laurens began, but Wolfgang cut him dry.
"Although I'm no longer involved in court politics, I was elevated to the rank of margrave by his majesty himself. Ransacking my domain in such a wanton manner for no reason seems a bit…improper?
Should I send the bill?
Or maybe gather my former colleagues to file an official petition?"
The more Wolfgang spoke, the more Laurens felt like he was making fun of him, and nerves beat on his temple.
"This is clearly a misunderstanding. Margrave Wolfgang, please accept my most sincere apologies."
Laurens declared in a deep bow and recalled the troops.
"As for the bill…I will personally pay you back the triple. Feel free to send it."
Laurens then turned heels and took his leave.
"I definitely will!"
Wolfgang exclaimed while waving the third prince goodbye.
Once Krann received Konrad's signal that all was clear, he woke Nils from her torpor.
"W-where…who…who are you?"
She asked, startled by the sudden change in scenery. One moment she was still questioning Wolfgang, the next she was standing in the outskirts of the imperial city with a foreign, middle-aged man by her side.
"Today, your stupidity almost caused the destruction of an entire house. He asked me to tell you that if you don't stop causing him trouble, you will never see him again."
Nils was confused.
"I don't understand, what are you talking about? Who are you talking a…wait…Anselm?"
But Krann said nothing more, vanishing into nothingness, leaving a dumbfounded Nils to fend for herself.
At that time, the bracelet on her wrist glittered in white light, and she forgot everything following her meeting with Adelar.
She then vanished from where she stood, reappearing before the palace's gate, unconscious. Except that this time, she no longer had the bracelet on her.
Meanwhile, within his quarters, Adelar was reading a scroll when a fuming Laurens barged in.
"We've been conned! Somehow, that Wolfgang was aware of our ploy and got rid of her beforehand. But I don't understand, how did he know, and how did he do it without alerting the spies I prepared?!"
Toward this fit of fury, Adelar remained unfazed. That attitude of his only caused Laurens to grow more restless.
However, when those two words left Adelar's lips, Laurens didn't dare make a move, sitting still like an obedient dog.
"The loose ends have been taken care of, and the prodigal daughter returned. Father will know someone from the inside plotted this. But he won't be able to trace it back to us. That being the case, why such restlessness.
You need to temper your nerves."
Laurens pulled in a deep breath, regaining his composure.
"Aren't you the least bit annoyed at having your plot foiled?"
"If the plot is foiled, the orchestrator is at fault. Instead of beating myself over it, shouldn't I learn from my mistakes, to prevent such a thing from happening again?"
Adelar's words made Laurens realize his lack of vision.
"I was shortsighted. My apologies, second brother."
Adelar set aside his scroll and stood up.
"However, this whole thing wasn't without gain."
Laurens was confused. The only thing he gained was bills to pay. How was that a good thing? Still, he didn't dare interrupt Adelar.
"At least now I know exactly where our opponent lies."
Laurens' confusion deepened, and he could no longer restrain himself.
"Second brother, please elaborate."
"There is no way Wolfgang could have known what was coming for him. Vague suspicions maybe, but such prompt actions show that he'd been alerted of our ploy beforehand and took the adequate countermeasures.
Calculating timing, it means that within this palace, there is someone that learned of Nils' -abduction,- and also knew that she currently was residing with Wolfgang.
That person alerted him.
But you're right on one thing, Wolfgang doesn't have the skills to evade our spies. Therefore, I conclude that person must have also helped him ship Nils somewhere and as I erased her memories, I saw the glimpses of a brief talk with some unknown middle-aged man."
Laurens' eyes shone with understanding.
"Now that we know our opponent is in this very palace, isn't everything simpler? We'll find him, skewer him, and get rid of that nuisance once and for all."
Adelar's eyes flashed with a bone-chilling glint. However, his gentle smile remained unchanged.