Back within Yvonne's quarter, Konrad lied with the back of his head against her chest while she massaged his temple.
"Mhm…I still don't understand, who in this palace would be so bold as to make Nils the bait for such a scheme? Or was our opponent that confident that no one could trace it back to him?
Could it be a von Jurgen Saint elder?"
Konrad didn't consider the imperial princes. To his knowledge, Elmar was the most outstanding of them all, but even he didn't have such skills. The opponent was not only crafty but possessed profound, elusive means that allowed him to evade detection from even Saints.
"Unlikely, I know all the von Jurgen elders. Most of them train in seclusion and don't bother with empire politics. As for the rare few who do, they've long since become Olrich's loyal subordinates. They wouldn't thread on such risky territory just for the sake of eliminating house Kracht."
As the events unfolded, Konrad had shared the whole matter with Yvonne, hoping to use her experience and knowledge of the imperial family to find clues.
However, they couldn't find much.
Unsurprisingly, the thought of a hidden enemy making untraceable moves against him put Konrad ill at ease.
"If the answer is not among those we know well, what about those we don't?"
Konrad asked while Yvonne carried on with the head massage.
"The only member of the imperial family I don't have a clear understanding of is…the second prince."
Yvonne shook her head.
"There really isn't much to say. He's very lowkey and rarely leaves his quarters. Of Olrich's nine children, he's the third most favored. Yet, he doesn't involve himself in court politics, and never contends with Elmar for the crown.
At least not openly."
Yvonne began, but then, as if recalling something, she furrowed her eyebrows.
"However, I remember that in one of his trouble seeking visits, Olrich mentioned that it's both a blessing and a pity that his crown prince is nothing like him."
By "his crown prince" Olrich, of course, referred to Elmar. For him to speak such words, the second prince couldn't just be an unremarkable person. In the future, Konrad resolved to pay him more attention.
"Though now, with Elmar's demotion, he will be pushed into the limelight as the next crown prince."
"I wonder what the girl will have to say when she returns…"
"What is your relationship with her that she acts so recklessly when you're concerned? Could she be one of your conquests?"
Yvonne asked. Her tone a mixture of teasing and amusement.
"What conquest? The one time I'm actually trying to avoid someone, and it ends creating all these problems. Nils and I are not a good fit. This only goes two ways; I either corrupt her or don't touch her. I'm starting to lean on the former…"
Konrad replied with a sigh. It was very likely that the mind meld left too deep an impression on Nils and caused her to gradually foster romantic feelings for him. And when she learned of "his death," those feelings exploded.
"Oh Yvonne, why can't other women be like you?"
"If they were, wouldn't you get bored?"
"True, I'd probably just kill them all to again make you unique."
"Not if I kill them first."
Yvonne then took Konrad's lips into hers for an impromptu kiss.
Meanwhile, Nils remained unconscious on Olrich's bed. He sat by her side, silently watching over her, with anger burning in his eyes.
The whole situation was incomprehensible. Someone kidnapped, then sent her back without an ounce of physical harm?
What was the meaning of this?
But while Olrich's fury burned, Nils' eyelids trembled and slowly, she awoke.
Her eyes opened to the sight of Olrich sitting by her side.
She asked, her tone still feeble.
"Don't move. Can you tell me what happened?"
Olrich asked while preventing Nils from standing up. Nils browsed through her memories, trying to recall the scenes, but following her mother's visit, only darkness remained.
With a frown, Olrich placed his hand on Nils' forehead, spreading his holy force within her mind. His frown deepened.
"Your memories have been tampered with. No wonders, although you don't have any physical damage, you're this exhausted. Don't worry, just lie down and rest. Father won't let anything else happen to you."
With his holy force, Olrich induced Nils into sleep and stood up. He then headed toward the morgue, where the dead guards were currently being examined. There, the coroner awaited alongside the two dead bodies.
"What did you find?"
Olrich asked, his voice stern and demanding results.
The coroner trembled, but with the situation being what it was, he didn't dare lie.
"N-nothing…there is no physical injury whatsoever."
Such an answer couldn't please Olrich. However, instead of lashing out at the coroner, he stepped toward the corpses and placed his hands on their foreheads. Using his holy force, he personally analyzed them.
The results were inconsequential.
"They suffered absolutely no physical harm. Thus, we can infer that they died from a spiritual attack. But how could this be?"
Those guards were both mid-level Semi-Holy Knights. Only for Nils' protection could Olrich dispatch such manpower. If anyone heard that a confined princess of the Arch Rank was being guarded by Semi-Saints, they would have burst into laughter.
But now, it seemed his preparations were still insufficient.
Starting with the Transcendent Priest Rank, anyone could use spiritual attacks. However, to kill mid-level Semi-Holy Knights with those alone, the murderer should either be a Holy Priest, or a high-level Semi-Holy Priest with incomparably formidable soul power.
Priests of the Semi-Holy Rank or above were in short supply in the imperial family, most of them already serving the church.
Therefore, the list wasn't that exhaustive.
"Could it be…him?"
Olrich's mind drifted to Adelar. However, he dismissed the thought.
The night Nils vanished, his spies confirmed that Adelar had never left his quarters. How could he be at two places at the same time?
He was not a Saint.
Within the imperial palace, there were only two people Olrich kept under close watch. Yvonne and Adelar. The former, out of possessiveness, the later, out of fear.
Olrich truly worried that while he slept, that "good" son of his would surpass and butcher him.
If Elmar carried his greatest expectations, and Nils his deepest love, then Adelar was his pride and joy. That being the case, he couldn't kill him. Not now, the love still had to grow before the executioner's ax dropped to fuel his rise.
"You can't stay here anymore."
Yvonne told Konrad as they frolicked within her bed.
"Are you chasing me?"
"Don't be daft."
Yvonne rolled her eyes, feeling that acting spoiled really didn't suit Konrad.
"You're right. It's time to go back to the empress and report accomplishments. I will tell her how I managed to conquer you and get rewards."
With the emperor's tendency to dispatch spies toward Yvonne's quarters, if Konrad didn't depart, it wouldn't be long before Olrich received news that one eunuch remained in Yvonne's quarters.
They didn't need such publicity at the moment. It was time to go.