"What do you mean by this?"
The rising fury within Olrich's tone brought Nils' attention back onto him. Ignoring that Konrad's odd look, she carried on.
"I mean, exactly what I say. I will go through the betrothal process and follow the third prince back to the Prosperous Wind Empire. There, I will orchestrate my death on the eve of the wedding."
Olrich rose from his seat with eyes set ablaze by rage.
"Nils I've heard you say a lot of nonsense, but this definitely trumps everything else. Who's asking you to kill yourself? Are you out of your mind? Or do you think you can use your life to threaten me?!"
Initially, Olrich believed Nils was merely throwing a fit, hoping to force him into fighting against all the odds to preserve her life. Konrad thought the same. However, her following words quickly convinced them of otherwise.
"My mind has never been clearer. On the contrary, it is father that doesn't see the clear opportunity. Allow me to explain."
Nils began in a calm, serious tone that filled Olrich with confusion.
"Marriage is inevitable. We're all aware of that. In fact, Great Void or Prosperous Wind, to me it's all the same. Foreign land heralding days of sorrow. Moreover, I feel our family still owes someone a life. Since none of you are going to repay it, I should do it on your behalf and apologize to him in heaven.
That is my first reason.
However, I understand that we owe our lives to our parents. I don't dare give it up without first paying back what I owe you. You can dispatch trusted maids as my ladies-in-waiting to follow me to the Prosperous Wind Empire.
On the eve of the wedding, they can kill me, and blame my death on masked assassins. Regardless of the truth, the Prosperous Wind Empire cannot shoulder this responsibility. Therefore, they will shift the blame on foreign nations.
Since the Great Void Empire is no pushover, and the Water Kingdom Alliance has no cause, the Earth Kingdom Alliance will most likely become the scapegoat. You can then dispatch troops with a righteous cause and with a father's grief, conquer their lands.
The Earth Temple will work alongside the Holy Flame Church to stop you. But with the righteous cause to support you, they can't stop you from taking at least half of the Earth Kingdom Alliances' territory.
You can then shift targets on Prosperous Wind, blaming them for not protecting me to carry out a lightning war of vengeance. The cities you plan to keep, you conquer. The cities you are willing to give up, you slaughter.
Destroy the foundations of those two forces before caving into the church branches' demands. Hence, obliterate the balance between the five states while using your gains to expand your forces. If you do this, father, in less than five centuries you can unify the Holy Continent. For such achievements, isn't my life a good bargain?"
Konrad scowled, and Olrich shivered.
This was a dreadful plan showing a ruthless heart. Even if she felt wronged and apologetic toward Anselm, such words could never come from Nils' lips. Using her life to cause the deaths of legion?
How could such thoughts stem from her?
If Konrad could see this, how could Olrich not?
He leaped across the table to stop before Nils and seize her face in his hands while staring into her eyes.
"Who…told you this?"
Olrich's holy force erupted, spreading within Nils' soul to analyze it through and through.
However, he couldn't find anything. The only strange sight was the desperate need for self-sacrifice and atonement.
Meanwhile, Adelar sat within his chambers with Laurens by his side. Following last night's events, Laurens' heart succumbed to fright, and he repeatedly kowtowed to beg for Adelar's forgiveness.
His forehead still carried the bruises of his brutal kowtows.
While Adelar didn't seem to take it to heart, Laurens couldn't be at ease.
"It should be about now. I wonder how father will react. The daughter, or the world?"
"W-what…do you mean by that?"
"Nils is about to make unparalleled contributions and open the road for house von Jurgen's world hegemony. How can such benefits compare to fatherly love? What value could she possibly have that is greater than this?
I hope father won't disappoint me."
The more they looked at Nils, the more convinced Konrad and Olrich were that her mind had been tampered with. However, the method left absolutely no trace.
Konrad's mind drifted to Adelar. Inferring that he must have used his powers to implant the thought in Nils' mind. But when?
"Like he said, he is now unscrupulous. I must get rid of him as soon as possible."
Konrad's eyes shifted to Olrich who still scrutinized Nils' soul. As he did, a strange light flashed within his eyes. Vast grey mist erupted from Olrich's body to infiltrate Nils' soul and spread within.
Indeed, Adelar didn't take control of her. Instead, he empowered her guilt toward Anselm and heightened her selflessness while lowering her gentleness. He then increased the value of family glory and filial piety in her mind to let her come up with this thought on her own.
"He must have mastered a form of Soul Projection and avatar condensation. No wonders tracking his moves have become so difficult. What a good son I have. Good, very good."
Olrich erased Adelar's manipulations on Nils' mind, returning her to her old self.
"Aaaaah! What am I saying? Father, you can't listen to me! War will cause the deaths of tens of thousands and destroy the lives of the common people!
I don't want to be the cause of their sufferings! Even if you want to do harm, you can't use my name for it!
Nils yelped and leaped like a startled fawn. Then scratched her head, wondering why such words came from her lips.
Olrich released a sigh of relief.
"A shame that it is too early. Grow my good son, grow, but not during my sleep."
Olrich thought, restraining his murder urges.
Witnessing this scene, Konrad became more confident in his assumption. And If he were right, Adelar's threat was minimal.
The real danger stood before him.
To match the situation, his eyes showed extreme confusion. Olrich turned toward him with a gaze that seemed to be saying, "don't ask." So, Konrad nodded in silent agreement.
"Konrad, that will be all for today. Please escort the princess back to her quarters. She doesn't have many trustworthy people by her side. I hope the two of you can get along."
Olrich's tone mixed sorrow and helplessness.
"As you wish, father."
He then excused himself, leading Nils out of Olrich's study to cross the halls and exit his palace.
"Hey, why did you look so disturbed when I mentioned becoming the Prosperous Wind third prince's dead wife?"
Nils asked with curious, blinking eyes as they left Olrich's palace.
"That doesn't sound disturbing to you?"
"Nonsense. It almost looked like someone was robbing your possession."
Konrad's steps abruptly stopped, causing Nils who didn't expect the sudden stop to bump against his back and recoil.
"Ouch, why did you just stop?!"
Nils yelled while rubbing her nose that hurt the most.
She was about to carry on with her outrage and demand compensation when Konrad made a one-hundred-eighty-degree turn, facing her with a piercing gaze that silenced her on the spot.
As they peered into one another's eyes, that misconception returned. Again, she saw someone else.
"Who the hell are you?"
"You call yourself my property, and ask me who I am? From where I'm from, some would call me your…master.
Little sister, you shouldn't lose decorum."
Nils pointed an accusatory finger on Konrad, but before she could say anything else, he left.
"…am by one year your senior."
Konrad's sudden departure left a sour taste within Nils' mouth, and she resolved to investigate him at night.
Returning to his mansion, Konrad summoned Krann.
"How may I serve you, master?"
Konrad stood still for one moment, then condensed a Phantasm Orchid in his right hand while summoning his space talisman in his left.
"The Prosperous Wind Third Prince is on his way with betrothal gifts. With such a convoy, there is only one road he can follow. I will give you the coordinates.
Your job is to slaughter his entourage, seize his betrothal gifts into this space treasure, severely injure and castrate him, then force him to swallow this Phantasm Orchid."
Konrad turned to face Krann with a bone-chilling pair of eyes.
"Remember, he mustn't die. Only stay half an inch into death. Then you will watch over him, helping him recover from the shadows and make sure he returns safely to his country. I will take care of the rest."
Konrad ordered, and the two items flew into Krann's hands.
"As you command, master!"