Chanted by millions, the words rumbled the Jade Capital! Only when they reached the imperial palace's gate did they stop. Not because of reason, but due to the presence of a nearly two meters tall man whose empyrean looks all across the Chtonian Realm knew by heart.
Before that man, the dandy horde held its breath, with only Elia still remaining as carefree as ever. With a wave of his hand, the crowd dispersed with the fans returning whence they came. The man, dressed in golden imperial robes, descended from the sky to drop before the gates and cast his cold, icy hues at Elia.
Naturally, the man was Konrad. But even before his cold stare, Elia remained undaunted. With a flick of his wrist, he folded his fan, set it aside, high-fived the guards and spun to face his father with stretched out arms!
Elia exclaimed and leaped toward Konrad! But with those two words, Konrad's self-control shattered, and his foot met Elia's face!
At that time, Daphne who'd naturally heard of her son's return arrived at the gates, and was startled to see him kissing Konrad's foot before flying backward and shooting across the Jade Capital!
Son and mother roared in tandem, while the merciless Konrad trampled his youngest toward the Capital's gates! Alarmed, Daphne flew after him, and while sobbing from outrage, exclaimed:
Meanwhile, Konrad crossed his arms beneath his back, and swept the palace guards with a virulent glower.
"If he takes a step into the palace, either behead him or I'll behead your nine generations!"
Konrad proclaimed, and following a sweep of his sleeves, vanished in black flames. Little did the guards know that back within his chambers, his body had never left. Still, it mattered not, and as they already knew the code, they realized his words meant "wait for nightfall and make him come in through the secret entrance." Therefore, they replied with firm nods and exchanged complicit glances.
But this was only the beginning of the tidal waves. With the spread of the Dandy Prince's return, beams of light left the imperial palace and various corners of the city to greet him!
From house Kracht, Wolfgang, Wilfried, and Anselm. From house Serkar, Hejin, dozens of juniors and seniors, and even Berken!
And from the imperial palace, Krann, Iliana, Jasmine, Gulistan, Nils, Helbin, Diyana and many others all made the trip!
Daphne and Elia held one another and sobbed no end. But as the others landed, Elia regained his composure and greeted them with a great many deal of gifts!
"Uncle this for you. Grandfather, for you, granduncle, for you. Great-grandfather, mother-grandmother, other aunts and mothers, please, please, please."
Elia opened while pressing gifts into open hands and receiving head pats as he went. Clearly, if Konrad's favorite was Heide, then the Jade Dynasty's unanimous favorite was undoubtedly the Dandy Prince, Elia. Some believed it was impossible to be loved by everyone.
Elia, however, only had friends and no enemies! Even those that suffered his tricks and misdeeds ultimately came to appreciate him and turned into fans! Well, almost…
And throughout the capital, only one individual looked at all this with an inexpressive glance:
The second prince, Ube.
"And here I was starting to wonder when he'd return."
Ube said for himself, without a hint of glee. Clearly, while he had use for him, the return of his younger sibling didn't bring him an ounce of joy. On the contrary deep within his icy eyes, waves of dissatisfaction undulated.
Although the world believed Heide to be Konrad's only sheltered child, Ube didn't doubt that Elia's position in his father's heart didn't lose out to Heide's. If he were female, perhaps it would have trumped it.
Outwardly, Konrad treated him with harsh rigor, but in truth there wasn't any thing Elia ever yearned for that he didn't receive. Even his two years of escape and world tour were stealthily arranged by their imperial father.
And feeling the instability of his position, Ube resolved to push his plans forward. No matter how crazed or ambitious, Ube didn't dare cause mischief under his father's all-seeing gaze. As long as Konrad remained alert, nothing throughout the Chthonian Realm could escape his sight.
Challenging his will was nothing less than courting destruction. Worse, when faced with Konrad's retaliation, death was the best outcome to hope for. The only way out of this was to act during his days of ebriety and debauchery. The times when he indulged in wine and women's bodies were the most appropriate to strike.
That new woman Konrad seemed so taken with was one such opportunity. Naturally, Ube didn't dare dream of using her. Her existence merely opened the road of opportunity. Through a succession of intermediaries, he prepared six new beauties from the various worlds tailored to Konrad's tastes to cloud his vision for long enough to carry out his plan.
So what if the women bedded by Konrad couldn't rebel against him? He didn't need them to.
With a smile, he vanished in blue haze to reappear within his princely palace. There, a lanky, white-haired youth, with the same icy-eye color awaited:
And as soon as he appeared, the familiar bowed in greetings.
"Master, all is ready. This year's tributes are on their way toward his majesty and the eldest prince remains unaware of the ploy.
Tonight, we can ruin him and shift the blame on the third prince, thereby hitting two birds with one stone. At that time, regardless of who pleads, his majesty won't play favoritism and punish without mercy."
The familiar said through a mental message, and Ube nodded in approval. There was no enmity between him and his siblings, jealousy, perhaps, but no enmity.
If anything, only his father lay as a source of resentment. However, for the sake of heightening his standing and obtain more resources, he could only dispose of them.
This plan took years of silent preparations and careful moves; relying on every opportunities and openings he could snatch to push it forward. As he spun to glance toward the eldest prince's palace, Ube didn't doubt that the seat would soon be his.