Bam! Krilos hurled away a purplish gold vase and it smashed against the ground and shattered into smithereens.

The precious item worth nearly a thousand gold Fordes disappeared just like that. Even when Krilos left the Trade Union during that chaotic night, he didn't forget to bring that vase with him. He treasured it so much that he would toy around with it from time to time. It could be seen how angry he must've been to smash it into the ground.

It was the 10th day of the 8th month of Year 1783, the day Andinaq would be restored to the Krissen Empire. Auguslo I, the king of Andinaq, would also ascend to the post of emperor. From that day onward, Auguslo I would be known as Krissen IX, or Emperor Auguslo. His unfortunate father, Andinaq I would be named posthumously as Krissen VIII.

The imperial capital was filled with a festive mood. Loud sounds of gongs and cheers could be heard in the streets. The parades were colorful and plentiful and the citizens dutifully celebrated to congratulate their great king's ascension. Now emperor, Auguslo announced that his citizens would be given free wine and meat to make the best of the day. They could eat all they want without spending a single cent.

Cheers of 'long live the emperor' and 'long live the Krissen Empire' reverberated throughout the city. What was an occasion of great joy to the people was instead a source of grief to Krilos. Ever since he left the Trade Union, he had been living in the imperial capital and managed to get to know Count Wecksas as he had planned. He used his startling intelligence to gain the count's favor and offered himself up as his most trusted advisor.

Back then, Wecksas was but a knight. As he had offended House Norton, his position as commander of the royal guard had been stripped of him. After Auguslo returned, he decided to entitle Wecksas to be a count in the faraway province of Majik and ordered him to leave for his dominion right away.

During that crucial time, it was Krilos that stopped Wecksas from leaving. He advised Wecksas to beg pitifully to be allowed to stay in the palace and use his relation as family to win Auguslo over. In the end, the king rescinded his order and allowed Wecksas to remain within the imperial capital. Since Wecksas had grown up on the streets of the capital and had never gone anywhere else before, sending him to Majik so abruptly was indeed a little too heartless.

Back then, Krilos told Wecksas that the moment he left the imperial capital, he would no longer have a chance of inheriting the throne. But if he stayed, he might still stand a chance. Even though Auguslo had a proper heir now, it would take more than a decade for the child to mature and anything could happen during that time.

Wecksas listened well and went to the palace to beg in the name of his dead mother and got what he wanted. After that, he started Andalou with the help of Krilos and used the excuse of earning money for the imperial family to gain Auguslo's trust and support, obtaining the rights to sell ores within the kingdom.

Yet another wave of pain assailed him. Krilos's body stiffened and the two scars that stretched from his pale forehead to his chin contorted into a deformed shape. At that moment, his expression was ever so demonic and sinister. He looked like the devil himself.

But he was alone in that room. For his revenge, Krilos made the two scars that were on his face and ruined his handsome face. Only by doing so could he move about in the imperial capital as he pleased without fear of being recognized as Marquis Krilos of the Trade Union.

Perhaps I shouldn't have placed my hopes in Wecksas, thought Krilos as he took out a bottle containing a blue concoction, loosened its cork, and poured the solution into his mouth. His expression finally returned to normal following the consumption of the medicine. He sat back down slowly and reached out for the purple-gold vase he usually toyed around with out of habit only to grab nothing but air. It was then when he recalled smashing his precious treasure in a fit of rage.

Giving a pained look at the pieces on the ground, Krilos began to coldly contemplate what happened. Why did Duke Norton, someone who fell out with the king, show up during the ceremony with the three other dukes as if nothing happened? They even seemed to get along well...

I heard Duke Norton flipped out against Auguslo in the palace before all the nobles present and kicked the great hall's doors flying before leaving with the other dukes and their families and servants to return to their dominion.

When Krilos first heard about that news, he was overjoyed. The alliance of four houses was the most powerful faction in Andinaq and House Norton had the strongest military in all of Grindia. The Trade Union could be said to have lost solely because of them. Lorist was not only Duke of The Northlands, but also the kingdom's swordsaint. A battle between him and Auguslo was the best thing Krilos could hope for.

Even though the gold rank Marcus that followed him and the 40 plus loyal silver ranks were killed on the streets by Duke Norton and his guards, Krilos believed that if he could incite conflict between Lorist and Auguslo, it would've been worth the sacrifice of his loyal men because his revenge would finally have a chance of coming true.

In fact, Lorist suspected Auguslo for being the mastermind behind Andalou and the one who tried to assassinate Kenmays. Both the blademaster that was involved in the assassination attempt and the gold rank that died by Loze's hands as well as the Andalou silver rank guards that were killed were all Krilos's men. Even the 100 thousand gold Fordes lost by Andalou during the trade war was paid out with Krilos's personal funds.

However, Lorist thought that it was Auguslo who was footing the bill for his illegitimate son. Yet, he didn't know of the loss Krilos had to bear nor about his close relationship with Wecksas. If he didn't show up to clean up after Wecksas's mess, the count would quickly be sent to Majik by Auguslo. If that happened, Krilos would have no chance of succeeding in his revenge plot.

The family members of the four dukes and their forces didn't return to the imperial capital two days ago. The man I sent to the city gates saw it himself. I only heard that Auguslo brought some men with him to chase them down and the other nobles of the kingdom also joined to persuade them, but the whole group didn't turn back, right? Auguslo wore a dark expression when he got back to the city and I even heard word of the group of people leaving Jillin Harbor on ships...

So what is with the four dukes' presence during the ceremony today? There are also near a thousand men flying the banner of the raging bear up high in the military parade and cheering 'long live the empire' and 'long live the emperor'! Where did those Norton soldiers come from? Even the forces of the three allies are the same. There were three thousand men following behind the Nortons and cheering all the same on the streets of the imperial capital!

Krilos was expecting to watch the consequences of the ruined parade without the four houses, yet he didn't expect that his plans were ruined. It was as if the murder two days ago didn't happen at all. That surprising outcome almost made Krilos freak out. The more he hoped, the more disappointed he became. When he returned to his residence, he began smashing things up.

The door was pushed open and a figure slipped into the room before closing the door. He then laid against the door with ragged breath and said, "That was terrifying... I almost bumped into Duke Norton. Thankfully, I managed to slip away. Otherwise, you won't be able to see me anymore, Selik."

Selik was the name Krilos used. He told Wecksas that he used to be an heir of a large merchant guild in the southern Romon Empire and escaped to the imperial capital because of offending a duke of the empire. As he wanted to found his own merchant guild, he teamed up with Wecksas and provided the funds.

I really got myself rubbish partners... thought Krilos as he touched his forehead. The person who slipped into his room without greeting was none other that Wecksas. Krilos thought that Wecksas inherited none of Auguslo's traits apart from his handsome appearance. He was nothing but a thug given his upbringing in the streets of the imperial capital.

Maybe he doesn't even qualify as a thug... If it weren't for his adoptive father that laid good foundations for him as a knight and awakened his battleforce during sixteen, he would've long starved to death during the war... He only managed to survive because of his battleforce until he was found by Auguslo's men...

Krilos thought that Wecksas didn't have any good qualities at all, not to mention his lack of noble etiquette, his greed and lust as well as recklessness. However, Wecksas was quite the loyal fellow. However, his loyalty to his friends only showed when he wanted to drag them down the pit along with him to suffer alongside him. Krilos had already suffered losses twice within the span of a year because of Wecksas's antics.

The first time was the trade war with salt merchant committee. Everyone knew that nobles preferred rock salt to sea salt because of the latter's bitterness. Usually, only commoners used sea salt. Even though the salt merchant committee's salt was white as snow, they were produced from seawater and were only used by nobles if they really didn't have rock salt.

Krilos managed to get the rights to sell the yield from three salt mines from Auguslo through Wecksas. In some sense, he would've monopolized the rock salt industry in the kingdom. He was going to market the rock salt to the nobles as a luxury seasoning. However, rock salt had to be processed quite extensively before they could be turned into fine salt. As Krilos wasn't in good physical condition, he left Wecksas in charge of those matters.

Krilos believed that as long as Wecksas used Auguslo's name to pay visits to those nobles and market his salt, the plan would soon come to fruition. What he didn't expect was that when Wecksas found that each bottle of salt made less than a small silver of profit, he felt that it was too much trouble. So, thanks to the advice from some friend of his, he bought lots of sea salt to be mixed together with rock salt before selling them out. He could increase the profit margin a few times more that way.

Wecksas gleefully thought that he had come up with a good plan, but he forgot that the nobles weren't idiots. Sea salt was white and rock salt was slightly greenish. It didn't take long before Wecksas's white-green salt became a huge joke. In the end, Krilos had lost nearly 100 thousand gold Fordes taken from his personal funds to fund the production of the rock salt. Incidentally, the friend that suggested the idea got a thousand gold Fordes as a reward.

The second loss he suffered was when he suggested Wecksas to hold more balls and invite nobles to join them to expand his network. Andalou would pay for the costs of those balls. Wecksas naturally found that idea to his liking as partying about was what he liked to do best. He even went so far as to stop nobles in public to force his invitations on them. They had no choice but to endure it and accept the invitation in consideration of Auguslo's power.

But the whole plan was ruined when they tried to invite the Norton ladies to the ball. That blunder caused Krilos to sacrifice Marcus, the gold rank, and more than 40 silver ranks. More than half of Andalou's shop was also torn down. When Krilos came to the imperial capital, he had less than a hundred men with him. Now, half of them were gone.

"Whoa, why did you smash this precious thing? It's such a shame. Miss Belise said that if I gave it to her, she would spend three romantic nights with me. I knew I should've given to her if it was going to be smashed anyway..." said Wecksas when he discovered the pieces o the ground.

"You..." Krilos felt a rush of anger, but he still had to give some explanation about it. "I accidentally knocked it down. Oh, do you know why Duke Norton showed up in the ceremony? I thought he flipped out against the king and left the imperial capital with his family."

"Oh, well, didn't my father chase after him? In the end, he managed to convince him to return. However, he only came back with the three dukes and ten or so guards. He's been staying within the palace for the past two days without leaving at all and the soldiers of those houses are all impostors. They're actually members of the royal army," replied Wecksas nonchalantly.

"Then why didn't you tell me about it earlier?" Krilos was really mad that he was happy for nothing.

"What's the use of telling you about it? Didn't you see that I was busy hiding? I almost bumped into Duke Norton just now too."

Krilos really didn't have anything to say about that. Sometimes, even he felt admiration for Wecksas's luck. Even though he was the main cause of the trouble with House Norton and twisted the truth when he reported to Auguslo about that incident and caused the argument between him and Lorist, Auguslo didn't seek Wecksas out to dish out the consequences after he chased Lorist down.

Auguslo had been quite annoyed that Lorist didn't allow his family members and forces to return to the imperial capital and was too busy arranging the faking of the forces of the four houses. Lorist and the other dukes also kept a low profile and didn't leave their residences and forgot about Wecksas completely, allowing him to travel about the imperial capital freely and even mingle among the other nobles during the ceremony.

"Lord count, as your friend, I have to advise you that if you still intend to sit in the throne one day, you should really change your bad habits and become a proper noble. Only then can you gain the heartfelt support of the other nobles in the kingdom and become a magnificent ruler in the future," said Krilos.

"Enough, Selik. I know that. Don't need to nag me about it. I'll definitely become the successor of the imperial family," Wecksas replied in annoyance, "Also, do you have any more of those purple-gold vases? I'll safekeep it for you lest you accidentally smash them again."

Krilos was at a loss for words.