After returning to Blackburn, Woohyuk had Joanna report to him the situation within the country.
As he expected, no problematic issues had occurred during his absence. The most that had happened was the Dane Kingdom initiating a few skirmishes by the border, but that was as per usual.
No movements had been detected from the Witch Cult and the Golden Rose Society. Nevertheless, they had to stay vigilant.
Since the demon world was now aware of his existence, he had to expect attacks from them at all times.
‘Demon King Volak is probably planning out a scheme.’
He must’ve suffered quite a lot of damage from their previous battle, therefore, he probably wouldn’t leave his territory for a while.
However, the problem was the other demons.
Demon King Amii ranked at 58.
Demon King Dantalion ranked at 72.
They were part of the same circle, Ars Nova, as Demon King Volak and they currently controlled the Lydia Kingdom and Dane Kingdom.
It was impossible to leave the kingdom for a long time in search of the materials for the Seven Color Rainbow Ring or the whereabouts of the 3 Chronicles in this situation.
He had to stop the two Demon Kings’ ambitions and subjugate the two countries under their influences to protect the Rhine Kingdom.
‘They’ve most likely taken over the countries by now.’
The original plan was to take control of the Dane Kingdom before Dantalion would do so himself.
However, due to the unexpected incidents in the Izuna Kingdom that took longer than expected, the opportune moment had already passed.
“What are you worrying about, My Lord?”
As Woohyuk sat deep in his thoughts on the throne, Leifina asked him with a worried look.
“We need to attack the Dane Kingdom, but the surrounding countries concern me.”
Although the enemy was a Demon King merely at the rank of 72, in the current situation it would prove to be difficult to occupy the Dane Kingdom within a short period of time.
If Dantalion closed his castle’s gate and fought on the defensive, Demon King Amii would send reinforcements from the Lydia Kingdom to come to her fellow demon’s aid.
Once the war would take longer than expected, the Holy Aperian Empire would intervene and try to arbitrate as a suzerain. Demon King Dantalion would definitely not let such an opportunity pass.
‘If we want to fight the war properly, we need to expose their presence to the world.’
On the surface, there appeared to be no problems with the Dane Kingdom or the Lydia Kingdom, since the Demon Kings controlled the monarchs from behind the scenes like puppets.
The objective was to minimize their influence and increase the Rhine Kingdom’s strength.
Therefore, as of currently, it was impossible to do a military attack on the two countries by justifying it as a Demon King subjugation campaign.
Woohyuk had no choice other than observing the political situations and waiting for the opportune moment to arrive.
“But don’t we have the Izuna Kingdom’s army on our side? If we cooperate with them and perform a pincer attack, Dantalion might make an appearance to solve the crisis in his country…”
“He’s not that stupid.”
While Dantalion wasn’t as strong as the other Demon Kings, his intelligence was quite exceptional. So if he were at a disadvantage, he wouldn’t make a move and would rather get the Holy Aperian Empire involved.
While its strength had significantly declined compared to its prime, the Holy Aperian Empire had enough military power and influence to protect a small country in its neighborhood.
“Then what about sending a talented individual to infiltrate the Dane Kingdom? He could figure out and report the Demon Kings’ schemes. As long as you order me, I could…”
Woohyuk’s somber voice interrupted Leifina mid-sentence. Then, he stood up from the throne and grabbed the embarrassed Leifina’s shoulders.
“I understand that you want to make your father’s enemies pay. But you need to stay calm when dealing with a situation like this.”
Leifina despised the Dane Kingdom’s Monarch Heinrich III and Dantalion, as they had cornered her father, Baron Elrond.
That was why she wished to rush the conquest of the Dane Kingdom as quickly as possible.
However, her judgement was clouded and could quite possibly cost her life on the battlefield.
“Apologies. I let my emotions take over me.”
“I will definitely defeat Dantalion. So don’t go overboard on your own, because I need you.”
Leifina blushed at the somewhat misleading remark. Her heart began beating rapidly as she kept staring into Woohyuk’s eyes.
“My, oh my. Just because I’m not present doesn’t mean you can cheat on me so easily, Your Majesty.”
Tinia intervened, wearing a fiery dress and Tabris resting on her shoulder.
The reason she addressed him as such was because the situation was different compared to when they were in the Izuna Kingdom together.
“I don’t see what you mean, Tinia.”
“Seems like you quite like this pink-haired woman, since you keep her by your side at all times as the royal guard captain.”
Envy swirled around Tinia’s amethyst eyes as she scanned Leifina’s appearance.
Leifina strongly replied to those antagonistic words.
“That was disrespectful, Countess Tinia. I have been serving His Majesty for…”
“Your face is quite pretty. You must’ve been monopolizing His Majesty’s love until now. But what about your sword skills? Can you prove that you’re better than Windstorm Tinia?”
Tinia brandished and pointed Tabris at Leifina as she prepared for battle. She believed that this sly, pink fox was the reason why Woohyuk refused to sleep with her.
“Just what are you…”
Leifina, who felt insulted to the fullest, murmured as she trembled in anger.
As sparks flew between the gazes of the two women, Woohyuk sighed as he spoke.
“You shouldn’t say such nonsense just because the other knights aren’t present, Tinia.”
“I was merely expressing a suggestion, that the position of Royal Guard Captain should go to me.”
“If you take on that role, who will manage the Gawain County?”
“We have Sieg. In the first place, he has to protect Lady Brynhild’s coffin, so he won’t leave the fief.”
Tinia was staying in Heidelberg ever since she returned after taking Sieg to her territory. Her little sister was planning on living in a student residence while attending the academy, and Tinia was worried about her.
Her concern for Silvia was also part of the reason why she coveted the position of Royal Guard Captain.
“Sieg will soon have to participate in the war against the Dane Kingdom. Once Silvia starts school, return to your territory.”
“You’re so shameless. Even though you french kissed me while I was in the nude back in your room that night…”
Tinia spoke with a grim look. Leifina’s face, who was trying to keep her cool, suddenly distorted at those words.
“My, My Lord…?”
“It’s a misunderstanding. I have never had a relationship with Tinia.”
“As I thought.”
Leifina sighed in relief as Woohyuk explained. As she watched over them, a sly grin stretched on Tinia’s face.
“Don’t feel too relieved yet, Lady Leifina. One day, I will steal His Majesty from you and make him mine.”
“...Stop with your delusions, Tinia. Leifina and I simply have a master-servant relationship, just like I do with you.”
“Is that the truth? Then what about that woman called Joanna? According to the vassals, they call her the future queen.”
“It’s the same thing with her. And the matter about the future queen hasn’t been addressed yet.”
Woohyuk didn’t want to take responsibility for any women as much as possible for now.
As a human who was challenging the Divine Thrones, he had to give up on living an ordinary life.
As he revealed his thoughts, Tinia made a satisfied expression.
“Well, that’s fine. If you won’t get involved with any woman until you achieve your goals… I will trust you and wait for you.”
“Thanks for understanding.”
“I will not let another man embrace me even if they stab a sword through my neck. So you must take responsibility for me in the future.”
She didn’t care if she wouldn’t be his first woman. She simply wanted to stay by his side as one of his women. However, Tinia’s pride wouldn’t allow her to speak of these thoughts truthfully.
Once she left the throne room, Leifina spoke with concern in her eyes.
“My Lord, will you take Countess Tinia as your wife once you take your place on a Divine Throne?”
“Who knows? It’s hard to give a definite answer right now.”
If he were to marry her, it would definitely sprout a sense of responsibility within Woohyuk.
However, that was something that couldn’t happen to him, as he needed a clear mind and aim for the thrones.
Once she heard his answer, Leifina’s expression subtly changed.
“If that’s the case, then would you…”
“Do you have a good suggestion to make, Lady Leifina?”
“N-no, it’s nothing…”
Leifina wildly blushed as she shut her mouth. Woohyuk stared at her, puzzled, before he began chuckling.
‘She’s being shy.’
He suddenly remembered the night before his regression. Leifina professed her love for him out of the blue, and after racking his brain for a while, he took her to his chambers where they began a secret relationship.
He had broken the oath he had made after his first and last woman, Lucretia, had been killed by the Crimson Crow.
However, he did not regret his actions.
She had followed and served him for the last 40 years, and he couldn’t bear to turn down her feelings the last night they would see each other.
‘We were really honest with each other back then.’
They lay down on the bed without a piece of cloth on them, and talked until they fell asleep.
The words, feelings, emotions and thoughts they had kept hidden deep within their hearts were slowly unraveled.
He also finally learned the reason why Leifina always refused to stop cooking. She was trying to get acknowledged as a woman by perfecting her cooking skills.
‘You were a special existence to me.’
And although the past Leifina had vanished, he didn’t feel lonely. Her feelings from the past hadn’t changed compared to the present woman, as if the soul of the previous Leifina had transferred over to the present Leifina.
“Yes, My Lord.”
“I am emphasizing it again, but don’t think about learning to cook no matter what.”
“Wha, what are you talking about…?”
“You are the most beautiful when you behave as a knight.”
Leifina truly had no talent in cooking. He was certain of this fact due to his previous life.
Therefore, Woohyuk hoped that she wouldn’t try it out unnecessarily this time around.
“I don’t know what to say to those words, My Lord.”
“Are you embarrassed?”
“Tha, that’s not…”
Leifina’s face turned bright red as she blushed.
Woohyuk stared at her behaviour for a moment before returning to the throne.
“Let’s continue talking about the earlier topic now.”
Leifina couldn’t hide her restlessness as she answered back.
Woohyuk gently watched her as he listened to her gibberish.
‘I’m sorry, Leifina. I cannot accept your feelings as of yet.’
This wasn’t a problem of his personal feelings. However, he believed that the day would come when they would finally be able to talk heart to heart once again.
‘Unlike Lucretia, you will be by my side until the very end once again.’
As he thought so, Woohyuk came to a realization.
‘Geez, I have as many worries as Sieg when it comes to the subject of love.’
While he tried to suppress his emotions as much as he could, it was impossible to completely forget his feelings from the past.
If he were to reunite with Lucretia, he would most definitely worry about her safety, even if they didn’t start a relationship like they did in the past.
‘I can’t make the same mistake again.’
If she were to become his lover again, she would be the target of many demons’ evil schemes and hostility.
Woohyuk silently raised his head as he recalled Lucretia, who had faced a miserable end with her entire body mangled.
After finishing the discussions about the current affairs, the empty hall entered his vision.
“It appears that the sun has set.”
“Following the previous idea, we should first send Aris to… Yes? Yes. Should we end it here for today?”
“I don’t think that we will come up with a good plan today. Let’s just go have dinner now.”
He was being unusually considerate today. Leifina followed behind Woohyuk with a face equally full of hope and concern.