Inside Kines Castle in the province of Lazania.
Hans was preparing a meal for the residents as usual.
The broth boiled in a large pot as smoke rose in the kitchen.
Honestly, whatever he was making couldn’t be called cooking.
It was just chopped radish and cabbage being boiled in a pot.
The Queen of Thorns Alice was raising the citizens of the kingdom as livestock, so there was a fundamental limit to the food ingredients Hans could obtain and use.
“I want to at least make some fish soup to feed everyone...”
As a chef, he always wanted to entertain people with food.
But he was currently boiling this unappetizing soup that couldn’t be called ‘food’.
“I should’ve run away to the Lydia Kingdom back then...”
When the Queen of Thorns first appeared, he only thought of her as merely a new monster like any other.
This world would often update itself. Because of these updates, previously nonexistent ruins would spawn and the system would modify itself.
However, the people originating from the Eeth Continent did not find these changes odd.
They just thought of it as the gods intervening in the world.
"I can’t see the light of hope."
A hundred days had passed since his wife’s death.
The cause was an unknown disease.
Since everyone couldn't eat well, their immune system was weakened, and many died from various seemingly insignificant diseases.
Nevertheless, the treatment towards the people of the kingdom did not improve.
For Alice, the Queen of Thorns, they were just tools she needed to create more members of her race.
As Hans sighed, he heard a knock at the door.
Kazaks didn't knock like humans would do.
The door creaked open and a black-haired young man appeared.
It was Chun Woohyuk.
“Who are you? I’ve never seen your face around here before.”
“I came to save you.”
Woohyuk spoke straightforwardly.
As two more humans appeared behind him, Hans was greatly confused.
“H-how did you…”
“We climbed over the wall. By riding this guy.”
Behind the group, a golden goat peaked his head out.
After Woohyuk unsummoned the animal, he observed Hans' reaction.
“Do you think you can use your talents to your heart's content here? I hear that ingredients are scarce, which appears to be true seeing how that pot only has a few vegetables in it.”
It wasn't soup just for one or two people, but for the hundred residents approximately in this area.
Hans hesitated, and shook his head.
“No. You’re right. It would be impossible. As you may have realized, this place is hell.”
“Be my vassal. Then you will be able to help countless people.”
Woohyuk shared his future plans and aspirations to Hans.
Hans watched him with a surprised face.
“You want to subdue all the demons and unify the Eeth Continent?”
“I have already acquired the Rhine Kingdom and the Dane Kingdom. And the Lydia Kingdom and Izuna Kingdom are currently my allies.”
Woohyuk emphasized on his cause rather than promising Hans a rich life devoid of hardships.
He was well aware that Hans was someone who valued honor.
Hans took his time and contemplated, as if Woohyuk’s plan had somehow worked.
“You're cause is definitely worth joining. But I worry about those who will be left behind in this castle.”
“I can't save them all right now. You're well aware of that, right?"
“Yes, of course. No matter how strong you are, you cannot easily defeat the Queen of Thorns' army.”
Even though the five Paladins of the Empire were participating, there was no sign of an end to this war.
The main reason was that the Kazaks were continuing to increase their numbers by using their enemies as their hosts.
In addition, there were demons and unknown alchemists supporting them from behind the scenes.
“Yes, they are making purple pills and supplying them to the Queen of Thorns. I happened to learn that fact while I was at the royal palace.”
Hans was originally a chef cooking for aristocrats.
Reina expressed her worries when she heard Hans' words.
“So the Clipport's Fruit is being circulated.”
“That's probably the reason why the Paladins of the Empire are struggling.”
Unlike Rosenkreuz, Paladins did not use the Clipport's Fruit for themselves, because they considered the act itself to be dishonorable.
They were chosen by the seven gods to be the guardians of the empire.
“In any case, even if you stay here, you won't be of any help to the kingdom's citizens. It would be better to come with me to the Rhine Kingdom and make plans for the future.”
“I see. But before that, I am a cook. I have the duty to feed the people who are starving.
Hans wanted to provide a decent meal to the residents of this castle at least once before leaving.
Having understood his intentions, Woohyuk began to take ingredients out of the sage's pocket.
“Just, just where the hell did you get all this…”
“I've been around many places and gathered a lot of things.”
The sage's pocket could also be increased in size to the form of a bag, so he could fit a lot of things inside.
Moreover, it had unlimited capacity.
So Woohyuk was able to prepare the ingredients Hans needed before coming here.
“It’s been such a long time since I last saw fresh ingredients.”
"Use as much as you want."
Among the ingredients that Woohyuk took out, there were mandragoras and stymphalian bird meat.
Mandragora would increase the immune system of the weakened residents, and stymphalian bird meat would provide the stamina to withstand a long period of famine.
Hans shed tears at Woohyuk's extraordinary consideration.
“I didn't think you'd be interested in a chef like me. The other monarchs are not quite like you.”
“Because I know the importance of having a good cook."
Woohyuk was suddenly reminded of the horrible food Leifina had made in the past.
As Woohyuk tried to erase the painful memories of the past, Allen ended his silence and spoke up.
“What about using this opportunity to feed the Kazaks food made with mandragoras?”
"That's a good idea. We also have the best cook with us.”
Allen and Reina had learned from Woohyuk that Hans had the title 'King of Cooking'.
Hans awkwardly scratched his head as the two looked at him with anticipation.
“We have enough ingredients, so you can take some food with you after I finish cooking. But how do you plan on feeding the Kazaks?”
“We'll have to kidnap them. There were some of them patrolling the outskirts of the castle earlier.”
“There won't be a problem if you kidnap them without making a scene. But if you fail, it'll get troublesome for us.”
As Allen and Reina were planning an operation, the sound of footsteps echoed in the hallway.
Woohyuk realized from the sounds and vibrations that they were Kazaks
Woohyuk stepped forward and took out the cradle of grief.
[Cradle of Grief]
Effect: When activated, hostile individuals within a maximum radius of 20m enter a confused state. Afterwards, the opponent's mental strength decreases by 40% for 10 minutes.
The artifact he had gained inside the Arachne Temple of the Corcas Mountains in the past.
Ever since he had obtained it, its grade had increased by one level, the maximum radius had increased from 15m to 20m, and the mental strength reduction had also increased from 35% to 40%.
In addition, because it was now a B-grade artifact, the probability of the debuff working on Woohyuk’s current target was very high unless it was an elite-class Kazak.
When the door swung open, Woohyuk immediately activated the cradle of grief.
A black fog burst out and spread around as it made an eerie sound.
The Kazak was struck out of nowhere.
As the enemy staggered and knelt down, Woohyuk turned to Reina.
“Bring a ladle and feed it to this guy.”
Reina moved quickly as she was also curious about the results.
Afterwards, the Kazak drank the brown soup and convulsed as he fell down to the floor.
White foam began to form in his mouth.
“There was an effect.”
“Mandragora toxins must be deadly to them.”
It was a great discovery that could potentially change the tides of the war between the elves and kazaks.
Reina looked at Allen with excitement.
“If Lady Orphelia learns of this, she’ll be overjoyed. I want to run back home right now and let her know...”
"Don’t rush. It’s impossible to cross the Enoa Kingdom and reach the Croa Principality right now.”
They could go back to their homeland by passing through the Holy Aperian Empire, but the empire had also recently experienced some unpleasant events, and outsiders were being strictly monitored.
At Woohyuk's explanation, Reina’s long ears drooped.
“Then, do we have to take a ship? What if we encounter the pirates again?”
“You encountered Blackbeard’s crew at the west sea of the Norton Kingdom, so it should be fine if you take a ship at the northern port of the Lydia Kingdom.”
And if he sent Triton with them, their safety would be guaranteed to some extent.
While Hans began cleaning up after finishing cooking, Woohyuk wrote a letter to Orphelia.
'It will be easier to get close to her if we fight against Alice as a common enemy like last time.'
Since Allen and Reina were now on his side, it wouldn’t matter if he let them return to Ophelia right now.
It would be advantageous to keep the man and woman by his side as his vassals, but they had their own jobs to perform.
Allen had to walk down the path of an Archmage as a disciple of Arcane, the reclusive Great Sage of the Croa Principality.
Reina had to act as the intermediary between himself and the elves by contacting each other through Steve's Surprising Apple.
He would have to give (bribe) her the Basilisk’s Scale Armor Set to get rid of her dissatisfaction though.
'It's not as useful to me as before anymore.'
Initially, he could use it as his main armor, but now that its grade was lower than other items, he didn’t need it as much as before.
Moreover, since it was scale armor, it was inappropriate to use as material for plate armor.
The poison effects had worked on his opponents until now, but it would not be very efficient against enemies like Alice and the 72 Demon Kings.
Last time, he had rejected Reina's request, but it was merely a strategy to increase his bargaining power.
‘Raising her affection for me now will be of help when making her my vassal in the future.'
When monarchs formed alliances, they would often send vassals to each other and used them as diplomatic ambassadors.
They were also used as hostages in case one monarch would betray the other.
As Woohyuk thought deeply to himself, Hans called everyone.
“Alright, the food is complete. I will give you the opportunity to eat first since everyone has helped me out so much.”
“Oho, this looks delicious!”
Reina sat down with her ears straightened upwards as she let her curiosity take over.
Ever since the lemon jelly Incident, she had become more willing to taste human food.
She immediately picked up her spoon and began to eat.
“How is it? It’s been a long time since I used this recipe, so I’m worried that my skills may have gotten rusty.”
Hans looked at Reina with nervous eyes.
He was conscious of the fact that she was an elf unfamiliar with human culture.
But contrary to his worries, Reina responded happily.
“Oooohhh! This is really good! Is human food always so delicious, Allen?”
“It depends on the chef. Eating the dish of a terrible cook is literally torture.”
“Ah, it sure is.”
Woohyuk was reminded of a woman who was terrible at cooking.
He began to drink the soup, and thought to himself.
‘I’m glad that I don’t have to taste that horrendous food this time around.’Previous Chapter Next Chapter