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    The Holy Emperor soon left the audience room. Before the morning’s official meeting, he had to meet with Empress Tatiana, who had been acting in his stead, to receive the reports during his absence.

    He was expected to be extremely busy for a while.

    As other archbishops and knights’ commanders attending the official meeting began to leave one by one, only Archbishop Diggory remained, sitting on the ground in a daze. It felt as though he had briefly fallen into hell and been ejected out again; he was utterly drained.

    “Archbishop Diggory.”

    Katrina approached and called out to him.

    When Diggory looked up, he saw that Katrina, who usually had a gentle expression, now had a cold, stern face.

    “You should consider yourself fortunate that His Majesty showed leniency towards children of your lineage. Do not forget that he overlooked your reckless words, worrying that they might affect that young Kenneth boy. Don’t you realize that he protected the young students from the heresy tribunal because they were involved in the first place?”

    “……”

    “Suppose it wasn’t academy students but someone else who dared to lure Prince Morres and put his life in danger. What do you think would have happened? That person would have been beheaded on the spot without a trial.”

    Diggory painfully realized that there was no exaggeration in her words.

    “During the morning official meeting, bear this in mind and be cautious of your words.”

    Having said this, Katrina also left the place.

    Diggory remained, staring blankly at the exit where everyone had left. After what seemed like an eternity, he shakily rose from his seat.

    That morning’s meeting, despite the Holy Emperor’s long absence, proceeded without a hitch. The Empress, a competent woman, had managed the state affairs smoothly in his stead.

    The preparations for the upcoming birthday banquet were discussed with minor modifications. The expected major topic, the incident at the Diggory residence, was simply concluded by summoning the Holy Council, which was hardly worth mentioning.

    * * *

    A peaceful morning returned to Pearl Palace.

    Sir Masain looked much better than the previous day, and Edith, who had been restless by his side, seemed to have regained her composure.

    Just the night before, there had been a tense standoff among the heavily armed knights. It was astonishing how the atmosphere changed in a single day.

    Seongjin wondered to himself if he should be amazed by the Holy Emperor’s immense power or shocked by Morres’s lack of influence.

    “Should I train…?”

    He mumbled this as he was having breakfast when Masain and Francis looked at him as if he was absurd, clearly thinking, ‘How can he be so carefree?’

    “Who could be this relaxed?”

    “…I didn’t expect you to voice that out, Sir Francis.”

    It felt like the gratitude for guarding Pearl Palace all night was being halved.

    Seongjin decided to focus on what he could do. If he couldn’t come up with a brilliant strategy to elevate Morres’s standing in the palace, wouldn’t it be better to learn the Banahas dual magic technique a little faster?

    As he was firming up this resolution, an unexpected interruption occurred.

    “Morres…”

    Queen Lizabeth entered the room, her eyes filled with tears.

    As always, she looked graceful and dazzling. Seongjin’s expression stiffened.

    No matter how many times he saw her, she was never easy to deal with.

    “Mother…”

    “Are you well? I heard you were involved in a significant incident.”

    “Yes, I’m fine.”

    “Oh, I was so worried yesterday. I couldn’t come to Pearl Palace fearing misunderstandings. It was agonizing just waiting.”

    “…?”

    What misunderstanding?

    Seongjin was puzzled when suddenly, a fierce aura emanated from beside him. It was Sir Masain.

    With a hardened face, Masain shot a brief glare at the Queen, then swiftly turned and left the room. His demeanor suggested not just a lack of respect but outright displeasure.

    Francis, looking bewildered, quickly paid his respects to the Queen and hurried after Masain.

    What kind of atmosphere is this?

    Why is the stern captain of the elite guard, who always valued etiquette, behaving this way towards the Queen?

    However, Queen Lizabeth’s reaction was unexpected.

    The woman, who usually grabbed those beneath her like catching a mouse with her authoritative attitude, just quietly wiped away her tears while looking at Seongjin without retaliating against the knight captain’s rudeness.

    Caught in an eerie foreboding, the Demon King commented, noticing Seongjin’s unease.

    [The queen has always had a peculiar reaction. It’s as if she’s trying to hide something from you.]

    ‘…Hide? What?’

    [I don’t know…. I didn’t really investigate at the time because I was busy gathering other more important information].

    What kind of standard of importance is this guy talking about?

    [But it was really weird. Ever since you arrived here and lost your memories, she always keep saying to herself, ‘Is that true? Ah, it’s a relief. A relief.’]

    Relieved that I lost my memory?

    Seongjin’s doubts only deepened. That woman, not long ago, even tried to test if he remembered his fiancées.

    – Letting go of the past brings happiness to everyone.

    Could it be that Empress Tatiana’s words were aimed at Queen Lizabeth? With that thought, the woman with the sharp eyes before him looked slightly different.

    The sight of her wiping away tears was both tragically beautiful and suspicious. Was every movement calculated? Even her handkerchief matched her dress, with the embroidery strategically placed.

    Although Seongjin wasn’t familiar with noblewomen’s nuances, doubting her made all of her actions seem contrived.

    “Always take care. Watching my child die in front of my eyes is hell itself,” she said.

    Unaware of Seongjin’s complex feelings, the queen clutched his arm, her deep eyes looking up at him, “Morres, my child. I never want to experience that again.”

    At least the concern in her eyes seemed sincere. Seongjin awkwardly nodded with a smile.

    Ah, this is uncomfortable.

    Soon after, Seongjin rushed to the training grounds, practicing his swordsmanship intensely.

    With his aura restrained, he demonstrated the Royal Knight’s standard swordsmanship from the first to the fifth form. It was an impulsive move.

    After some time, a contented Seongjin wiped the sweat off his brow.

    “Ah, refreshing! There’s nothing like practice to clear one’s head!”

    [Such a simple human.]

    “Shut up!”

    After cooling down, the energized Seongjin moved his aura more actively within his body.

    “Hey, while you were gone, guess how much I’ve improved in controlling my aura? I might be a genius.”

    The Demon King chuckled as if amused.

    [Doubtful.]

    But when Seongjin skillfully executed the first form of Banahas quite plausibly, the Demon King’s expression changed.

    [Huh?]

    “How’s that? Impressive, right?”

    […]

    The Demon King, caught off guard by the praise, remained silent. Even in Seongjin’s opinion, he personally thought he executed the first form quite impressively.

    “Wow…”

    It wasn’t just the Demon King who was surprised. The knights, including Haven, who were present at the training ground, stared at Seongjin in awe.

    “Your Highness, what happened? How could you improve so much in just a day?”

    “The first form is almost perfect. You could even move on to the second form now!”

    “Uh, erm. Really?”

    Seongjin smiled awkwardly. Upon reflection, after yesterday’s battle, moving aura as per Banahas way felt smoother.

    He had instinctively used what he had learned during the battle against the worm. The integration of these actions in combat resulted in better harmony between aura movement and physical action.

    ‘Am I finally moving on to the second form…?’

    The problem was that the instructor, who was supposed to teach him, was nowhere to be seen.

    After yesterday’s incident, Sir Masain, who didn’t leave Seongjin’s side, had disappeared after seeing the queen and hadn’t returned since. With him, the student ready, wasn’t the swordsmanship teacher slacking off right now?

    Seongjin paused his practice and looked up at the sky, pondering.

    ‘The strike Masain showed yesterday, was truly incredible.’

    A long golden sword made of aura and its silent, precise strike.

    Followed by a massive shockwave that downed the worm of Bantra Moss.

    What technique was that?

    While Seongjin understood the part where the man’s aura turned into the shape of a sword, ut why did the aura-infused attack explode? Did he intentionally cause the aura to go berserk?

    Seongjin let his aura flow into the wooden sword he held, as he once did with the demonic energy, just enhancing the weapon.

    The technique flowing within his body wasn’t significantly different, so he wondered if the method to infuse the weapon might feel similar. He had wielded this technique with his sword while fighting against the bugs, and it hadn’t caused any issues, so it would probably be alright.

    Ziing. The wooden sword quivered slightly.

    Unlike the demonic creature’s pincer, the wooden sword was not as durable, and the flow of power running through it wasn’t refined either.

    “Still, it can handle this much power, at least.”

    Noticing the unusual energy, Haven, who was nearby, looked at Seongjin with wide eyes.

    “Now, since I’ve infused the aura, if I vibrate it like this…”

    Whirr. The wooden sword shook intensely.

    “No, that’s not it.”

    Seongjin stabilized the aura within the wooden sword, thinking that recklessly twisting the aura inside might only damage the weapon, without producing a powerful explosion at the desired location.

    I’d have to stablize it and let the aura run wild at the exact moment I striked.

    Whoosh.

    While swinging the aura-infused wooden sword horizontally, Seongjin tried to get the timing right.

    After the swing… No, it’s too late. By the time the aura starts moving, the target would have already been struck.

    Whoosh.

    So, I need to initiate the explosion the moment I make contact. Ah, that’s a bit late. How can I make it go wild almost instantaneously?

    Whoosh.

    Again, the timing is a bit off.

    The wooden sword vibrated vigorously and returned to its position.

    Good, this time a little faster, swing at the same time…

    Bang!

    Suddenly, something did explode, for real.

    Namely, the wooden sword.

    Sharp wooden splinters flew in every direction, with some even hitting Seongjin.

    “Your Highness!”

    The guards in the drill hall rushed towards him.

    [Eeek?]

    Inside his head, the demon king was panicking.

    What? Why?

    Seongjin, without thinking, asked the demon king and immediately felt a sharp pain, looking at his right hand.

    “Oh…”

    The palm of his hand was bleeding profusely.

    His vision reddened, likely because of the blood dripping from his forehead into his eyes. On inspection, splinters were embedded in various parts of his face and body.

    [Eeek!]

    ‘Hey, calm down. Why are you so startled?’

    [Do you even realize how you look right now? What on earth did you do?]

    Seeing the reactions of the surrounding knights, Seongjin’s condition seemed dire. Haven shouted in panic.

    “Your Highness! Your Highness! Are you alright? No, clearly you’re not, what am I saying!”

    “Summon the physician! No, get the priest!”

    “For now, please lie down here! You’re bleeding profusely. Please lower yourself!”

    “Find Sir Masain!”

    Ah, I shouldn’t have done that. I’m going to get scolded by Masain again.

    I had a near-death experience yesterday and made a scene at the Pearl Palace, and here I am again, just one day later. 

    Feeling guilty, Seongjin obediently lay down on the ground.

    “First, remove the splinters, stop the bleeding…”

    “Wait for the physician! Can you even see anything with all this blood? What if you accidentally push the splinter further in?”

    “Where’s the priest? Still not here?”

    The knights were running around in confusion.

    [Ahhh, Ahhhhhhh!]

    With the demon king causing a ruckus inside his head, Seongjin was disoriented.

    “Ah! Sir Masain!”

    Hearing one of the knights exclaim, he turned his head and saw Masain and Francis rushing towards him from a distance.

    Oh, Sir Masain. He’s looking a bit scary, running with that stern face…

    Seeing Seongjin’s condition, Masain’s face went pale as if he himself was bleeding.

    “Where’s the physician? Did you call for the physician? Francis! Infuse him with divine energy for now!”

    However, Francis, who was observing Seongjin calmly, shook his head with a stern face.

    “There are too many embedded splinters. If I pour divine energy now, the wounds will heal with the splinters inside. Even if the physician treats him, that hand’s injury seems too deep and might leave after-effects.”

    “So…”

    In response to the desperate Masain, Francis spoke firmly.

    “We need to see His Majesty immediately.”

    Seongjin was startled.

    What? Excuse me? Wait a minute! I’m not ready for this!

    Thus, this situation unfolded.

    After finishing the morning administrative meeting and leaving the main palace’s meeting room, the Holy Emperor came face to face with Seongjin, who was bleeding and being carried on a stretcher.

    “…”

    With Seongjin sheepishly avoiding eye contact, the Holy Emperor sighed deeply after a moment of silence.

    “I told you not to be so reckless.”

    Uh, erm, I’m sorry…

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