Chapter 4 – Hunger Strike
The plain accusation in his voice could be clearly heard, and for Marianne, it spelled only trouble. Her eyes widened in panic, and she frantically shook her head, hoping to retract her mistakes.
“Your Majesty, that is not the case…”
She began but was interrupted once again.
“Then what is it? Enlighten me.” Kasser asked nonchalantly.
Marianne nodded politely, bowing her head ever so reverently as she continued what she had been about to say.
“Your Majesty, I’m afraid the queen is rather… Uhm… strict.” She stated, concern visible as he looked at her eyes. Concern for the people in the palace, concern for her life, the list went on.
Kasser let out a quiet scoff.
“The number of people she kills every time would be doubled if we let her be ‘strict’.” He muttered irritably to himself, knowing well what the queen was capable of in his absence.
The total servants killed by the queen’s corporal punishment had become an alarming number. Indeed, there was a cause of punishment for every crime committed, but in Kasser’s eyes, none deserved the sentence of death for such trivial matters.
The queen trying to establish a new order in the palace only brought trouble to the king and his subordinates. Her mere presence in their remote desert kingdom left everyone aghast with what she had done.
Kasser had tried to be firm, and had warned the queen, Jin Anika about the repercussions her punishments would bring upon her, just over a year ago…
“The moment I hear about one more person died because of you, I will not let it go unpunished!”
Those were his exact words. But he could still recall the way she gazed at him, despite the clear threat in his tone of voice. The confusion was plastered on her face. She couldn’t understand how badly she had upset the king. But despite the surprise and confusion, the malice in her eyes remained the same. And it bothered him to no end.
Ever since then, Kasser grew further away from her. Nothing could draw them close. They weren’t close before, never had been, but the disgust he felt for her now was much more intense than it had been before.
They were fortunate enough that the queen had heeded his warning. The number of punishments she doled were immensely lessened. But even then, the fear loomed. The courtiers feared her so much, they opted to stay silent, never voicing their concerns to the king.
Yet, despite this glaring problem, the king couldn’t get rid of her. He needed her to give him an heir to the throne, despite his loathing for her.
“It’s been a while since I’ve heard of any dead bodies being found.” He commented once again. “But perhaps you found some again?”
But Marianne denied, shaking her head in response. “No, Your Majesty.” She told him, relief evident in her voice. “We’ve found no dead bodies.”
She went silent again, unsure of how to say it without being deemed disrespectful. Kasser waited for her to continue.
She took it as a tacit permission to speak freely.
“Your Majesty, if I may suggest…”
She began, and Kasser looked at her with a raised brow. Her nerves got the better of her, even so she swallowed them down to continue anyway.
“… I suggest the queen be taken care of.”
Blinking in confusion, Kasser’s brows creased atop his forehead. It was such an unusual request for the sake of such a brutal queen…
“Excuse me?” he asked incredulously, hoping he hadn’t heard her correctly, “Take care of her?”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
“The queen has been skipping meals for over two days.”
Kasser’s eyes widened in surprise. It was unexpected of the queen to neglect her own comfort…
“And why is that?” He inquired further.
But Marianne only shrugged her shoulders in equal confusion…
“We don’t know, Your Majesty,” she said, “The queen doesn’t leave her chambers, and none of the female attendants can enter without her express permission.”
Kasser appeared pensive for a moment before looking back at Marianne.
“Does that mean you haven’t been able to enter as well?”
Marianne nodded, and Kasser turned away, deep in thought. The confusion filled his mind and bothered him to no end.
“A hunger strike perhaps?” He mumbled to himself before his eyes darkened.
What is she up to this time?