Chapter 86 – Oil And Water (1)
Chancellor Verus was certain of one thing—something had changed between the royal couple during the past month.
Should I expect the worst-case scenario? He thought to himself.
The chancellor had faith that the king was a smart man, rational and logical in thinking. But he was only a man, despite being a ruler. They were bound to change at some point; no one would be able to resist the charms of a woman.
And the queen was indeed beauty beyond compare.
Even three years ago, after their marriage, many men still longed to have the queen. She had been the talk of the town for a long time. And Verus wasn’t blind. He acknowledged her beauty; he wouldn’t contest that. So, it wouldn’t be entirely out of the realm of possibility that the king would fall in love with her.
I need to gain an audience with the former general. Verus thought worriedly. Surely Baroness Marianne would have noticed these changes. He mused to himself.
It had taken only a moment of staring at the medicine, but eventually, Eugene finally took the digestant that Marianne had given her and popped it to her mouth.
I’ll get hungry tonight if I were to digest these foods quickly. She thought as she downed it with water. When she’s done, Marianne suggested taking a short stroll around as the medicine took its time to do its work.
“Your Majesty, why don’t you walk outside for a few minutes?” Marianne said, “The pain will only be doubled in your sleep if indigestion takes a severe turn.” She explained.
Eugene nodded to her thankfully before doing just that.
Unfortunately, wherever Eugene went, so did the servants.
Ugh, I’m definitely never faking another stomachache again. She complained to herself as she noticed this.
She finally understood why Jin never left her study. It was there that she could find some peace and quiet. It was where she could be alone.
I hadn’t anticipated I’d come to understand Jin this much. She thought in amusement, before remembering that while Jin was in the study, she’d never allowed anyone to disturb her. Who could even confirm she was inside? Eugene thought with a frown.
The overall walk wasn’t horrible, quite pleasant in fact.
The darkened corridors she had walked through seemed quite a different world at night, so different in the morning in all its bright glory. There was some light, but it was so high up, the corridor was still blanketed by shadows.
If Jin really did leave the palace regularly, I need to think long and hard from the very beginning. She thought whilst she admired the long pillars on the corridors. But despite her admiring the view, her thoughts only consisted of Jin Anika.
If Jin did have a secret, I’m certain it wouldn’t be housed within the palace walls.
She remembered in her version of when Jin went missing; the people had only assumed that Jin had been involved in some horrible accident. And as quickly as the news spread, so did it die out, and Jin was forgotten. No one even questioned why she had disappeared, no one particularly cared.
For that matter, General Sarah, such a meticulous person, she would’ve definitely found Jin’s secret passage had she disappeared despite the size and vastness of the palace. It was only right to have come to this conclusion.
Ah! She paused. There was the man, the one in my visions.
His crimson eyes flashed through the back of her mind.
The symbol of Larks!
And larks were made by Mara, obedient only to its power.
This was why Mara’s followers had red eyes. But this knowledge was mostly unknown for the Maharians. They wouldn’t even be able to piece such a thing together, and link these people to the Larks, and ultimately to Mara.
And their eyes weren’t completely red either.
Because the rebels in Mahar, also called as the Children of Mara, were subject to exclusion and discrimination, the redness of their pupils often gave them away, making it difficult to blend in.
This was because the red in their eyes were caused by Mara’s power, one that dwelled within each individual. This power made them powerful and would often signify these people were awarded the highest status within Mara’s ranks, enough to be a chief priest.
The man, the one she saw in her visions, did not have red eyes, but a hazel hue. But whenever he chose to, his eyes would turn red.
No, something’s not right… Something is bothering me.
As much as their society was closed off and secretive, their hierarchical system would be even more so. If the man had the rank of a chief priest among the rebels, he must be an absolute follower of Mara.
But she saw him, bowing to Jin, his forehead pressed on the floor, even before she had summoned Mara. Which meant he wasn’t simply complying with whatever Jin had planned, but that he respected her. Worshipped even.
Whoever he was, Jin was not alone in this. This proves she had her own people. The question is, how many? She fretted. Eugene didn’t know who she could ask, where to find them. She didn’t even know what to ask when the moment would be presented to her.
In the first place, she would find it extremely difficult to leave the palace without someone seeing unless she were to do things the way Jin did.
Through the study.
She could do it. Perhaps, if she only took a handful of servants, tell them she wished to be alone, then maybe, by she could escape without anyone noticing her absence.
No, she retracted, I don’t want to do it like her.
She had already decided she would be Queen, that she’d take on more responsibilities to alleviate the Desert King’s duties. She couldn’t just revert to her old ways, it would seem like she had changed her mind.
Moreover, she didn’t want to risk the good rapport she had with Marianne, and the others around her, and throw it away for curiosity.
Let’s start just like before, go to the inn, with the excuse of seeing the town, then maybe, more will come up. She was satisfied with her new plan.
And as Eugene was walking, she failed to notice a wall in front of her, and hit it with full force, she stumbled backwards. Fortunately, someone caught her. It wasn’t a wall, but a man, and he snaked his arm around her waist before pulling her flush against him.
“Where’s your mind at?” a familiar voice asked.
Eugene felt her breath caught in her throat as she looked up, and saw that it was Kasser.
“You should be careful.” He continued. “It’s dark out here.”
“W-well.” She pulled away, stuttering as she regained her bearings. “You came out of nowhere, how was I to see you?” she asked.
He quirked up an eyebrow at her.
“I’ve been standing at the same spot for some time now.” Kasser told her. “I thought for sure you have seen me already. I didn’t expect you to bump into me like that.” His tone was filled with light amusement as chuckled quietly.
It was an amusing sight, the queen failing to see the king and bumping face first into him. It was hilarious. Especially since she kept her gaze trailed up as if something were interesting.
“Is the ceiling that interesting?” he asked as he too looked up. Perhaps he’d see what she was so focused on.
Embarrassed, Eugene shook her head.
“No, I was just thinking.” She answered.
Kasser looked back down and straight into her eyes.
He drew closer, as Eugene struggled to find words to say. She couldn’t come up with a viable excuse. So, she did the only thing she could.
She smacked his chest lightly as if to tell him to get away, before giving him a coy smile. He let her go and did step aside.
“You surprise me,” she said.
Kasser frowned when she resumed walking. He followed her, matching her pace.
“Where were you headed?”
“Nowhere.” She answered truthfully. “I was just out for a walk. Doctor’s orders.” She then stopped and turned to him, “What about His Majesty? Where were you going?”
“I was also taking a walk.”
“Why?” Eugene asked in curiosity, but the king only shrugged.
“You don’t need a reason to take a walk.” He answered.
The servants following behind them slowed down their steps and finally came to a halt at the gesture of the chamberlain, who had just arrived. The two continued down the hallway, their echoed voices fading out into the darkness. The chamberlain watched the two walk away in delight and turned his head when he heard a noise nearby.
The servants were chatting and giggling among themselves. When they noticed he was staring, they ceased all conversation and stood back in attention.
“Pretend you never saw or heard anything tonight. Do you understand?” he asked, giving them a stern gaze.
The servants nodded in response.
“Yes, Lord Chamberlain.”
And with a wave of his hand, they left to return to their chores.