Seongdo… Eugene thought to herself.
It means Holy City, or otherwise known as the center of the world. Each and every kingdom in this world had its own capital, its own royal family.
Seongdo was also a small country, run by Sang-je himself. Though the country was political in nature, it was, in fact, religious. Translating that to the real world, one where Eugene was supposed to be in, Sang-je mirrored the Pope.
But she knew that Sang-je was not human. And as far as she went, she was certain she’s the only one that knew. She knew because it was her idea, her creation, just like the world she was currently in was born of her imagination.
Should I seek Sang-je?
She shook her head at the thought. She didn’t feel much like it would help her situation.
There is no guarantee that he will be able to help me after he knows my identity. Besides, I don’t want to go to Seongdo, it’s the center of all events.
A timid voice called out to her, and Eugene turned her head to the general direction of the voice. Having heard no answer yet, the voice called out once again…
“Anika, may I have a word?”
Eugene was mulling over whether she should. Failing to come up with a reasonable excuse to avoid the audience, she decided to hear the person out.
No matter how she controlled it, her tone of voice and inflection were strange, which proved difficult when it came to dealing with her subordinates. She’d watched plenty of historical dramas in her leisure time, but it didn’t change her speech one bit. She still spoke the same.
The door creaked open, and in came the maid. She had light brown hair, with eyes that shone in hazel. Her gaze was pointedly affixed on the floor instead of towards Eugene.
Ever since she came into the world, Eugene had been greeted with an onslaught of endless strangers. She felt so overwhelmed by her new surroundings, new people, she was finding it difficult to grasp her new reality, to believe it’s not all just fiction. Not to mention that the maids were all so similarly dressed, it was hard for her to differentiate who was who.
But the maid before her was familiar. After all, she’d served her and continued to do so ever since, making sure Eugene had everything she needed.
“What’s your name?” Eugene asked, and the maid bowed her head lower. She was shaking.
“Please forgive me for disturbing you, Anika, but the king sent a message.” The maid reasoned out, clearly misinterpreting it as a threat from the queen.
Eugene noted how sweat began to form around the maid’s temple, as well as the way she kept wiping and fiddling with her hands against her uniform.
This hierarchy runs a tight ship. Eugene mused to herself as she continued to observe the stiffness of the maid’s posture towards her.
But contrary to this thought, people around her casually called her by the nickname Anika instead of her title… What a really strange decorum.
Finally, she took pity and responded, willing her voice to be a bit softer.
“What message?” she asked the maid.
“His Majesty, the king requests to have lunch with you.” She answered, still keeping her head bowed down, as was expected of her.
The maid had used the word request, but Eugene knew it was an order from the king himself.
Eugene mulled over that request for a moment, agonizing over every choice she could. However, reason won in the end. If she was to play the part of the antagonist, then she should learn to think things through thoroughly and swiftly.
“I will.” She finally replied and went about her morning routine, which also included a light meal. It wasn’t until a little while later did the dread finally creep in as she realized one difficulty.
Lunch was quickly approaching. She could tell simply because the maids had begun to rush in and prepare the setting for the shared meal of the king and queen.
The other day, when Eugene woke up, she had been pampered and attended by the maids. If she was being honest, there was something satisfying in the way they waited on her hand and foot. Being queen, despite being the main villain, was quite a pleasant experience. However, there is one thing she did find uncomfortable when their hands roamed her body…
At least, the body she was currently borrowing.
It’d only been a few days since she’d arrived in this world, and yet here she was already enjoying the privileges and other luxuries given to her.
It hadn’t occurred to her, because of course, the clothes she had been wearing the past few days were not appropriate to be worn to have lunch with the king. As it turned out, the luxurious clothes she thought were good enough to be worn outside, were only indoor clothes owned by the queen. Naturally, another, grander set of clothes were prepared by the servants for her.
Is this real? Eugene definitely felt as if she was in a dream.
The dress was beautiful. It was made of silk, with sleeves that rustled as she moved. Her bodice was made of a corset, adorned with glistening beads. The skirt billowing with every step she took. She couldn’t imagine the fortune it cost for such a dress to be made and worn by her.
Is this too much? Or is this just normal?
Because despite living as queen these past few days, she was still, woefully, novice to this entire thing.
As she continued to be dolled up in preparation to have lunch with the king, she remembered another glaring problem she had…
She didn’t know a single thing about dining etiquette in this world!
What about table manners?
She continued to fret, thoughts endlessly running through her head for any kind of stock knowledge.
She soon found relief in the fact that she at least had some experience with fine dining, considering she worked at a restaurant for quite some time. Taking a deep breath, Eugene hoped that whatever she learned would not be a complete waste.
Time was running out. Lunch was fast approaching.
“Anika, please come with me.”
There was a woman this time, fetching her. She was dressed differently from the servants, her expression hardened, with eyes that held wisdom gained from experience. She stood tall and proud despite his advanced age.
There was only one word that came to mind who this was.
The thought echoed in her head. It seemed like even the original owner knew this woman as such.
And so Eugene found herself walking the hallways with the General there to guide her. Her eyes flickered all around her, making sure not to lose sight of her guide, and wander off to who knows where. This was the first time she was seeing the inside of the palace. She had stayed in the queen’s chambers all this time, after all.
It had not a touch of the modern age, but Eugene found it fitting; there was a hint of uniqueness to it. The stone floors were made with geometric patterns, its surfaces polished and colored. The walls ran long and tall, supported with columns and full of antique reliefs.
Despite having to serve only as a passageway for people to come and go, the hallway was undoubtedly spacious. She mused that even if trucks were to pass through, there wouldn’t be any problem at all. Everything was just that wide.
I was expecting to feel embarrassed, yet I don’t.
She continued to admire the grandeur, but she was not at all overwhelmed. Somewhere, deep in her heart, she was, surprisingly, calm.
She didn’t even have to think about how to walk, she just automatically knew how to, her body moving so flawlessly and elegantly like a true queen. Naturally assuming a good posture, it seemed to remember everything simply by muscle memory alone.
“I think this is the way to the dining hall.” She suddenly blurted out.
It all felt so familiar, including the entire layout of the place. Despite having not left the room since getting here, it seemed like she knew where to go after all.
The woman she was following suddenly turned around to look at her and said…
“Anika, I’ll take you to the parlor where His Majesty instructed me to bring you.”
Eugene nodded and felt a strange feeling wash over her.
Why does this all feel like a déjà vu?