“Yes, Your Majesty. I shall now take my leave.” He bid her, bowing before he left.
Marianne had finally arrived after her private meeting with the king. Eugene had immediately asked what happened during the meeting. The baroness only informed her how he had to leave in haste on an emergency, and thus their meeting was cut short.
At the mention of an accident, worry laced Eugene’s face.
“I hope it isn’t anything serious,” she said. “Otherwise, this peaceful time we are experiencing will soon come to an end.”
“Rest assured, with the active period still ongoing, the king wouldn’t dare leave the palace for long periods of time.” Marianne assured her.
“You mentioned it’s quite far away, is it not? Then that would mean it would be difficult to make a second trip today, isn’t it?”
“Yes, Your Grace, you’re quite right.”
Eugene’s heart went out to the one involved in the accident. But despite her worry about their well-being, she couldn’t help but feel a little relieved as of the moment. Her mind was still reeling with the influx of information.
It was very fortunate she wouldn’t be forced to make conversations with the king for now. Because what new excuse would she use to refuse his advances? How long could she keep it up? If she couldn’t any longer, would she have to force herself to sleep with him just to keep up the ruse that everything was still all right in her world?
Truly, it was a blessing she wouldn’t have to contend with him tonight.
Despite her veteran experience of masking her expressions, Marianne could pick up on her sullen state. Assessing one’s feelings came naturally to the baroness, especially so since the queen was her sole priority nowadays.
But unless Eugene confided in her, Marianne could do nothing else but wait at the side. After all, it was still part of her duty to act according to her superior’s mood.
Is it another effect of her memory loss? Marianne pondered for a moment. It could be a somewhat delayed effect.
When the queen had lost her memory, Marianne expected it would take some time for her to adapt to her surroundings…
But that wasn’t the case.
In fact, she adapted quickly… suspiciously quickly than Marianne thought was possible for someone who lost their entire memories. And as time went by, Marianne had become more familiar with her new personality, so much so she forgot the forewarnings of the doctor that treated the queen before…
“But does Her Majesty remember something after the meeting earlier?”
She asked that back then because she had immediately noticed the queen’s dismissive behavior.
“My queen, you hadn’t met with him for long, but did something during the meeting change your mind after all?”
Of all the times for the king to leave the palace unattended…
Marianne couldn’t even advise him on how to improve his relationship with the queen.
“Your Grace, it’s a lovely day outside, shall I arrange for tea by the bridge?” she asked trying to change the somber subject instead. She hoped food would be a welcome distraction.
Eugene, who had been lost in her own thoughts, finally looked up and met the baroness’ gaze. She eventually gave a soft smile upon her suggestion.
She could recognize from a mile away that Marianne, in her own way, was trying to comfort her. True, she didn’t press or inquire further to whatever was troubling her, and though she might know very little of what went on in her mind, it greatly touched Eugene that Marianne respected her enough to not demand the answers from her.
“Tea would be perfect.” Eugene choked up with a smile, beaming brightly at her.
Marianne smiled back. “And should I make preparations in case you want a stroll outside the palace?”
Eugene’s eyes widened in surprise at the sudden suggestion. “I can today?” she asked with excitement leaking out of her voice.
Marianne nodded quite thoughtfully about the possibilities. “Hmm, there seem to be no further signs of any Larks, so it should be safe.” Marianne told her. “Also, the king did leave for the treasure house. He could hardly fault you for a stroll.” She pointed out.
Eugene understood Marianne was someone who followed her own set of principles. That’s why she expected if she asked to go out of the palace, someone would have prevented her from doing so, especially with the king away.
I must have worried her so much. Eugene thought to herself. Under normal circumstances, Marianne would have done the same, so it was unlike her to do otherwise.
It was probably something she only did just to make her feel better.
Since yesterday, Eugene’s mood had been fluctuating every now and then. The will to resolve all her pressing tasks that were building up would suddenly make her feel hopeless and scared. She almost wanted to throw everything away.
But here Marianne was, offering her a helping hand, which she accepted, and lifted Eugene up to her feet. The more she knew Marianne, the more she could see how good of a person she truly was.
Eugene hoped to continue developing a relationship with her.
That person, too… Eugene thought of Kasser.
Her discomfort around the king didn’t mean she didn’t like him, she did. In fact, she thought he sensed that she wanted to escape, to run away. But if she remained idle, she couldn’t be expected to possess more than what was given to her.
Eventually, Eugene vetoed Marianne’s suggestion.
“No, the king is not here. I cannot leave the palace unattended. It is enough to go out to the yard. Only… I want to walk alone for a while, so don’t let anyone follow me.” She added.
As always, Marianne replied with a warm smile. “Yes, my queen.”
“And Marianne? There is a favor I’d like to ask you.”
“Yes, please, anything.” Marianne affirmed immediately, drawing closer to the queen.
“Cage, the information broker who came to see me yesterday, I want him to be investigated in secret.” She immediately said, “Get him to find me information and watch him closely then.”
In due time, she would end up meeting Rodrigo again. Despite the fact she also needed other people’s information to know how to properly deal with them, when she met that man, and when they conversed with each other, she only learned his name, and that he was a heretic. Nothing more. So, Eugene decided to go in a roundabout way of obtaining information about his dealings.
Because Rodrigo was the chief priest of the church, it would be difficult to obtain his information beyond his faux identity, but if she at least learned about his external activities, it would be of great help.
“And what shall I make him look for?” Marianne asked.
“Anything, something that would seem important to him,” she said, “But make sure he doesn’t notice you.”
“I hardly think it would be a very difficult thing to look for, after all, he has years of experience.” Marianne assured her confidently.
However, Eugene snapped at her in alarm…
Marianne blinked at her sudden outburst.
“You need to be careful. I think he’s more than what he appears to be.” She warned.
Marianne then became hesitant towards the task the queen had set out for her. She’d do anything for the king and queen, but this favor was beyond her abilities.
“If this is an espionage, then, Your Grace, I’m afraid I am not suited for the task.” Marianne admitted. “Perhaps someone else would be better for this job?”
Eugene appeared taken aback by Marianne’s refusal, but let her speak her mind.
“I could even recommend someone who would be perfect for the job.” Marianne added.
Eugene frowned. “Who?”
“Lord Chancellor.” Marianne answered confidently. “This job would be right up his alley.”