“Oh, my! You…” Eugene gasped as she was startled by his sudden appearance.
It was Abu, the king’s horse. He stood stock-still, tail swishing back and forth as he stared at her with intelligent eyes.
Eugene slowly approached him.
“Abu!” She called out softly.
Abu’s ears twitched in recognition.
“What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be with His Majesty?” Eugene asked with a smile.
Abu let out a snort in response, shaking his mane, before staying still. Fearing that the horse was startled and would run away from her, Eugene paused for a moment, raising her hands in a placating way before resuming her slow approach.
When she reached him, she put a tentative hand on the bridge of his nose, hoping that would keep him calm. It was a strange thought, but she felt like Abu could understand her words and actions. It was as if he was waiting patiently for her, saying: Don’t be afraid. I won’t hurt you.
He was a clever animal, but Eugene couldn’t help but feel amused because he was acting too much like a human.
“Abu… It has been a while. How have you been?” Eugene asked, sweeping her hand over the beautiful black horse’s fur and mane.
It was soft and supple beneath her fingers, with a healthy glow unlike other furs of horses, or even the fur of a young puppy she had pet a long time ago.
“I wonder why you were left behind. It would have been much faster to ride you. But he couldn’t have forgotten you by mistake, right?”
Abu responded with a neigh. It was then that Eugene’s eyes gravitated towards the two small horns atop Abu’s head…
In the many prohibited scriptures she had read, a picture of a cow with two horns would always appear from time to time. It was the image of Mara, given shape by a religious society that revered the creature.
Is it just a coincidence that the god has the same horns as Abu?
A Lark was a monster whose natural instinct was based largely on their need for carnage. However, very rarely were there Larks that didn’t fit the norms of the beasts.
There existed Larks that were highly intelligent, able to suppress their bloodlust, and could change their appearance at will—just like Abu. They mostly were active in the kingdom during the dry season. Such types of Larks were called- Hwansu.
A Hwansu was not one to attack humans indiscriminately. Rather, they would live in remote areas where it was difficult for humans to access.
For a regular person, they would not even dare to approach it, but not the king. Only the kings of the six kingdoms were capable enough of overpowering and subduing Hwansus. Because of that, there was a widespread perception that it was only natural that the king should command these kinds of Larks.
The Fourth King of Hashi, King Kasser, had only one as of now, but there had been many kings before that had several under their command. Eugene recalled the content of her novel.
Even if Mara, a god, sent Larks to attack humans, the Hwansu would still only follow the king’s commands.
Even if this somehow was not the world of her novel, the similarities were striking. The fundamental principles that built this world were worth referencing despite the discrepancies. She was still amazed that the world she built was right in front of her. All around her.
If the Hwansu is already the subordinate of the king, did they just not listen to Mara’s orders? But the king is human, while Mara a god. Does it make sense that the king’s control is stronger than a deity?
It was the setup that Eugene had written, but now that she thought about it, it was contradictory.
Eventually, Eugene began to reminisce of her distant past, searching for the reason why she had even started to write her novel.
She did not remember exactly when it had started. Only that one day, something suddenly popped inside her head, a story of a completely different world emerged in her mind.
At that time, she thought it was common for fantasy novels to be influenced by elements from popular movies. But, for Eugene, it was different. Each scene vividly appeared in her thoughts as though she was seeing it directly with her eyes. She could see them clearly every time she closed her eyes, replaying scenes, shifting through them, and understanding them by heart…
She wanted to organize each small piece that rose in her thoughts and ended up creating a story.
A story of fantasy, filled with adventures in a novel that told a tale of good versus evil that descended on the world. It was fun to unravel her imagination and to make a concrete story out of the scenes that popped into her head.
It was also a source of comfort to escape from the reality of her hard life.
Nevertheless, Eugene did not think of herself as a talented writer. She had no intention of writing another story besides the novel. And for over ten years, she was still working on that single story.
Whenever she had some time, she would read it again, fix sentences, and insert new episodes or scenes. It was sort of like a journal, where she was both the writer and the reader.
Abu licked her hand, she slightly flinched and came out of her deep musings. The crimson-eyed beast tilted his head inquisitively at her, sort of like a puppy asking to play. Eugene laughed.
“Abu, why are you this kind?” She cooed at him.
She appreciated the gesture. In the kingdom, people would speak to her kindly simply because she was the queen, but for animals, her status in human society meant nothing. Abu was just kind to Eugene because he liked her.
It was refreshing.
“You didn’t really get along well with me before, right?” She hummed in thought.
When she had asked the General Commissioner before if the king’s Hwansu was friendly, he looked at her as though she had grown two heads. He only said to her in reply…
“The owner of the Hwansu is His Majesty the Fourth King.”
If the king’s horse had followed the queen well in the past, the Commissioner certainly would have told her. Even if Eugene’s reaction was to be afraid of the Abu, the horse did not seem to be very sociable.
So, it came as a surprise that he was acting rather favorable towards Eugene right now. She knew it even without being able to read his mind, he sensed the difference in her.
“Can you really distinguish me from others? Do you like me more than Jin?”
Eugene stroked his long muzzle with both her hands, her fingers brushing against the hairs of his skin. Abu softly closed his eyes like a cat being tickled under its chin. It was so cute; Eugene couldn’t help burst into laughter.
“Abu, is there any chance… that you can turn into a panther for me? Is it an unreasonable request?” she nervously asked.
She hoped she wasn’t overstepping any boundaries. Would Abu even be able to understand her? However, it seemed like her fretting was all for naught.
Abu, who until that point was motionless, started to step backwards. Eugene felt like she made a mistake. Shapeshifting may be an extremely sensitive issue for Hwansu.
She thought Abu was offended by her request and would run off; she tried to apologize quickly. Eugene tried to approach him but hesitated as soon as Abu’s body began to tremble, and he slouched his back.