Kasser’s expression hardened. The stone gate to the desert should have been opened only when he came after being out in the desert.
Verus took a breath before continuing.
“I couldn’t find out where the queen was after she left the desert a few days ago. After a full day’s search, the warriors were fortunate to have found the missing queen and brought her here into safety.”
Kasser hit the desk hard with his palm and Verus flinched on instinct.
“What the hell are you talking about? How did the queen go out to the desert? You opened the stone gate for her? Without my permission?!” He exclaimed.
“We didn’t, Your Majesty.” Verus sputtered, quickly continuing to explain the situation. “She climbed up the wall using a rope, so it took us a while to notice her disappearance.”
Kasser burst into a peal of mocking laughter. “Are you saying that no one knew that the queen crossed the walls and climbed her way out?”
Verus nodded and stayed silent.
“What a shame! The maids-in-waiting, how did the queen manage to slip past their notice?” The king inquired further…
“She especially threatened the maids in her entourage to not come inside her chambers until they are called. No one dared to disobey the queen’s order,” Verus said softly.
“That’s an excuse on their part.” Kasser scoffed.
He was undoubtedly furious, but his anger dissipated as soon as he remembered the terror the servants had for the queen.
Even though she mellowed down with the harsh treatment a year ago since his threat, she still was ruthless in her attitude towards them. And the fear still remained, and it made the servants all the more eager not to defy her wishes if they made a mistake.
“How did you know that the queen was missing?”
“It wasn’t until late in the morning yesterday.” Verus answered. “One general opened her door arbitrarily, as everyone became worried that she was starving herself by not calling a servant to bring her meals.”
“I sent a search party to the desert.”
Chancellor Verus sent ten search teams comprising ten men each into the desert. Sending warriors without the king’s express permission was a risky decision for Verus to do. It was nearly the end of the dry season, which meant that monsters could be already lurking around the desert.
Warriors were treasures of the kingdom. Verus would be held accountable if one of them was even hurt, worse, mutilated.
“Was anyone hurt?” the king asked, the tension settling at his jaw.
Verus shook his head.
“All the warriors returned unharmed, Your Majesty.”
Kasser nodded. “Where did the warriors find her?”
“The queen was walking the desert alone when they found her,” said Verus. “It was Sir Sven who found her. He returned immediately to the castle, ending the search.”
It deeply baffled him why Jin Anika would go through that length to escape the castle.
What was her intention?
He needed to get to the bottom of this as soon as possible.
Who knows what schemes Anika was orchestrating at this very moment?!
“Was she hurt?”
“I’ve never heard of any injury of Queen, Your Majesty. However, Sir Sven said she looked unstable when she returned home.”
Kasser sneered at the thought. He had been played like a fool. This was not just another one of Jin Anika’s ploys, she was trying to run away from her responsibilities. Trying to escape from him and the contract.
“Was it Marianne’s idea not to report this as soon as I’ve arrived?”
He growled at the chancellor, who only remained silent and bowed his head in shame.
“I apologize, Your Majesty.”
Kasser clicked his tongue. If he had heard the report as soon as he had come, he would have been furious and could care less if the queen did in fact starve.
At this moment, he only knew two things as a fact.
First, Marianne knew how monstrous he could be if provoked, therefore she coerced everyone to hide the news from him, sending him to the queen’s chambers had been a distraction.
And secondly, the queen’s sudden change in demeanor? Kasser chuckled mirthlessly.
None of it is true!
She had been playing him all along.