Eugene smiled awkwardly at the man after coming down all the stairs. Countless eyes never left her. It felt like she was an exotic item under display. She felt dazed by the crowd; the murmurings and whispers putting her in a spot.
Suddenly the commotion grew, and she turned in surprise.
It was a young girl who had squeezed in between people and made it to the fore. She couldn’t ignore the girl whose eyes were wide open with awe. There was a kind of charm to this little lass, and Eugene’s gaze stayed on her a little longer.
The moment Eugene waved her hand to the little girl, the roar of the crowd exploded.
“Let’s go, my queen.” Kasser gently tugged her hand.
They went inside, leaving a sea of charmed spectators and excited cheers in their wake. Although she was teeming with bewilderment within, outwardly Eugene was the epitome of calmness. The shouts only got louder and bigger, even as they walked farther and deeper into the restaurant.
The two entered the room where a table was laid by the staff with much meticulousness.
“It’s still noisy.”
Eugene was belatedly overwhelmed with shame. She couldn’t believe she waved her hand. and was ashamed of stirring a commotion.
Kasser smiled at her flustered form. Her naïve reaction, how she was conscious of the surroundings, was cute. Her blushing face was so beautiful that he couldn’t take his eyes off her.
“I’m glad you waved.”He remarked.
“Did I falter?” she asked with eager eyes.
“It’s not a mistake, but the number of people following you today was higher than I expected.”
Eugene recalled the sight of celebrities leading the crowd in her world. She was just a passerby who had never been caught in the crowd. But it felt strange to think that people were following her around to see her.
“Do you come here often?”
Eugene examined the internal structure. There were signs of a similar feeling, if not comparable to the large and colorful royal castle. She guessed it was definitely not a restaurant for ordinary people to come and go.
“Sometimes.” His tone was quite casual.
Kasser was not the type to take care of his meals. When busy, he often passed it over, and when outside the palace, he ate light, at restaurants where the commoners frequented. But he couldn’t take her to a place with clutter and the food just plain. Not only because it was her first time eating out.
“If you’re more interested in nocturnal outings, let’s do it next time, not today,” he said out of nowhere.
He thought she would prefer the peace and quiet that came with clandestine spins veiled by the even sky to the clatter and clamour of now.
“I like this, too,” Eugene said with a smile.
It was nice of him to bring her to a nice restaurant, and naturally to ask her to come back again. There was nothing she didn’t like. If anything, she was looking forward to more of these.
“Is there a qualification limit to eat here? The commoners can’t come in?” Looking around the sparsely populated restaurant, she asked.
“Not really. We just need to be able to afford the meal.”
Soon, the restaurant staff began to serve the dishes. Eugene observed them with interest.
They’re wearing a uniform. They must be imitating the royal family.
The robes of the courtiers were set according to their work and position. Like the palace, the employees here wore clothes of the same design. There was a uniformity that added to the grandiosity of this place.
The shape of the food is similar.
The form of placing a small quantity of food at the centre of the big plate was the same too.
Seems like the royal family is the standard for the people here. They want to be like them and learn from them.
The food tasted good. Eugene thought it was not much different from that served at the palace. A restaurant where a chef was as good as the palace would be one of the best restaurants indeed.
He said that anyone could come in with money… I don’t know what other kingdoms are like, but I don’t think discrimination is absolute even if there is a system of hierarchy. There was a commoner among the aide candidature.
These days, it was fun for Eugene to discover and learn about the background that naturally permeated everything she saw and heard. And this impromptu do was only adding to it.
The meal, it seemed, was not the only thing on the king’s mind.
Once they’re done, Kasser said, “There’s a place to look around if you ride a short distance. It’s where the oldest-old buildings are preserved in their original form and the largest buildings recently built.”
As soon as they left the restaurant, however, Kasser was troubled to see people filling the area around the restaurant. He hadn’t expected such a turnout. It seemed it would take a long time to make way for the carriage.
“Your Majesty, if it’s not far, let’s walk.” Eugene suggested an alternative.
“Are you going to be okay?”
“Of course!” Eugene replied, thinking he was asking if the crowd would feel uncomfortable.
But Kasser’s question had a different meaning. The aristocrats rode carriages when they traveled, even a short distance. They thought walking along the streets, mingling with the commoners, was beneath them and a disgrace.
Eugene didn’t know of such a culture, not that she would mind if she knew! Her outlook towards these societal norms was quite different after all.
And just like that, the two most prominent personages of Haishi, the king and the queen began to walk. The guards formed a large circle around the royal couple to prevent intrusions. This also provided them some privacy.
It was quiet despite the large crowd surrounding them. Eugene was able to converse with him without having to raise her voice.
“Does Your Majesty always gather people like this?”
The King of Haishi had a stellar reputation in his kingdom and elsewhere too. it was only obvious that he would attract a throng wherever he went, like today.
“I’ve never done this,” he said looking at her gently, “They’re all here to see you.”
Eugene raised her eyes reflexively, astonished.
Red smoke was spreading through the clear skies…