“Ahhh! Get out of the way!”
Several people standing behind the line screamed and pushed the person in front and ran to the shelter. The line collapsed in an instant.
Those who wanted to enter first pushed each other and in a flash, it was bedlam in the streets. It was impossible for the few soldiers to control hundreds of people who had lost their reason.
All the soldiers’ eyes were on Eugene at the same time, looking for instructions from the commander.
However, her eyes were like- What do I do?
A thunderous bellow filled the air, Sven rushed towards mayhem. Everything seemed to be happening almost in tandem.
The time she was given was short. There was no time to ponder deeply. The hour demanded an intuitive decision.
She got on the horse of Sven’s recommendation when she began to line up people. The choice of riding a horse to the royal castle right away was the fastest and easiest mode of transport.
All my life I’ve lived with the idea that I’m never altruistic. I never wanted to be a hero who saves the world.
However, she took pride in her sense of responsibility. She must finish what she started. She couldn’t leave the people as they were. If the monster were to come this way after she left, they would be bait.
Bait… If I become the bait?
Eugene clasped the reins tightly as she had an epiphany. The most effective bait without the risk of injury was herself. She could save these people if she were to offer herself up. Amidst the agitated cries of the masses, her resolve deepened.
Let’s buy time until he arrives.
She stared in the direction of the roar. Her heart tightened, she let out a breath she never knew she held. Even as terror surged within her with rapid speed, determination beat it to a hasty retreat.
I’m an Anika!
Larks were particularly aggressive to humans. When people and livestock were side by side, Lark would attack humans first. They acted as if their mission- to kill human beings, was imprinted in their very bones.
However, exceptions existed. One, Larks do not preemptively strike on humans and two, Larks do not attack Anikas.
In Eugene’s novel, Anika represented both good and evil. Jin became the incarnation of Mara, and Flora fought against Jin. But Flora never fought one on one with Jin. While the six kings pursued the camp, Flora took on the role of protecting humans from the Lark Corps.
When Flora sprouted the seeds and released Ramita, Larks ceased all movements and flocked to her like ants crowding around a candy. The Larks bit each other off to preoccupy a place near Flora. The little Larks were brutally trampled on by the big Larks and exploded.
Then in the meantime people evacuated and soldiers got rid of the Larks. While the Larks were distracted by Flora, they reacted little to the attack.
Flora’s powerful Ramita used a mysterious force to lure Larks. Human sacrifice was greatly reduced because of the neutralization of the Lark Army.
Of course, such a miracle was possible because it was Flora. But even though she wasn’t as capable as Flora, the Larks basically responded to Anika. There was a mention of it in the novel written by Eugene.
At the end of the novel, the holy city which had absolute security on the level of a sanctuary could not hold out against the invasion of the Lark army. The holy city which had lost all order was in a state of chaos akin to the end of the world.
Eugene described the appearances of various humans that were dragged down into the depths of fear. There was also a scene where a young female Anika had blocked the frontline of Larks in order to buy time so that her family could safely escape.
It was only a passing scene, but it was based on the premise that ‘Larks do not attack Anikas’. If so, Eugene could hold on to at least one Lark like the young Anika in the novel.
But deep in her heart, doubts whispered: Are you sure it won’t attack you?
Her dubiety was not unfounded. She had transmigrated and was living in Mahar as Jin Anika. But, was she really an Anika? Was Anika’s Ramita a strength in her body or an ability imprinted in her soul?
It was questionable whether the strength of the body could be derived by itself and not by the original owner. When it came to the power of the soul, the spirit of “Eugene” was just covered in a shell with Anika´s outward features.
Even if she met the Sang-je someday, she could not predict whether the Sang-je would treat her favorably or drive her into a corner. Perhaps Lark was almost the only one who could answer her question… after all, it would instinctively find out whether she was Anika or not.
It was a risky gamble indeed. If Eugene wasn’t Anika, she could die in an attack by Lark.
If I’m not Anika, I can’t just die in this world anyway…
Strange feelings wriggled in her heart. When she’d heard the shriek a little while ago, even before the chilling goosebumps had subsided, she’d decided to deal with this head-on. She had never known she had such a reckless streak to herself.
Eugene exclaimed, looking back at the scattered warriors.
“Hold this position, until everyone gets into the shelter safely!”
The soldiers bowed their heads in answer.
“Sir Sven, with me. Now!”
Eugene kicked the horse in the ribs even before Sven had answered. The knight scurried after Eugene, who was dashing ahead at a remarkable speed. Naturally, he thought the queen was going to the royal castle, but he yelped when he found out that it was a completely different direction.
“My queen! That’s not the way! My queen!”
Eugene kept sprinting onwards, even as Sven’s cries reached her ears. She didn’t have time to explain to him. Even in her state of trice, she couldn’t help notice how remarkably well she was doing on a horse.
She’d never learnt to ride, but her body seemed to be reacting on its own to the rhythm of the horse’s sway. Jin’s equestrian skills must have been pretty good.