The assigned aides gave Eugene their full attention as she spoke. Aware of their unwavering gaze, Eugene cleared her throat to ease the intensity of the atmosphere.
“The greetings are enough for today. I’ll see you all tomorrow.”
“We will see you tomorrow, Your Grace.” They bid their goodbyes in unison as they turned to leave the room.
Eugene went to her study to list down all the things she needed to discuss tomorrow with her aides, enumerating all of them down on paper- starting with the budget of the palace.
Until now, the Chief General was the one in charge of the palace budget. The system went like this: The Chief General provides a detailed plan on how the budget will be spent, making sure that all fund allocations are listed down, and then she presents it to the king to get his approval for budget execution. One can rely on the Chief General’s rational measures.
No budget misappropriation went under her supervision. However, the plans seemed passive and consistent, and no changes were proposed despite the continual rise of prices every year. This resulted in careful spending by the people in the palace- almost frugal, even.
No wonder that the chamberlain had come to visit.
Eugene thought of the day when the chamberlain came to her as he laid out grounds for budget increase. He didn’t say it directly, but he managed to have Eugene understand the need for such allocation.
She found out that there were little to no extra supplies for those people who are living in the palace. The shortage is obvious, and the current number of supplies would not be able to suffice all the people living there.
The insufficiency would have made sense if the whole kingdom was poor and poverty-stricken, but it’s not and it’s only like that because of Jin Anika’s costly leisure back then.
A servant knocked on Eugene’s door.
“Your Grace, the Chief General is here to see you.” The servant said as she entered the study.
“Send her in.” Eugene nodded.
Sarah came in and greeted the queen formally. Eugene looked at Sarah with a gentle gaze.
When Eugene had taken responsibility over the budget allocations, she personally checked on all the receipts provided by Sarah. And with that, she began to trust Sarah more. Seeing all the proof of purchases presented to her, and no indication of personal use.
Although the approval for such purchases came from the king, Sarah was still the one who manages the huge amount of money, and she’s the one who’s distributing it to their respective allocations.
“Is there something you need to tell me?” Eugene asked.
“We will be hiring temporary employees. There will be an additional of 12 workers that will start working tomorrow and it’s only until the dry season starts. I also brought a list of their names.” Sarah answered.
Eugene nodded “Thank you for your hard work.”
Sarah placed the file atop the study’s desk.
“Do I need to meet these people personally? Did I greet nonpermanent employees back then?” Eugene asked.
“You have not, Your Grace. There’s no need for you to meet them, as they are not responsible for any work related to you.”
Eugene thought with certainty that she would see Rodrigo’s name on the list. She decided to maintain her ways to find out how Rodrigo neared the palace.
After Sarah left the study, Eugene opened the file that contains the temporary employees’ names, and she noted that there’s nothing peculiar on that list.
Upon hearing the signal flare, Eugene immediately stood up from her desk and went to the window to oversee what’s happening. She smiled when she saw blue smoke floating around the sky.
She stood watching by the window as the smoke slowly evaporated. “Abu will return with the king mounted on his back.” She thought to herself, immediately missing Kasser.
“The treasure trove.”
Eugene suddenly remembered, and she needed to ask about it to the king. Thinking that it was a good reason, Eugene didn’t hesitate as she turned her back and left the study.
There was a line leading up to the office. Officials are cueing in to personally deliver their messages to the king. It was an uncommon sight, but it seemed to happen every now and then.
Two months had already passed since that active period started, and there was only about 26 days left.
The Hashi regions that are located so far away from the desert get attacked the most. The Larks are always closing in on those regions in the early phase of the active period. Those regions start to let their guards down after a month, and by the end of the second month, officials start to make their journey towards the desert to personally report to the king.
The officials in line stirred up as they turned around, stunned expressions written all over their faces when they saw the queen approaching the office.
The queen arrived with her servants. For most of the officials, it was their first time to see the queen personally. But they knew that it was indeed the queen, widely known of her distinct characteristics.
The queen is well known by her black hair and black eyes that emphasized her beauty completely. She was beautiful and mysterious at the same time. The officials looked at her as if she had a halo floating above her head, fully captivated by the tale of the queen transforming a Lark into a tree.
Those who are aware of their surroundings bowed quickly as she passed by them. But there were a few officials who remained standing- still in a trance of meeting the queen personally, as they get nudged to their sides by their peers, reminding them to pay their respects.
The chamberlain ran towards the queen and bowed.
Eugene was taken aback by the crowd of people waiting in line for the king’s office. “What’s happening?” The queen asked.
“These officials are about to report to the king, Your Grace.”
Eugene glanced around the crowded area “Is it always like this?”
Not always. There’s nothing to worry about.” The chamberlain assured her.
“I guess the king has more work than usual, huh?”
“Yes, Your Grace. May I ask what brings our queen here?”
“I came to see His Majesty but it’s not important, really. I will see him later when he’s not busy.” Eugene said.
“No, Your Grace.” The chamberlain said as he ushered the queen into the reception room and went to the king’s office. It was her first time visiting the king’s workplace. Everyone also knew that the queen and king had been getting along well.
“There isn’t anything urgent at the moment, I will let His Majesty know right away.” Turning around, the chamberlain left.