“After I came back from the desert, I started having problems with my memory.”
Kasser’s twisted expression grew subtle. He leaned his back on the sofa with his arms folded. A mixture of ridicule and contempt reflected on his face.
“You don’t remember anything?” he asked.
“I gave you everything; you live at your convenience. Yet, this is how you repay me?” He stared down at her. “Do you find me gullible? Does this kingdom look ridiculous to you? How far are you willing to show your worst self? You must be thinking how great this excuse you made is.”
He sneaked his gaze away from her face, just by looking at her made him sick to his core. “I overestimated you. Now I only see that you are mad as a hatter.”
Belittled with such words, Eugene could only sigh deeply in resignation. She didn’t expect it to be easy to convince him anyway, but she still felt aggravated when thrown with such mockery.
Just like the king, Eugene had thin patience. Her mouth moved without her accord, and she spoke bravely at her reason’s behest.
“Won’t you please listen to me with an open mind?”
She referred to him as “you” casually—such conduct towards the king seemed uncalled for.
“You—you are my husband.”
Kasser was astounded. You! Husband! He never expected to hear it from the queen.
Anika always maintained a subtle distance from him. She never called him “husband” to remind him of the private, contractual relationship they had.
For this, he sometimes questioned himself. Was it good that he married her at all?
Seated in a position of grave responsibility, he must have an heir for the kingdom he dominated. And most of all, he didn’t want to leave a stain on his just-started reign. In the last three years, she gave him nothing but problems, but he had been patient.
Being married to her was similar to biting one’s teeth, he could only hope that this would somehow come into fruition.
Now, it was clear to him that the queen was lying to escape the situation. Considering the record provided by the generals, she was the prime suspect.
When he found out that the national treasure had disappeared, his hands felt numb, the feral desire to kill the thief filled his senses. If the queen were in front of him that very moment, he would have snapped her neck in a second.
His fury was too strong for him to overcome and therefore explained him barging into her chamber in an uproar.
“Tell me more.” He commanded.
“As a person living in this world, there is some kind of basic common sense left in me. Institutions, customs, things like that. I can talk and read. But I don’t remember anything about me.”
“Where did they find you?”
“I was lying in the desert when I opened my eyes. Some people showed up and called me “Queen”.”
“They called you “Queen”?”
Kasser’s sheer astonishment made Eugene think of what she chose to ignore these past few days. She hadn’t heard anyone call her by her title. Instead, everyone called her Anika.
“Shouldn’t I be called queen?” She inquired.
Kasser only responded with a dismissive shake of his head. She wanted to ask more about this matter, but the king spoke once again.
“They were the search party that went out looking for you. What happened after that?”
“I tried to remember. But I couldn’t do my best. I could remember several names and faces of people, but there are only a few of them.”
“I don’t think anyone noticed.”
“I barely made contact with people. Over time, more people will find me strange.”
Kasser realized upon looking at her… how different her expression and way of speaking were. Can it be that she is really telling the truth?
That can’t be right.
Still, Kasser couldn’t believe her. The queen was a very shameless woman after all. Early in their marriage, to get what she wanted, she had not been unruly. But, Kasser remained resilient, so she changed her tactics and acted blatantly ruthless.
Everyone has two faces to a certain extent, but Kasser had never seen anyone go back and forth like her.
“Were you alone when you opened your eyes in the desert?”
“You were accompanied by maids when you left the castle. Now they’re all missing.”
“What?!” Eugene opened her mouth with a startled look. “How many?”
“Five. Don’t you remember?”
Eugene shook her head from side to side. She didn’t have a clue.
This was the reason why she couldn’t think of anything familiar with the maids serving her these past days. They were not Jin Anika’s maids.
“What happened to them then? Are you looking for them?”
“At this time?”
“Why does time even matter? People are missing, and we have to find them!”
Kasser frowned as he looked at Eugene who was fretting so suddenly.
“Are you asking because you don’t know? The dry season will be over in a day or two.”
“Fortunately, you remember what a dry season is.”
Mahar alternated between the dry season in which the monsters, Larks, slept and the active period when they appeared.
They might be already dead. Jin Anika… What have you done?!
Sympathy for the maids who didn’t make it back to the kingdom spread a sense of woe in Eugene. Even though she had never seen those maids before, she still felt uneasy and terrible for the loss of lives.
They were extras in her novel—cannon fodders whose death was insignificant to the plot.
“What compensation will they receive?” she asked, her eyes hopeful.
“If they indeed don’t come back, their families should be given their deserved compensations.”
However, this idea of her amused Kasser, for he suddenly burst into laughter.
“They broke the king’s rules and went out into the desert, putting my battle in jeopardy. Even if they come back alive, they won’t escape death here.”
“But they can’t dare disobey a queen’s order.” She retorted.
“Shouldn’t you be worried about yourself now and not the maids?”