The leaves started to pulverize into dust before they even reached the peak. Everyone was so immersed with the plant that had grown tremendously that they didn’t catch sight of the change that’s happening in Flora’s palms.
Two things were different about Flora’s seed to that of the others: One, the plant was noticeably taller than what they expected, and two, the seed itself had already exploded even before the leaves started disappearing.
It meant that the translucent seed could not handle the intensity of Flora’s Ramita.
With her palms up, Flora looked down and stared at her hands, turning them a bit as if she’s mesmerized. The rate at which the seed had exploded was slightly slower than before that it’s almost imperceptible, and Flora was the only one who noticed.
Pides opened the door leading to the office and entered, approaching the Sang-Je who was seated at his desk. Placed on the table was a document that the Sang-Je seemed to be reading, which was a strange sight since he was visually impaired.
But when one looked closely, the Sang-Je was facing straight ahead with his eyes closed, and only his hands are upon the document, which was nothing but a blank canvas. To make do with the Sang-Je’s blindness, the documents were developed into an enhanced form of Braille. The Sang-Je would just have to skim it through his fingertips to interpret the written messages.
To maintain confidentiality, the Braille was only readable to both the Sang-je and a few knights who had put the messages into translation. The trained knights had their own desks too inside the office.
Even with Pides bursting into the room, the three knights that were working inside the office remained unfazed. Too engrossed with the documents they were creating.
“Your Holiness. I have completed the task and returned.” Pides said.
Today holds the regular meeting of the Anikas. And whenever they have these meetings, the Sang-Je would usually send expensive wines or fancy desserts over as a gift.
“Once their meeting is over, please meet with Anika Margaret and send my regards.” The Sang-Je said.
Five days ago, the Sang-Je received a request for meeting from Margaret. The girl enthusiastically spoke about her lucid dream, with excitement and delight evident in her expression as she said, “I saw a pond. And when I waded right into it, the water came up to my waist!”
For a small girl such as herself, the height of which the water reached was equivalent to reaching an adult’s thigh.
Today, Margaret would get to attend the meeting and greet the other Anikas for the first time. Ten years old was still quite young, but since she already had her lucid dream, everyone has to treat her like an adult, like equals. No one would go easy on her just because she was younger than any of them, and she might have trouble interacting with older, dishonest adults.
Sending a knight over to Margaret was meant as an assuring gesture, as if saying that ‘there would always be someone who is willing to help you in times of hardships, and that you will always be watched over.’
The Sang-Je looked after all of the Anikas with utmost care, not just Margaret. The Sang-Je’s immeasurable love and guidance was deeply rooted into the Anikas’ hearts. Some of them even going as far as thinking that the Sang-Je was their one and only ally, even more than their parents or husbands or children.
“Yes, Your Holiness. I will report back immediately.” Pides said as he left, prompting the Sang-Je to continue with his reading.
After reading page after page of documents, the Sang-Je turned his head towards where the knights were sitting. “That’s enough for today. You may return and rest.”
“Yes, Your Holiness.” The knights said in unison as they immediately stopped working and stood up. They paid their respect towards the Sang-Je, bowing a full ninety degree before turning around and leaving the office.
Left alone in the office, the Sang-je remained seated at his desk, lost in his thoughts. “It was before the active season started.”
About a month and a half ago, a strange occurrence took place, shaking the laws of the universe out of order. The Sang-Je had sensed this, but he was not able to pinpoint what it is exactly since it happened so quickly. The only thing he was able to identify was the general direction where it had come from.
The direction came from the Hashi Kingdom— where Anika Jin was.
He had sent a knight over the Kingdom to deliver a formal message, and when the knight came back, he said that nothing seemed unusual, deeming everything’s in order.
The Sang-Je sent another message directed to the Desert King, disguising it as a simple greeting by sending it through the regular mail. It would arrive so much faster than a messenger during the active season, plus, he would be able to gauge the Kingdom’s situation without raising any suspicions.
If the King had run into a troublesome situation, or if something happened to Anika Jin, the Sang-Je was sure that he would receive a letter from the King asking for advice, but still, there was no response. “I suppose I won’t receive a letter from the Desert King until the active season’s over.” The Sang-Je thought. With the distance between the Holy City and the Hashi Kingdom, it made sense that the reply had not arrived yet.
If King Kasser did send a reply through a messenger, that is.
That probably also meant that the response bore no important message or urgent matters.
“But I definitely felt it.” The Sang-Je was not the type to shrug off his hunches, nor he’s the one to make mistakes. He was not a mere mortal after all.
Without a doubt, something definitely did happen. It could or could not have anything to do with Anika Jin.
That place stood a dormant volcano, where miles and miles of sand stretched on beyond Hashi Kingdom, the place where ‘Mara’ was hiding.
“I suppose I must investigate.”