“What were you looking at so intently that you didn’t notice me approaching you?” Kasser asked, looking around the vast landscape where Eugene was looking at earlier.
Eugene unknowingly stared at a far-off distance while her mind drifted elsewhere. She completely zoned out, only coming back to her senses when Kasser called her. Eugene glanced at Kasser’s profile, studying the contours of his face while he’s still looking at the sands. She realized that it’s almost twenty-four hours since the brief date they had on the bridge.
She wasn’t able to take a good look at him when they parted earlier, too focused on moving to the palanquin as she settled comfortably inside. Although they had a small exchange before she went in, it was only a fleeting moment, barely lasting a full minute to be considered as an actual time spent together.
Moreover, last night, she slept alone in her cold bed. Kasser had sent a servant to her room, and told her to go sleep without him.
It seemed like he was pretty occupied last night, since there’s a lot of work that needs to be done for the five days they all would be gone. He finished his work in a hurry, even staying up all night cooped up inside his office as he fixed all the paperwork and tasks required of him.
It was only one night, and yet Eugene felt like she was seeing him for the first time after a long time apart. Last night was exceptionally lonely for her, the bed way too spacious and vacant for her liking, her hands skimmed the spot where Kasser used to lay on. She tossed and turned around the bed, only managing to sleep after finding a comfortable position to sleep in.
Still gazing at him, Kasser turned his head as they locked eyes with each other. Kasser was wondering why Eugene was looking at him so fondly, and Eugene then inched closer to him as she wrapped her arms around him, latching onto him tightly. She buried her face into his chest, breathing him in while securing him into her embrace.
“What’s wrong?” Kasser asked, his fingers drawing random patterns behind her back.
Eugene shook her head slightly, finding comfort in his soft caress. “Nothing.”
After meeting with Pides yesterday, Eugene’s anxiety grew even more intense, like a dam that overflowed greatly without cease.
He knows that Jin purposely married the King for a reason, and with the marriage came with the condition that Jin must produce an heir.
However, if Jin really had no intention to give birth to a successor, and were only after the national treasure, and if she was actually working with Sang-je, it would be a completely different situation. The marriage between Jin and the king would just be a fraudulent play that thoroughly fooled Kasser.
If it’s just giving birth to a successor, and in exchange her taking the national treasure, the king would understand. But if he learned that he was cheated right from the beginning, he would feel betrayed.
If that were the case, Kasser would surely hold a grudge, not forgiving the person who caused him treachery.
Eugene initially thought that Kasser was someone who had a cold demeanor inside out. But that impression seemed to have vanished, with Kasser looking at her so softly and delicately that Eugene could actually feel the tenderness behind those gazes. He also acted like he would do absolutely anything for her, making sure that she’s always well taken care of.
Even with that said, she never thought Kasser as someone who took things lightly. When he said that they would start all over, Eugene saw a glimpse of his character. He wasn’t one to avoid the situation when things get rough; always facing the situation head on with his chin held high. He was always moving forward, not bothering to look backwards as he trudged on.
‘I can’t tell him.’ Eugene thought she couldn’t bring herself to tell Kasser about the Sang-je’s letter, and she even burned the letter into ashes last night. She realized then how deep her feelings are for Kasser.
Eugene tends to distance herself from forming deep and profound relationships with people, thinking that people would only show their inferiority once they get close. She always lived mundanely, making sure to keep people at arm’s length. Living like that prevented her from getting allies— and enemies as well. Only read at keopitranslations, the original site of this translation. If you are reading this elsewhere, it was copied ruthlessly, uncaring of the time and effort the team put in these chapters.
Even when she arrived here and got morphed into Jin’s body, she still had the same disposition as before. She decided to avoid misunderstandings with the king as much as possible, taking in careful steps as to keep a pleasant relationship with her royal husband. Getting along with him was something she’d like to maintain.
But as if her heart was shifted into a complete one eighty, she was suddenly afraid of losing this man in front of her. She became a coward, developing feelings for him was not part of the plan.
Kasser gently rubbed her back up and down, pressing her further into his arms. “Eugene, did something happen?” She has yet to say a word to him, her silence worried him tremendously.
“No.” Eugene shook her head. “I just feel strange since I’m far from the castle.”
“Are you tired?” Kasser asked, looking over Eugene for any sign of distress.
“It was better than I thought it would be. It wasn’t hard at all, but it is quite boring to be honest.” Eugene said truthfully.
“I have good news and bad news. Which do you want to hear first?”
Eugene raised her head from Kasser’s chest. “Just the good news. I’m pretty sure you’ll figure something out about the latter. There’s no need for me to know.” Eugene shrugged.
Kasser laughed at Eugene’s answer. “The sand storm blew so much that the road disappeared underneath the sand. But fortunately for us, we have spotted a new path. The slope of the hill is much flatter too, so there won’t be any wobbling while you’re inside the palanquin.”
‘So that’s why he went to see the road earlier.’ Eugene thought.
“So… What about the bad news?” Eugene prodded.
“I thought you didn’t want to hear it?” Kasser asked teasingly.
“I changed my mind.”
“I didn’t know that you’re this fickle.” Kasser grinned.
Eugene blinked several times as she pouted flirtingly. “So.. do you hate it?”
Kasser resisted the urge to wipe her pouting mouth with his lips. He knew that once he kissed her, he wouldn’t be able to stop.
Kasser smiled. “I don’t mind one bit.” He couldn’t be bothered right now. Seeing her climb up the dunes so determinedly made him feel ecstatic. Words aren’t enough to explain how happy he was. It was a wish came true—to be able to walk through the desert by her side.
“The bad news is that the new pathway is a road that circles around, so it would take much longer than expected.”
“How long would it take?” Eugene asked.
“About a day longer.”
Eugene nodded. Additional one day for the five-day schedule. It wasn’t too bad.
They were still wrapped up in their intimate embrace, and Kasser wanted to stay like this, in her warmth, forever. But unfortunately, they have a schedule set ahead of them, and they needed to go on. “Eugene.”
“Hmm.” Eugene hummed.
Only read at keopitranslations, the original site of this translation. If you are reading this elsewhere, it was copied ruthlessly, uncaring of the time and effort the team had put in these chapters.
“If we want to leave at the scheduled time, we need to go eat and rest.” Kasser said softly.
As if waking up from a dream, the bubble they were in the past few minutes suddenly burst. Eugene looked up, her whole body stiff as she was snapped to her senses. She turned her head sideways, seeing that Sven and Zanne were still standing a few meters away from them, having witnessed the whole scenario all this time. With her head turned, Eugene made eye contact with them as they looked away hastily, making Eugene’s expression drop upon realization.
Unlike the courtiers who are used to the royal couple’s lovey-dovey stance, the officials present around them were not. The officials stared at them with their mouths agape, ogling at the king and queen’s sweet embrace.
Eugene screamed internally. She released her grip on Kasser and stepped back. ‘Why am I always caught in this type of situation?’
She had forgotten where she was and how many eyes were set upon them. She was flustered once again, feeling her face hot all over as she cupped her cheeks with her hands. Kasser laughed at her flustered face. She looked like she wanted the earth to open up and swallow her whole.
After getting a much-needed break, the procession took off once again, plodding through the huge stretch of sand for hours until the sun went down. The moon lurked over the horizon, replacing the blazing sun with its own warmth. The group settled in for the night, the workers started to pull the tents from its compartments as they positioned the canvas upright.
Eugene went inside her tent. She was able to rest well during the daytime too, the tent set up for her was much more comfortable than she thought.
The tent was similar to the photo Eugene saw quite long ago; the photo showed a tribe’s tent, which is called Ger. The interior is circular and it has a dome-shaped roof, but it is not that spacious since the bed occupied half of the space and the other half was occupied by a table set for two. No room to walk around on.
Kasser went inside Eugene’s tent to have supper together. Sitting face to face, they enjoyed the little time they had together, eating in silence with only the minute sounds of their chewing to accompany them. Kasser left immediately after their meal, going inside his tent to resume work. Since the route had already changed, Kasser needs to make sure that the updated direction was written in the records.
Zanne went inside Eugene’s tent. “My Queen. Shall I prepare a bath for you?”
Eugene’s face gleamed at the question. “Yes. My whole body feels itchy.”
“Yes, My Queen. I will prepare it immediately.”
The maids pulled out a portable bathtub from the caravan and filled the tub with hot water. It was small, enough for one person’s use only, but it was a luxury since they are right in the middle of the desert.
After washing her face with hot water, Eugene dipped her toe inside the tub, checking its temperature as she slowly went down. She let out a deep sigh, feeling pleased with the water’s warmth after having spent countless hours in the desert. She washed the remnants of sand from her body, scrubbing at her skin lightly until she deemed herself clean. She changed into comfortable clothes right after, her spirits much lighter than before.
The maids took out the tub and replaced a furnace in its place. Eugene felt cold, and the heat emitting from the furnace immediately warmed up the tent. “Good job. You must be tired as well. You should go and rest.” Eugene said.
“Yes, My Queen.” Zanne said, bowing low before leaving Eugene’s tent.
Eugene took a chair and sat close to the surface. She stared at the blazing furnace absentmindedly, looking at the pebbles inside that crackled as it gave off heat. ‘These wouldn’t last long if they only heated the stone.’
After spending quite a while in front of the furnace, Eugene’s body temperature rose up, and she decided to go out for a bit. The air outside felt cool against her skin, the scorching heat from the sun earlier could no longer be felt.
“Do you need something, My Queen?” Sven asked, guarding Eugene’s tent.
“Can I walk around for a while?”
Sven didn’t answer. Seeing Sven’s hesitation, Eugene said. “It’s okay if I’m not allowed.”
“Nights in the desert are dangerous, My Queen. It’s dark out there, so you might fall into cracks, and you might encounter wild animals along the way.” Sven said.
Eugene nodded in understanding. She went back inside her tent, not wanting to cause any trouble. She sat on the bed, pondering on what she could do since she couldn’t sleep even if she was tired.
‘Should I play with the little kid?’
The cage would most likely be in the King’s tent. Earlier that day, the aide asked Eugene cautiously. “My Queen. The squirrel in the cage that you placed in the office. Is it the King’s Hwansu?”
Sandy said that the cage should be in the Queen’s tent, but once she found out what the squirrel really was, she went to ask Eugene about its identity. Eugene smiled as she recalled Sandy’s bewildered expression.
As she was thinking deeply, a small purr made Eugene look sideways. What welcomed her was not the squirrel hwansu but Abu sitting in the corner of her tent.
“Abu!” Eugene smiled, extending her hand as Abu came running towards her. He lay upside down at her feet as Eugene crouched down, stroking Abu’s fur fondly. “How did you get in, Abu? There are warriors outside.”
She held Abu’s face with her hands, making eye contact with the beast. “Did you intentionally become smaller in order to get in? So you won’t get caught?” The beast turned his head, as if trying to avoid her questions. Eugene burst into laughter, rubbing her nose against Abu’s fur. She remembered the time when Abu had to be small like a kitten in order to fit inside the basket. He was very upset then, but now here he is making himself small once again just to sneak inside her tent.
The attendant hastily went inside the King’s tent, panic lacing his voice. “Your Majesty. The Hwansu has disappeared.”
Kasser lifted his head from the papers and stared at the servant.
The servant went on, “The ones who were standing nearby said that they didn’t hear anything, nor did they see the Hwansu going outside. It disappeared into thin air, Your Majesty.”