If a circle were to be drawn around the Hashi kingdom’s territory, the most north-westerly outline would be deemed as the kingdom’s national boundary line with the deadly desert. The kingdom’s capital was in fact located behind the monarch castle’s outer wall, which marks as the boundary between the kingdom and the desert.
Although it was more common for a kingdom’s capital to be situated in the center for the sake of checks and balances, Hashi kingdom’s capital was unusually placed at the northern tip of its land.
The fact that the monarch’s residence was indeed located in the most dangerous part of the country’s land, highly reflected the reign’s ideology on ruling as it signified the king’s firm determination to protect his people from the harm, on the frontline. Therefore, the capital was indeed the safest, yet the most dangerous land in the kingdom.
Normally, it would take a total of fifteen to twenty days of journey on the road to arrive at the Holy City from Hashi kingdom’s capital. But as this particular procession was accompanied by the noble ladies travelling in their respective carriages, it was most likely that it would take them more than twenty days of marching to reach the Holy City
The procession consisted of fifteen carriages, respectively carrying the queen and the other five noble ladies with their attendants, and there were another five carriages fully loaded with baggage and goods. The king was on the lead on his Hwansu, escorted by scores of warriors which constructed a defensive formation around the procession, creating a grandour scene as they continued to march on. People were then pouring out onto the streets as they hailed at the procession, sending off the Royal couple on their journey.
Eugene was already feeling bored and tired although it was only the first day of the journey. All of the ladies were riding alone in their own carriages and so was Eugene.
‘It’s no fun without any company.’
The scenery unfolding on the outside of the carriage window was indeed a delight to her eyes. But the enjoyment did not last very long as the kingdom’s landscape was pretty much the same throughout the ride. And besides, she was feeling out of sorts from tiredness as she didn’t get much sleep the night before.
Before long, she was overcome by drowsiness at noon and by the time when her carriage came to halt around twilight, she was sent into a deep slumber without even realizing the knock on her carriage.
From the outside, her servant was nervously calling out to her once again,
“Your Majesty, it’s time for you to come out from your carriage.”
The poor servant waited for quite a while for Eugene to knock on her carriage wall as a sign of her permission to open the carriage door. But to her dismay, there was still no sign from the queen. Although she was thrown into confusion by the silence, it was still impossible for her to open up the queen’s door at her will, without giving proper permission to do so.
“What is going on?”
Kasser, who was watching from a distance, strode towards his wife’s carriage. The servant then bowed her head and replied to her king.
“I’m afraid Her Majesty is still in her carriage without any response, Your Majesty.”
Kasser then opened her carriage door at once without any hesitation. His face hardened when he saw Eugene leaned on the carriage wall with her eyes closed. Much worried about Eugene, he hastily got on to her carriage to check on her state. But when he realized that she was only sleeping, his eyes eased at the sight of Eugene who was soundly asleep.
He called out her name in a soft whisper, but not in a way to wake her up. He seemed rather worried that he might disturb her sleep. As Eugene showed no response, he quietly watched her down with an endearing look in his eyes while she was busy sleeping off her fatigue.
‘I wonder if it’s only fatigue. I better have her checked if she is unwell or anything.’
Kasser then gingerly took her in his arms and carefully got down from her carriage.
It has been quite a while since the ladies had been left standing rather awkwardly, after they all had gotten off from their carriages. As their queen was yet to make her appearance, they were put in quite an ambiguous position as it seemed equally inappropriate for them to be off to their accommodation before Her Majesty nor to get back on their carriage.
With every passing second, their faces hardened the more their waiting prolonged. Most of the ladies were disinclined to leave for this trip in the first place. Furthermore, they felt like their heads were about to crack up on figuring out the queen’s hidden intention behind her invitation, on the sidelines of their excitement to visit the Holy City for the first time in a long while.
“Would Lady Nelson be alright?”
One of the ladies brought up Lady Nelson who had declined the queen’s invitation on account of her son’s sickness.
“Well, fever is a common ailment for a child in her son’s age. It would have been better if she could have come though.”
“I agree. Although we all know how much she cares for her child, I couldn’t help but to worry that she might fall into disfavor with the queen in future.”
They feared that Lady Nelson’s flat refusal might have offended the queen. But behind their worried look, they were alluding to the queen’s deliberate intention to make them stand by on the road as to flaunt her dominant position over them.
Talking in undertone, the three ladies glimpsed at Charlotte and Darlin. Though unofficial, the ladies were implicitly ranked according to their husbands’ position in the kingdom. And needless to say, it was the Chancellor and the General’s wife who had the greatest power of influence among the five of them.
So, when the two of them did not show any sign to add in their views to their little discussion, the other three too buttoned their mouths in silence.
After another while, they saw the king getting onto the queen’s royal carriage himself. And momentarily, he reappeared from the carriage, carrying the queen in his arms. The ladies had widened their eyes in astonishment as the very sight of the royal couple had taken them by surprise. Moreover, after the king had given his command to the servant, they instantly caught the look of affection in his eyes when he looked down at his wife who seemed to be sounding asleep in his arms. They blankly watched as the king walked away into distance with the queen until a voice interrupted their silence.
That one word represented what everyone was thinking in their heads, all at once.