As opposed to Gemma’s expectation, Eugene didn’t lose her composure as she quietly listened in silence. That had made Gemma feel less pressured as she went on. She had her doubts too when she first heard the rumors about the Lark tree incident. But now she was pretty convinced that it could only have been a groundless rumor after all. If Anika Jin barely had any Ramita with her just like the rumor suspected, she wouldn’t have responded with such an air of nonchalance.
“As you know, Anikas with strong Ramita can’t possibly marry a king. So, there were also people who said that His Holiness had given up his hopes on you.”
That reminded Eugene of Gemma’s earlier remark where she’d said about being in a position of having to bear a child of king’s. There was a link between what Gemma just said and the bitterness she’d sensed in Gemma’s earlier remark.
‘Are they reluctant about marrying a king? But why?’
Having to leave the Holy City to a faraway kingdom alone was not enough for an explanation. Isn’t it a great honor to marry one of the kings among only six that exist in the whole world, and to see their child ascend the throne in the future?
‘Why is it impossible for an Anika with a strong Ramita to marry a king? Who made such a law? Could it be Sang-je? And do kings know about this?’
“What about you, Anika Gemma? You married a prince who would rise to the throne in future. And you’re pregnant with his child as well.”
“..I’m not sure.”
After a moment of silence, Gemma muttered with a sad air, “But I do know one thing for sure. You are on your way to the Holy City as you were summoned by His Holiness himself. That clearly implies that His Holiness hasn’t given up on you yet, unlike me.”
“His Holiness holds dear for every Anikas.”
“But I’m one of his less favored ones as I’m from a humble background and my inborn Ramita is relatively weak. That’s the reason I was chosen.”
“Did His Holiness ask you to marry the prince of the Slan Kingdom?”
“Of course. There’s no reason for me to be here if it wasn’t for His Holiness’s will.” said Gemma as if she was stating the obvious.
It somehow occurred to Eugene that there was a secret which is only shared between Sang-je and Anikas regarding their marriage with the king.
‘I need to find out what that is.’
“Not in my case, as I was the one who insisted on marrying the Desert King.”
Gemma’s eyes widened with shock as that was quite a news to her.
“So, you are fine with that?”
“Fine with what?”
“Well, as I’m married to a prince so it’s not unbearable but…I still find it uncomfortable. I was so glad to get pregnant before my husband became crowned king.”
Kasser had once told her something similar to what Gemma had just said. However, she didn’t give much thought about it before.
“What do you mean by finding it uncomfortable?”
“It’s hard to articulate with words but…it’s enough to make my skin crawl. I was told that some Anika could sense it just by being around them. But I guess I’m not sensitive to that extent.”
Hesitantly, Gemma continued, “It’s most difficult to bear during the…intercourse. However, His Holiness had already told me that nothing could be done about it as it transpires from the conflict between our two energies. Yet, you are fine with all that?”
“I really am fine actually. In fact, I can’t quite imagine what kind of feeling that is despite your explanation.”
Although it wasn’t shown on her face, Gemma inwardly wondered if the rumor was actually right about Anika Jin’s weak Ramita. It was possible that Jin’s Ramita did not conflict with the king’s energy if it was considerably weak. But if that was true indeed, she wondered what’s to become of the rumor regarding the Lark tree incident. However, there was something else which she was most curious to find out.
“Why…did you insist on marrying a king?”
“Well, I like someone who’s handsome.” Eugene grinned as she answered. Then to Gemma, who was trying to mask her bewilderment with a smile, she said, “But His Holiness must’ve been upset with my insistence as he didn’t say anything to me when I’d asked for his permission. So, I was wondering, could you tell me what you’ve been told by His Holiness when you got married?”
It was still far before the sun came out when Kasser was awakened from his sleep in the middle of the early morning. With his eyes closed, he listened attentively for the sound he was awakened to. Before long, an attendant’s calling was heard from the outside through the door.
It was such a faint whisper as opposed to his intent to wake someone up at this hour. However, it seemed like it was just enough to wake the king who had keen senses.
In fact, it was wise of him to not mindlessly open the door without permission. Kasser was still in a state of tension as he’d remained vigilant throughout the whole journey to ensure Eugene’s safety along the road. Consequently, Praz was also on full alert. So, if the servant had opened the door, Praz would have instinctively perceived him as an intruder and initiated an immediate attack.
Kasser relaxed his arm which was wrapped tightly around Eugene’s body. Then he gently pulled out his arm with great caution so as to not wake her up. Much to his relief, Eugene was soundly asleep with her chest rising up and down in an orderly manner while Kasser placed her head onto a pillow.
‘I wonder if she’ll be all right to leave in the morning.’
Their welcoming banquet had only come to an end well past midnight. She must be all the more tired as she also had a few glasses of wine.
Originally, Kasser had intended to stay only for a little while for the sake of formality. However, he couldn’t quite bring himself up to tell her that he wanted to leave as it seemed like she was having a good time. Kasser laughed unwittingly as he recalled Eugene, who couldn’t quite hide her excitement despite all her efforts to not let it show on her face.
Kasser tenderly brushed the strands of hair from her forehead with his hand. And to her exposed skin, he smacked a light kiss before he raised and got out of the bed.
When he opened the door, the servant, who had been calling out to him all along, quickly bowed his head before him.
“What is it about?”
“Your Majesty, there was a messenger from the Sword King. His Grace wishes to have a word in private before the sun rises as there’s something he needs to tell you urgently. He said you’ll understand when you’re told that an old memory has come to his remembrance.”
Kasser’s eyes faltered upon hearing that.
“…All right. I shall go to him at once.”
After he was properly dressed, he promptly followed the messenger to the dark corridor as he was escorted to where the Sword King was waiting for him.