As she stepped in, she saw Sang-je, clad in white garment with golden embroideries, standing on the podium in the middle of the room with his back to her. It was his long blonde hair, which was kissing the floor, that had immediately caught her attention.
At that moment, her mind was instantly filled with Jin’s yet another memory. She saw a man standing before Jin, but his face was covered by the hood over his head. To her surprise, the man’s hair was also strikingly blonde.
[Are you the Great Priest of Mahar?]
[That would be me, Anika.] The man spoke in such a gruff voice that it was almost painful to hear. [I am most pleased to meet you, Anika. And I believe our encounter today would most likely benefit the both of us.]
[We’ll find out about that later. I have no knowledge of the hierarchy system of the Mahar order. How much authority do you possess in the order?]
[Absolute. For I am the one who makes the decisions within the order. Just like Mahar’s Sang-je.]
[What an imprudence! How dare you compare yourself to His Holiness.]
The Great Priest tittered at her remark as he swiftly drew the hood back from his face with both hands. Eugene mentally gasped when the hearsay identity of the Great Priest, which she had only heard from the words of Rodrigo, was finally revealed before her eyes.
‘He’s rather young…’
The Great Priest was unexpectedly young and beautiful. But what took her by surprise more than his divine beauty was indeed the scarlet glow of his eyes.
Just when the Great Priest was about to say a word, Eugene blinked her eyes forcefully to get herself out from the memory. It surely was a wistful memory she must ponder on, but it was untimely for her to be distracted now. Not at the presence of the being before her.
She quickly lowered her gaze from Sang-je’s back and onto the floor. “May Mahar’s blessing to be with you always. I’ve come to pay my respects to you, Your Holiness.”
— It’s been such a long time, Anika Jin. I am most pleased to see you again.
Eugene’s hands flinched as the voice rang in her mind. “I am very much pleased to give my regards to you as well, Your Holiness.”
With that, she mustered courage and slowly, trained her sight on Sang-je while plastering a small smile on her face. Sang-je’s eyes remained closed, yet he could see her.
Beneath her smile, she let out an inner shriek—he looked eerily the same as the Great Priest she just saw in a fraction of Jin’s memory.
‘How are they related? Could they actually be one and the same person? No, they can’t be. Think how far the distance is between Hashi Kingdom and the Holy City.’
–Have you found what you’ve been seeking for?
Eugene had been asked the same question through Pides. It was one of the questions she had expected to be asked during her encounter with Sang-je. She gave him her prepared answer, feeling as if she had anticipated the right question in a test.
“I have yet to find, Your Holiness. To be exact, I would say I have only found half of it. Hence, I gave the same answer to the question you asked me through Sir Pides.”
— Only half of it? Could you be more specific?
“I’d lost as much as I’d gained.”
— So, have you not regained your Ramita?
Suddenly, Eugene heard Jin’s voice in her ears.
[Your Holiness. Please help me. You are the only one who could help me get back the Ramita I lost.]
‘The Ramita she lost?’
Doubtless, it was a remark of decisive evidence. Although she was lucky enough to peep into Jin’s memory just in time, she learned from her experience that a keyword is essential to trigger the buried memories. However, there clearly was a limit for her to induce such keywords during the whole conversation with Sang-je, with her thinking on her feet.
All the way to the Holy City, Eugene had racked her brain to come up with a way to find out what Jin and Sang-je had been plotting about by recalling Jin’s memories. And it was considerably easy when she was speaking to those who served her as they would likely to prattle on and on once they start.
Obviously, she knew well that she couldn’t expect the same from her conversation with Sang-je. Therefore, she decided to mix in everything she could, including the truth, false and also some lies.
“Your Holiness. In the last period, I had gone out to the desert with a few of my servant girls by the time the dry season was about to come to an end. And I had a specific purpose.”
–There’s a lot of ambiguity in your words Anika Jin.
“You’re right indeed, Your Holiness. As that’s what’s been lost from me. I do not remember the reason as to why I had gone out to the desert, under what purpose. I think a fraction of my memory has been impaired.”