Sang-je and Eugene had left the prayer room and they adjourned to the audience room instead. Across the round marble table in the center, Sang-je had taken his seat on a golden chair which represented his authority while Eugene took her seat on a wooden chair on the opposite. A priest had taken his leave right after he left a tea for Eugene on the table.
It seems like Sang-je didn’t usually drink tea as the priest had only brought a cup of tea as if it was a matter of course.
‘It surely is uncomfortable to drink all by myself.’
Awkwardly, Eugene reached out for the tea. She must have been very nervous as she felt a sudden thirst when she saw a cup full of tea as if her mouth was parched.
As she lifted the teacup towards her, Eugene gasped when she absently shifted her eyes to her sleeve. A tiny squirrel of a size of merely two finger knuckles was twitching its nose when it met eyes with Eugene while clinging on her billowed sleeve.
The adorable creature was no normal squirrel—it had tiny horns and red eyes. From it, she knew right away who it was.
‘Kid! What in the world are you doing here!’
T/L: Kid, a lark in the form of squirrel, is another hwansu of the Desert King. It can be read in Chapter 212, and bits from earlier chapters.
-Is something wrong with your tea, Anika Jin?
Eugene quickly grasped on Kid, who was clinging on her sleeve, with one hand.
A shiver down her spine, Eugene broke out in cold sweat. It seemed like it was too late for her to pretend as if nothing happened—she had already made quite a fuss. And it would look more suspicious if she gets caught lying just to escape the moment.
However, speaking of the truth would only intrigue Sang-je’s interest. It is quite an exceptional phenomenon for a king’s Hwan-su to be attached to someone else rather than its master. As a matter of fact, it seemed like Kid had favored Jin more than Kasser altogether, even treating the king invisible to him.
The last thing Eugene wanted was to strike alive Sang-je’s suspicions towards her any further. She was in enough of a crisis as it is and she couldn’t risk another trouble. Besides, it would only slim her chances of going back to the kingdom with Kasser.
Expected of an answer, Eugene had grown more anxious by the second. No probable explanation seemed to come across her mind. At her wit’s end, she blindly blurted out.
“I beg your pardon, Your Holiness.” She masked a shamefaced look along with a laugh to save herself. “I’ve just realized that my pet squirrel had come along hidden under my sleeve.”
-…A pet squirrel?
Eugene placed both her hands onto the table and swiftly covered Kid’s head with her left hand to hide the horn and stroked his body and tail with her right finger.
“It has given me quite a consolation while I was away from the Holy City. As I adored it so much, I’ve always kept him close to myself. I guess it must have escaped and came along with me instead when I thought I’d left it to the servant girl. You are such a little rascal.”
She exaggeratedly feigned as if she was lost in the charm of this endearing pet of hers. But before long, she was truly enthralled by it from the bottom of her heart. A laugh escaped her at the adoring sight of Kid who now shrank to just the size of her palm. Kid, as naughty as it was, must have purposely shrunken itself to escape from the bars of the cage.
She couldn’t help but to imagine the way it must have hid while clinging under her sleeve all along. It was just too adorable.
“Your Holiness, I promise that I’ll keep a good hold on him, so he won’t cause any trouble. So please allow me to keep him with me here.”
-I believe we were in the middle of a serious conversation, Anika Jin.
“I am aware of the solemnity of the conversation, but he is terrified of strangers. He’s usually very calm and mild-mannered.”
Eugene willfully insisted like a pestering child. She couldn’t possibly let anyone get their hands on Kid if she were to hide the fact that it was a Hwan-su. At the same time, she was also curious as to what extent Sang-je would be lenient with Jin.
Sang-je was simply dumbfounded. The palace was deemed as a holy place where it was held sacred by everyone. People would make sure they have clean bodies and minds ahead of their audience with Sang-je. But to bring a pet to the audience room was something even the Sang-je have yet to experience in his whole life.
Though flabbergasted, he wasn’t infuriated at all. As it was rather him who had practically encouraged Jin to have things her own way at her will. On the day when Jin had come to see him about her first lucid dream, he had come to realize that Jin was rather special unlike the others.
[Your Holiness, I saw a pond with its water pure as a crystal. And when I dipped my hands into it, the water was icy cold against my hand.]
A girl of mere fourteen, with an enraptured face as if she was recalling back her lucid dream, Jin had the audacity to tell a lie before someone who was deemed as God’s vicegerent. Sang-je was very much intrigued by the slyness and the audacity of such a young Anika.
Just until then, Sang-je had no notion of what Jin’s lie actually indicated. As never in his wildest dreams had he ever imagined that there would be an Anika without Ramita. Moreover, as Jin refused to touch the transparent seed, there was no way for him to measure her Ramita. So Sang-je had merely regarded the once then little girl as if she was only trying to conceal her Ramita.