Chapter The royal carriage was already awaiting when Kasser and Eugene arrived at the steps that led to the front yard.
Kasser said as he turned to Eugene. “You don’t have to come out any further.”
“Are you sure I don’t have to go along with you? What’s so urgent that you must leave in such haste?”
“It’s no pressing matter at all. It’s all just an excuse so that you can have plenty of time to be with your family.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“It means I’m buying you more time so that you can spend the evening catching up with your mother all night long. Which also means that you can’t go back on your words when tomorrow comes. As I’ll come first thing tomorrow to pick you up.”
Eugene slightly pouted her lips before she broke into a laugh. “What if I change my mind tomorrow?”
“I bet it will be amusing to climb over the wall of the manor with you in my arms. And I’m sure it will be quite a sight to the people in the Holy City too.
Kasser suppressed his laugh when Eugene seemed very much disgusted by his idea. He then reached out his hand to her face but dropped right before he could touch her. He knew he wouldn’t be able to let her go once he did.
“Go back in. I’ll go.” Kasser turned on his heel and started down the stairs. And just before getting on the carriage, he turned to gaze at Eugene, who was still standing on the stairs, for one last time before he finally disappeared into the carriage.
Eugene chased the carriage with her eyes until it was small in the distance. She couldn’t quite put her finger on her fickle mind, but it was disappointing to see him leave without giving her a second glance although it was her who had insisted on staying over for a night.
It’s true that she was overjoyed to reunite with her real family, but on the other hand, everything seemed unreal to her still. She couldn’t imagine how lonely she would have been if it wasn’t for him, who stayed by her side all along, even in those days when she thought she didn’t actually belong in this world.
‘Come in time for me tomorrow morning.’ Eugene turned around only after the carriage was gone completely out of her sight.
After leaving the Arse manor, the carriage traveled straight to the royal manor while Kasser was deep in contemplation with a cold impassive face since the departure.
Soon, the carriage came to a stop. The door was then opened followed by the chamberlain’s voice. Kasser alighted from the carriage after letting out a small sigh. Unwittingly, his head was turned to the sudden racket in the distance. What came into his view next was a black stallion charging straight toward him, running wild as if it had got stung by wasps while people chased after it in haste.
Kasser stepped down onto the ground with his eyes bored into Abu closing in. Abu managed to slow down his pace narrowly before colliding head-on with his master. It then fervently turned its head all over the place around Kasser and even shoved its face into the carriage through its opened door. It was obvious who it was looking for.
“I came back alone.”
Abu stiffened for a moment as it rounded its red eyes before it dropped its head in complete despair. Kasser couldn’t help but snort with laughter as Abu was acting more like a person than a brute. Then he gave it an accusing glare as he was even more upset seeing it making a great fuss.
In ones and twos, those who chased after Abu came to beg for forgiveness while they bowed before their king while still gasping for breath. Without a word, Kasser gestured at them so that they could take Abu away. Abu, with his head still hung low, was led away by its rein without any resistance.
After the commotion had died down, the chamberlain went up to inform his king.
“The lady is waiting in the parlor, Your Majesty.”
Kasser gave a nod as head out for it.
When he arrived at the parlor, he helped himself in by pushing open the door himself. No one followed in behind and only a guest alone was waiting on the sofa situated in the parlor.
A lady with coal-black hair, who seemed to be in her middle years, looked up from where she was sitting on the sofa, startled by the sound of the door being opened. She rose from her seat when she met eyes with Kasser.
Kasser’s face was still impassive as he crossed to the sofa although his eyes were on the lady. He was only a few steps away when he came to stand face to face with her. A sneer escaped him unwittingly as the lady, who was in fact his biological mother, was looking much older and gaunt compared to the last time they met.
The former queen of the Hashi Kingdom had left the kingdom for good when Kasser just turned five since it took her quite a long time to recover from her difficult labor. If only she had her health, she would have gone straight to the Holy City after giving birth without having to spend another five years in the kingdom.
His mother never came to visit after she had gone to the Holy City. But even so, he knew his father would have given enough financial support to the queen nonetheless, so she could keep her dignity as she still was a mother to his heir.
But what she later did was utterly unforgivable. She could have avoided the worst if only she had asked for a divorce first. However, not only did she have an affair, but she had also borne another man’s child while she was still officially the queen of the kingdom. Soon, the scandal about her affair was in everyone’s mouth in the Holy City.
As no king in the world would put up with such an insult, the late king notified the queen of their divorce at once. And as a result, she was stripped of her title, along with the financial support she had been receiving from the kingdom.
Although Kasser could perfectly understand the measures his late king had taken, still, he couldn’t help but to be reminded of the reason for his birth as he watched his father cut off his relationship with his mother without a remote hesitation. He realized once again that he was nothing but a product of a loveless physical union under the sole purpose of producing an heir to the throne.