A flicker of interest aroused in the crimson eyes of Mara. Aside from the seven elders, whom he had spent many years with, this was his first time seeing another human being remaining calm in his presence. But to be exact, the seven elders were no ordinary human. Every single chief of the tribe he had encountered so far had all shown repulsive signs and refused to speak with him from the outset.
– I’m fine to be called that. What will your question be?
“There are quite a lot.”
– You’ll only be allowed to ask one. And I too will make my decision according to the question you ask.
Aldrit asked after a moment of contemplation.
“What is the relation between you and Mahar?
Mara let out a guffaw upon hearing the question. He then tossed Aldrit something which he managed to catch in the air.
Aldrit studied the small yet firm object as he held it tightly in his hand. The surrounding was too dark for him to discern its color, but it seemed like a lark seed judging from its shape and size.
– You must give me something in return if you want to know about my secret. Eat. It’s something you’ll have to eat anyway now that you’ve stepped foot in this underground cavern.
Aldrit was reminded of what Mur had told him before he entered the underground cavern.
[… Once you get in there, you’ll be bound by a new spell, and you will be watched henceforth by it]
Mur gave a nod when Aldrit glanced at him. After giving the seed a roll in his hand, Aldrit popped it into his mouth and swallowed without hesitation.
Despite having dreamt endlessly all night long, Eugene was feeling surprisingly refreshed as if she’s got a good night’s sleep. Attended by the handmaids, Eugene washed her face and got changed. When she was ready, she gave a long, good stare into her reflection in the big mirror, which her handmaids had brought her. She was studying her dress to be more exact.
She had not brought any of her clothes to change as she had no notion to sleep over when she headed for the Arse manor yesterday. Since they couldn’t have a dress made overnight, she suspected that it was one of Jin’s dresses they had been storing in the manor as it fitted seamlessly to her body.
‘Jin’s… No, it’s actually my room. I would like to see what my room looks like. ‘
“Anika. Shall I bring your breakfast to your room?”
“Breakfast? Isn’t it almost time for lunch?”
“But you still would need to wait for more than an hour.”
“That’s fine. I can wait.”
Eugene jumped up startlingly as she mindlessly reflected on how she had slept through until morning. “Has the Desert King arrived, waiting for me perchance?”
“When did he come?”
“Early this morning.”
“Why didn’t you tell me so!”
Eugene was flustered when she was told that Kasser was having a conversation with her mother. She remembered how startled she was to hear her mother mention about ‘divorce’ during the long talk with her last night. Eugene had made it clear to Dana that divorce was out of the question as she explained how Kasser was never a husband to Jin. However still, she couldn’t help but to feel restive in fear that Dana might say something weird to the king.
She wasted no time and hurried out heading straight to the sitting room.
“How long do you plan to stay in the Holy City? Or perhaps you’ve already decided when to return?”
To tell the truth, Kasser’s honest answer would be ‘tomorrow’. He still can’t quite forget how much he had seethed with rage as he comforted Eugene, who burst into tears after she came back from her audience with Sang-je on the day of their arrival. He had considered returning to his kingdom at once regardless of the aftermath.
However, despite his suspicions against Sang-je’s intention, Kasser was no longer certain if Eugene wished to leave the Holy City now.
As a matter of fact, she’s just returned to where she was born and raised, for the first time in three years. Besides, although he didn’t know much of the details, it seemed like the problem she used to have with her family was somehow resolved on this visit. So perhaps she would wish to spend a few more days in the Arse manor.
“We haven’t made any plans for our departure yet. But I’m going to let her do as she pleases.”
Kasser didn’t just say that to avoid giving a direct answer. In fact, he truly meant every single word with all his heart. He was determined to do as Eugene pleases. Besides, it wouldn’t be possible for him to take her back with him by force in the first place, as she was an Anika. And even if he could, what was the whole point in that?
He knew more than anyone that it was only a matter of time before a marriage shatters if their reason to stay married was solely on the purpose to produce an heir to the throne. Just like his parents did.
Dana gave a nod as she lifted her cup of tea. Thanks to her special ability, she was able to discern if a person was actually speaking from the heart.
However, there are some limitations to her ability. It is only natural for an individual to feel nervous as one’s level of concentration would likely increase when having a serious conversation. And under such circumstances, a natural barrier would form around an individual that hinders the use of her ability. But during an ordinary conversation, which just flows with one’s consciousness, her senses are almost accurate. She could easily distinguish a smooth talker, who just fills one’s ear with honeyed words, from a prudent one, who chooses his words only after much contemplation.