Eugene recalled how she’d felt when she touched the strange seed given by Sang-je to measure her Ramita.
‘No, it’s not. In fact, it’s much more…’
At the sound of her name, Eugene raised up her head and found that Kasser was standing right before her. As she just kept staring at him in a daze, Kasser bent over to grab her shoulders and raised her up from the ground.
“What’s happened? What’s wrong?”
“Abu!” Eugene shouted with urgency in her voice as she belatedly came to her senses.
“Abu just ate Kid! Abu, where did you go? Abu!” Eugene said urgently to Kasser as she clung onto him desperately.
Looking awfully pale, Eugene kept shouting out Abu’s name countless times as she looked around her surroundings. Her heart sank further when Abu, who always came running out when she called, was nowhere to be found. She deeply regretted her thoughtlessness as it was rash of her to let two Hwansus face each other without any precautions.
“Eugene. Both Abu and Kid are just fine.”
“But I saw it with my own eyes!”
Kasser embraced Eugene’s shoulders with one arm and turned to his behind.
Abu quietly showed up from afar in a moment. The panther, which was now the size of a regular cat, didn’t seem harmed but it just kept still without moving an inch from where it stood. Only after Kasser had called out once again did Abu hesitatingly drew nearer to them. Though it was only a few steps further, Abu stopped again and just stared at the two of them in silence.
“What about Kid?”
“Kid is right up there. On the tree.”
Eugene turned to where Kasser was gazing at and heaved a sigh of relief when she found the squirrel was sitting on a branch of the tree. A tiny little red horn seems to have grown on the squirrel’s tiny head.
“Kid. Come to me.”
As the squirrel didn’t move an inch despite Eugene holding out her hands to him, she sheepishly called out to Abu instead. However, Abu’s response to her call was no different from Kid. It puzzled her greatly when they both refused to come to her.
“What’s wrong with them…” Eugene murmured as she looked up to Kasser. “And what are you doing here all of sudden?”
“Did something happen here? They called for me.”
“They called you?”
“I can sense it when they are under threat. But as far as I know, there’s nothing in the Holy City that could come across as a threat to them. So I thought I would go check on them as I found it quite strange.”
Eugene looked down onto her hands once again, wondering if the strange energy from before was what had threatened the Hwansu.
She then recalled how the rat lark had indeed turned to a tree at her touch, back in the kingdom. This train of thought further led her to the words which she had once heard from Aldrit.
[Her Majesty is the death, while His Majesty is the destruction.]
[The King has the power to put the larks out of existence. However, Anika has the power to lead them to their death.]
‘A power that could lead the larks to death.’
Before, when Eugene thought that Kid had been swallowed up whole by Abu, she had held out her hand to stop Abu. And without thinking, Eugene might have tried to use the ‘Power of Death’ which Aldrit had told her about before.
‘That would have been a disaster.’
If anything should have happened to both Abu and Kid, Eugene would have suffered gravely throughout her entire life out of guilt. Moreover, as a subordinate Hwansu is closely linked to the energy of its master, the king, their injury could have greatly affected the king himself. Eugene couldn’t believe how extremely fortunate it was for things to haven’t turned to the worst.
“Abu.” Kasser called out once again.
“You don’t have to force him. I think Abu is feeling uneasy about my presence.” Eugene said, holding Kasser by the arm.
“Abu is feeling uneasy about you?”
“The thing is—” Eugene’s voice trailed off as she thought it would take long for her to explain. “—weren’t you in the middle of an important meeting? I’ve heard that an administrative officer from the kingdom is here.”
“It’s nothing urgent.”
“But still, you left in the middle of the meeting. Let’s go inside together. I’ll explain later.”
As Eugene hastened to leave with Kasser, she glanced over her shoulder and saw Abu still remaining still from afar without making any movement. She let out a sigh as she turned her back, feeling apologetic and wounded at the same time.
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