“Is there a reason for that?”
“It’s actually His Holiness’s will. As it was his wish to wait quietly for priest Anika to enter into eternal rest. His Holiness is indeed a devout believer, living his entire life devoted only to God. He’s leading a life of selfless service to the community, having absolutely no interest in flaunting his Holy Spirit.”
“Yes, His Holiness has always been a self-sacrificing person.”
“Indeed. It’s my great privilege and honor to be able to closely aid him.”
Having exchanged their deep respect for Sang-je in unison, both Pides and the priest dropped the subject.
After parting ways with the priest, Pides headed once more to Sang-je’s prayer room and asked the knights on guard duty, “Have you heard any words from His Holiness perchance?”
“No, we haven’t.”
‘Did something happen to His Holiness?’ Pides thought to himself with a worried look as he turned away from them.
Meanwhile, the image of the empty prayer room he saw earlier still lingered in his mind. Pides, however, constantly convinced himself that there must be a reasonable reason for Sang-je’s absence earlier. In fact, even if Sang-je has been going out in secret all this time without his knowledge, it wouldn’t in the least dishearten him as he was Sang-je’s knight, not his observer.
Nevertheless, he couldn’t help but to feel dubious about the fact that Sang-je has gone missing when a priest Anika has passed away in the palace.
‘I’m sure he’s well aware of it.’
Sang-je is indeed a person who knows about every single occurrence in the palace like the back of his hand. Therefore, it seemed safe for Pides to assume that Sang-je’s already aware of priest Anika’s death. But having no response from Sang-je was a strong indication that he is deeply occupied with a much urgent matter.
‘What could possibly be more urgent than priest Anika’s death?’
Pides couldn’t help but to feel something was off. It was in fact a subtle sense of foreboding feeling which he couldn’t quite put his finger on.
Sang-je has provided an entire outbuilding attached to the palace as a venue for Anikas to hold their gatherings. And despite their official gathering being held only once every month, the outbuilding was open all year around solely for the use of Anikas.
The maids and keepers, responsible for its maintenance day and night, resided in the outbuilding to keep the place in its best condition, making sure they hadn’t overlooked even a single flower adorned throughout the building, from withering away. And due to their efforts, the place never went short of refreshments and fine food as well.
On occasions, Anikas could even stay for a night in one of many neatly tidied bedrooms. There were even entertainment rooms, fully equipped with various materials and supplies for Anikas to enjoy their respective hobbies. The building was therefore more of an exclusive club, accessible only to Anikas.
As a matter of fact, no clubs in the Holy City were even remotely comparable in terms of their grand facilities. Therefore, even if it wasn’t the day of their official gathering, many Anikas frequented themselves to the outbuilding.
It wasn’t compulsory for all Anikas to attend their monthly gatherings. In fact, if they happen to miss one for personal reasons, they could always attend the next gathering in the next coming month. However, if there should be any interesting tidings, for instance like a new Anika making her debut for the first time, such gatherings are usually well-attended.
Doubtless today’s monthly gathering would have the best attendance record of all times, judging from the crowds of people already gathered in the club, despite the gathering being scheduled to commence at noon. The hall soon became thronged with people as it was nearing noon. At this rate, it would be much faster to check the number of absentees rather than attendees.
Since the hall always seems to bustle with people on the day of the official gatherings, it was a necessary procedure for the Anikas to confirm their attendance beforehand, for the food preparation and such.
However, an unprecedented number of applications for today’s gathering poured in over the last two days, ever since the rumor of Anika Jin having confirmed her attendance circulated among the Anikas. The main topic of conversation among them today was nothing else but about Anika Jin. In truth, everyone seemed to be using Anika Jin as their conversation starters.
“Did you hear that the rumor about the Lark tree is actually an exaggeration?”
“I beg to differ. Since what I’ve heard from my close acquaintance from the Hashi Kingdom is very sure.”