Finally, Jin’s turn came around. A tense atmosphere filled the hallway as silence descended. Everyone was staring at Eugene, as if they didn’t want to miss even the slightest change in her breathing, while wondering if Anika Jin would touch the seed today.
Before beginning to unwrap the seed, Eugene set the glove she had been holding onto above her knees. The seed, which seemed to be somewhat translucent, was exactly like the one she had seen in Sang-je’s prayer room. With that thought, she quietly took a breath inside.
‘Just do it like the other day. You’re a lake. So, it only needs to be the size of a lake.’
The moment Eugene removed the clear seed from its wrapper and took hold of it, Anikas’ eyes widened, with a big o formed on their faces. Flora, on the other hand, was greatly perplexed because she had assumed Jin would naturally find reasons to avoid touching the seed in the end.
‘They will eventually discover her lie. What on earth is she thinking?’ Flora did not even bother to consider the possibility that Jin might possess Ramita.
However, just as sprouts appeared from Eugene’s palm, the large hall fell silent, with everyone holding their breath. In fact, even though the musicians had stopped playing for a considerable amount of time, no one appeared to have noticed the music ceasing.
Flora’s eyes grew darker as the stem shot ascended higher. ‘No way. This is not possible.’ Flora simply repeated herself, unable to believe what she was seeing. She couldn’t help but feel as if the world had turned its back on her as she fell into a pit of despair.
The stem only broke up just before it hit the ceiling. Flora, who appeared to be completely lifeless, heard something crumble inside her just as the stem fell apart into pieces. Flora could barely hear the other Anikas’ clapping and shouts because they sounded like they were coming from a great distance away.
Nothing seemed to be left for Flora now that her one and only powerful advantage over Jin had faded.
The moment Flora and Jin’s eyes met, Flora wished Jin had given her a mocking glare as if to humiliate her instead. However, Jin only gave Flora a passing glance, as if unconcerned, which made Flora feel as if the world was collapsing around her.
On purpose, Eugene inquired about a restroom located further down the hall. And it appears that the extra distance was worthwhile because she smiled once she realized the restroom was empty. Feeling her body unwind from earlier tensions as she was finally alone, free of music and conversation, she let out a sigh of relief.
Eugene went to the restroom and then sat down on the sofa to relax.
‘My, this is exhausting.’
Since this was Eugene’s first time attending an event by herself, especially one where other Anikas would be present, she was understandably nervous. Aside from that, she realized how much she had been shielded from the entire time by her mother.
In fact, Anikas were unlike any other people Eugene had encountered up to this point. Despite their close bond as Anikas, they were both naive and cunning, and they tended to keep each other in check. They also speak very bluntly, which Eugene initially thought was a trait unique to some Anika. However, it turns out that this trait applies to most of them.
‘Nonetheless, I’m glad I came.’
Indeed, Eugene had certainly learned a great deal from today’s gathering. Having grown up in another world, she had a weak identity as Anika. Thus, today was a great opportunity for her to observe and comprehend their way of thinking.
Among the Anikas, Ramita’s level is unquestionably of the utmost importance. In fact, the way they looked at Eugene had completely changed after they saw her demonstrate her Ramita.
The biggest difference was the kindness with which Eugene was acknowledged and treated.
Her social standing as the daughter of a wealthy family left them with little more than a favorable impression, as they only seemed to respect one another on the basis of their Ramita level.
However, despite their Ramita level being low, they do not appear to lower themselves, as if they are unwilling to acknowledge the invisible rank between Anikas based on their Ramita grade.
‘The family situations of the Anikas differ greatly. And even though they were taught that every Anika is regarded as noble regardless of the family they were raised in, as they grew older, they would eventually learn the bitter truth.’
Anika is known to be born at a random time and place. Therefore, it is largely viewed as a life-changing lottery because any Holy City resident had a chance of becoming Anika’s parents.
And despite the popular belief that Anika was only born in Holy City because it is a holy land, Eugene begged to differ.
In fact, there was no record of Anika being born to parents who had immigrated to the Holy City, according to Eugene’s investigation into the relevant paperwork with Dana’s assistance. The fact that Anika’s parents had always resided in the Holy City makes it clear that the issue was only one of blood and had nothing to do with Mahar’s blessing.
‘Aldrit once said that one of the ancient tribes was Anikas’ ancestor.’
Among the three ancient tribes, the one Aldrit belongs to and the one with the ability to predict the future is still preserving their identity. But the tribe, which had been Anika’s ancestor, has assimilated into the human race instead, this implies that Anika’s body contains a mixture of human blood and blood from ancient tribes.
‘The most likely reason Anikas are only being born in the Holy City is that no descendants of the ancient tribes have ever emigrated to other kingdoms. Did they voluntarily do it? Or is someone in control of them?’
Eugene looked down at the glove she had been clutching in her left hand after pondering the problem without finding a solution. Inside was a seed that she had secretly concealed.
‘I am not mistaken. This has to be from Sang-je.’
No one else could have provided such a strange tool for the Anikas to measure their Ramitas if it hadn’t been for Sang-je.
‘So it’s only words after all that the Ramita level is kept confidential, and he treats Anikas equally regardless of their Ramita levels because he clearly has been checking on them with this kind of measuring tool.’
Although Eugene had already vaguely sensed it during their previous conversation, it is now abundantly clear that Sang-je is somehow fixated on Anikas. However, she is unable to pinpoint the reason or what he is up to.
‘Would it be okay if I took this for further investigation?’
Despite its distinctive uses, it appeared to be poorly managed. In fact, no one would likely notice if one or two seeds were missed because the basket was left unattended.
‘Is it because Sang-je believes in Anika?’
Eugene had to correct herself, though, as it was clear that Sang-je was deceiving the Anikas and profiting from their ignorance.
‘He could have planted the seeds with some sort of tracking device. I’d better hide it somewhere rather than bring it back to the manor. Then I’ll be able to see if he tracks it down and recovers it.’
Eugene’s focus suddenly shifted to the sound of the door opening. She then noticed Anika in her middle age, entering the restroom when she turned to face the door.
‘I’d gone quite a distance on purpose, so I never expected to see anyone coming all this way to use the restroom here.’
Eugene rose from the sofa, thinking it was past time for her to leave. However, the senior Anika simply stood at the door, not entering.
‘I suppose she wasn’t expecting to see anyone else here as well.’
“I’m leaving now. So feel free to use the restroom.”
Eugene told the lady, as she slightly bowed her head.
Eugene was on her way past the lady when she heard her call. Bad feelings quickly surrounded her because every time another Anika called, it led to an argument.
She reluctantly turned around because she couldn’t impolitely ignore a senior’s call. “Is there anything you would like to say to me?”
The woman was silently observing Eugene when she noticed her bewildered expression and smiled.
“I suppose you’re unaware of who I am.”
The lady’s comment perplexed Eugene. She considered the possibility that her imposter knew this woman, but no such memory came to mind.
“I’m not offended in the least. It’s just that I’m surprised there’s an Anika who doesn’t know who I am. My name is Katie. Perhaps you’re more familiar with the name Mrs Wallfred.”