Kasser consistently received the news of the kingdom while he was in the Holy City. The messenger pigeon that carried a report from the chancellor arrived once every couple days, but, since the messages on the pigeon couldn’t carry any secrets or complicated reports, another officer had to go between the kingdom and the Holy City to handle the finer details.
After the meeting that afternoon, Kasser called the officer in. He was tasked to leave for the kingdom at dawn the next day.
“Give it to the chancellor,” the king said, handing the officer the message. “You have to do it personally.”
The officer bowed, taking the message with reverence. “I’ll do my best, Your Majesty.”
When the officer had left, Kasser leaned back in his seat and began to calculate the days in his mind. He tried to figure out when the chancellor would receive the message and when he would start working on it.
A month at most, he thought. It shouldn’t take much longer.
Before he left for the Holy City, he thought that there was a good chance that Sang-je was going to hold Eugene there, so he had to make sure that he and the chancellor were on the same page. He had placed Verus in charge of sending an urgent message as soon as Kasser sent the signal—he would make an excuse so that the king would have to return to the kingdom.
The message that the officer took was that signal, in itself it was just a series of standard orders. Even if another person got a hold of it, they wouldn’t find anything suspicious.
With the officer gone with the message, it wasn’t long before a servant came in and reported that a warrior wanted to see Kasser. The warrior in question was the one that received an order to investigate the magician’s route; he announced that people from the village had come.
“They’re knights?” Kasser raised a brow.
The warrior nodded. “Yes, Your Majesty. There are five of them.”
“How do you know that they’re knights? Are they clad in armor?”
“Yes, Your Majesty. You can actually see it from afar.”
That was true. Anyone could spot them, anyone at all: silver armor and red capes. It was elaborate and glamorous. The chances of the knights being fake were incredibly low; the crime of falsely claiming knighthood was worse than murder.
Kasser couldn’t help but wonder why a knight would come to him so confidently. Knights only take orders from Sang-je, he thought. They would be watching the townspeople’s actions because they believed it was a just order. Perhaps Sang-je could find a good reason to put them under my watch. It would be better than spying on them, there would be no use anyway.
“Have they noticed us yet?” he asked.
“No, Your Majesty,” the warrior told him. “We moved far enough that they wouldn’t see us.”
Kasser nodded. “Good. Then, let’s retreat.” He figured that it would be easier to have the knights visit once in a while rather than watch everything unfold from outside. People in the town would cooperate with the knights and tell them if anything happened or if any unexpected visitors arrived.
It would take time to assign a spy to the town, time that they didn’t have. Kasser would have to leave in a month if things were to stay as they were.
When the warrior had left, Kasser called for a servant. He knew that the information he had gotten about the magician would intrigue Eugene, and he had to tell her about it as soon as he could.
“Bring the queen,” he said.
The servant offered an apologetic bow. “Your Majesty, the queen is out. She has gone to the Arse mansion.”
“When did she leave?”
“While you were in your meeting, Your Majesty,” the servant answered. “The queen instructed us not to disturb you and inform you of your absence only when you were not busy.”
“Is that all she said?”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
Kasser frowned. Though he had no problems with her leaving, he did think that it was strange for Eugene to go without telling him which was something she usually did. He had no idea when she was coming back, just how long she was supposed to be out. All he remembered was how distracted she had seemed at breakfast, and he wondered if that was why she had failed to mention her plans for the day.
“Prepare the carriage,” he said, already knowing what he needed to do. He got up before the servant could even respond.
Kasser looked out the window as the carriage rode into the grounds of the Arse mansion. When it stopped, he opened the door and stepped out, immediately met by the sight of Eugene rushing down the stairs. For a moment, he was worried that something had happened, but when he saw the bright look on her face, he let out a sigh of relief.
When Eugene was in front of him, she furrowed her brows. “Has something bad happened?”
Kasser shook his head. “No, but I do have some information for you.”
She stiffened at his words, then nodded in understanding.
The couple said their goodbyes to Eugene’s parents before leaving and finding somewhere they could speak privately.
Kasser sighed. “Sang-je is watching those people.”
Eugene’s eyes widened. When she had first heard about all the magicians gathered in that town, she thought they were related to the ancient Aldrit tribe; but the more she thought about it, the less it started to make sense.
She knew that they had been born with the ability to see the future and had even monopolized all knowledge of magic in order to have control over the world, but they were still the lowest class in the Holy City. No one trusted them, they saw them more as con artists than anything else.
She wondered if they allowed themselves to be treated that way to repent for the sins of their ancestors.