“I thought Sang-je was a part of the ancient tribe,” Eugene said. “But it’s so strange. If he’s just like them, then why would he treat the magicians this way?”
Kasser nodded at her, watching as the gears began to turn in her head. “That’s what I was wondering too. If he was one of them, he would be working with them, not suppressing them.”
“Maybe he’s preparing for a rift amongst the members of the tribe, maybe he’s keeping an eye on those who might turn against him.”
“But if he really is a member of the ancient tribe, he would be fooling everyone else by acting as the deputy of God. There would be no sense keeping them alive at all because they’d know his secret.”
“That’s true.” Eugene frowned as she leaned back in her seat.
Kasser stared at her as she fell deep in thought. The truth was that, though he acted as if all this information was important, none of it was actually urgent. It was all just an excuse for him to see her.
He noticed longing for her was getting worse with each passing day. Even if she had only been gone for a second, he already wanted to go looking for her. Sometimes, while working, he would drift off into thoughts of her. He had never been so distracted before and it frightened him.
He didn’t know that this was how love was. It was like there was no end to it, it just kept going on and on, consuming him.
So, when she finally spoke again and asked, “Shall we go see the magicians?” he had no choice but to take her face in his hands and kiss her.
Eugene blinked in surprise when he pulled back.
“Going into town isn’t a good idea,” Kasser said, continuing the conversation as if nothing had happened.
“Yes, but perhaps the ones who do taro—”
He kissed her again. This time, when they parted, Eugene laughed and hit his arm. “What are you doing?”
Kasser pressed another kiss to her lips and mumbled, “Just because.”
“We’re talking about something important,” she groaned as he continued to pepper kisses across her face. “What was I talking about?” Eugene couldn’t focus, not when Kasser had set his mind to kissing her deeper. She tried to stop him because she knew they were out in the open; she remembered how embarrassing it had been when Enoch caught them kissing. But when his tongue slipped into her mouth, all caution was thrown to the wind.
Even though he didn’t want to, eventually Kasser forced himself to stop kissing her and pulled away with a smile. “So, you want to visit a magician as a customer?”
Eugene nodded, her cheeks a deep shade of red. She looked around to see if anyone else was there and covered her face with her hands when she was sure they were all alone. She wanted to tell him something, but she couldn’t find the words.
The kiss was so sweet that she wondered if this was all she could ever want.
The magicians were all gathered in a small tent as they sat and did tarot for their customers. The street they were on had once been a busy place but, after the market had moved, only the small shops and merchants had stayed. It was a dirty and grimy place but, luckily, that was why people came to it in the first place.
The carriage stopped a few places away from the street of the magicians. Cautious, Kasser checked their surroundings before getting off and leading Eugene behind him.
“Are you sure about this?” he asked, still looking around. “I know you don’t like people staring at you.”
It was true. They were dressed exactly as the king and queen with no disguises to hide their identities. Anyone who saw them would know who they were and would gawk at the idea of royalty in their midst, and Kasser wasn’t sure that was what Eugene wanted.
But she just smiled and said, “It’s fine. It’s not like we’re doing anything wrong.”
While she had stated it so simply, Eugene kept her true intentions hidden. In all honesty, she wanted to show her husband off to people. She wanted to fight the prejudice she had faced as an Anika marrying a king. She wanted them to stare, she wanted them to watch.
As they walked, more people turned their attention towards the pair. They stared and whispered, some even outright pointing at them. A few people were even beginning to trail behind them, interested in learning where the king and queen were heading.
It wasn’t the first time Eugene had gotten the attention of so many people. She had been in the presence of the public a few times, but now, she knew that she had to be careful. She was their ruler and she had to act like it.
She pretended not to notice and plastered a smile on her face. Why are they following? It’s not like I’m a celebrity.
While the knights around them did attract more attention, it was good to know that no one could really come near both of them. At least there was some comfort in her position.
“Have you been here before?” Kasser asked, noticing her discomfort and trying to shift her mind to other things.
“Once. Quite a while ago.”
“Why? I know you wouldn’t come here for tarot.”
Eugene chuckled. He knew her well. “Every time I went to the Holy City, I made it a point to explore so that I would know where things were.”
Just as he was about to speak, Kasser pointed at something. It was a tent that looked on the verge of collapse.
“There will be more of them as we go deeper,” Eugene said, taking a deep breath.
The more they walked, the more she seemed to remember the impostor’s memory.
“How dare you speak of such a thing!”
There was an old man on the floor with a collection of items scattered around him. It looked like he was in trouble—the fake Jin was shouting at him.
“I will never forgive you for cursing an Anika! What do you think you’re doing? Drag him out!”
The memory didn’t seem so strange. Eugene remembered how she had first met Pides.
“There isn’t anyone who doesn’t know you’re an Anika. That crazy old man will be punished for forgetting who you are.”
A shiver ran down her spine. The impostor Jin had wreaked more havoc here than she could have imagined.