What should I do? Eugene wondered. The magicians all lived in the same area, so they must have all known. Regardless of if she spoke to a magician or not, they wouldn’t be pleased to see her anyway.
We’re here anyway. She sighed. “Let’s keep going.”
They acted as if they weren’t here to see a magician. Since the sunlight had gotten harsh, Eugene decided to go to a merchant she saw who was selling hats. With every step she took, eyes followed.
She squatted down, trying to ignore all the attention on her. She picked up a hat and turned it over in her hands. All the hats had been made with a thin tree bark, all of different colors. She picked up a white hat and a black one and got up.
“Which is better?” she asked Kasser, placing one hat on her head before switching to the other.
He laughed, a warm smile on his lips. “Both look great.”
“You can’t say that.” She pouted. “Pick one.”
Kasser furrowed his brows in deep thought. He hadn’t thought about anything this seriously in a while. Finally, he nodded and said, “Black.”
He wouldn’t tell her, but he chose the black one because it was better at hiding her face. He had noticed the way people were watching her and he didn’t care for it.
“Black it is.” Eugene smiled, paying for the hat and putting it on.
Everyone else that was watching them gaped. It wasn’t every day that they saw the king and the Anika buy something from a street merchant. Usually, the nobles of the Holy City only went to places where carriages could pass, not simple streets like this.
“I hear that Anika is a daughter of the Arse family,” some whispered.
“No wonder she looks like such a noble.”
It wasn’t long before the whole place was buzzing with gossip about the king and his Anika.
As they went ahead, Eugene and Kasser found a tent. They shared a glance before Kasser went inside and led Eugene behind him. The knights following them surrounded the tent and barred others from coming near.
In the middle of the tent was a small table where a middle-aged man sat. He looked bored and tired, but the moment he saw the displaced pair come in, he froze before quickly bowing before them.
Eugene was flustered by the sudden action. “We haven’t come to surprise you,” she explained. “We’re just here for tarot.”
The man bowed deeper. “I am not worthy of speaking these random nonsense to the likes of the two of you,” he said. “I am not skilled at all.”
The queen frowned. “Is that just what you think or do all magicians think this way?”
The man did not say anything and simply avoided looking directly at the two people before him.
Eugene kept her eyes on him for a moment before she let out a sigh and turned to Kasser. “Let’s leave.”
“We can go somewhere else.” He frowned.
“No, it’s no use. Let’s leave.”
They returned to their carriage and, only when they were alone again, did Eugene tell Kasser about her memory of her bullying the magician.
“I think he refused because he recognized who I am,” she said, staring out the window. “Maybe the magicians have stopped doing tarot for Anikas because of what happened. I’m so embarrassed.”
Kasser placed a hand on top of hers and looked at her with gentle eyes. “Why are you embarrassed?”
“Even if it wasn’t really me who did it, everyone else thinks it was,” she told him, staring down at her lap.
He laughed. “Who cares what they think? What matters is that you and I know the truth.”
She nodded. Although she didn’t look entirely okay again, she did look better. His words always seemed to comfort her.
“There’s still time before dinner,” he said, leaning back in his chair. “Maybe we should go somewhere to make you feel better.”
Eugene squinted her eyes at him, wondering what he had in mind. “Where?”
“Somewhere to buy you a hat,” Kasser told her. He looked at the hat she had bought from the merchant. “That one doesn’t go with the rest of your outfit.”
With that, Eugene laughed as the carriage brought them downtown.
Flora came home in shock after Jin showed Ramita at the Anika meeting. She didn’t understand. Jin definitely didn’t have Ramita… but now it seemed like she did.
Now that she thought about it, there were a few more things that bothered her. For one, Sang-je knew that Jin didn’t have Ramita, it was the duty of a God’s deputy to know all there was to know about Jin. And yet Sang-je never interrogated her, just welcomed her for some strange reason. Then, Jin married a king. It was all so strange, and it didn’t make much sense.
If there was one thing Flora knew for sure, it was that Sang-je knew something about Jin that she didn’t. Perhaps Sang-je knew everything.
After putting a lot of thought into it, she decided to visit Sang-je. She knew she couldn’t ask about it randomly because if she revealed her suspicions then Sang-je would look at her differently. So, when she was asked about her dream, she lied.
She wanted to know the truth, and this was the best way to find it.
“Your Holiness, I’m afraid,” she said. “I heard that Ramita is something you’re born with and that it doesn’t change. What does the change mean?”
Don’t worry, Anika Flora, Sang-je said. The change in the dream is something other Anikas experience as well.
Flora flinched. It was the first time she had heard that other Anikas had changed as well. She swallowed her anxiety and carried on with her lie.
“But, Your Holiness, Anika Jin told me—” she stopped, acting as if she had said something wrong. She just wanted to get a response out of Sang-je.
What did Anika Jin tell you?
When Flora hesitated, Sang-je pressed on.
It’s okay, Anika Flora. Don’t be afraid to tell me.
The Anika looked away. “Anika Jin said that her change in Ramita was thanks to you.” When she said those words, she expected Sang-je to shoot her down, but when nothing happened, she realized she must have been right.
After a long moment, Sang-je said, Ramita can’t be changed by others. I only helped Anika Jin unleash the Ramita that was already within her.
Flora’s eyes grew wide. Immediately, she got on her knees and pleaded, “Your Holiness, I beg you to advise me as well. My dream changed. That must mean that I have potential within me as well, right?”
She was desperate. It made her feel powerless knowing that Jin’s Ramita could be stronger than hers. She figured that, if Jin could do it, she should be able to as well.