“Jin,” Alber spoke again, getting Eugene’s attention. “This isn’t something I can decide on my own.”
“But I thought you were the senior member of the family,” Eugene argued. “Don’t you have some sort of say over it?”
The older woman smiled at her sadly. “I’m just a senior by title,” she said. “There’s not much I can do.”
Before Eugene spoke again, she stopped her emotions from running wild. She shook her head. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I was being rude.”
“No, you weren’t. Besides, we’re in a dream. There’s no need to be so formal.”
When Eugene leaned back and looked away, Alber clasped her hands together. “There is another way to learn magic,” she said. When Jin turned to her with wide eyes, she continued, “It’s another way, but the root is the same. I assume you’ve heard of divinity.”
Eugene’s shoulder slumped again. “I have.”
The magicians had told her the same thing. But they didn’t seem like much to her. They couldn’t possibly be the ones holding all the influence. Maybe they were from the ancient tribe? Maybe that’s how they knew about magic?
“I met a magician not too long ago,” she said.
Alber frowned. “A magician? In what way was he a magician?”
“Just a magician. People call them magicians. They do tarot readings for people to earn money. People enjoy it but they never actually believe it.”
Alber relaxed. The magicians of this era are clowns, they are nothing to worry about—
“The magician told me the same thing,” Eugene continued. “He said that, if I want to learn magic, I need to learn divinity.”
The older woman blinked. “A magician told you this?”
She doesn’t know about magicians? She didn’t know about gypsies either. There was something wrong now, Eugene could feel it.
Alber tried to look calmer than she was. “Can you tell me what you know about magicians?”
Eugene nodded and proceeded to explain what the magicians did and how the world perceived them. She mentioned how she knew they were being watched, but she never mentioned by whom because she was still unsure of the connection between the Muens and Sang-je.
Alber hummed. “Magicians being watched.” She nodded. Everything she knew had been screened by Sang-je. He only told her what he thought she could know. When she got to speak to other Muens, they were always children. The Muen children were all sheltered and therefore did not have much to say to her about what was happening in the world.
“Jin, what do you think of the Muen family?”
Eugene shrugged. “I’ve never met them personally,” she said. “All I know about them I learned from someone else.”
“That’s okay,” Alber told her. “Just tell me what you think.”
The younger woman considered it for a moment. “I think they have authority, but they prefer to keep their power private,” she said. “Most people in the Holy City have never heard of the Muens. Only those of a higher social class know who they are.”
Alber was silent.
When she was younger, she had been a prodigy. Her foresight was outstanding and her magical abilities were great. She had been drowned in remorse and despair for a long time, but she still had the same talents that she had before. When she pieced all the information together, she realized the truth.
“He lied,” she mumbled. Her fists were clenched. “That bastard lied to me.”
Eugene expected Alber to burst into a fit of rage, but instead the older woman just looked up and laughed. It seemed like she was crying too.
She had cooperated with Sang-je for the sake of her family. He had promised her tribe glory, but she never saw them.
“Humans conspire when they meet,” he told her. “How can I trust that you won’t go against me if I let you meet with your tribe? I can only let you see your direct descendants.”
She had only met the descendants of her son’s blood. When she saw the children, she would assume based on their skin, their tone, and the clothes they were wearing that they were doing well. She believed that their entire tribe was living with the same luxuries.
But she was wrong.
That bastard drove a wedge between the members of the tribe.
She realized that only the Muens had been given wealth and power. Other parts of the tribe, magicians as they were called, were forced to live under surveillance without much to their names. They would believe that the Muens and Sang-je were all on the same side, and eventually they would resent the Muens for the power that was not given to them.
I was a fool to think that he would keep his promise.
She felt horrible for her descendants that were forced to sacrifice. The Muens lived under Sang-je’s watch and followed his commands, but they were relatively free. The others were forced to fend for themselves, separated from the rest of their tribe.
Members of my tribe do tarot readings on the street?
Alber felt the grief overcome her. She had never needed them to live gloriously, she just wanted them to be freed from the guilt of their past.
How terrible everything had turned out to be.