While everybody thought the queen was in her chamber, dozing off, in fact, Eugene didn’t fall asleep by the time she got up this morning. Right after breaking her fast, she retreated to the safety of her room, laid on her bed, and indulged herself in peace and quiet.
She stared blankly at the tip of her fingers as she suspended her hand in mid-air while she rested in a reclining position. Her body was squeezed to pulp from last night, she could only lie down and let her sore muscles recuperate at the time being.
She breathed a sigh and murmured. “What a dynamic life!”
Her previous life was an eventful one but upon comparing it to her life in this world, it looked bland. In fact, no adventure movie would be more exciting than her few days here in the castle.
Amidst letting herself be dragged by the tide of events, the thought of suddenly coming to her senses, and finding herself awake in her original body never left her. Yet, over the days that passed, she kept on waking up in this chamber with the rays of the sun hitting her face as it rose proudly on the horizon of this world called Mahar.
Most of all, everything that transpired last night was shocking in many ways. Many times she suspected that all of these are mere delusions, or perhaps a long dream, but Kasser proved her wrong.
Last night was too real. He was too real.
The vivid touch on her skin, the sensation of her hands slithering with sweat on his broad back, the sound of his ragged breathing against her ear, and the intense feeling of her body racking in desire—those could not be dreams.
From last night’s occurrence, she also ruled out the hypothesis that Jin Anika’s soul might be hiding somewhere inside her body. Jin Anika seemed to value her purity, and she would have interrupted them if she could. Not once did she feel her taking over her body.
She wriggled in discontent on her bed, and with it came the discomfort she felt from her strained muscles. She groaned with her every move. Jin Anika must have not liked sports very much–she was not fit at all. In fact, her whole body ached, just like when after Eugene first climbed a mountain.
In particular, she felt sore in her nether region. With her body’s protests in pain, she thought of the person deserving her resentment. Eugene’s face took a contemplative air. She didn’t expect a man of abstinence to debauch her like a beast.
“Ah! I must get up once and for all.”
She shook her head. The more she dwelled on this plethora of thoughts, the more she felt her head throb. Quickly, she must dispel the memories from last night and train her attention to more important things.
I definitely solved one thing. Now that Anika’s body was not pure anymore, one condition of accepting Mara’s power had been broken.
I must find out why Anika married the king. And I still have a lot to learn to adapt to this world.
She pulled the rope near her bed. A moment later, Zanne came in with her head bowed down. Eugene then beckoned her to come near her bed.
“Did you tell the former general that I wanted to see her?”
“Yes. In fact, she’s already in the drawing-room.”
“How long has she been waiting? Why is it that no one told me?”
Her voice, despite being soft, made the maid tremble in fear.
“I—It’s just that no one wanted to disturb your sleep.” Zanne stammered pitifully.
“I’m not blaming you.” Eugene pacified her by flashing a kind smile. Then, she picked her next words carefully. “Please invite her in after a few minutes. I must make myself more presentable.”
“Yes, Anika,” she said, then proceeded to exit the door to do the queen’s bidding. But before her figure disappeared entirely, Eugene called her attention and she quickly turned on her heels.
“In other kingdoms, they call someone with a position such as mine “queen”. Am I right?”
“I… I don’t know what’s going on in other kingdoms, but I think so…”
“I see. From now on, you must call me queen then, not Anika.”
A stupefied look on her innocent face, Zanne stood frozen in her place. She clutched her gown tighter at her sides and seemed to not breathe due to tension.
“It’s all right. Call me.”
Eugene gave an encouraging smile. She thought she should try to pull out the infamous queen’s image from the deepest pit.
“Q—queen.” Zanne’s mousy voice sounded. Then, she closed her eyes, waiting for the queen’s words of admonishment but none came.
“Henceforth everyone is to address me this way,” she said with a satisfied nod.
“Yes, my queen.” Saying so, she took her leave.
Jin Anika was overly obsessed with the title Anika. Only when the title was changed, Eugene would have a place in this world.
No matter what good I do, no one will be able to talk to me straight. I’m… the queen.
A strange shudder swept over her whole body. Having so much power in her hands, she must exercise but with caution.
In this kingdom, as long as she didn’t commit a crime punishable by death, she need not fret over keeping herself alive.
Who would dare touch the only woman who could give birth to a king’s successor anyway?
Eugene welcomed Marianne in her chambers. Since it’s their second meeting already, she felt more at ease with having her around.
“Thank you, Anika.”
“Sit down.” She led her to a chair and sat in front of her. “I’ve told someone else about this. I don’t want everyone to call me Anika anymore.”
Marianne looked at Eugene with astonishment. As if she had not heard Eugene for the first time, she gave a questioning look.
“You don’t have to call me Anika. Calling me by my title is enough.”
“I’ll be sure to do that, Your Grace.” Marianne smiled warmly and asked what Sarah told her to. “How are you, Your Grace?”
As she spoke, worry was etched on her face—worry that was speared on the queen’s health and her rocky relationship with the king. But, Eugene, unaware of the ruckus her blood-stained sheets had caused, thought that Marianne was only worried over her loss of memory.
“I am all right.”
Eugene’s words relieved Marianne.
Beneath Eugene’s cool exterior, internal chaos made her feel ill to her gut. She felt no pressure in talking to a young maid but confiding in a much older adult and a well-rounded person was an entirely different matter.
“Yes, my queen.”
“You were the king’s nanny, the former commander-in-chief, and the person who holds an indispensable place in the king’s life.”
“Indeed, my queen.” Marianne simply nodded and kept her calm. Her responses were direct as she had not intended to grovel for favor unabashedly. She was a person who was not very good at kissing her superior’s feet—a trait that Eugene admired at this very moment.
“It is because of these qualities of yours that I decided to summon you here. Marianne, you are the only person who could help me,” Eugene said her intention bluntly.
“My queen… Did you say you need help?” she asked with a skeptical look and added, “What for?”