Eugene quickly looked away as soon as she felt the Fire King’s gaze on her. She tried her best to hold in the urge to look at him more and see what he actually looked like. Her restraint wasn’t just out of courtesy but because of the fact that it was not a good idea to be involved with a king.
The kings that had been in her novel all had their own unique characteristics. The Fire King’s looks were something that immediately set him apart from the others, with his muscular form and tattooed arms.
But Kasser’s personality is also something to think about, Eugene considered.
In her novel, he was also a completely different man. He had no interest in others, even the other kings. He acted only to accomplish his goals. Otherwise, he did not participate in any socializing and did not cooperate with others at all. He also never spoke about what was on his mind, no matter who he was talking to.
Now that I think about it, I never even asked Alber about the novel. We just had too much to talk about.
As Eugene continued to walk, the distance between her and the Fire King grew smaller, but when they eventually met, they did not even need to acknowledge each other because of how wide the hallway was. But, as soon as Eugene turned the corner and left, the Fire King stopped. He turned and stared at the empty space she had just been in.
The smell of larks on an Anika, he thought. Interesting.
“Hey,” Riner called the priest without taking his eyes off the place Eugene had been.
“Yes, Your Highness?” the priest questioned.
“It’s been a while since I was last in the Holy City’s Palace,” the Fire King said. “I want to take a look around.”
“Pardon, Your Highness?”
Riner frowned. “Did you not hear me?”
With wide, worried eyes, the priest shook his head. “Of course, Your Highness,” he said. “Let me give you a tour.”
The king waved him off. “I’ll be fine,” he said and, when the priest looked like he was about to protest, he added, “Do you think I’ll get lost?”
The man stuttered, stumbling over his words as he tried to think of a reason to keep the king company.
“Don’t worry. I won’t go to any restricted areas. I’ll just have a look around and leave; you can go do whatever you want now.”
The priest sighed. The king was as difficult to deal with as anyone could be. While stubborn, he was also extremely aware of the power he held. Most people couldn’t even look him in the eyes because of his intimidating aura. Aside from that, kings lived beyond the law when they were in the Holy City. He could do whatever he wanted.
“By the way,” he said, catching the priest’s attention once more, “Who was that Anika that passed us just now?”
“Are you talking about Anika Jin?” the priest asked with a bewildered look on his face. He thought it was strange that the Fire King didn’t know who she was, but the more he thought about it, the more it made sense. The fourth king and the Fire King rarely came to the Holy City. The fourth king lived too far away and the Fire King was only interested in hunting larks.
“Anika Jin,” Riner repeated the name slowly. “Okay. You may leave me now.”
The priest suppressed another sigh and bowed before turning to leave. He couldn’t help but sneak a glance behind him every now and then, checking to find that the Fire King was simply standing, deep in thought. He prayed that nothing terrible would happen because he left the man on his own.
Meanwhile, Eugene tried to get answers from her own escort.
“I see the Fire King is here,” she said as they continued on their way. “That must be why His Holiness was in the drawing room.”
The priest nodded. “Yes. It’s not every day that we see him.”
“From what I understand, he’s interested in… things that are not human,” she prodded.
The man laughed as he nodded in agreement. “That is indeed one way of putting it.”
Eugene didn’t know what to do with that information, but at least she had confirmed that what she knew so far was correct. The Fire King was always hunting larks, roaming his kingdom to find them. When another kingdom found larks that hurt people and had no citizens that could fight, the Fire King would come at their request.
I wonder if he’s just like he was in my novel, Eugene wondered. In her novel, he was impulsive and hot-tempered, so much so that he would always get in arguments with Kasser.
The drawing room was up ahead. The atmosphere of the space was so much different from what it had been when she last visited.
And to think that there’s been a lark here all along.
It was known that a lark’s size matched its power. Sang-je’s body must have been enormous. She wondered where such a monster could hide in the palace.
She looked down at her sleeve as they approached the door; Kkoma was hiding between the folds. That made her feel a lot better.
*T/N: Kkoma means little kid. The small lark that always hang around Eugene.
The day after the two larks ran away from Eugene, they came back to her just like Kasser said they would. But their personalities had changed ever so slightly. If in the past, they treated Eugene like a friend, they now obeyed her like a master.
The larks that are owned by a king are banished from their world. It’s like they’re excluded from the lark’s food chain. They aren’t impacted by the lark’s territory.
When Eugene asked why Abu was able to come into the Holy City without any problems if the entire city was the lark’s territory, Alber explained that it was because the lark’s territory was around the lake so Abu wasn’t impacted at all.
As they stepped into the room, Eugene took a deep breath. She could see Sang-je with his eyes closed. It was so strange to think that all of this was fake. He had even gone so far as to lose one of his senses to maintain a human form—but, even then, it seemed like he had lost more senses than just his sight. Normally, larks were sensitive to the energy of Anikas and kings, but apparently, he couldn’t feel anything at all.