They found the Fire King sitting on a sofa as if he was in his own home. It seemed the maid had brought him tea, but he had simply left it before him to cool.
She watched him from the corner of the room and stood uneasily as the Fire King didn’t so much as touch the drink she had brought him.
Riner didn’t like tea. He preferred alcohol. However, it was common courtesy in polite society to at least take a sip of a drink that was offered to you.
He clearly had no interest in courtesy.
The maid walked up to him and bowed in his presence. “Your Majesty the Fire King,” she said, “The hosts will be down shortly. We apologize for the wait.”
He waved a hand dismissively. “I’m fine with waiting,” he told her. “I’m the one who showed up unannounced anyway.”
Though he looked bored, he was actually in a good mood. Usually, things that weren’t related to lark hunting didn’t interest him.
The Holy City itself was a place he would rather not be because of how uneventful it often was when it came to larks. But this time he actually had something to be interested in.
When he arrived at the Fourth King’s place, he was overcome by the same emotions he felt when he was out hunting larks.
He turned his head as he heard the door open. Riner smiled as the Fourth King and his wife walked in.
He could already feel the anger and confusion radiating off the other king, wondering why he had even come.
Riner got up slowly and made his way over to the couple.
It was Eugene who offered a greeting. “Sorry for the wait, Your Majesty the Fire King,” she said, “If you had given us notice, we could have prepared better. Even so, it’s nice to have a formal meeting with you.”
Although she was being polite, her words made it clear that his presence wasn’t exactly welcome, especially given the circumstances. If he cared at all, Riner didn’t let it show.
“You’ll have to understand that I am an impatient man,” he said. “It’s nice to meet you again, Anika Jin. Though I am an unwelcome guest, I hope you find it in yourself not to treat me like one.”
Eugene was taken aback by his words. She was so used to the subtlety that nobles often spoke with that his bluntness stunned her for a moment. She tried her best to recover.
“Unwelcome guest? Nonsense,” she said. Her gaze shifted to Kasser, urging him to say something.
He looked like he could sigh, but Kasser was not that kind of man. “I apologize for my rudeness at the palace,” he said. “We both made mistakes, so I hope you don’t feel too offended.”
At that, Riner’s eyes lit up. He looked between the couple in front of him and decided that what he had believed might not be wrong.
“Oh, well, who’s to say who was in the wrong,” he said. “We can bicker over that some other time.” He sat down on the sofa and gestured to the nearby chairs in the room. “Please, have a seat.”
He acts as if he’s the host, Eugene thought. As she took her seat, she couldn’t help but think about how absurd this all was.
However, she couldn’t bring herself to hate Riner. For all his faults, he didn’t seem like the type to stab you in the back.
When everyone was seated, she went right to the matter at hand. She supposed there was no reason to go around in circles with a man like this. “What brings you here?”
Riner considered her question, then he said, “I came here for an invitation. I heard that there’s a big party happening here in the Holy City. Everyone’s been talking about it. I’m told it’s happening in ten days or so.”
That was completely unexpected. The last thing Eugene would think he was here for was the party being hosted in the Arse mansion.
He never involved himself in social gathering when he was in the Holy City.
“Yes, the party,” Eugene acknowledged. “Forgive me for asking, but would you even attend? I thought you hated crowded places.”
He shrugged. “They’re fine sometimes. They refresh my mood.”
Eugene stared at him for a moment. “If you say so,” she said, wondering what he was thinking. “If it’s an invitation you’re looking for, I’m afraid I already sent one.”
It was customary to send an invitation to every king in the Holy City when an event of a particular scale was being held.
They were the VIPs and everyone made sure they had the opportunity to go to events such as Eugene’s party.
Eugene had finished sending the invites out the day before. She certainly remembered sending them to all the kings, she even sent them earlier than the rest.
“I didn’t get it,” Riner said confidently.
Deciding not to make this a bigger deal than it already was, Eugene just sighed and said, “Then I’ll give you one.”
Riner leaned back in his seat with a self-satisfied smirk.
“You came here just for an invitation?” Kasser asked.
The Fire King’s eyes shifted to him. “Of course not.”
“Okay, then why are you really here?”
“Do you really want to know?”
Eugene glanced at Kasser and turned her head to try and hide the smile on her face. He was looking at Riner the way an older brother might look at a pathetic younger brother.