“Anika Jin, how did you come across knowledge of this disease? Even the people of Flake are scarcely aware of its existence. Please understand, I don’t mean to question your intentions.”
“…I learned about it from an elderly individual whom I personally know. They may not be renowned as a sage, but they possess wisdom and extensive knowledge. However, Your Majesty, do you truly believe everything I say?”
“At this point, I am desperately grasping at any straw. There have been moments when I wished for false leads simply due to the lack of clues. You were the first to mention the cause of this disease, and you were also the first to provide a prescription that alleviated my mother’s symptoms. It feels as though I have finally discovered a glimmer of light in the dark cave where I couldn’t see ahead.”
Myung King spoke, shifting his gaze between Kasser and Eugene.
“Well, now please enlighten me on the reason for your kindness. How may I assist you?”
Eugene was taken aback by Myung King’s unexpected response. The extensive letter she had received beforehand had painted a picture of a difficult and demanding king. The character depicted in the novel was known for his exacting nature. It was surprising to witness this level of trust, especially when the effectiveness of the treatment method remained uncertain.
Meanwhile, Kasser understood Myung King’s perspective. If someone were to offer a cure when faced with an incurable disease, he believed he would also express gratitude, just as depicted in the novel.
When Kasser and Eugene made eye contact, Kasser subtly nodded, signaling, “You should speak.” And so, Eugene addressed Myung King.
“I am determined to rescue an individual who is being held captive in a sophisticated and secretive facility. The operation must be carried out with utmost discretion and without causing any disruptions during the escape,” she stated firmly.
Without much hesitation, Myung King nodded in agreement. “I will personally select our most skilled warriors and send them to assist. However, that alone is not enough to repay the debt of saving my mother’s life. I am willing to offer anything I can to fulfill that obligation.”
“Myung King, if I may ask,” Kasser began, seeking clarification. “Did you come to the Holy City with the intention of obtaining the treatment method?”
Myung King furrowed his brow, contemplating his response. “Indeed, I had repeatedly informed His Holiness about my mother’s condition and requested the treatment method. Unfortunately, the response I received did not meet my expectations. As my mother’s condition worsened, I could no longer wait.”
“It appears that you did not arrive empty-handed to meet Sang-je and acquire the treatment method. What were you planning to trade? Does this relate to the reason behind bringing so many warriors?” Kasser inquired.
There was a moment of silence as Myung King gazed at Kasser, his expression filled with subtlety. Dealing with others often involved a transactional relationship, where give and take were expected. However, Myung King sensed a certain negativity from the Fourth King towards the notion of bargaining.
“I have been cautious in keeping this information confidential, but there is no need to hide anything from both of you. Yes, the warriors stationed outside are there to guard a valuable creature intended for trade with His Majesty. The identity of this creature is a wanderer.”
Eugene was taken aback by the revelation.
“This wanderer is quite unique. They are pregnant and have an unwavering desire to protect their own life and the life of their child. They offered to share any information they possess, as long as their safety and that of their child are ensured. Upon hearing this, I suspected that His Holiness intended to interrogate the wanderer and extract valuable knowledge. That’s when the idea of a trade came to mind,” Myung King explained
Eugene admired his deduction. Despite not having all the details, he had focused all his attention in that direction, driven by the desire to cure his mother’s illness.
“A wanderer, you say?” Alber’s voice echoed in Eugene’s mind.
“Jin, you can join forces with the enemy of your enemy. Seek out Mara. There may be a way to utilize the complicated relationship between those two monsters.”
Recalling Alber’s advice, Eugene realized that to meet Mara, she had to either rely on Rodrigo or make contact with the wanderer. Between the two, she preferred the wanderer over Rodrigo, who could potentially be deceptive. Connecting with Aldrit would have been ideal, but she had no means of contacting him, unaware of his current whereabouts.
Now, however, an opportunity had presented itself to meet a wanderer. It wasn’t just for her own purposes; she couldn’t bear the thought of innocent wanderers falling victim to the monster’s voracious appetite.
“Myung King, Your Majesty, please grant me the wanderer,” Eugene requested with determination.
“Pardon?” Myung King responded, clearly taken aback.
“There is no need for further trade with Sang-je, is there? Or do you believe that capturing all the wanderers is crucial for maintaining order in the world?” Eugene questioned.
“Well… I don’t believe so,” Myung King replied.
“If you entrust the wanderer to me, you won’t have to bear any additional burden regarding the treatment method I provided. Instead, I consider it an excessive repayment on my part,” Eugene explained earnestly.
Myung King, with a light smile, nodded in understanding. “I see. It’s not a difficult task.”
After a brief discussion on when to send the warriors from Flake and the logistics of transferring the wanderer, Eugene and Kasser quietly left Myung King’s mansion, just as they had when they first arrived.
The following morning, Kasser received a report stating that Myung King had visited the palace early in the morning. He furrowed his brow as he read the additional information. It revealed that Sang-je had announced the date and participants of the Celestial Festival—an announcement that came unusually early compared to previous years, typically made about two weeks before the end of the dry season.