“Since we’re on the topic, we might as well look for a potential future Queen among the Anikas gathered today,” Liza suggested.
“It’s not something that can be decided solely by my will, Mother,” Myung King mumbled, stealing glances at Eugene. Kasser noticed and frowned, uncomfortable with the attention Eugene received from various men at the party.
Kasser pulled Eugene closer, wrapping his arm around her waist, and gave Myung King a stern look. Myung King chuckled sarcastically, feeling irritated by Kasser’s possessive display.
Unaware of the subtle power struggle between the two men, Eugene wondered,‘What’s wrong with this man? She felt uncomfortable with such intimate physical contact in this setting and discreetly signaled Kasser to let go.
Eugene’s attention shifted, and she locked eyes with Flora, who appeared utterly puzzled. Flora’s confusion deepened as she gazed at Eugene.
Who is that person?
Feeling a sense of despair, Flora realized how vast the divide between them had become. Jin, standing with the Fourth King and Myung King, engaged in conversation with a middle-aged Anika, seemed like a being from an entirely different realm compared to Flora.
Yet, the more she observed, the more Flora noticed that Jin appeared unfamiliar and even changed. Her expressions and smiles while talking were unlike the Jin she knew.
Why has Jin transformed so drastically?
Eugene was about to call out to Flora when a sudden loud commotion broke out. Her attention shifted to see a path forming through the crowded hall as a warrior, dressed in travel attire, urgently approached the gathering.
The warrior bowed his head respectfully before the Fourth King and delivered an urgent report that could not wait.
“What is the matter?” Kasser inquired.
“Your Majesty, it’s an urgent message that cannot be delayed for a moment.”
“I’ll be back shortly, my Queen,” Kasser said to Eugene.
“Yes, Your Highness,” Eugene replied, clasping her hands together anxiously. Her heart raced. The escape plan had been set in motion.
Kasser didn’t venture far from the gathering. He and the warrior found a secluded balcony, guarded by others. The king’s grave expression, visible through the partially drawn curtains, indicated that he took the warrior’s message seriously.
After a short while, Kasser emerged from the balcony and approached Dana and Patrick for a serious discussion. He nodded to them before turning to Eugene. Their exchange was brief, and then Eugene followed Kasser as he made his way toward the exit.
The previously lively atmosphere in the party hall suddenly subdued. Whispers filled the air as people speculated on what might be happening.
“What’s going on?”
“I’m not sure, but something serious seems to have occurred in the kingdom.”
“Look at the Fourth King. He’s trying to hide it, but he looks tense.”
“Is he leaving the city like this?”
All eyes followed the king and queen as they stood by the entrance, engrossed in conversation. The king held his wife’s hand, brought it to his lips, and gently kissed the back of her hand. It was a fleeting and tender gesture, but gasps of surprise echoed throughout the hall.
The king turned and disappeared through the exit. Eugene lingered for a while, looking poignant and unable to leave. The onlookers’ faces reflected a mix of emotions. The scene of two lovers parting with heartache touched their hearts deeply.
“When I first heard the rumors, I couldn’t believe it,” someone whispered.
“After the party started, they were together the whole time,” another voice chimed in.
“At first, it was surprising… but the way the King and Anika care for each other doesn’t seem strange at all. They seem to complement each other perfectly,” a third person murmured.
These whispers floated from different corners, stirring a mix of emotions among the Anikas. They had previously assumed that a marriage between the King and an Anika would be a source of unhappiness. They saw it as a sign of being undervalued, a miserable fate imposed by the Emperor’s order.
However, today was different. Anika Jin appeared incredibly happy, radiant and shining, undeniably the center of attention. Unbelievably, the king’s eyes held immense tenderness as he looked at her, as if he sincerely loved his wife.
“Why does she have everything?” Flora murmured, her expression darkening. She watched Eugene heading towards her parents and then turned away.
Meanwhile, the king and the warriors rode their horses at full speed, rushing towards the Holy City’s Palace.