Eugene deduced that the creatures’ inclination to follow her was likely connected to Ramita. Slowly, she was becoming attuned to her own identity and could now sense Ramita’s presence. Nevertheless, the extent of Ramita’s abilities still eluded her comprehension.
Ramita possesses the power to bring about the death of larks… She acknowledged that not all larks responded uniformly to this ability. While Sang-je searched for a formidable Ramita to meet its end, the turtle-like creature she had encountered in the sanctuary did not harbor a desire for death.
As her fingers caressed Abu’s head, her mind drifted in contemplation. Back then, both Abu and the little one must have fled because they didn’t want to die.”
Eugene sensed a distinct peculiarity in the behavior of the little one who trailed her, recognized even by the Fire King. This connection extended to the Fire King’s own creature, which responded to Eugene’s presence much like a butterfly drawn to a flower brimming with nectar.
Basically, larks don’t harm Anikas under any circumstances. So whether Ramita is strong or weak, the fact that larks are reacting means something. My Ramita is strong… In metaphorical terms, I’m like a flower that emits a strong fragrance from a distance.
A sudden realization struck Eugene, causing her to withdraw her hand from petting Abu.
“When I turned that giant rat into wood, I was scared, and when Abu and the little one fled from me, I was angry. Both times, it was driven by negative emotions. So… what happens when I’m in a positive emotional state?”
As Eugene pondered this, Abu nestled against her hand, and she sensed something subtle leaving her. Startled, she quickly pulled her hand away, watching in wide-eyed astonishment as Abu rolled on the ground, resembling a cat that had just encountered catnip, radiating satisfaction.
Eugene shifted her gaze between her hand and Abu before turning her head and breaking into a wide, joyful smile as she spotted Kasser approaching. She hurried towards him, playfully pouting.
“Why are you so late?” she asked.
“Sorry,” Kasser apologized. “I was checking the road.”
Kasser made no mention of the bandits that had been tailing their carriage for a while now. It wasn’t the first time such an incident had occurred. Travelers were generally cautious about taking remote routes with lax security. Despite appearing as a group, they were just two people, and their carriage moved at a slow pace, making them appear vulnerable to potential threats.
Kasser furrowed his brow as he observed Abu, who was energetically hopping around.
“Why is that one behaving like that?”
“Kasser, did Abu just call you?”
Kasser recalled that when the two beasts had fled from Eugene earlier, he had sensed the danger they felt and rushed to her side. This suggested that Abu currently didn’t sense any imminent threat.
“What’s going on?” Kasser inquired.
“…Nothing, really. I just gave Abu a little pet, and he seemed to react unusually,” Eugene replied, deciding to delay her explanation for the time being.
Before reboarding the carriage, Kasser retrieved some seeds from his hip pocket and tossed them to Kkoma and Abu. However, Abu’s response was rather peculiar. Normally, he would deftly catch and devour the airborne seeds, but today, he simply watched them descend in front of him and then leisurely picked them up to eat.
Kasser had casually thrown the seeds without paying much attention to the animals’ reactions. It was only Eugene, who was closely observing Abu, that noticed this deviation.
“I should conduct more experiments once he’s fully recovered,” Eugene mused to herself.
The carriage began to move again, and as it swayed, Eugene’s brow furrowed as a familiar queasiness enveloped her stomach.
Almost there now, she thought, taking deep breaths in an attempt to alleviate her discomfort. It’s fortunate I’m not menstruating. Dealing with my period now would have been quite a challenge.
As her expression gradually stiffened, Eugene couldn’t help but wish for the existence of disposable menstrual pads in this world as well.
Until two days after her expected period start date, Eugene had been preoccupied with the uncertainty of when it would arrive. However, after her turbulent ride on Abu followed by a bout of intense vomiting, the matter had completely slipped her mind.
Why hasn’t it come yet? she wondered.
She had heard that in times of crisis, such as during a war, menstruation could naturally cease. But was their current situation truly that dire? Unconsciously, she cradled her lower abdomen with both hands, and the image of the boy resembling Kasser from the glimpse of the future she had witnessed came to mind.
“Ah…” A sudden shiver ran down her spine. The persistent nausea that had been tormenting her had vanished. Her heart pounded so loudly that it seemed to resonate in her ears.
Could it be… a child?
As the possibility of pregnancy crossed her mind, all the pieces of the puzzle fell into place. The unusually severe morning sickness, excessive fatigue, loss of appetite, and sudden food aversions—it all made sense now.
Her eyes blinked rapidly, warmth flooding into them alongside an inexplicable surge of emotions.
“Could we really become parents? Both of us?” she wondered, ready to tap on the carriage wall in sheer excitement, only to withdraw her hand. As her fervent emotions settled, she shook her head, a composed expression returning to her features.
“Not the time to announce it,” she quietly decided.
Certainty was elusive. Her period might simply be running late, and the nausea could easily be attributed to the rigors of their journey.
Considering how Kasser might react to the idea of pregnancy, Eugene envisioned him immediately halting their journey and altering course to locate a doctor. They were nearly at their destination, and she was keen to avoid any disruptions at this juncture.
Ten days had seen her endure the swaying carriage and even take a daring leap off a cliff while riding Abu. If something were amiss with the child, she believed she would have sensed it by now.
Eugene opted to maintain her silence. The carriage continued its course along the prearranged route, and as afternoon approached, the distant Anoti Mountains began to take form on the horizon.
The following morning, the duo finally arrived at the pass leading up into the mountains.