Returning to her chamber, Eugene summoned Marianne. When she learned that she was asked to come in because of the explosion, Marianne anxiously queried.
“My queen! Did that surprise you?”
“No, it’s no big deal. If anything, everyone seems to be calm.”
“Yes, you don’t have to worry. Now that His Majesty has gone over, a blue flare will come up soon. The first signal is a warning alert, and once the danger is cleared, they will fire a blue one.”
“Does His Majesty always lead the troops?”
“Yes, my queen. Day and night, he attends to the kingdom’s security. Once he steps forward, there is stability with minimal damage.”
Marianne’s words expressed her respect for the king, not as his nanny but as his subject.
Eugene nodded in assent. Not all kings took the lead in the hunt for Larks.
Take King Ferred. This Dark King in the novel was vexed with the hunt for Larks. King Yeowang liked to flaunt his strength, so he went hunting only strong Larks for his own satisfaction. They were not tyrants, but neither were they saints.
Then, Kasser must be a good king.
Eugene’s novel did not feature the king as a martial one, because the Kingdom of Hashi was only mentioned by geographical names and the main focus was the Holy City. In the novel, he was a strong warrior rather than a martial king.
“Do you distinguish the flare signals by color?”
“Yes, my queen.”
Thus, Marianne went on to explain the system of the flares. Yellow was for spotting the Larks outside the walls, green when it was completely over the walls, and red when it was seen in the city.
The yellow flare exploded several times a day when there were many Larks roaming which was usually once every four days. There were times when there were no green signals during the active period, an average of three or four times.
A red flare implied human casualty. The walls were manned by heavily armed soldiers who could quickly deal with the beast, the probability of Lark appearing on the streets of defenseless beings was low.
“How many times does red flare appear during the active period?”
“At least a couple of times.”
Eugene was embarrassed because the number was more than she’d imagined. Marianne’s words meant that there were always casualties during each active period.
“Have you ever had a red signal recently?”
“No, my queen.”
Looking carefully at Eugene’s face as if she didn’t want to miss the other’s slightest reaction, Marianne asked, “Have you looked around your study? Are you able to recollect something?”
“It was strange as if I have never been there before. But ….”
“What was the problem?”
“Well… I found a strange book. Mara… with a strange picture…”
“Oh…” Marianne just smiled, not in the least perturbed. “Some of the older books have such things.”
“Is it okay to have a book like that?”
“It’s taboo, but books are just books. I heard that books about Mara are especially popular with collectors because of the many colorful illustrations.” Marianne explained.
Oh, I see. Eugene gathered a clue from Marianne’s words.
Jin Anika, you sure used your brain. Collecting those books, so no one would suspect you if you were to include a book on Mara.
Eugene was certain. The study was an unmistakable ruse. There must be a secret altar somewhere in it. Jin Anika wasn’t simply digging for knowledge about Mara out of academic curiosity. She must have found a way somewhere to reach the forbidden power and was going to be the incarnation of Mara in the future.
Of course, I won’t let that happen!
Eugene reined in her impatience. If she went around looking for an altar, chances were she might find one. By doing so, memories of Jin might slowly surface in her mind. Jin Anika couldn’t have hidden it carelessly. Eugene felt determined. She must leave no stone unturned.
“You said I brought a lot of books when I came to the kingdom, didn’t you?”
“It was so, my queen.”
“I want to find a way to distinguish between the books I brought and the ones I collected after.”
“I’m sure the queen has arranged it separately, but you can’t remember it now. If so, would you like to check your expenditure? You won’t have to go into details, but you’ll be able to figure out the cost of buying the book every month.”
“That’s a good idea.”
Soon after, Eugene was able to receive the budget and expense details allotted to the queen this year.
“I brought you this year’s data that you can peruse quickly. More detailed specifications over the past few years need time to sort out.”
Half a year had passed, so the data Marianne brought over was about a half-years’ worth.
Money is the standard unit. What a relief!
Eugene roughly knew the value of gold, the largest unit of currency, even though she didn’t know the price of daily necessities.
“Thank you. I’ll take a slow look at it myself.”
“Very well, my queen.”
Once everybody had withdrawn, Eugene meticulously went through the papers. Her face grew stiff and her lips slightly flinched. The hand on the document itself gave way.
Crazy! Two books and this price? An old book is almost worth a house!’
Jin Anika rarely socialized, so she didn’t spend much money on luxuries such as clothes and jewelry. It’s not that she didn’t use her resources at all but spending hundreds of millions a month for books was simply overwhelming. Such a waste of money! Not only that, all that money came from the royal treasury intended for the kingdom.
What a b*tch! You bought books with the money the king gave you, learned Mara’s tricks with the knowledge you gained from them, and gained strength by sacrificing the people of the kingdom!
Would other kingdoms allocate this much money to their queen? This huge amount could feed hundreds of people for years.
Because the kingdom is prosperous? Was that why Jin Anika married the king?
Eugene raised her head in surprise. She jumped up and ran to the window. Looking out, she saw blue smoke spreading in the sky.
About the people living in a world where monsters appeared every day, Eugene could finally understand how they remained calm. It was because there was a king to protect them at all costs and at all times.
Feeling a strong sense of relief, Eugene let out a small laugh.