The meeting Kasser had called Marianne to was a private one. The latter was not unused to these kinds of meetings, being one of the king’s most trusted staff and all, but the slightest change in routine was enough to set her on edge these days. She had to admit–these were her most trying times.
“Did you show it to her?” Kasser asked even as she entered.
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
“She does not remember, Your Majesty.”
“She didn’t recognize Count Wacommbe?” Kasser clarified. There seemed to be a hint of surprise in his tone.
“Yes, Your Majesty. She did not recognize him and did not realize that Count Wacommbe is at the Holy City.”
Kasser had summoned Marianne to discuss the portraits she’d just shown to Eugene. These portraits looked easy, but a great deal of time and money was spent to bring them about. To draw the portraits, skilled and reticent artists were required to be secretly recruited. Then, an equally adept and reticent person would provide a description for the artists. This required financial resources and accurate information, therefore the help of the king.
At first, Kasser disapproved of her request. He did not want to pressure the queen, but Marianne had strongly insisted.
“Your Majesty, things tend to go out of control the more you try to control it. I believe it is best to lead the queen to recall her memory slowly.” Marianne had advised.
Kasser inevitably approved her request but was unhappy that the first portrait she chose to show the queen was Count Wacommbe’s.
Count Wacommbe was a regular guest of the queen’s. They met during their time in the Holy City. Even more, he was the queen’s dealer for antique books, a deep obsession with Jin Anika. Marianne was certain the queen would be able to recognize this man.
She did not recognize him? The king let out a sigh of relief. This was the result he had been hoping for.
“Did the queen look as if she was trying to recall something? Do you suspect she was hiding anything?”
“I do not know, Your Majesty. If I may, has Your Majesty sensed any progress with the queen? You have been spending a lot of time together these past few days.”
Kasser was speechless. Yes, he spent every night in the queen’s chambers. No, he was still unprepared for a confrontation. He had spent a greater number of nights with the queen in the last three to ten days than he had over the last three years.
However, he had nothing to tell Marianne.
The hours he spent with Eugene, he spent learning her body. The moment he entered her room, he would sweep her into a passionate kiss. Soon after, he would find himself climbing on top of her…
The nights he spent with her were too short, and it was impossible to spare a minute of conversation. He would enjoy her until she would push him over, begging that they rest in peace.
Yet, it seemed like the time they shared was worthwhile. Kasser now knew her better. He could now distinguish Eugene’s facial expressions – the glint in her eyes when he kissed her, the squirms when he caressed her, her flushed face when she peaked, the languid one when she was spent. And, if she was annoyed, he had to keep his hands to himself and let her sleep. Though they’re merely expressions, to him, they were the windows to understanding her. Perhaps, even getting closer?
Kasser put aside his emotions and wore an unreadable expression as a front to Marianne. He could not explain any of the scenes that were going through his head. It was better that he rather looked concerned.
Marianne spoke as if she understood. “No one can know unless Her Royal Highness speaks the truth.”
Kasser cleared his throat before he spoke, trying to regain a rather normal tone. “Report immediately if you suspect anything.”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
Marianne anxiously left the office. She had lied to the King. She did suspect something, but for some reason, she just couldn’t bring herself to loosen her tongue and report it.
The queen’s memory didn’t seem to be any better. But…
At first, she was amazed at how much the queen had changed and was glad to earn her trust. But now, it all felt wrong. The queen was overly calm despite the fact she had lost her memory. She didn’t show a hint of confusion or despair. The doctors claimed that memory-loss patients often suffered from an unstable state of mind, and therefore constantly needed someone around to take care of them.
However, the queen did not show any of the symptoms the doctors anticipated. If anything, she was more upbeat and curious. Asking questions about her past, the kingdom, spending time in her study and even giving orders; how could someone with an unstable mind do so?
Even her mannerisms had changed- speech, gestures, movements. Could memory-loss affect habits as well?
It wasn’t a worrying observation, so Marianne didn’t want to report to the king and create unnecessary concerns. If Marianne had served the queen for a long period, she would have clearly been suspicious. However, she had been away for a long time and did not know the queen very well.
Any of the servants that had worked close to the queen had all gone missing. There was no one to inform how much the queen had changed clearly. Thought of the queen consumed Marianne as she walked, trying to convince her guilty conscience of her right doing.
The king’s retainer visited Eugene that night. Being on her period, she was able to turn the servant away easily.
Eugene slept in her bed alone for the first time in a long time. It looked like she had found her much-needed respite. Tonight, she slept like a baby.
The next day, she woke up early, stretching her body. As she did so, she was surprised to feel as light as a feather.
Oh, I feel amazing!
She was in her best condition despite being on her period, and this was a first.
Eugene’s body was typically battered during her period. She had the worst stomach cramps and had to rely on pain killers all week. Before the week was even over, she would have undergone a nightmare of pain. But in Jin Anika’s body, she felt a slightly heavyweight in her lower abdomen, but that was all. There was no other discomfort and not the dreaded cramps. She liked this change a lot, and it showed in her actions.
Today, Eugene started her day in a cheerful mood. She pulled out a pile of books from the very back of the bookshelf, hoping to find a secret door. When she couldn’t, she placed the book back and moved on to the next shelf.
She was about to pull another pile of books out, but then thinking of something, let out a sigh, and walked around the study with her hands on her hips instead. The study was huge and full of books. If she went on like this, it would take her forever to finish. She had to find a faster way.
However, she had no idea what she was looking for. It felt like seeking a needle in a haystack! She flopped onto the sofa in the middle of the room for a break. On the coffee table was another pile of antique books she had pulled out of the small room adjacent to the study.
Eugene opened a book with a symbol of Mara on its cover.
Maybe I should be reading this book. I do need to learn about Mara.
It was a world that Eugene had herself created, but there were a lot of things she did not know. She only had knowledge about major events and the people involved- the things she wrote.
As she continued to live in this world, she realized that there were considerable gaps and differences between what she had written and what welcomed her when she transmigrated.
Focusing on the whole instead of the details wasn’t helpful at all.
Finding a comfortable position, Eugene began to study the book of Mara. She was relieved to be able to read it with ease; this way, she could bridge the gaps and hopefully find clues.
Some time into the book, her hand paused at the turning of a page. She seemed to have spotted something odd. She furrowed her brows and flipped the page front and backward, searching. A small gasp emitted from her lips as she noticed one thing.
A part was missing…