By now, it was routine for Kasser to always pull out the silver platter located to the right of his desk before he’d get any work done in early mornings. The platter held a multitude of letters, promptly delivered by the chamberlain. Scanning the pile of envelopes, he stopped as soon as he saw a single letter with a golden wax seal.
Only the Sang-je used gold wax, which would mean this was an important letter.
These letters were more often than not advisories or notes to the knights and were sometimes categorized as classified, different from the everyday mail he would see on the silver platter.
He quickly snatched the letter, set aside the platter, and hastily unsealed it. As he read through the contents, his face slowly drained of all color before he froze completely.
” Chamberlain!” He called out, and the doors to his office, which was connected to the chamberlain’s smaller office, promptly opened.
“Yes, Your Majesty?” The chamberlain took a step forward as he replied, bowing in greetings.
“When did this mail come through?”
“It was this morning, Your Majesty.”
“Who brought it in?”
“It came early in the morning by a mail coach. There was nothing different in the time, or the postman, Your Majesty. Would you like me to acquire further details?”
“… No. That won’t be necessary,” said the King before he gestured the other away.
Then, Kasser re-read the letter. Trying to commit the letter to memory, dissecting it with great care.
There was no doubt in his mind that it was indeed the Sang-je himself, who’d signed the letter. After all, using the Sang-je’s signature had to undergo a series of procedures to assure authenticity and confidentiality. This was more time consuming than a normal seal.
The king would then receive the letter, delivered by the Sang-je’s knight before the knight would head back with a reply from the receiver to his master.
It’s not a confidential letter, but…
In hindsight, there was nothing special about the letter. It was but a general greeting. However, Kasser wasn’t close enough to exchange personal letters with the Sang-je. He did not feel any need to develop a certain friendship with the Sang-je either. Kasser had married and didn’t need anything further from him.
The Kingdom of Hashi traditionally was literally and figuratively far from the Holy City. Other kings frequented the Holy City. Some spent the active periods in their own kingdoms, and when the dry periods commenced moved to the city.
But the King of Hashi never left his kingdom, save a few occasions to visit the Holy City: when the Sang-je had summoned, and for his marriage.
Kasser never felt comfortable staying in the Holy City. But ever since he was crowned king, he had to visit the Holy City during the start of every dry period. He also needed to get married to procure an heir to the throne. And the best part of being married was that he no longer had to visit the city as often.
He re-read the last line of the Sang-je’s letter.
The gate of the city is always open and will never turn you and your sufferings away. Please convey my regards to Jin Anika as well.
It was merely a formal expression. It was no secret that the Sang-je treasured the Anikas, so it wasn’t unusual that he would send his regards.
But this letter wasn’t an ordinary letter.
The Sang-je would always send out two letters a year, a letter of encouragement before the start of the active period, and a letter of consolation right after the active period. As he had received this letter since he was a prince, he assumed that all the other kings received the same letter.
He pulled out a letter of encouragement he received earlier that year. On the bottom of that letter was the same line. It always said…
The gate of the city is always open and will never turn a blind eye to your sufferings.
Kasser then ordered the page to bring in all the letters from the Sang-je he had ever received as king. He spread out the letters on his desk, comparing them and carefully noting the closing line of each and every letter.
Without fail, they concluded with the same sentence every time. He never paid much thought or attention to that final line; he didn’t regard it as the main message of the letter after all.
How odd! He mused to himself as he studied the latest letter he’d received.
Now that he was reading the line carefully, he realized that they weren’t words of comfort. The words held a greater purpose as if some sort of demand– the kings were required to report to the Sang-je if anything was wrong with the Anikas they were with.
Maybe I’m just over-analyzing this? He didn’t have anything to report to the Sang-je, nor did he need his help.
Except for the queen’s memory loss.
But that was something that he made sure no one outside the palace knew about. There was no way the Sang-je would suspect something had happened in the Kingdom of Hashi. He’d always finished his letters with the same remark. It was nothing new.
Nonetheless, Kasser couldn’t ignore his intuition, the one that’d kept him alive to this point, which told him there was more to this line.
He sat back down and took out a piece of parchment and pen, as he decided to reply, thinking the Sang-je will send a more direct letter if there was anything he needed to say. His hand hovered over the paper in thought, before he wrote down with smooth and swift strokes, articulating everything in a formal and respectful manner.
As he wrote the letter, Kasser pretended nothing was amiss, and that Jin Anika had certainly not lost her memory. Then, he outlined with great care his gratitude at receiving the unexpected letter. He included words of flattery and a few more which held no meaning to him if only to prompt a reply from the Sang-je.
He needed to be careful.