The chief inspector unlocked a heavy padlock, opening two large stone walls that gated the treasure storage. On the other side of the stone gate, was an endless hallway.
Kasser stepped inside, his steps bouncing against the walls of the hallway. It had numerous doors to each side of the hallway, and behind each door were treasures of varying sizes and values.
He continued to walk until he reached the end of the hallway. In front of him was one of the many rooms, but its contents were not only that of a national treasure but also a collection of the most priceless of treasures, including a diary that contained the knowledge of the early days of the establishment of the kingdom. It also had the old seal of the state, the first commemorative coin of the kingdom, along with many others which held great significance over the course of history.
To others who dared steal from his treasure vault, when coming to this room, they may only be a bunch of cheap trinkets. But to Kasser, these items held great historical value.
He paused in front of a stone. It was carved into a small sculpture of two hands which were in a cupping position, one palm delicately cradling the other. It was a testament to the sculpture’s skill and talent for the sculpture captured the softness of the hands, despite being carved into stone.
However, the treasure was not the sculpture, but what the hands held. Or, supposed to be holding.
The treasure was about the size of an egg. It appeared to be black, but according to legends, it appeared that way because of the rich crimson blood that had hardened over it.
What made the queen dare to… he quickly cut off his thoughts before they turned towards a darker road.
The treasure the sculpted hands once held, the one that went missing, was a seed. But this seed had been bathed in blood and had thus failed to germinate. There was nothing left of the seed to grow.
The records from so long ago, before official records had even begun, had told of a Brobdingnagian Lark coming to the Kingdom of Hashi. It had attacked the kingdom, slaughtered, and bathed the streets with blood.
But the Lark did not stop there. It stole the seed, which Kasser’s ancestors had harvested, which was eventually retrieved after its defeat.
In the stories handed down from generation to generation, the treasure was referred to as Lark’s seed. Kasser was skeptical to believe the tales back then. He knew from experience; a Lark’s seed was no larger than his pinky finger.
If it was truly a Lark’s seed, then he couldn’t imagine just how huge the Lark actually was. If it was a true Lark seed, the monster it housed was abnormally large.
Is it appropriate to hide the national treasure that has been stolen?
He was still unsure as to why it was stolen. He thought he would feel more comfortable if an actual valuable treasure had been taken. He stared at the empty hands for some time before he finally turned and left.
Once again, he warned his guards to secure the entrance. He watched the stone gates close and fasten by the padlock. Once he was satisfied that the storage was secured, he turned on his heels and left the vaults.
The royal couple had lunch together in the parlour, as always. They ate quietly, and the gears in Eugene’s mind kept turning as the silence between them continued. When she had finished, she spoke up.
“Your Majesty, I have something I would like to say.”
Kasser met her gaze in a pointed manner and gestured for everyone to leave the room. The servants left without a word, leaving the two alone at the dining table.
No longer did the servants feel nervous at the thought of leaving the two monarchs alone together. They could see that something between the two had begun to change, which was a positive development.
“We can count on this location for every lunch, huh?” Eugene couldn’t figure out why the two never ate in the dining room.
“Well, the dining room isn’t quite the place to have a conversation.” Kasser replied as if reading her mind, leaning back in his chair to face her more properly.
Eugene pictured its high ceilings and nodded in agreement. Voices echoed across the room, and it was too large to feel secure in. Sensing her apprehension, Kasser decided to change the topic.
“I heard you plan to leave the palace after sundown.”
Eugene snapped back to the conversation at hand. “Yes. I wanted to discuss with you which guard to take with me, but there’s another matter I’d like to discuss first,” she said.
She began, but trailed off, his brows furrowed. Eugene watched him carefully, mindful of any change in his expression before she proceeded. And it was clear to her that something was indeed bothering him.
“You said that the Class of Ramita is determined by the depth and width of the image of water in an Anika’s dream. Ranging from a well to a pond.” She began fiddling with her fingers. “I wanted to ask, does a pond have a higher class since it’s wider?” she asked, leaning forward slightly.
Kasser chuckled mirthlessly.
“This isn’t something I can tell you.” He answered, sighing in resignation.
Eugene frowned. “And why not?”
“I don’t have enough knowledge of Ramitas. All I know is that the depth or width of the water doesn’t matter. Anika isn’t something that you assess.”
The queen, Kasser knew before she lost her memory, would never let anyone speak of Anikas in her presence. Anikas generally had high self-esteem, however, hers wasn’t natural pride, it was overconfidence.
But now she brought Anikas up herself. He wondered how she would react when her memory returned, and she’d recall these conversations.
This was also one of the many reasons he wasn’t doubtful of her faking her memory loss. Before, she always rubbed him off in the wrong way, making his blood boil like a fiery sea. However, now, he found himself seeking her out. Her presence now was like a breath of fresh air. Especially after his earlier visit to the treasure vault.
What’s so great about Anikas? Eugene mused, sulking a bit when she found no more answers. She herself was living as an Anika, but she couldn’t understand their elitism.
Perhaps because there wasn’t much reason to begin with on how Jin Anika became the main villain. She had only ever been so sure of her worth, that when it was proven otherwise, she lost the will to fight.
“I’ll be careful with what I say in front of others.” She persisted. “Please, I’m sure you have an answer.” She implored.
Kasser sighed and thought about it long and hard, trying to recall all that he was told.
“Well, it must be the well.” He concluded.
And Eugene frowned…
“A well is deeper than a pond.”
“So, depth is more important than width.” She surmised with a nod.
“Yes. Generally, the deeper it is, the higher the ranking.” Kasser finally answered, and Eugene nodded in understanding. But deep down, she knew that it wasn’t always the case. Her vision from last night, sure it wasn’t that deep, it only reached her ankles after all, but the water was endless.
Surely, someone out there has a better explanation.