“Anyways, I’ll send over an official invitation. Unless there is an inevitable reason, she won’t reject the invitation, so don’t worry. Whatever feeling she has towards you is personal, and that shouldn’t come between you and her in official affairs.” Kasser explained to her further.
Eugene slowly nodded. He did have a point.
“But you have to be respectful.” Kasser continued. “You can’t ask her things like the image of water she saw in her dream.”
“Yes, of course, I know that,” said Eugene.
Kasser studied her face to make sure she wasn’t only saying things he wanted to hear.
“Jin, I know it is important for you to understand yourself, but you need to be more aware that you are an Anika yourself.”
“Okay, I’ll make sure to remember that.” Eugene replied obediently, but inwardly, she felt defiant.
She always felt that the social class of Anikas was overestimated in Mahar. At least the kings used their Praz to fight the Larks and protect the kingdom, but what did the queens ever do? Give birth to a prince? But that thought alone, for her, wasn’t enough for Anikas to be treated with privilege.
I guess I have to meet with the Sang-je after all. I don’t think the Princess of Sloan will be of any help.
Eugene mulled over before sensing Kasser’s gaze on her. She looked up and stared right back at him.
“Is there anything else Your Majesty wants to say?” Eugene asked him.
Kasser shook his head. It never ceased to amaze him how drastic her changes were.
Years ago, Kasser remembered how he’d once scolded Jin for treating his servants with unnecessary cruelty. At first, he addressed this to her in a mannerly fashion, but as her behavior progressed more violently, he started to raise his voice at her. Whenever he did, the queen would always reply the same way.
“Leave me alone. I am in charge of what goes around in the palace.”
Kasser believed that the fundamental essence of a person was constant. But looking at Jin now, he doubted himself whether that was really the case.
“You asked me if Anikas also see a lake or a river. I just remembered something. Remember the old tree in the middle of the main square in the Holy City?” Kasser suddenly said.
“Yes, I remember that.” Eugene replied.
She didn’t need Kasser to describe it to her, for she remembered every detail she saw in the main square, she could even draw it if someone asked her to. The main square was the centre of her story in the novel. She dedicated pages and pages to describe the square, so it was obvious she knew the tree very well.
In the center of the main square of the Holy City, there stood an old tree planted over a thousand years ago. The tree was so vast, that it required many people to hug the tree trunk, arms spread wide, to go around it once. Its lush branches and leaves were so thick, it covered the sun, creating a huge shadow that blanketed nearly every inch of the square.
Legend has it that centuries before, the tree germinated from a single Lark seed triggered by an Anika’s touch.
The tree was far too old to blossom flowers or bear fruits, nonetheless, offering a cool shelter from the sun during the hottest of summer days. The people of the city were grateful for the tree and acknowledged it as a symbol of theirs.
When Jin attacked the city with an army of Mara, the tree was upheaved mercilessly and ruthlessly. The Sang-je tried to bring the tree back to life, but he had miserably failed. Only a small stump remained in its place. And though justice had been won, the scars left behind were permanent damage. The stump stood as a clear testimony of their losses in the war.
“Apparently, the seed of that tree was purple.”
Lark seeds were of seven colors. And inside a purple seed, the most powerful Lark lay asleep.
“I heard that the Anika that was responsible for the blossoming of the tree had seen a lake in her dreams.”
“A lake…?” Eugene repeated.
“A pond, well, reservoir and a lake.” Kasser explained.
“So, none of them are running waters.” She concluded.
Eugene understood then that Ramitas were examples of finite water. However, flowing water could be replenished regardless of how much you take from it. But still, the thing about flowing waters is that you’ll never be able to touch the same water as you did, even a second ago.
So, is the lake the highest grade? Then what was that I saw in my dream? Was it just a silly dream after all? Eugene grew more and more confused.
“Anyways, what did you have in mind about the guards when you leave the palace?” Seeing her immersed in thoughts, Kasser asked to shift the topic.
“I don’t want anything too grand.”
“It depends on where you’re going.”
“Well, today… maybe just the market? I’m not planning to go anywhere too far. As I said, I don’t remember anything, and I don’t want to overload myself.”
The queen only went in and out of her study and not anywhere else in the palace. He still couldn’t understand why she restrained herself so much.
The queen he knew wasn’t an introvert. The first time he saw her was in a ballroom, roaming around and talking to everyone as if she had lived there.
She always had someone beside her and was proficient at talking to people. She looked comfortable in extravagant parties. She would’ve enjoyed high society meetings and meeting new people. But after they got married, she didn’t take any interest in high society meetings in the Kingdom of Hashi.
“Five… no, five guards are not enough,” Kasser said, coming back from his reminiscence.
“What do you mean not enough? Five guards are more than enough. I was thinking maybe just one.” Eugene rebuffed.
“I cannot let you out with only one guard!” Kasser rejected her idea.
“Having five guards around me is definitely going to look suspicious.” Eugene argued.
“Five is the absolute minimum I will allow.” He persisted, but Eugene was fuming.
“One.” Eugene negotiated.
“Five or nothing. You won’t be allowed to step out otherwise.”
“You said that I wouldn’t need your permission…!” Eugene raised her voice. This only triggered Kasser to raise his voice too.
“I made myself clear that you need to be put under escort! I’m letting you go out with the best guards so that I don’t have to worry about what you do or where you go!”
“But five large soldiers are going to stand out in the crowd!”
“That’s what guards are for!” Kasser stood his ground, the frustration seeping in his tone. “You need to protect yourself before something happens, not after. It’s important that no one even attempts to attack you!”
Eugene glared at him, realizing they would never meet an agreement. It was unfair, she wasn’t helpless, she was incensed.
“Then why don’t you just come with me?” She suggested sarcastically.
But Kasser latched on to the idea like a bee would honey.
“Yes. Perhaps that would be better.” He didn’t waste a breath to agree.
“It’s going to be a quick look around… what?!” Eugene suddenly realized what he had said. “You are… really going to go with me?”