“Everyone, please leave.” She ordered.
The servants bowed and left the room. Now that they were by themselves, Eugene explained the situation to Marianne.
“I don’t know if the maids will find me weird over this. But I overreacted like it was my first time seeing it.”
“Do not worry, Your Grace,” Marianne said, smiling softly when Eugene frowned. “I must make sure word of this will not spread. His Highness works tirelessly for all of us; the last thing his subordinates must do is to gossip about their queen.”
Marianne continued. “The king would surely be back just before sunset to be with you.”
“Just to be with me? May I ask what you are insinuating?”
Marianne hesitated a little before speaking carefully. “Since you’ve been ill, Your Grace, the king always goes out before sunrise and comes back at sunset. Before, he rarely stayed in the castle, working even at night.”
“I thought he only works in his study all day long…”
A shake of her head, Marianne smiled. “He used to work during the night as well, Your Grace. But…”
Eugene looked down and stared at the recently emptied teacup she had been fumbling with her hands. Her ears felt like they were burning.
It seemed that during this active period, there would be long working hours late into the night. Even so, he had always visited her every night.
“Your Grace, this might be impudent of me, but if I may speak freely… It’s really good to see both of you getting along nicely. Please forgive the king whenever he commits a mistake—though I’m not saying that you should always forgive him… He is just not good at expressing his feelings.”
Marianne’s voice wavered a little as she spoke. As Eugene looked up, she saw Marianne’s face with bloodshot eyes.
She was moved by Marianne’s genuine concern for the king. She had presumed that the king has a complicated family background. But since Marianne stood by his side, he had not gone astray and grew up well.
Having this conversation, Eugene somehow felt envious of the king. If someone like Marianne had stood with her since she was young, she imagined that her life would not be difficult.
“Marianne,” She called out softly and the baroness looked up at her. “I know the king is a good man,” she said with a gentle smile, and Marianne returned her with a beaming smile herself.
“Yes, he is truly kind with a gentle heart.” She finished.
Marianne pulled away from her with a confused look upon her face.
Kind and gentle-hearted?
No matter how hard he tried to show that, those words never did suit him. It also wasn’t one she’d associate with him, despite knowing the king the most.
“The king himself will be touring me around later.” Eugene stated, and Marianne blinked.
“Really? The king himself?”
Marianne found her lips curling up to an amused smile. She thought that the couple was finally becoming like a real couple. She felt like she’d been relieved of a heavy burden.
“I will be preparing for your tour outside later,” she said, giving Eugene one last smile and patted her knees softly.
Marianne’s thoughts drifted to her yesterday’s meeting with the king. He looked like he wanted to speak to her about something important, to tell her why he wished for everyone’s attention.
Marianne’s lips curled up ever so slightly, hardly noticeable to those around her.
“Can I send Lord Chamberlain over today?” Eugene inquired, which only made the other chuckle in amusement at her eagerness.
Marianne shook her head in response.
“Perhaps tomorrow, my queen,” she said.
The weather today was appropriate for touring around the market. It wasn’t too hot, and the wind was gently blowing around cool air.
Perhaps this would be one of those moments that could further improve their relationship and bring the married couple closer. A stepping stone for their relationship, one where they can learn to work together to overcome whatever hardships life would throw their way.
For now, all Marianne could do was to ensure there would be a warm bath for the queen later tonight.
The black leopard that was carrying the king ran across the walls. It seemed to soar through the air as it leaped in long distances.
There was misty blue energy surrounding the king’s body as he rode on top of Abu. Once an average person climbs on Abu’s back, he would not be able to endure a minute and would be forced to back off.
The shouting of the soldiers could not be heard even as they approached the wall. Rows and rows of soldiers were lined up. Their eyes were burning with hidden valor as they waited patiently and silently for the flare to burst once more.
It was a useless warning. Kasser only climbed up the walls once while riding Abu. The king’s expression hardened as he reached the top of the wall and looked towards the desert.
The sand of the yellow desert stretched out as far as the eyes could see. And not too far yet not too close to them either, the king spotted them.
There were black dots scattered across the sands, moving in synchronicity, running at high speeds directly towards them. At that distance, the Larks almost looked like an army of ants.
He couldn’t estimate precisely how many they were headed towards them, but he was certain it was no less than an army’s worth.
Lester approached his side. There was a grim look in her eyes, like a warrior who’s seen the end of the battle.
“It’s Class Yellow.” She told the king.
A Class Yellow meant they were up against Ant Larks. These types of Larks weren’t that dangerous and were just about the size of a large dog. Warriors could hunt them down easily but would usually take a pair of ordinary soldiers to take them down.
But the tricky part in fighting against them was not their strength. Ant Larks didn’t have much in terms of combat prowess, but what they lacked in strength, they more than made up for it in numbers.
“Raise the green flare.”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
Lester turned around and waved her hand. After a while, the soldiers fired the green flare, which exploded in the sky. Then another green flare went off.
The series of green flares would serve as a good warning to the people of the city. Women and children, the elderly, and sick would hide in their shelters. All business transactions would be suspended, and stores closed.
The strong young men would stop what they were doing and only build defenses throughout the capital. Every house would have its spear and bow. Officials would quickly distribute oiled weapons.
“I’ll go down and provoke it. Lester, you take command here.”
“The opponents want a time fight. When a warrior gets hurt in a war like this, the damage will be serious. If the first line of defense breaks, raise the green flare again. If the second line of defense breaks, raise the red flare. “
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
“Let’s go, Abu.” He told his trusted steed and lowered his body until he was lying flat on his chest against Abu’s back.
The black leopard leapt off the wall and towards the desert. The king steadfastly sprinted towards the colony of Ant Larks, equipped with nothing but his sword and courage.
Lester watched from her post; fists clenched tightly at the sides as she waited in anxious anticipation. It could end up brutally; it looked impossible to win.
However, she had faith in her monarch.