“It’s a sensitive matter, Your Grace, please let me explain to you in private,” she said.
Eugene nodded, following Sarah and Marianne as they went into a more private office. The doors closed behind them, and Eugene turned to them both for a proper explanation.
“I am truly sorry for not informing you of the situation here, Your Grace.” Marianne began.
Marianne wasn’t the type to make excuses, which was why she trusted her the most. Feeling slightly calm, Eugene began to voice her concerns, asking about the flares and its significance.
“The consecutive green flares indicate an emergency warning.” Sarah replied.
“Is it more serious than a red signal flare?”
“Depending on the situation, it can be more dangerous, Your Grace. If a red flare is fired after a green one, it means a Lark has climbed over the rampart and has breached the streets.”
“Would that be an undefeatable Lark by the king?” she asked.
“If that particular situation occurs, it would be a nightmare, Your Grace.” Marianne told her. “No one is able to fight a Lark His Majesty cannot. Fortunately, most of these Larks have only been able to invade the walls simply because they’ve slipped through our soldiers.”
Realizing that they weren’t totally defenseless after all against the attacks, Eugene felt the tension leave from her body and nodded towards them in understanding.
“Do you think the situation will lead to a red signal flare?” she asked after a few moments of tense silence.
“No one knows but there is no need to worry, Your Grace.” Marianne reassured her.
However, Eugene’s brows furrowed as she recalled the multitude of servants outside.
“Then what’s the crowd doing out there?” she asked.
As Marianne looked troubled to answer the question, Sarah stepped forward.
“Your Grace, we are very sorry to have worried you. We have neglected our responsibilities and failed to control the servants, which has caused some trouble.”
“A young servant’s grandmother is home alone. She claims she has difficulty hearing and thinks she would’ve failed to react to the signal flare. Thus, she was requesting to leave the palace to take her grandmother to safety.”
Sarah went strictly by the book and refused the servant’s request. Devastated, the servant cried and begged, but when it didn’t work, she tried to harm herself. Fortunately, she was stopped just in time and avoided a serious injury. She was now taken by the other servants to calm down.
However, Sarah did not inform Eugene of all the details.
“And why is that a problem?”
“No one is allowed to leave or enter the palace when an emergency warning is announced, Your Grace.”
Eugene turned her gaze to Marianne, to which she gave her a grim nod in confirmation.
“As much as we sympathize with the girl, the king’s commands are absolute. It must be obeyed. We cannot risk opening the gates, and have the palace overrun by Larks.”
“But you just said the situation is not that dire.” Eugene countered. “Surely the king wouldn’t stop a girl from going home to her family!”
“That may be true, Your Grace, but-“
“Of course, I cannot judge his orders myself, but we’re not exactly in an appropriate situation where we can go and ask for his permission.”
“Exactly, Your Grace.”
Eugene was lost in deep thought. She could relate with this nameless servant girl, but the situation wouldn’t be so dire that her grandmother would be attacked. The emergency situation will be gone, she was sure of it, the king would return, and everything will be all right once more.
But there were still some factors to consider, not just Larks.
Trouble might befall her grandmother. With her old age, she’s more susceptible to a shock, which could trigger a heart attack. And if no one was there with her, deaf and frail, what if something happened?
“Marianne, is there absolutely no other way?”
“I cannot disobey the king’s orders, Your Grace.”
“Then… do I have the authority to open the palace gates?”
Marianne stared at Eugene, trying to see what she was trying to do, before answering, dropping her gaze to the floor.
“… His Majesty is not too far where his regal powers do not take effect. And he has not explicitly entrusted anyone to open the gates,” she reluctantly said, “In your case, you can place a command to open the gates under your authority and later have your command approved by His Majesty the King.”
Command first and approve later. With power came responsibility.
I have the authority. I am The Queen.
Eugene felt her shoulders go heavy, burdened by the sudden responsibility. It was a similar feeling to when she received the report on the problems of executing the compensations for the missing servant.
She didn’t particularly have to interfere. There was no responsibility to take if she didn’t take any action.
All she had to do was open a gate. But Eugene was seriously conflicted. It wasn’t a matter of being placed in an awkward proposition.
This was the first action she may take after realizing her position and responsibility as a queen. It was different from the time she asked Marianne to give compensation for the missing servant out of sympathy.
“Yes, Your Majesty?” Sarah asked.
“Open the gates. I will take the blame.” She commanded.
Sarah paused for a moment, her gaze shifting from Marianne to the queen, before bowing in obedience.
“As you command, Your Majesty.”
Whenever the king was away, the queen would always assume the throne in his absence. However, usually, there were no royal duties in need of tending to, so the queen needn’t do much but sit on the throne and look pretty.
In the absence of the king and the queen, it was the general officer who would be the highest authority available. Until their monarchs’ return, they would be the one giving commands, which would then be revoked when the king, or queen, returned.
In simpler terms, the Kingdom of Hashi didn’t have much use for a queen, and even then, the general officer’s power and authority came with limitations. However, Eugene refused to be a mere ornament.
Sarah had always believed that during the troubling times, she shouldn’t shoulder the responsibilities alone. That, the more the kingdom should stand together. And as she thought back to the queen, she couldn’t help but smile.
She had a feeling a new order would soon begin in the palace.
And it would be for the better.
“What do you mean the gates have been opened? Go and find out what’s happening immediately.” He demanded
“Yes, Lord Chancellor,” the soldier said and went to do as was ordered.
While the king was out with the soldiers to battle Larks, the kingdom’s administration and defense were under his command. The mansion of Verus became a temporary administrative agency and the Chancellor was given the highest authority.
This was also the case for all kingdoms, not just in Hashi. After all, there should always be a second-in-command left in the kingdom, assisting the king’s rule.