Whenever Eugene woke up, she had made it a point to listen for news on what had happened the night before. This made her the royal family’s commander. Thus, all the important information was reported to her.
There she learned more about the people in the castle. She learned the many systems based on gender, ranks, age. She also learned about the inventory, how long they have with the stored food, as well as the daily necessities.
She even learned there was an air raid bunker placed deep within the palace’s basement.
This shelter was explicitly made for the heir or successor of the king and queen. It also had enough provisions that could last for a year for a handful of people.
“Many died yesterday.” She sighed, frustration taking over her as she looked over the reports Marianne had given her.
On the first day, with the yellow flare, there were only some who ended up injured but no casualties. But as the fight went on, eventually the first casualty happened, and then the next, and the next.
One by one, bodies dropped dead and the people began to get exhausted by the constant fighting.
“Marianne.” Eugene softly called out as she buried her face in her hands before she straightened up to look at the baroness. “You said this was the first time these many casualties ever occurred since His Majesty ascended?”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
“Is it because of me?” She worried, muttering to herself.
It was highly possible. Her presence could have had a negative effect on Mahar, the world where she didn’t belong. It could also be the reason why there were so many inconsistencies in the story she knew she created.
The setting for one, it was subtle, but it was different from what she remembered. Information and facts that she didn’t even create existed in the world. Her story was spiraling out of control.
All this was her fault, she was distressed. She couldn’t help but feel responsible for the poor man who couldn’t go home because he was off to fight the war. She felt guilty for those who died.
Contrary to the turmoil happening outside, inside the palace walls, everyone went about their duties. But it was clear that despite the calmness they’re portraying, their eyes told her they were anything but calm.
Despite their faith that their king would make it, in the back of their minds, they were resigned to die at any given moment.
“You worry too much, Your Majesty.” Marianne reprimanded softly. “Come, let’s get you back to your room. You look rather pale.” She pointed out.
Eugene sighed, rubbing her face, she let out a deep breath.
She admitted she couldn’t find it in herself to sleep. Even if she was dead tired.
“It’s not like I can do much but sit here and worry.”
“You’re doing rather well if I do say so myself.” Marianne said, “The fact that you are here, staying strong and waiting for a certain return is a great source of comfort for your people.”
As much as it was meant to comfort her, Eugene couldn’t help but regret it. She couldn’t even wish Kasser good luck when he went off jumping out the window a few days ago. She had been too complacent, she knew now.
She had thought everything would be over in just a few hours, and come evening, everything would return to normal. But it wasn’t so.
Suddenly a maid came into the throne room and bowed in respect before speaking.
“Your Majesty, the general wishes to speak with you,” she said.
Eugene straightened up.
“Invite them in.”
Marianne then stood up from her seat and walked to the exit. “I shall give you your privacy.” She told Eugene, who in turn, nodded.
When Marianne left, Sarah soon came in and stood in front of Eugene. It had become a routine these past few days that Sarah would come several times to give the queen the report on the progress of the events.
Most of the time, these reports were just that, reports, and Eugene wouldn’t need to make a decision, because Sarah would have handled it already. But that was not the case this time.
After making her report, Eugene frowned in concern.
“Yes, Your Majesty,” she said, “It’s not a serious disease, but it is contagious. There are two other women as well who have shown the same symptoms: fever, headache, and cough since yesterday morning. For now, they’ve been quarantined.”
As Eugene listened, she couldn’t help but feel like it was just a simple cold.
“They also complain that the headaches are too severe, and request painkillers.”
In emergency situations such as these, it was imperative they use the medicine sparingly, which was why they needed approval from the highest authority to be able to use them. Painkillers, if accessible to everyone, could be used in the wrong ways. Hence, before, the sick would just have to make do with home remedies and hope they’d get better soon. But now, they sought permission from the highest authority.”
After thinking about it a little more, Eugene gave her permission.
“Give them some,” she said to Sarah, “I’m sure this will be over quickly, and His Majesty will sort everything when he returns.”
“Yes, Your Majesty.” She replied. “We believe that as well.”
With that Sarah swiftly left to head towards the patients and give them the painkillers.
When she was alone once more, Eugene slumped in her seat and rubbed her eyes.
This was harder than she’d thought. She knew, being a leader was no picnic, but the sheer responsibilities resting on her was becoming unbearable, overwhelming her. Her word in the palace was law, and it scared her all the more.
She gave herself a dry smile as she thought about Jin.
“How wonderful of you to sit here, and just do nothing.” She remarked to Jin, quite aware the character was all but dead in spirit.
Jin had sacrificed the kingdom, even its people, just to summon the dark magic, Mara. And when the Lark army attacked the Kingdom of Hashi, powered by Mara, there were severe casualties.
Eugene didn’t know exactly how many, but she was certain it couldn’t be compared to the losses over the past four days.
It was certainly more tragic when the Five Kings were forced to wander around the world, hunting down Jin, and leave the kingdom defenseless. The kingdoms they so desperately wanted to protect.
She stood up and went to look out the window. Her gaze trailed up the sky and saw nothing but the clear blues until a flare suddenly erupted.
Blue smoke spread throughout the skies, and Eugene’s eyes widened in relief.
“Ah…” She sighed out aloud.
Suddenly the throne room’s doors burst open.
Eugene turned around and saw Marianne come up towards her, her eyes full of tears, as she gave her a wide smile. Eugene felt her own eyes water, as her sobs choked, her throat tightened.
It was finally over.
Everyone who had seen the smoke held their breaths as they watched the blue smoke spread out farther and farther.
After a brief moment of silence, a resounding cheer erupted echoing until everyone joined in, causing a deafening roar. Everyone, even those who couldn’t keep their feet standing, let out a mighty yell of victory, pouring every last energy towards that one shout.
Kasser heaved his breath, sweat rolling down his body as he basked in the sun’s glory, head held high as he listened to his kingdom’s cheers. With one last strike, he stabbed his sword into the sand beside him as the last of the Larks turned to dust.
For four days, he swung without rest, only stopping at sunset, and beginning once more at sunrise.
With the battle over and the adrenaline gone, he could feel his body seize up in exhaustion. The fatigue was overwhelming, but he couldn’t stop yet.
He still had the aftermath to clean up.
“Your Majesty!” Lester ran over, a wide smile on her face, proud and victorious. “Only the Kingdom of Hashi could fight against a group as large as that and win!”
At the sight of her, Kasser frowned in concern. Lester was laughing in joy, but the bandage around her head was disconcerting, especially since he hadn’t seen it yesterday, which meant it was fairly new.
“What happened?” he asked, “Can you not handle a simple Class- Yellow Lark?”
Lester appeared sheepish.
“I have no excuses, Your Majesty. My forehead was injured.”
“And has someone treated it properly?”
“It’s nothing but a flesh wound, Your Majesty.” She reassured and escorted him back to the palace. “Please, rest up, you’ve barely slept these four days,” she said, the concern for his king’s well-being apparent.
“No, not yet.” He refused, keeping his posture tall and limbs moving, “We need to know how many have died.”
Lester’s smile fell before a serious look crossed over her face and nodded in assent to comply with her king’s wishes, following him all the way.
She could’ve pressed harder but knew how stubborn their king was. He wouldn’t rest until everything was resolved, and he wouldn’t be the one to break that habit.
When Kasser finally reached the castle, dawn had yet to appear. He thought of stopping by for a moment, to ask how things had been before heading out once more.
After all, there was still plenty more to clean up outside the palace. However, inside was a different story. It would only open upon the king’s return—everyone else should be stuck inside until then.