“Her Majesty the Queen.” He immediately answered. “She gave her permission to open the gates, to allow a servant girl to return home.”
Upon hearing Sven’s report, Kasser immediately put the pieces together. Sven wasn’t ordered to keep watch over the gates. No, he was tasked to keep watch over something more important.
He was tasked to spy on the queen.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if Chancellor Verus was trying to keep an eye on the queen. After her disappearance on his watch when the dry season ended, it must have prompted Verus to take measures to avoid it.
To his knowledge, Verus and Jin had a neutral relationship, up until that very moment she tried to escape the desert.
This was exactly how he imagined Verus would react after that incident.
Verus was a perfectionist, even to the point of being paranoid. He was probably thinking along the lines that as the battle progressed, the people would have less focus on her, and it would be the perfect time to pull another stunt as before.
And though he understood where Verus was coming from, Kasser couldn’t help but feel insulted. Not because Verus was overstepping his boundaries, or abusing his power…
It was the sole fact that the queen was suspected that made his blood boil. His logic was completely overridden by his emotions.
“I want you to go, and report to Chancellor Verus, to pull back each and every last one of his men he tasked with spying on the queen!” He hissed at Sven, who flinched. “And tell him, if he does this again, I’ll be the one he’s up against.”
“A-at once, Your Majesty.” Sven stuttered, ready to move to execute his command.
“And tell him, as well…” Kasser called out once again, halting him in his tracks. “This isn’t over yet. I’ll deal with him soon, until then, he’s to stay away from the queen, and the palace.”
“As you wish, Your Majesty.”
And with that, he swiftly left. Kasser let out a deep sigh, before straightening up once more, and called for the chamberlain.
“Did something happen to the general?” he asked as soon as the chamberlain had arrived.
“Nothing, Your Majesty.” He answered, and Kasser frowned as he looked at his empty desk.
Chancellor Verus’ authority only held true when it concerned state affairs. Internal affairs were strictly off-limits, for they were separate things. Only the royal family held such authority on handling these affairs, no one else.
So why is it empty? He thought to himself.
Normally after a long absence, such as now, there would be stacks upon stacks of reports awaiting his approval upon his return, because only he could resolve it. Even when there was nothing but trivial things that had happened, it should still be reported.
Had the general made some mistake? Kasser couldn’t shake off the growing suspicion.
He nodded to the chamberlain before he turned back to him. “And the queen, has she left me any message?” he asked.
The other shook his head.
“None. Your Majesty.”
Then why was she waiting for me? He couldn’t wrap his mind around it.
Not to mention the missing reports, but it wasn’t such an issue as much as confusion. He didn’t need to disturb the general only to end up confronting her. It could have been that the past few days were so uneventful inside the palace, that no one had remembered to make a report.
“Your Majesty, I would also like to inform you that your bath is drawn. Would you like us to assist you?” the chamberlain asked.
Kasser paused at the offer.
Initially, he was only going to pass by to see how things were going so far: lift the ban on going outside and go over critical events and settling important affairs; before heading out once more to clean up the aftermath.
But with the absence of reports, he suddenly had enough time to rest up. He was tempted to accept his offer, after all, it’d been a long time since he’d had the luxury of enjoying a simple thing such as a warm bath, delicious meal, and a decent amount of sleep, especially these past few days.
“All right,” he said.
As if sensing his hurry, the chamberlain even prepared some light snacks for him to eat while he bathed.
When Kasser came out from his bath, he was noticeably more relaxed. For once, his stomach was also not complaining. Ah, he missed this feeling.
As he was getting dressed, the chamberlain once more came up at him and bowed.
“Your Majesty, General Sarah requests an audience with you.”
“Send General to my office; I shall meet with her there.”
“At once, Your Majesty.” The chamberlain bowed and left to relay the message.
When Kasser arrived, he wasn’t surprised to see General Sarah was already there, waiting for him. When she saw him, she greeted him with a bow.
“Your Majesty, it’s wonderful to see you!” she said.
Kasser nodded at her and went behind his desk.
“Wonderful to see you as well, General, excellent work on holding the fort together.”
“I only did my job, Your Majesty.”
“Nonetheless, if it weren’t for you, I would have been reluctant to leave my kingdom unattended for so long.”
“I am flattered with how highly His Majesty thinks of me,” Sarah said humbly, “But truly, it was the queen’s effort you have to thank for. I was merely assisting.”
Kasser tapped his fingers on his desk, scrutinizing Sarah, taking note of her actions and expressions. It didn’t seem like she was telling him simply because it was as expected of her.
“Yes, the queen, which reminds me,” he said, “You opened the gates up for a servant girl, on her orders?” He clarified.
Sarah confirmed it.
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
She then launched on a brief explanation of what happened that led up to the queen, giving her permission to let the servant girl home.
“So why wasn’t there a report about this?”
“The queen has told us she’ll post the report herself and would give it to you upon your return. She’s the one handling all the internal affairs during your absence. We only followed orders.”
It was brief, quick, and concisely answered. Kasser would have believed Sarah at face value before, but since then he’d learned that even the general could keep secrets from him. After all, it was only recently that he learned that Sarah had an uncomfortable relationship with the queen.
She could be keeping silent in fear of upsetting her superior.
“General, I value my people’s opinion most dearly,” he said softly, “If anything feels wrong, you tell me immediately.”
Sarah frowned and shook her head.
“Your Majesty, of course!” She exclaimed. “I’d never dare to deceive you.” She reassured him.
Kasser nodded, satisfied.
After a few more conversations, the general soon left, leaving Kasser on his desk, mulling over things.
Change after change had occurred, and it was all centered around his wife, the queen. At first, he thought the memory loss of the queen was but a small miracle. However, he’d never anticipated it to come along with such significant changes… Much like the growing ripples on still water when a small pebble drops in.
He looked at the window, seeing the still darkened sky and sighed, leaning back on his chair. There was still a long way to go until sunrise.