A voice called out, and when the chamberlain turned around, he saw King Kasser walking towards him. He then greeted him properly, bowing as the king stopped before him.
“Your Majesty, it’s good to see you,” he said and straightened up, “Is there something I could help you with?” he asked.
Kasser nodded then went behind his desk and then sat down.
“Yes.” Kasser answered. “The queen, when does she usually wake up?”
Had he been asked this question some time ago, he would’ve been surprised by the sudden concern the king had for the queen. But now, he could understand where it was coming from, especially when he himself had witnessed how much the royal couple’s relationship had changed.
Fortunately, he took it upon himself to learn the queen’s schedule, that he could give the king a reliable answer.
“Her Majesty the Queen, rises by three in the morning, Your Majesty.”
Time, in Mahar, was set by the Sang-je’s standards. And by his standards, three in the morning was already late.
Kasser stared outside the window, and watched the dark sky, estimating the time. There was still a couple more hours until she awoke.
“Your Majesty, shall I fetch someone to make you tea?” the chamberlain asked.
Kasser shook his head.
“No, thank you,” he said while he stood up from his seat and began to get ready to head out. “If she asks after me, tell her I’ll be back before tomorrow comes.”
The chamberlain nodded.
“Of course, Your Majesty.”
And with that, Kasser left his office. It wasn’t that he had a particular destination in mind, but it wasn’t long until he found himself standing outside of the queen’s chambers, caught in a peculiar mood.
He was only planning on taking a short detour before leaving, when he happened to pass by her room. Slowly, he turned the knob and pushed the door open. He let himself in and closed the door quietly behind him.
Once the door closed with a click, he looked around the room and saw it was dark. He opted out of lighting up a candle and instead used his Praz to see in the dark. And there he saw her, sleeping soundly on her bed.
She looked so peaceful, snuggled soundly on her pillows, her blanket wrapped around her. She looked so beautiful, so innocent…
The Queen waited for your arrival until midnight and fell asleep, Your Majesty.
He felt something in his stomach churn at the thought, and Kasser let out a quiet sigh. He ran his hand through his blue locks. If she was trying to trick him into doing something for her, it was considerably worse than what she did in the past.
Back then, it was clear what he was expected to do and what they each wanted to achieve with being married to each other. He didn’t need to overthink when he knew what the apparent goal was.
For a while, he treated her like he did any other guest staying at his palace, but now… Things rather appeared complicated.
He let out a sigh, and decided it was high time for him to leave. But just when he was about to leave the room, he caught sight of a pile of papers on the queen’s desk. As he scanned its contents, he realized they were all reports made by the general officer.
Taking the papers into his hand, he made his way to the lounge area of the room. He reclined himself on the sofa and began reading. He knew that whenever he left the palace, the general would take it upon herself to go over the affairs and approve them at her own discretion. The reports would later be assessed by the king upon his return.
For matters beyond the general’s jurisdiction, they were instructed to hold off on any decision until the king’s return.
But these reports, though the general might have made them, were different from before. Every incident, big or small, they were all reported to the queen, during the whole emergency period.
In his absence, everything was looked into and even approved by her.
Kasser blinked, looking at the queen’s seal. It was the first he’d ever seen her seal on any official document.
By the time Eugene had woken up, she had called out to Zanne, who came in upon hearing her summon. Eugene sat up, rubbing the sleep off her eyes as Zanne stopped by the foot of her bed.
“Did the king return yesterday?” she asked
“I heard he returned late at night and left this morning, Your Majesty.”
“I see…,” Eugene said softly and thought to herself how difficult it was even to see the king. He must still be busy right now.
Once more, she couldn’t help but compare his packed schedule to her rather free one. While he spent most of his days on his feet, she was doing nothing but sit.
I’m trying my best though, she thought to herself.
Thanks to Marianne’s genius idea of using portraits, Eugene’s knowledge of the people around her had significantly increased. She also took it upon herself to memorize the layout of the palace. She even took the time to visit every place she knew.
Yesterday though, she spent most of her day locked up in her office, going through the papers. It wasn’t much, but she counted it as an achievement as the queen. It also showed that despite the king being away and risking his life on the battlefield, she could help and support him by handling the internal affairs in the palace.
Also, she wanted to give the papers to the king personally. This was why she didn’t have Zanne place them on the his desk even when she was already done with them. Taking a deep breath, Eugene’s eyes drifted to her desk when she thought of the reports.
She paused and blinked. After blinking some more, a frown appeared on her forehead as she searched the room. She got out of her bed and looked below the desk, and then back.
The papers were gone!
It was only when she finally reached her lounge, did she find them on the table, stacked neatly on top. She frowned.
That’s odd! I am certain I left them on the desk by my bed before sleeping.
She was also sure none of the maids had done it. She knew because if one of them touched it, by now, they’d be kneeling in front of her begging for mercy. A bit disconcerting, but true, nonetheless.
“Zanne.” She called out, and the young maid went up to her. “Did someone come to my room while I was asleep?” she asked and gestured to the papers on the table, “Somebody touched my things last night.”
“I shall go and find out at once, Your Grace.” Zanne gasped and bowed before leaving with an urgency in her steps. A few moments later, Marianne entered her chambers and not Zanne.
“Good morning, Your Grace.” The baroness greeted, and Eugene gave her a soft smile.
“Good morning, Marianne. Do you know if-“
“Yes, it was His Majesty the King.” Marianne answered, already anticipating the question. “His Majesty came by your chambers, earlier this morning. I apologize for not noticing as I was asleep. Rest assured I shall post guards by your bed chambers from now on so that this does not happen again.” She reassured Eugene.
And it dawned on Eugene why it was Marianne who came, instead of Zanne. Despite their better rapport with each other, they were still scared of upsetting her. So, Marianne had taken it upon herself to deliver the answer to put her at ease.
Despite being married to each other, Kasser and Eugene still had their privacy, which was well respected between the two of them. As such, he must always ask permission to enter her chambers before doing so. And entering her room, without consent, such as earlier, was considered to be rude.
This wasn’t a case unique only to royal couples, but applicable to any noble couple as well. And she could tell by Marianne’s countenance, that she knew this rule as well.
Marianne, though thoroughly invested in repairing their relationship with each other, respected their personal space.
“Marianne, is there a rule restricting the king from entering my room without former notice?”
“Not exactly, Your Grace.”
“Then it’s not a problem if I allow it.”
As she dismissed the matter and saw the tension leaving the baroness’ body.
“Of course, Your Grace.”
Though an old custom, she was sure there were other couples who freely entered and left each other’s chambers without needing consent, to the extent of even sharing a room. Still, those types of couples were rare.
At that moment, Eugene instinctively understood why Jin kept the king at arm’s length. She had a lot of secrets to hide from him. Should they have had a close relationship, eventually he too, would have invaded her privacy and have figured them all out.
Jin didn’t participate in official matters not only to focus on summoning the Mara. It was also to minimize any contact with the king.
The more she isolated herself, kept her distance from the monarch, the easier it would be for her to summon Mara and execute her plans. It also might have helped her if Kasser did not check up on her wellbeing, hovering around her all day.
Because the king was definitely not the kind of person interested in what others did in their free time, he didn’t bother people with personal questions. Eugene had figured this out in less than a month; Jin probably would’ve too.
The king wasn’t part of her plan from the start. She only made her move when she first came to Hashi and was confident of the king’s personality.