Eugene had designed the plaza in the Holy City purely from her imagination, and in the middle of it was a huge tree for a centerpiece.
Around the plaza were families, lovers, and friends strolling, having fun, with smiles on their faces. Some were even sitting on the wooden benches underneath the tree.
She found herself even more excited now that she was seeing it in person. Though the palace was amazing, it seemed so unrealistic. The plaza, on the other hand, was much more familiar and thus made it more impressive.
In Mahar, the people Eugene had been around were only normal people. So different from her original world, the life she had once lived in.
Where… where am I standing?
Was she truly standing in the middle of her novel? Was it possible to create a world with only her imagination?
Eugene jumped. She looked down and realized she was holding his hand tightly. When she tried to let go, he held hers more tightly.
She looked up and met his eyes.
“Do you want to go back?” he said.
His voice was filled with worry. Eugene shook her head.
“No, I’m just a little startled. It’s more peaceful than what I imagined. It’s as if nothing has happened here.”
Kasser looked back at his people with a new perspective. Some people might have died yesterday, but the survivors must live on. He thought it would be difficult for her to understand their lives, so full of war. So full of death.
“I want you to get used to it, too.”
“I didn’t say I don’t- “
Kasser suddenly marched on, pulling her along with him. Eugene followed along, trying not to lose balance, he was walking quite fast. He quickly slowed down when he noticed she was struggling to match his pace.
It’s like we’re on a date, Eugene thought as she looked at their hands together.
The two walked near the tree at the center of the plaza.
“Where do you want to go?” he asked her.
Eugene looked around them. There were multiple roads to take from the plaza. Each led to mansions of nobles, streets full of houses of commoners, shops, markets, and many more.
“Hmm…” Eugene thought, looking around in place, taking her time deciding.
“We can’t visit every road today.” He added.
Eugene nodded in response.
“I know. You’re a very busy man, but you spared some time to make this trip happen. I won’t take too much of your time. I can always come back and spend my time looking around.” She stated as an afterthought.
Kasser frowned at her use of the word “I.” He didn’t think this trip with her was a waste of time.
He wanted to be with her. When he was about to clear up the misunderstanding.
“How about there?”
Eugene interrupted before he could say more. He looked to where she was pointing.
“What’s along that road?”
“There are storages owned by merchants and inns where travelers stay.”
“Let’s try that road.”
“That one? There won’t be an awful lot to see there,” he said.
Eugene just shrugged.
“Well, that road caught my eyes. Let’s go.” Saying so, she began to go down that way.
Kasser didn’t like her idea. It was one of the least safe places in the city, where wanderers roamed the streets. But he started to walk towards where she pointed without further complaints. He was sure she was safe with him standing by her side.
Walking beside Kasser, Eugene’s eye’s started to widen.
Why does that road look familiar? She nervously thought as she looked at the direction she was heading. The more their steps moved closer to the edge of the plaza, she realized her déjà vu wasn’t just an illusion.
I know this place… It seems like I’ve been here before.
Specifically, Jin had been here before. It was similar to how Jin’s memory pictured in her head when she first entered the dining room.
I thought Jin only spent her days in her bedroom and the study. When did she come here?
She frowned the more she thought about it and turned to the king.
“Did I make frequent trips outside the palace?” she asked him.
Kasser shook his head.
“You never left the palace before.”
Eugene felt her heart begin to race.
Oh, dear! Why did I think she quietly stayed in the palace? She obviously could’ve sneaked out without anyone knowing.
Eugene berated herself. Jin shutting herself indoors, looking at books? She didn’t think she could be more stupid. She had underestimated the evil woman whose plan was to overturn the world. The study was only a ruse, an alibi!
The trio, including Sven, walked from the edge of the plaza and into the road. Eugene quickly scanned the area. She saw rugged buildings along both sides of the road, which looked like storages, with piles of wooden boxes out on the road. People who seemed to be workers moved the boxes into the building.
What did Jin do here? She could’ve bought rare items in secret since it’s a street full of merchants’ storage.
She thought nothing looked suspicious when something caught her gaze. Her steps halted as she did so, looking intently at the object that caught her attention.
It was a run-down building, about two storeys high. The building hadn’t gone under maintenance work for a long time if the olive-green paint scraping off its outer walls was any indication. When Eugene stopped, Kasser stopped with her and turned his head to the building as well.
“It’s a closed inn.” He told her. Wooden boards nailed over its windows. “The building has shut down.”
She stared at the covered windows he mentioned. Despite knowing it was closed down, she still kept seeing flashes of scenes deep within her mind. Inside the building were stairs made of stones, leading to the upper floor. Although it looked like a dilapidated building in the ruins, inside, the stone steps were made with perfect precision. Up the stairs on the upper floor was a narrow hallway with doors opposite each other. One of those doors enlarged and appeared in front of her.
She then saw the head of a person lying face down on the floor. The next scene projected upon her like she was flickering through an album… The man lifted his head. She had never seen him before.
He had ruddy eyes.
Eugene took a sharp breath in surprise. Kasser quickly held her body, reeling from the shock.
He looked down at her with a stern face full of worry. Her face looked ashen as he looked upon her.
“Are you okay? What’s wrong?”
“I… It must be something I ate.” She mumbled weakly, trying not to give herself away too much.
“Why didn’t you tell me that before? We should head back. Can you walk?”
Eugene nodded with confidence but stopped within a few steps. Her legs had turned to jelly after the shock.
“Ah!” She cried as her head suddenly spun.
When she finally pulled herself together, her legs were swept from under her, and she found herself being carried princess style by Kasser. She allowed herself to relax and leaned on his chest. She watched the old building over his shoulders until it disappeared from her sight as he carried her back to the plaza.
Eugene closed her eyes. She was extremely worn out. Jin’s memory had never felt so intense.
Something had happened in that building.