When they finally arrived back at the palace, Eugene was immediately escorted to her room. Servants rushed to her side, fussing over her condition. One even went as far as to summon the doctor.
As she watched all this, there was only one thought that ran through her head…
I’m never saying I’m sick again.
She sat obediently on her bed, letting them ask her questions, and answering honestly. Everybody was so concerned, and it might be an exaggeration on her part, but she was certain by this point everyone had gone in to ask about her well-being at least once.
She wanted to be alone, with her thoughts, without people around her. The excuse of being sick completely backfired as it sent the people into a worried frenzy. She should’ve given it a better thought. After all, when you’re a queen, there was no such thing as being just ill.
It’s almost like the last time I pretended to be sick. Eugene thought, remembering the way people crowded around her, including doctors when she first arrived in the palace. Everybody was asking after her, how she felt if she had any discomfort etc.
But unlike before, the king too, was fussing over her. She even spotted the chamberlain by the corner, accompanied by his servants, taking up space at one side of her room. Despite the large space inside the bedroom, it was filled with people, making the entire place feel a little stuffy.
“Do you feel dizzy and nauseous?” the doctor asked her, and Eugene shook her head.
“No, it was only a little discomfort,” she said, trying not to let it show she was only pretending to feel sick. She only wanted to be alone, that’s why she faked having a slight stomachache. She insisted she was fine now.
Another servant entered with the documents that General Sarah had received. The papers were then handed over to the head physician, who scanned the documents briefly with a slight frown.
“You didn’t eat any more or different than usual…” The doctor murmured under his breath as he read through the document.
It was only then Eugene that realized what the servant had brought in.
Wait, does this mean everything that I eat is being recorded?
And while she had figured that being Queen would give her little to no privacy, it was still a chilling thought to know someone was always watching her at every waking moment.
Judging by the physician’s nonchalance on her knowledge about the records, it was completely normal for them to monitor what she’d been eating. After realizing this, another thought popped into her mind…
For Jin to have eluded everyone to sneak out, she’s pretty amazing. She mused in amazement. She was obviously no match to the cunningness of Jin.
“Well, there isn’t a clear explanation. Sometimes, psychological factors do have an effect on digestion. Fortunately, the condition does not seem to be severe, so I will prescribe some medication that will aid digestion. A short walk after your medication will help you recover, Your Grace.” The head physician told her after further examination.
However, just before they left entirely, Kasser interrupted, airing a new concern.
“Was there a change in the cooking staff recently?” he asked.
The physicians exchanged glances until one of the servants from the kitchen answered…
“There was a new assistant cook, Your Majesty,” the servant said, “I can fetch him this instant.”
“No need,” Kasser said with a frown, “Look through the ingredients that were used in cooking Queen’s dinner.” He ordered, and the servants bowed.
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
You don’t have to do all that! Eugene wanted to say but didn’t. She could only watch quietly, the matter had gotten out of hand rather quickly, especially with Kasser’s incessant worry.
Although Kasser had only instructed them to check, she knew very clearly how much of a hassle it would bring the servants. Eugene felt guilty for making everyone do unnecessary things because she faked her illness just to go back home.
“Your Majesty, I’m all right.” Eugene insisted, sitting up. “Honestly, I feel extremely better than I was an hour ago. I would like to talk to you in private.” She added, giving the king a pointed stare before Kasser ordered anything else to the general officer or any of the remaining servants.
Sighing in resignation, Kasser looked at his people.
“You can all leave now.” He ordered them.
When everyone cleared out, only silence remained, and Eugene finally let out a relaxed sigh, with a mental promise of not doing anything as drastic as that again.
She needed to remember she couldn’t just make excuses; she was acting like a queen now.
But despite her fake illness being blown way out of proportion, she was a little happy at the thought of having that many people so concerned about her.
It was heartwarming. Back when she was just Eugene, little to none was ever that concerned about her.
It was a pleasant change.
“I’d like to apologize to you, Your Majesty,” she said, “I’ve wasted your time by going to the village and not even able to see it through.”
“You have nothing to apologize for.”
“I think I do.” Eugene insisted. “You’re a very busy man, don’t bother denying it.” She added when Kasser tried to protest, “And here I am, adding to your burden.” She finished, looking down at her hands, fiddling with her fingers.
Kasser watched the queen, and when they locked eyes, she brought them back down. Kasser, too, looked away at the odd feeling he got.
“I didn’t think you were a burden.” He clarified. “And going to the village is never a waste of time.”
The awkward tension between them remained until Kasser cleared his throat.
“You should get some rest,” he said, nodding at her and moved to leave when Eugene called out for him…
Kasser paused when he heard her and turned to look.
Their eyes met, and Eugene’s words died in her throat. She didn’t know why she called out; all she knew was she wanted him to stay even a little longer.
“W-what happened, a little while ago…” She stuttered, trying to cover up her longing. “Those things, um, was that the usual way of things?” she asked, and gave him a nervous smile. “If you recall I forgot how things work, so I was wondering if those reactions were normal.”
And before she knew it, she began blabbing about things she’d been keeping ever since she’d arrived.
“Marianne’s a great help, but there are some things I can’t talk about with her.” She added. “I worry she’ll think poorly of me. Not that she’s treating me poorly, she’s been very kind-“
Kasser raised his hand, trying to placate her to stop her rambling.
“No need to further explain,” he told her, “And while I can’t understand your position completely, I do understand how hard it can be to open up to the people working for you.”
“You…” Eugene blinked. “You do?”
“So you wanted to know if this is how things are usually done, or if I’ve done extra measures when you’ve lost your memory, was that correct?” he asked, sitting on the edge of her bed, and Eugene nodded.
“Yes,” she said.
She was taken aback at how well he was able to articulate her thoughts so quickly and simply. He was indeed such a clever man.
Come to think of it, every conversation they’d had, had gone rather smoothly. He hadn’t even pulled rank over her whenever she demanded things from him. He’d always been willing to listen to what she had to say and never dismissed her.
Three years he’d been married to Jin. She could tell just how much patience and generosity this man had.
In her novel, the Desert King was a stubborn, one-way street kind of man. His driving force had only ever been vengeance on Jin. Despite being the most powerful in her novel, Eugene was never quite satisfied with writing his part.
And though it would have been perfect if the most powerful king also had excellent leadership, the Desert King never found the time to mingle with any of the other kings. Whenever there were gatherings, he’d always be the first to leave when the important talks were over, often making up excuses for duties and responsibilities.
It was the very reason the Salt King always quarreled with him. Whenever the two kings met, things would take an ugly turn, souring the jovial mood immediately.
Had Eugene depicted the Desert King as the man before her currently was, perhaps her story could have gone better. Perhaps even differently.
When writing characters in novels, it’s quite difficult to create a well-rounded character, where they develop over the story. This was why most of the time, the characters she’d created were rather static, with one-dimensional personality; that is it was easier to steer the plot to go in one direction.
After all, a character may very well steer the course of the story in a totally different direction.
This isn’t the character I wrote. Eugene thought as she watched Kasser. This is a different person altogether.