Living As the Villainess Queen - Chapter 336.1
Kasser made an attempt to briefly attend to the urgent report, although it was evident right from the start that it wouldn’t conclude swiftly. He shifted his gaze towards Eugene, who was strolling alongside Marianne. The two of them shared a conversation, their smiles and affectionate gestures obvious. During their journey through the mountains, Eugene, previously feeling unwell, appeared to regain some of his energy.
With Marianne’s presence, Kasser found himself reassured. He hadn’t been aware of her joining the entourage, but her being there brought him a sense of comfort. He had faith that Marianne would handle even the aspects he hadn’t considered.
“I’ll relocate to a quieter spot to give this report my full attention,” he declared.
“Yes, Your Highness,” responded one of the attendants.
Following the king’s lead, Kasser moved into a different carriage, and the attendants followed suit, one by one. Once the royal couple was settled within the carriage, the procession resumed its journey.
As they traveled, Kasser diligently reviewed the reports he had received, awaiting the final approval from the king. Despite entrusting significant authority to the chancellor, Kasser still had a heap of matters demanding his attention.
As Kasser perused the reports meticulously organized by the chancellor, he couldn’t help but entertain occasional thoughts of, “This could have been resolved without my direct involvement.” It appeared that Verus, keenly aware of Kasser’s prolonged absence, had taken measured steps to avoid overstepping his authority.
“He’s overly cautious, always on edge,” Kasser mused softly. Verus’s strengths and weaknesses, in Kasser’s view, were inextricably linked. He excelled in his role but at times struggled to make decisive, bold decisions.
Oddly, it was precisely this trait that engendered Kasser’s trust in Verus. He hoped that Verus wouldn’t morph into a shrewd, cunning politician. Kasser desired to retain a capable chancellor by his side for as long as possible and help mold him into an even better leader.
Within the contents of Verus’s report, a particular incident piqued Kasser’s interest.
“…We have detained the individuals involved and are currently holding them in solitary confinement. Stringent measures have been put in place to prevent any contact between them.”
As the dry season commenced, an incident involving Rodrigo, who had feigned captivity in the desert, and Molly had arisen. Externally, Molly was listed as missing.
Eugene had posited that Molly appeared to be in a hypnotic state, prompting him to consult an expert in the field and arrange a face-to-face encounter with Molly. Yet, Molly had remained unresponsive, leaving them at an impasse. However, a summons from the sovereign had compelled them to hastily return to the capital, temporarily shelving Molly’s situation.
However, roughly twenty days ago, Molly underwent a remarkable transformation. Unexpectedly, she broke down in tears while in the company of the individual responsible for delivering her meals. Consequently, they brought in an interrogator, and surprisingly, Molly willingly cooperated, providing answers to all their inquiries.
Could the hypnosis have spontaneously worn off? Kasser pondered. It seemed plausible; perhaps it would gradually dissipate over time.
Based on Molly’s revelations, Verus unearthed a network of concealed sanctuaries, referred to as ‘sacred places’ by Mara’s followers, and a labyrinth of underground tunnels employed for covert transport. Verus had already been monitoring the activities of Mara’s adherents and seized the opportunity to apprehend numerous high-ranking members.
Among those captured was Rodrigo.
“They’re charging him with espionage, not the crime of heresy. It’s a tactically sound approach,” Verus conveyed.
Verus had ascertained that the subterranean passages were intended for espionage, given their proximity to the capital. Initiating arrests on charges of heresy would have risked inciting social unrest and sowing distrust among the populace. The possibility of these individuals infiltrating the hinterlands and becoming agents of discord had deterred Kasser from taking action against Mara’s followers until now.
“Rodrigo… Can he be of any use?” Kasser wondered aloud, his thoughts drifting as he delved into his work. Time slipped by swiftly, and before he knew it, it was already noon. The carriages came to a halt in a suitable clearing for lunch.
They had deliberately selected a route to the capital that was sparsely populated. Local lords often seized the opportunity to establish a connection with the royal couple when they traversed their territories. Opting for this less-traveled path to evade the cumbersome receptions served as a shortcut.
Kasser alighted from his carriage and headed directly toward the queen’s coach. Just as he did, the door of Eugene’s carriage swung open, and Marianne stepped out. She gazed at the departing carriage and then covered her face with her hands. From a distance, it appeared as if she were weeping.
Kasser’s heart sank, but he forcefully pushed aside the negative thoughts that crept in. He hurriedly approached Marianne.
He called out, almost involuntarily. Marianne, who had been walking away, turned back in surprise. She approached Kasser, placing a hand on her chest.
“Your Highness, why did you shout?”
“What’s the matter?”
Kasser scrutinized Marianne’s countenance with care. There were no signs of distress; in fact, her eyes and lips bore a slight curve.
“What are you referring to?” Marianne inquired, her confusion evident.
“Eugene… Has the Queen consulted with the physician? What did she say?” Kasser pressed for information.
“Well…” Marianne hesitated momentarily. She was eager to convey this joyful news to the king, but it was something the queen herself should announce. She couldn’t presume to do it on her behalf.
Marianne’s reticence only deepened Kasser’s unease. Never before had Marianne acted so evasively.
Kasser decided he needed to speak directly with Eugene, regardless of any reservations Marianne might have. As he hurriedly strode toward the carriage, Marianne called out to him.
“Your Highness, please take your time. Proceed with utmost care.”
Just as he was about to reach the carriage door, he turned to look at Marianne.
“Open the carriage door slowly and gently. The Queen might be startled.”
With a puzzled expression, yet following her instructions, Kasser gingerly opened the carriage door. Inside the carriage, a lady-in-waiting was seated. Kasser signaled for her to step out as the carriage door closed with a soft click. The sound of the door moving caught Eugene’s attention. She slowly opened her eyes, blinked, and greeted Kasser with a warm smile.
“It appears the carriage has come to a halt.”
Kasser took Eugene’s hand and assisted her in sitting up.
“We’ve paused for lunch. How are you feeling? What did the physician say?” Kasser inquired with urgency.
Eugene offered a faint smile and embraced his waist, clinging to him like a small, affectionate creature seeking solace. His hand gently caressing her hair provided a comforting sensation.
“It doesn’t seem to be a dire situation, but we shouldn’t disregard it,” Kasser remarked.
She lifted her head, meeting his gaze. His expression radiated gentleness, yet his eyes held a resolute determination, as if silently conveying, “I won’t let this pass without action.”