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Chapter 1 - The Land of the Desert

Everything felt different and strange. It was scorching hot and she could feel her forehead slick with sweat.

When Eugene squinted her eyes open, she found herself lying down and was greeted with an unfamiliar sight—sand being blown by the wind and the clear sky visible above her.

Where am I?

She willed herself to get up, she buried her hands in the sand to support her upper body. Doing so, a handful of it which laid previously on her chests poured down.

Then, her eyes were filled with wonder as she looked at the strange place she was in. An even morbid expression flashed across her face when she saw the clothes she was wearing.

Lifting her arm, she looked awestruck at the back of her hand with loose sleeves surrounding it. The material of the gown was luxurious but it wasn’t to her taste.

Am I dreaming? Eugene surmised, but the painful rays of the sun on her exposed skin told her otherwise.

Taking her eyes off her hand, she looked again at the scenery before her. The red sand blew in the wind, she could barely see where she was.

I've never been here before, but I've seen many similar landscapes in photos. Why am I in the desert?

An idea popped in her mind and when she opened her mouth finding it ridiculous, she heard nothing but her own laughter. She was too overwhelmed to make out a word.

Did she fly to the other side of the world?

The desperate nature of survival awakened and her mind became clear. She rose slowly and looked around, her legs wobbling beneath her.

Everywhere she looked, it was a sandy, plain and just dune. Standing vaguely, she began to walk. She didn't want to burn herself to death, she thought. As soon as possible, she needed to find some shelter.

Not long after she began to walk, something made her stop her steps. Far away, something seemed to be moving. With crease on her forehead, she squinted her eyes to have a better look.

She was watching carefully to find out who the figures were when they started to change in direction and charge towards her in a brisk pace. On instinct, she stepped back, unwilling to narrow the distance between them!

She was on high alert, imagining the worst that could happen. Her face became thoroughly flushed when she thought they were armed soldiers rushing in the sandstorm.

She ran and ran but the gown kept her slow. Besides, it was much harder to sprint on the sand.

It was not long when they came close to her just enough for Eugene to recognize them. The riders on horseback with grotesque forms of helmet stopped at a certain distance. 

The man in the lead jumped off his horse. He was a stout-bodied foreigner with disarrayed thick brown hair. If anything, he looked European so did the men behind her.

The man bent one knee on the ground, and said.

"My queen."

Eugene's eyes, which had been hardened with fear, went wide open. It was definitely not in Korean. But she could understand it perfectly.

Dumbfounded, she looked at him, blinking several times as the rush of sweat stung her eyes.

She didn’t know how to react. Noticing her unresponsiveness, the man spoke confusedly.

"I beg your pardon, Queen Anika. Are you okay?"

Queen Anika?

Eugene nodded slowly. It was the best she could do for now.

***

Soldiers patrolled along the walls built high on the desert. The red sun hung along the horizon, its sizzling rays on the brink of sunset stretched over the endless sand.

The fortress wall faces a desert on one side and a capital city on the other, where a kingdom was located. The desert facing the kingdom was called the Dead Sea because it was impossible to tell its end.

There was no disarray in the soldiers patrolling on the wall at regular intervals. The kingdom of Hashi, ruled by the Fourth King of the desert was famous for his strict military discipline.

The soldier, who habitually glanced over the Dead Sea, turned his head again upon seeing familiar figures approaching the kingdom walls.

The cloud of dust made from the strong hooves of horses mounted by men become more chaotic as the group run nearer and nearer the wall.

"His Majesty is coming back!"

The soldier's cry was passed from mouth to mouth and finally reached the people at the  gate post.

"Open the gates!"

The vicinity of the gate quickly became busy. There was tension and excitement on the faces of the soldiers and civilians alike.

The huge stone gate was raised and opened by dozens of sturdy men who joined forces to lift it open. Among the soldiers, those of good physique and strength gathered at the wall and held the pulley handle connected to the gate.

It has been almost a month since the king left the castle. After a long trip, his subordinates welcomed him warmly, chanting his name even from a distance.

"One! Two! Pull!"

The stone gate was the sole entrance to the kingdom. It was held open only in certain periods of the year when the sun rose and on special occasions. The return of the king was a special exception.

By the time the stone gate was almost up, the king and warriors reached the wall and ran inside without slowing down.

The straight road became clear immediately. The passers-by, who heard the news of the king's return, quickly stepped aside to make way for him. Suddenly, their works were disturbed but no one complained.

The king only brushed past the people who greeted him and cheered but no one cared. On the contrary, everyone bowed to the back of the king, who had already gone in split seconds, leaving only dusts and sand on his trail.

"His majesty is back!"

"He’s been out a little longer than usual, isn’t he?"

"Now I'm going to sleep in peace. The drought will be over soon!”

"I wish I could live without unfortunate accident this year."

People who continued on their chores again spoke with a brighter dexterity

The king was both the ruler of the kingdom and their guardian. No one disagreed with this.

****

Everything happened so fast. In the next moment, Eugene found herself in a delicate chamber where her supposed attendants lead her into. All the way, she walked in a daze—everything surrounding her felt like in a dream.

Good thing was, people didn’t talk to her and kept their heads bowed down. Were they afraid of her that much?

Eugene sat stiff on the sofa, nervously biting her lips. Her eyes were full of tiredness after not getting a good night's sleep

"Jin Anika..." She now recounted the name of the role she must play from now on, the name felt strange to her lips.

Her real name was Eugene. Her last name was Yu and her first name was Jin, but most people around spelled her name as “Eugene”, making it more western-like.

Eugene was an ordinary woman turning 28 years old this year. A simple office worker in Park Bong’s office who was living on her own and striving hard to escape from a miserable life.

A great deal had happened in just a few days. She fell in love with the novel "Mahar," which she created, and woke up into the body of someone else's body!  In all honesty she didn’t know what came to her, words just came out her and she just found herself writing the novel.

Novel, of which none of the ideas and concepts she didn't know where exactly she got from.

Why Jin Anika?

She lived in a different world and in a different body overnight. Even so, she wasn’t  entirely complaining. Because Eugene's previous life was so hard that she didn't want to look back at it.

But there was a serious problem. Jin Anika was a villainess in the novel and the last character that would be punished in the name of justice!

What must this queen do?

Mahar was a thoroughly socialized society. Thus the Queen of the Hashi Kingdom, was at the top of the pyramid of identity.

What happened to the queen in the novel? Eugene shivered visibly as she remembered the end of the novel.

Jin Anika, queen of Hashi kingdom became  a public enemy and died from her husband's blade.

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