Chapter Twenty- It’s a Woman!
Tae Jun ran to Do Young, immediately searching for signs of life.
He should have done this first, but he had lost it and attacked Joo Chung Jae instead.
He sighed in relief when he felt the weak but steady heart beat.
He picked Do Young up, briefly noting how light he was. He headed back to his chambers, moving faster than he ever remembered.
At his chambers, So Yeon had been waiting with several other guards.
“Hyeong!” He addressed So Yeon. “Bring a light, then arrange for hot water. We will need bandages and ointments as well.”
Without another word, he carried Do Young inside and gingerly set him down on his bed.
Do Young’s breathing had become erratic.
Worried, he untied the cord around his middle, then lifted one side of the outer vest and coat; the side with the wound.
Then Tae Jun jerked his hand away as if he was burned, and the fabric fell back down.
He could not believe what he had seen.
He reached over and lifted the coat flap again, seeing the white bands going around the chest, and the slim stomach.
He closed it again and moved back.
“Seo- Seolma…” He choked out in disbelief.
Surprisingly, his first reaction was relief… He was not attracted to a man after all.
His second reaction was wondering who she was, but that did not last.
It was obvious, and he wondered why he had never noticed the similarity in the names.
He had never met his future wife, but he knew her name.
His third reaction was an unbelievable anger.
Luckily, his worry stemmed it for now. He gently opened the sides of Do Young’s vest and overcoat.
“Da Yeong.” He reminded himself. “Kim Da Yeong. Don’t you dare leave this world without answering to me!”
He applied pressure on the wound, and despite himself, he softened when she winced.
He undressed Do Youn-, Da Yeong carefully, leaving the white bands and the baji (trousers) in place.
When So Yeon came with the necessary items, he warned him immediately.
“Don’t come in! Just leave them by the door.” And he came out to get the items.
So Yeon, though surprised, did not ask any questions.
After some thought, had drawn a conclusion, especially given his young master’s reaction in recent events.
Kim Do Young was obviously a woman.
Ju Won knelt in front of the Grand Prince’s chambers.
He had been worried and scared when he had returned and heard that Da Yeong had been stabbed.
Even though he was told that the Prince had taken care of her, he had run over and barged into the Prince’s room without thinking…
To his relief, Da Yeong was indeed fine, asleep and breathing well, beneath a warm blanket. He had run over to her and taken her hand in his, studying her carefully.
“Da Yeong-ah.” He said simply. “I’m sorry I was not here.” He lifted her limp hand to his chest.
A sharp intake of breath behind him finally made him more aware of his surroundings.
He looked around the room, then suddenly noticed the Prince in a dark corner.
“Wa, gabjagi (You startled me)!” He exclaimed, jumping back away from him in shock.
The Prince did not look well at all!
His usually well kept hair was falling down around him like a stark black curtain.
He was in a white hanbok, splattered with blood, and there seemed to be a dark and evil aura surrounding him.
Added to the fact that he was giving Ju Won a hateful glare, Ju Won thought he had been seeing an evil manifestation.
That was when it registered that the Prince must have found out Da Yeong was a woman.
“Jeo-jeosonghamnida, Daegun.” Ju Won said kneeling properly and bowing at once.
He did not dare call him ‘Hyeong’… Not right now.
“Out.” The Prince had said calmly, too calmly, and he had left at once, kneeling down in repentance outside…
Ju Won was calming down, but the thought of Da Yeong getting stabbed hurt him.
He was supposed to protect her, but he had failed.
He had been absent.
Much earlier, Ju Won had left the Grand Prince’s house. He had gone round the town quietly, using the dark shadows to his advantage.
This had been a common practice, whenever he and Da Yeong were on a mission away from Nam Guk.
He was Lord Kim’s eyes and ears on any mission, reporting anything strange he had seen to him, when he and Da Yeong returned home.
That something like this would happen in his absence, angered Ju Won.
He privately hoped the Grand Prince had killed whoever it was!
Then he thought of the other thing that was annoying him.
His mind felt the need to remind him, every few minutes, that the Prince might have undressed Da Yeong to take care of her.
He could not help it… It annoyed him immensely!
The next day, news had been posted and spread that Shamans and Priests were no longer banished from the Capital.
After thorough inspection, some messengers had been sent to all the regions of Eondoeg Mun, to summon all doctors, Shamans and Priests to the Capital.
This news had been met with excitement throughout the Capital.
Everywhere, everyone seemed to talk of little else, but that.
On a quieter side, the King, disguised as a normal noble, sat across his friend, Kim Dae Hyeon, in the Gwang Guk library.
Since most public centers were closed due to the plague, it was a safe place to meet, their guards watching for any strange approaches.
“I’m sorry you had to meet with such unfortunate news on your first visit to the Capital in years.” The King said, dropping his tea to the table before them.
Kim Dae Hyeon had secretly entered the Capital the previous night.
This morning, he had gone to the Grand Prince’s house to find that his daughter had been stabbed.
He had heard the story from Ju Won, who had been surprised to see him.
Ju Won had knelt, asking for forgiveness for allowing it to happen, but Kim Dae Hyeon had briefly hidden his own worry and smiled at him.
“Ju Won-ah, after all these years, you still don’t see yourself as my child.” He walked over to him and gently placed a hand on his shoulder.
“Ju Won-ah. When I allowed Da Yeong take up a sword, or even go on missions, I knew there would be risks. Don’t blame yourself for such things.”
Filled with worry, he had rushed to Da Yeong, Ju Won leading the way.
She had still been unconscious, but it had been clear that she was fine.
Relieved, Kim Dae Hyeon had sat with the Prince.
The two sat in silence, listening to Da Yeong’s even breathing, for a while.
“I hope your journey to the Capital went well.” The Prince broke the silence. Lord Kim studied him.
The Prince had politely greeted him, explained things to him, and currently had no expression on his face.
He had not betrayed any emotion so far.
However, after spending numerous years, in the company of the King, Lord Kim was not fooled.
Father and son were very similar.
He could feel the Prince’s anger rolling off him in waves.
“Daegun, I thank you for saving my daughter.” Kim Dae Hyeon replied, cutting off the attempt at small talk.
“She was in my house, so naturally, she was under my protection.” He replied simply.
“Still, most lords of the household would be more concerned with saving themselves.”
“I know Daegun must be very angry.” He said, and the Prince’s eyebrows drew together a little.
Tae Jun looked at Da Yeong, then back at Lord Kim.
“Was it a joke? Or some kind of test? I don’t understand why her identity needed to be hidden.” He finally said.
“I apologize and take the blame for that.” Lord Kim replied, then looked at Da Yeong.
“In the end, I’m a father… I’m not immune to my daughter’s whims and requests. The way she sees it, she will be giving up her freedom to live in the Palace. She wanted to live out her remaining time as Kim Do Young.” He looked back at the Prince.
“For most of her life, she has lived as that person, so it wasn’t that we set out to deceive you.
“That fact that she was so manly, is why her previous suitors kept running away… That clever child merely showed her true colors to chase them off.” He said smiling fondly, then continued.
“You two were never meant to meet until the welcoming ceremony. Unfortunately, Jeonha sent you over to discuss the marriage.
“I had assumed he would summon me instead. I apologize.”
“Ah. So it was her idea?” Tae Jun asked calmly.
“That was before she knew you were coming.”
The Prince was obviously still angry, but Lord Kim had left it there.
Anything further had to be sorted between the Prince and Da Yeong.
Lord Kim suggested taking Da Yeong with him but, as he expected, the Prince had convinced him not too.
“She is wounded… Moving her is not safe. Besides, there is the plague to worry about… I will ask one of the kitchen maidens to serve as a maid, and I will temporarily move to another room.”
Kim Dae Hyeon had briefly wondered who was the father amongst them…
Now, he sat before the King; an older version of the young man who amused him so much.
He hid a smile.
“I appreciate Jeonha’s worry. I was bothered by the news, but Da Yeong is fine. Daegun took care of her well.”
“Hmmm. So my son now knows who she is.” The King observed.
“Ye, Jeonha.” He said, then drank from his own cup. “Daegun is very angry.”
“Ye, he will be. For someone that usually knows everything, he was deceived by a mere slip of a girl!”
Both men laughed at this, then turned to the matter at hand.
“Jeonha, I know you might have a plan, but is it wise to let the magical body into the Palace?” Kim Dae Hyeon asked him.
The King, Jang Tae Yong, considered for a moment.
“I don’t exactly have a clear cut plan, but this move is one I will have to take.
“The plague will never end until I agree. They will see to it, or find a way to use it to turn the people against me.
“And while we are struggling for power, it is the innocent people that die.”
“Jeonha is indeed just.” Lord Kim said after a while. “It was wise setting Lord Sang as the one responsible for the choosing of the magical body.”
“Hmmm. Now he will have to take responsibility for anything that goes wrong.”
“Ah ye. Because you appointed him, he will have to pick a lot of good priests and shamans, rather than filling the Magical Body with his own people!”
“Still, he will put his own people in.”
“Ye, but I will appoint the head.”
Kim Dae Hyeon considered this.
“Pal Wol?” He asked after a while.
“Yes. That was the reason I sent for you. It is time to bring her out of of the shadows.”
A few days later…
Da Yeong opened her eyes.
The first thing she noticed was that she was looking at something extremely beautiful.
It was an embroidery of flowers and birds, a beautifully crafted array of patterns spread over her bed.
She noticed something else at once.
Her bed should not have anything like that.
Da Yeong jerked awake, then gasped at the dull throbbing in her middle.
Her hand went there at once, and she felt the bandages beneath her yungbok.
“That’s right! I was stabbed!” She said to herself, remembering the intruders. She tenderly lifted herself, then gasped again when she saw someone else in the room.
“Greetings, Agashi!” Oh Mi Ju, her childhood friend from the Prince’s kitchens gave her a mock bow.
Oh Mi Ju was one of those people who never seemed to respect authority, so she and Da Yeong had gotten on really well as children.
“Are you alright?” Mi Ju asked her.
“Noona!” Da Yeong looked around her. “Don’t call me that!” She shushed her, but Mi Ju put her hand to her forehead.
“Aigoo! This girl… Don’t call me ‘Noona’! I nearly got in trouble because of you!” Despite her tone, she studied Da Yeong worriedly.
“Read the situation a little. Who’s room do you think you are in right now?”
“Ah, I was going to ask yo-.”
“You are in Daegun’s room! He was the one who treated you. He saw us laughing together on your first night here, and I got accused of deceiving Daegun. I thought I will die from the pressure!”
Da Yeong’s eyes had widened.
“Then…” Her arms flew across her chest. “Seolma!”
“Forget it. I don’t know if he saw everything, but he certainly knows you’re a woman.” Mi Ju said.
She put her hand to her chin, as if in deep thought.
“He must have at least seen the top half.” She added mischievously.
She watched as Da Yeong finally noticed what she was wearing.
A simple female white sleeping hanbok.
The white bands had been removed from around her chest, and her hair fell freely around her.
Mi Ju had been the one to change her, but she was not going to tell her that… yet.
She watched as her friend slowly turned the shade of a red plum.
“AHHHHHHHHHHH! I’M RUINED IN THIS LIFETIME!!!