Chapter Twenty Two- The Summoning
The Central Palace, Gwang Guk…
The Cleansing ceremony took place in the massive palace courtyard, five days after the Palace Shaman Hall was reopened, and the Priests moved back into the Palace Temple.
On the fifth night after the reopening, the Palace gates were opened to the nobles and high ranking officials in the Capital.
All the Palace priests and shamans dressed in their ceremonial clothes, and carefully selected Gisaeng were present for entertainment.
The King sat on the raised dais, and on either side of him, were the two princes.
Jang Tae Min, the current Crown Prince, sat on his right, and Jang Tae Jun, the Grand Prince, sat on his left.
The Gisaeng went round pouring wine, or entertaining the nobles.
The drum roll started and the shamans came in. They began their dance, going in file to the four corners of the courtyard. Then they congregated in the middle, grouping together in a serene dance.
The dance went on for a while, the tribal drums reaching a fevered pitch, as the shamans swayed to their beat.
Then the shamans dispersed suddenly, and the Head Shaman came out to perform her cleansing dance ritual.
She (Pal Wol) knew it was not necessary, but the King had ordered her to go along with it.
The one who was guilty was not present.
He was probably planning to undo the curse of the plague, now that he had gotten what he wanted.
The King had asked her if she could stop the plague, but such a curse had to be broken in the same way it was cast, with the same force of mind or intentions…
The curse was directly tied to the lives of the ones who cast it.
They would have needed to find the exact shamans responsible.
The Northern hidden temple…
True to Pal Wol’s suspicion, Sang Yoo Jin gave his shamans new orders.
He had claimed he was ill and could not attend the cleansing ceremony, so he could be certain his orders were carried out.
Being the person in charge of selecting the Palace priests and shamans, he would be blamed if the plague was not stopped.
He now knew why the King had readily appointed him.
His role in selecting them had given him a weakness…
And that woman, Pal Wol!
Even in the past, she had been a thorn in his side.
Now that she was involved, he had to be more careful.
The shamans would have to leave this hidden temple… Pal Wol knew it too well.
He also thought about Chung Jae, who seemed to have disappeared.
He had sent him over to the Grand Prince twice, fully expecting him to be killed.
He knew too much, and he had begun to act strange since the Silent Monk’s murder.
He hoped his plan had worked, and that the Grand Prince had killed him…
His mind came back to the present.
The first thing he needed to do was stop the plague.
And so, that night, the eight shamans went to the four gates of the Capital again, to undo what they had done…
Lord Choi’s residence, Nam Guk…
Choi Chun Hwa awoke to an important message. His father had sent orders to him from the Capital.
He was to come to the Capital at once.
Lord Sang Yoo Min’s residence…
Sang Hye Yeon woke up to find the house in near chaos.
Eun Song was packing both their items into boxes, and the servants were running up and down, hastily preparing items.
She and her father were going to the Capital.
Sang Yoo Min re-read the letter from Jeonha.
Jeonha had asked him to return to the Capital with his daughter.
He had even arranged for him to stay in his old compound, which had become a property of the state after he had been replaced as Minister.
Jeonha had also written that his brother, the Prime Minister, was allowed to meet his daughter, Hye Yeon now.
He did not understand Jeonha’s orders at all…
Then again, he reminded himself, he never had.
Lord Choi’s second residence, Gwang Guk.
Lord Choi gazed across the garden, contemplating Jeonha’s message.
Jeonha had simply asked him to send for his son, but had not stated why…
This was not the first time he was getting an odd request from Jeonha, especially concerning his son.
Eleven years ago, after the Queen’s murder, the King had asked him to move to his family home in Nam Guk, specifically asking him to take Chun Hwa out of the Capital.
Since then, he had lived in two places, staying in the Capital when his Ministerial duties demanded his presence, and going back to Nam Guk whenever he was free.
At first, he had thought his son had done something wrong to the young Crown Prince, but Jeonha had assured him that that was not the case.
The King had told him he would understand, when the time was right.
He hoped he would…
The Grand Prince’s residence
Tae Jun looked up at the person before him.
She sat quietly, watching him.
He mentally shook his head.
Combat, he understood.
Books, he understood.
In fact, women, he understood.
But this one…
“Kim Do Yo-.” He started then stopped, taking a breath.
“Kim Da Yeong.” He continued. “You just keep doing strange things, don’t you? You have hounded my door… Literally, for a while now. What is it that you want?”
Da Yeong studied the Prince.
He was still angry… She could tell, but he seemed more approachable.
She would do what her father had suggested…
The previous day, her father had come to the Prince’s house and she had gone to greet him.
“Aigoo! This is why people say daughters are useless.” He had joked. “You heard from Ju Won-ah that I was in the Capital, and you did not come to greet.”
“Jeo- Jeosonghamnida, Abeoji.” She said, wondering how she had made such a mistake.
“Ani, ani.” He laughed at her expression. “Your mind has obviously been in ‘other places’.” He said teasing.
“So I take it Daegun is still angry?”
“Ye.” She said bowing her head. “He leaves the compound very early in the morning so he won’t see me. And when he does see me, he just ignores me completely…”
She remembered the many times where he saw her and passed as if he had not seen her at all.
She visibly shuddered, but her father laughed.
“Abeoji! This is not a laughing matter!” She complained.
“From your point of view, maybe not. But from mine?” He laughed at her expression. “Hmmm. Is this that person that used to battle with me, fighting off all attempts of marriage? Aigoo! She is currently chasing after a marriage prosp-.”
“Abeoji!” She whined at him.
He laughed at her for a while, then became serious.
“Daegun does not like having an obvious weakness, and you suddenly became his.”
“Ye?” She asked confused.
“You are paying the price for owning Daegun’s heart.” He said simply.
“Eh?” She rose her two hands, shaking them in front of her. “Ani ani ani ani. That is not possible in this lifetime! Absolutely not! Abeoji must have misunderstood.”
Surely, someone with Daegun’s rank and appearance must be used to seeing all the elegant and beautiful noble ladies!
Next to them, she was a bit…
She left the thought there, glancing down at her yungbok.
Her father smiled mischievously.
“Tch! Really? I would have to take your word for it.” He said.
It appeared his “pretty as a flower’ daughter did not have any self confidence when it came to her appearance. He silently chuckled.
She would find out in due time… He gave her some advice.
“If a thief wants to steal, he does not go through the front gates. Right?” She nodded and he smiled. “If you want Daegun to take you seriously, try approaching from another angle. All forms of apology at this point will only seem like an excuse… Try asking for something else.
“Aigoo! I am giving my own daughter ideas on the man who will steal her away.”
“But Abeoji was the one who wanted this engagement…” She muttered, and he laughed.
Da Yeong had taken her father’s advice…
A little too literally.
With Ju Won’s help, (He had tried to stop her unsuccessfully), she had broken into the Prince’s chambers the next morning, and waited for his return.
Tae Jun and So Yeon had returned from the town to find Kim Da Yeong in his room.
Unaware of their presence at first, she had been admiring a beautifully painted ornamental scroll on the wall. She was holding the bottom of it in her hands.
Tae Jun shook his head.
No wonder Ju Won had been waiting guiltily outside.
“What do you think you are doing?!” He had demanded.
Panicked, she had jumped back, ripping the scroll almost in half.
There was a moment of surprised silence, where she stared open-mouthed at the ruined scroll.
Then Tae Jun had gone over to the scroll, and she stepped around him, then fell to the ground bowing.
“Jeosonghamnida, Daegun! This humble servant will see that it is replaced at once!”
“Replaced?” He spun to face her. “Ya. The person that drew this is no longer in this world. Exactly how will you HAVE IT REPLACED?!”
She bowed even lower. “Jeo- jeosonghamnida! Jeosonghamnida!”
“Get lost!” He yelled and she got up to go at once.
“Wait!” He called out, gathering up the scroll.
His mother had drawn it up for him the year before she…
He shook his head.
Oddly, now, losing it didn’t feel so bad.
He dropped it behind him.
Recently, he had begun to feel, for the first time in eleven years, that he was allowed to finally move past that incident.
It had begun when Kim Da Yeong had been unconscious in his bed.
He had looked from her to the embroidered pattern above the bed.
Another gift from his mother.
Then, he had realized that from the moment his mother had died, he had simply stopped moving.
There were rare moments when he felt like his former self, like when he was with Chun Hwa, but he had not even remembered what it was like to laugh fully.
The person that completely broke the pattern was Kim Da Yeong.
He could not remember the last time he had dreamt about the events eleven years ago.
They seemed to have stopped after he met this person.
He had looked away from the embroidered pattern and back to her at that point.
Then he had looked away, remembering all his frustration and confusion over his attraction to her.
He had left angrily.
Now, despite all efforts to avoid and evade, here she was. In his room. He was still angry, but if she kept breaking into his room, she might destroy everything in it eventually.
“What were you doing in here?” He asked
She turned around and walked back.
“Er, that is… I had a req-.” Her voice had come out as a squeak. She cleared her throat. “Ahem. I had a request to ask from Daegun.” She finished bowing.
He looked at her clearly, for the first time in more than a week.
She looked like she had not been sleeping well.
He looked at So Yeon and nodded toward the door.
So Yeon bowed and left at once.
He went behind his small table and sat down.
“Sit.” He had said, and here they were…
…He picked a book, looking through the pages.
“You have hounded my door… Literally, for a while now. What is it that you want?”
“That is.. I want- I want Daegun to-.” He slapped his hand on the table and she flinched.
“Ye! I want Daegun to- to continue with my training!” She finished bowing.
“Huh?” He exclaimed in surprise.
Outside, Ju Won and So Yeon exclaimed as well… Her voice had been loud.
“Eh?!” They said in unison.
And for once, So Yeon raced with Ju Won to the door to hear what will happen…