Black and White Ch. 24

Chapter Twenty Four- The Hidden Library

“Ah! It hurts!” Da Yeong protested as Mi Ju fixed her hair.

“Aish! This girl… They are going to do worse when you enter the Palace!” She yanked on the hair. 

Tsk! This is a simple daenggi meori! (Simple braided hairstyle for unmarried young ladies). Jeonha’s birthday is tomorrow, and you are also going dressed like this… Get used to it!”

She finished the braid and placed the ribbon at the tip.

Then she placed the adornment atop her head and a small beautiful hairpin by the side.

She stood back to admire her handiwork.

Mi Ju’s orders had been simple…

.

A few days ago, the Grand Prince had summoned her and told her to accompany Da Yeong to the best seamstress in Gwang Guk, since Da Yeong’s own clothes were in Nam Guk.

She and Da Yeong had gone to Lady Wang, a famous foreign seamstress.

She had taken Da Yeong’s measurements and they tried different fabrics, patterns and designs.

It had been fun, Mi Ju laughing at Da Yeong’s awkwardness around the fabrics.

“Omo! Those Ahjummas that will handle your training in the Palace are going to suffer!”

.

In one of the new hanboks now, Mi Ju barely recognized her friend.

The chima (skirt) was a pale blue colour, and it had a splash of red and gold flower designs near the base.

The jeogori (upper garment) was cream coloured, with a colourful pattern near the crisp white collar.

It was held together by a blue ribbon, which matched the chima, and the end-sleeves bore the same pattern near the collar.

Added to Mi Ju’s amateur, but adequate face painting skill, Da Yeong looked like a completely different person.

“Daebak!” Mi Ju exclaimed. “Da Yeong-ah, if I did not help you dress, I might not recognize you at all!” She joked. “Now you really seem like Bubuin (Princess Consort).”

“Ya, Mi Ju-ah!” Da Yeong protested, taking in her appearance.

As usual, she felt uncomfortable in the hanbok (she previously only agreed to wear them during the marriage meetings), but Mi Ju had said dressing this way would impress Daegun.

“Okay! Agashi,” Mi Ju mock bowed, and Da Yeong glared at her. “Please proceed with your humble servant, to meet Daegun and Choi Doryeonnim.”

Lord Choi’s son had come to visit the Grand Prince.

“Aigoo! Any servant like you would be more of a headache!”

.

Later…

Pal Wol stopped suddenly at the sight before her. ‘It is that child again.’ She thought to herself, staring almost in reverence.

She had been on her way back to the Palace with her daughter, when she had felt an inward pull to come in this direction.

“Omma, what’s wrong?” Her daughter, Eun Bi had asked, trying to keep up with her.

She had merely raised a hand and continued on. She had stopped a little distance from a big compound, the royal emblem on its ornate gates.

“Daebak!” Eun Bi had exclaimed, admiring the gates.

Pal Wol ignored her and made to go forward, but halted in her tracks as the gates opened, and several people came out.

A few of them were servants, who backed away at once, leaving three young nobles, two men and a lady, discussing slightly apart.

The first person she noticed was the lady.

She was in a beautiful hanbok, looking more radiant than any flower, but that was not what drew Pal Wol’s attention to her.

It was the child.

Lord Kim’s daughter, who she herself had identified as the White Deity, eighteen years ago.

She had not seen her since she was a baby, but she would recognize that aura anywhere. Still, it was not her that had pulled her here.

She took in the person beside her.

It was Lord Choi’s son.

She had also identified, him eleven years ago, as the Blue Deity…

The year she herself had regained her memories.

The King had told her he intended to summon the children to the Capital, but she was still surprised to see two of them together.

Still, none of them had pulled her here.

Then the third person turned…

Pal Wol stepped back, and would have stumbled, if Eun Bi had not grabbed her arm.

“Omma, are you alright? Why are you like this?” She asked worried and confused.

Why was she like this? She asked herself as well, still staring at the young man.

She knew who he was… Even if she had not noted the gates, she had met him during the Cleansing Ceremony.

He was the Grand Prince.

She knew he was the child’s chosen protector, and he was set to wed her.

But there was something else… Something she could not identify.

His aura had pulled her here.

He seemed more powerful than the other two.

His energy was blacker and more ominous than anything she had ever felt.

And worse, death hovered over him as long as he was around the white deity.

She wondered why she had never felt this before…

She had met him as a child and then a few nights ago, but she had never sensed anythi-.

She gasped in sudden realization…

.

The past…

Eighteen years ago, Pal Wol had had visions of Lord Kim’s daughter, and identified her as the White Deity at birth.

Then eleven years ago, the Queen had been murdered, and rather than visions, Pal Wol had gotten memories.

Memories buried over a hundred and fifty years ago.

She had remembered who she was and what had happened… At least up to the point where she had been killed.

Worse, Pal Wol had also seen what was happening again, and the main person behind the plots.

For once, she had decided to step out of her safe haven in the mountains.

The child would die if she did nothing…

Then there was also vengeance.

Vengeance against those who had hurt her…

.

Knowing next to nothing about the outside world, the first person she had approached was Lord Kim, who snuck her into the Capital at once.

There, they had both met the King secretly, and she had explained most of what she had seen and remembered.

It had come as no surprise to the King that the Prime Minister was his greatest enemy.

The one who had cast Eondeog Mun into darkness.

He already suspected him for the death of his wife, the Queen.

It was while she was there at the Capital that she had run into Lord Choi’s son and identified him as the second deity.

The King had gotten him out of the Capital at once.

Six years later, she ran into another…

It was the Prime Minister’s niece, the Minister of Interior’s young daughter.

Amusingly, the Prime Minister had sabotaged his brother, giving the King the perfect excuse to send he and his family away from the Capital.

They had never found the fourth.

Even when she met the Grand Prince as a child and an adult, she had never recognized him.

.

Present…

Pal Wol could not believe it.

The boy wasn’t just a protector for the white deity.

The one who had preferred hiding in the shadows, even in the past.

The one most people never dared to approach.

The protector of Eondoeg Mun and the deities themselves.

The Black Deity.

In the past, Pal Wol had never met this new set of deities, which was probably why she had not facially recognized any of them.

She had been depending solely their aura.

“No!” She shook her head, studying him and the white deity.

Every aspect of their beings balanced perfectly together.

They clearly belonged with each other, but… 

The Black Deity had only ever had one weakness.

He had found it again.

.

Later that day…

Pal Wol secretly made her way to the hidden library in the Gwang Guk mountains that evening.

She had ordered her daughter to remain in the Palace.

She had never come back here in this lifetime, even when she had remembered everything.

In the past, the library had provided the major piece of the puzzle King Jang Yoo Jin had needed to destroy the deities.

And all because she had foolishly trusted a friend.

She had paid, oh yes she had, and the bitter pain of loss stabbed through her.

She would not allow them have their way in this lifetime!

She mentally shook herself, picking her way through the dangerous rocks.

.

The past…

The Hae Sunggyeong library had been built long before Pal Wol was born, but it had not been a library…

It had been a temple.

The daughter of a Grand Priest, her father had been assigned to the hidden temple by the previous King, as was the norm.

There was another Grand Priest, closer to the King and more powerful than her father, so they were even lonelier than most Grand Priests.

The Capital didn’t need two Grand Priests…

Still, they found the beauty in their quiet life.

Pal Wol spent her days with her father, exploring the mountains and learning the complex and dangerous beauty of them.

From a tender age, she already showed signs of shamanic powers, so her father taught her the art as well.

.

Pal Wol’s father had died when she was still quite young, and after grieving for a while, she had left, leaving behind her desire to be a shaman.

The previous King had also died, and no one seemed to bother with the temple, so it remained empty for years.

Being an avid reader, Pal Wol had journeyed through Eondeog Mun, collecting or copying rare books.

It had been her dream then to visit Lord Paran, the blue deity, but it had been forbidden to set foot on any of the four hills.

.

At the age of twenty, Pal Wol had been unable to ignore the call of her powers any longer, and had returned to the Capital to register as an official shaman.

There she had become a Prime Shaman in no time, specially asked by the King to head the palace magical body.

She knew on sight that the King had the blood of the legitimate heir on his hands, but she supposed it was his fate to rule.

He should be content now…

It was in the palace that Pal Wol found love, in the King’s Personal guard, and she spent several happy years there.

She had even met the previous deities there, during their annual winter visits to pray for the Kingdom.

Of course, she wasted no time in seeking out the old Lord Paran, badgering him with questions.

But then, the King was more greed driven than she had imagined, and it became clear that he would never be satisfied.

At first, she had ignored the warning signs, after all, what monarch was not selfish in someway.

But soon, she had begun to see the visions.

Visions of dark shadows ruling the kingdom, because of the King’s desire for power…

And in the visions, she had helped him achieve his goals.

Confused, she had fled after a while, refusing such a fate.

She had not expected the King’s guard to follow, but he had, leaving behind everything to help her.

But before leaving the Palace, she had taken something with her; something no one, including the King, knew existed, hidden beneath the Palace.

Pal Wol had always seen visions of it, since the day she had entered the Palace. She had slowly begun tracing its power till she found it.

It was a book. A book as old as the kingdom, written by the first King of Eondoeg Mun. 

She had opened the book, but the book’s pages were blank, except for strange words crawling across the pages in an unreadable pattern.

She had known, as a Prime Shaman, that she could discover the secrets of the book, but she never tried.

If a powerful spell was necessary to hide it’s contents, the knowledge within the books pages could be extremely bad, so she put the temptation to read it aside.

‘I can’t leave this near the King…’ She thought to herself, picking the book up. It was the night before she had escaped.

She studied the seemingly innocent book, before stuffing it out of sight.

The front had read: The King’s Journal.

.

Present…

Pal Wol blocked out the past and looked up at the library looming before her.

It looked battered and old, but traces of its former glory still shone through.

Her heart ached at the sight of it, as fond memories crept into her mind.

She and the King’s guard, who she had married, had turned it into a library, burying The King’s Journal at the heart of it.

It had been the perfect place to hideaway then, but they had not been able to hide forever…

Now she was back for the book.

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