Chapter Twenty Nine- The Plot
Still in the Past…
The next day, Tae Jun finally found the origin of the dragon statue.
It had been commissioned by King Jang Seung Jae, one of his ancestors, nicknamed: The bloodthirsty King.
Unfortunately, his victory was cut in half by the fact that there were no records stating why the statue was erected…
Still, he was pretty pleased with himself.
Tae Jun had wanted to delve deeper into the mystery, but Omma Mama had summoned him and introduced him to a ‘strange girl.’
“Tae Jun-ah… Enough of this burying yourself in the library.” His mother had begun, after he had bowed and settled in.
For now it was just the two of them.
She poured him some tea.
“But Omma Mama-.” He had wanted to protest after she had spoken, but she calmly raised a hand.
“I and Jeonha are satisfied with the answers you have found already. With this, you have solved a part of the mystery…”
Of course, she and the King already knew everything he had found, but they weren’t going to tell him that! She handed him the cup, lightly caressed his cheek, then continued.
“Today, Omma Mama wants you to meet someone. Make Omma proud, uh?” She said, automatically straightening his outfit. Then she looked toward the doors.
“Yoon E-ah! Send her in.”
“Ye, Mama.” The Palace Head Maiden responded, just before sliding the doors open.
A little girl walked in, heading toward them and performing the customary bow.
“Greetings, Jung Jeon Mama. Seja Jeoha. I am Lord Kim Dae Hyeon’s daughter, Kim Da Yeong.” She had politely stated, still bowed.
Tae Jun eyed the wide eyed little girl.
He found the introduction a bit funny as, in his mind, he was already quite grown up, and the little girl was so childish!
Tae Jun only had one female friend he was close to…
Then there was another one, who tried to follow him as often as possible… She was about the same age as the one in front of him.
Either way, to an eleven year old boy, it was a nuisance.
He did not need another child following him around.
“Omo! She is adorable…” His mother was already saying, and he looked at her in disbelief.
His mother stood up suddenly.
“Tae Jun-ah. Omma Mama will quickly go somewhere. Stay and discuss at length, okay? Yoon E-ah!”
Before long, his mother had left them alone, leaving with her maidens.
Only his eunuch and a few guards remained outside.
Now he and the little girl sat across from each other.
Wanting to show he was far ahead of her, he cleared his throat, breaking the silence.
“Ahem! What family did you say you were from?” He picked up his cup, flicking his wrist stylishly and taking extra care to do it perfectly.
Then he nearly dropped the cup when she responded.
“Tch! I introduced myself not so long ago… Did Seja Jeoha already forget?”
“Mueo?!” He demanded, slamming the cup down, but she was no longer listening to him.
“Omo! What is that?” She stood up, gathering her skirts, and racing off to admire one of his mother’s tapestries.
Tae Jun was in brief shock.
“Ya. Did you forget who I am?” He asked, genuinely curious, but she ignored him completely, moving to the next one.
“Daebak! This is how cool Jung Jeon Mama’s chamber is!”
And she had raced around the chamber, exploring perfectly ordinary things, instead of paying attention to him!
“Ahem!” Tae Jun got up and stormed out of the chamber angrily, Eunuch Soo hastening to keep up.
He stopped suddenly, the little girl still on his mind.
“Wah, Omma Mama introduced me to a lunatic, complete lunatic.” To think he could have spent that time in the library!
He stormed off again, and Eunuch Soo followed.
Tae Jun had more important things to do!
But the meeting had had an unexpected advantage.
Tae Jun had not gone far when he met someone else.
“Aigoo, Seja Jeoha.” Sang Yoo Jin, the Prime Minister greeted him, bowing his head.
Tae Jun inclined his head in return, but was more focused on the man behind the Prime Minister, who was bowing as well.
It was the stranger from the previous evening in the Palace library.
Tae Jun had left, pretending he did not notice anything.
He wondered what his brother had been doing with the Prime Minister’s aide.
He knew his brother, on a normal day, was too proud to associate with an aide.
Now he was curious…
On a whim, Tae Jun ditched Eunuch Soo, then doubled back and followed the Prime Minister and his aide at a safe distance.
He watched, as they found a secluded spot and began to discuss.
It was a good location…
Wide open space so no one could approach or hide around them.
But they had not counted on someone like him.
He climbed a tree which was quite far from them.
This time, he put his unnaturally good hearing to use.
“…First Prince has agreed. I just got a message from his aide.” The stranger was handing something small to the Prime Minister, but Tae Jun could not see itI
He assumed it was a note.
“What about the Interior Minister? We need him to make sure the necessary faction officials are in the Capital at the right time.” The Prime Minister asked.
“Cha Daegam has not responded. He does not like the idea of killing Jung Jeon Mama as well.”
At this point, Tae Jun had nearly fallen off, but he had caught himself.
Kill Jung Jeon Mama? Omma Mama?
Tae Jun was suddenly afraid of what he was listening to.
More afraid than he had ever felt.
It took everything in his power to remain listening.
“Ignorant man. If we kill only Seja Jeoha, everyone around Jeonha would be a potential suspect.”
Tae Jun’s fear increased if possible.
As Crown Prince, he had always known that people targeted the heirs to the throne.
The history books on Palace politics made this clear.
But he had never faced the grim reality, and to hear it so blatantly stated, as if they were not people, but tools…
The Prime Minister was still talking.
“…they would investigate thoroughly and be a nuisance, especially since Jeonha does not trust me to begin with.
“But if we give them something else to look at, there would be no excuse to investigate me. Right, Chung Jae-ah?”
“Jung Jeon Mama is a child of the Southern Faction. If she and her child are murdered, and there is evidence pointing to the Northern Faction, Jeonha’s own faction, everything will be wrapped up.
“The two factions are enemies, and the Northern Faction never supported Jung Jeon Mama for the King’s second marriage…”
“Seja Jeoha!” Eunuch Soo interrupted Tae Jun, and he glanced down at him in momentary surprise.
He looked back up at the two men, but they were already leaving.
Deciding he had heard enough, he climbed down to the ground and practically raced to the Sky Palace, ignoring Eunuch Soo.
He had to see Appa Mama.
Jang Tae Yong, King of Eondoeg Mun, stared at his scared son in well hidden surprise.
In the eleven years of his son’s life, the King had never seen him particularly scared of anything.
Seeing the fear and shock in Tae Jun’s eyes, Jang Tae Yong had listened to something he would have otherwise dismissed.
In fact, the boy’s reaction made him believe it, and it filled him with fear.
Still, the boy was not telling him everything.
He leaned forward.
“Who is it that you are protecting?” He asked.
Tae Jun had suddenly run to him, saying that someone wanted to kill him and his mother, the Queen.
The King had asked him how he came to know, and who.
The boy had started answering, but had stopped suddenly.
He had refused to say a word since.
He had questioned the boy’s eunuch, but Eunuch Soo had not seen or heard anything.
Tae Jun fisted and unfisted his hands.
Though his head was bowed, he could feel his father’s gaze all too clearly.
Still, each time he was tempted to say something, his mind reminded of something else.
He had realized that mentioning the Prime Minister would indirectly lead to his brother.
His earlier fear seemed to have been replaced with his own indecision.
He remained silent, bowing his head and wondering what to do.
“Tae Jun-ah!” The King yelled and Tae Jun flinched, but he still remained silent.
After a few moments, the King made a decision.
It was better to know the plan without the culprit, rather than knowing nothing at all.
“If you will not tell me who is responsible, then tell me what their plans are. I have to know, so I can protect you and Jung Jeon.” Tae Jun looked up at him uncertainly and he nodded kindly.
“The person they wish to eliminate is me. They want to ki- kill Omma Mama to shift blame to the Northern Faction. I don’t know how or when they intend to strike.”
Tae Jun crawled forward, then bowed fully.
“Appa Mama! Please protect Omma Mama!”
“Raise your head.” Jang Tae Yong ordered calmly. He was not used to seeing this side of his son.
He looked at his chief eunuch. “Eunuch Eun.”
“Ye, Jeonha.” Eunuch Eun answered.
“Take him back to the Sun palace with Eunuch Soo.” He looked at his son. “Go with Eunuch Eun for now. Don’t worry too much, ‘Appa Mama’ will take care of it.”
Tae Jun stood up and followed the eunuchs, while the King thought about what he would do.
He was genuinely bothered by this.
Tae Jun might not know it, but he had indirectly pointed out one of the culprits.
The only person Tae Jun could possibly be trying to protect was his older brother, the First Prince.
The King hoped his eldest son was not involved.
Eunuch Eun was worried as well.
The King had known he was taking a big risk when he married the current Queen, and that people would constantly use it against them.
But that did not mean they were both ready for the consequences…
The King and Queen of Eondoeg Mun were rumoured to be in a love marriage.
Most people were uncertain if this was true, but they knew one thing for certain.
The King had gone against his faction to marry the current Queen.
A few people, however, knew the full story, and Eunuch Eun was one of them.
He had watched over the King since he was a boy…
As a boy, Crown Prince Jang Tae Yong had saved the life of a little girl from drowning.
He did not know it then, but she was the daughter of the Southern Faction leader.
He completely forgot about the incident, but she did not.
Lady Han In Hee, usually referred to as the jewel of the Southern Faction, had only looked at the young Crown Prince from that day.
She had found inventive ways to follow him around, the best being her decision to train under the Prince’s master, Lord Moon, in Nam Guk.
This was usually frowned upon, but she had not cared, bullying everyone in her path into submission.
Besides, Lord Moon was her uncle.
It was under Master Moon that Tae Yong and In Hee had met again and fallen in love.
Both had known that marriage was almost impossible, but they had not let it stop them.
Years passed and they were separated, when he had had to marry the selected Crown Princess.
She had died leaving no heir, and after he became King, he had taken a concubine, who had given him a son.
Meanwhile, Lady Han had grown into a willful young lady, who blatantly refused to marry, choosing to spend her life alone.
She ran her father’s secondary trade business, enjoying extreme success.
Eventually, the King had sought her out, waited for the right opportunity.
Then he had proposed the controversial marriage, using the unity of both their factions as an excuse.
And now, despite many challenges, they were together.
Eunuch Eun hoped it remained that way, and that this new threat did not steal their happiness away…
The puppet play held no amusement for Tae Jun, as his mind constantly went back to everything he had heard.
He considered, yet again, telling Appa Mama everything, but that would involve his brother as well.
He glanced up at the show before him.
Appa Mama had sent the performers to get his mind off the matter, but he was too bothered to enjoy it.
He waved them away and left the Sun palace, Eunuch Soo following behind him.
He walked randomly, but soon found himself at the Jade Palace.
His brother’s palace.