Chapter Forty- The King’s Journal
The Southern Palace, Nam Guk…
Tae Jun entered the southern palace throne room, and the look he shot to a Gisaeng serenely playing a long flute, made her cease immediately and hasten from the room.
He walked over to the throne, performed the full bow in greeting, then sat before his father.
The two sat in stubborn, expressionless silence until, shaking his head, Jang Tae Yong spoke first.
“I did not expect you to perform the full bow. Outside of the hidden books and records, we don’t know how the Kings related with the deities.”
“Ah, so Appa Mama knows I have remembered.”
“The solstice was the predicted day.”
“Appa Mama is not even trying to hide the fact anymore?”
His voice was still calm and expressionless, but these two understood each other very well.
Tae Jun was angry, and his father was anxious, maybe even a little apologetic, but completely firm in his decision.
“Ah. There is no use. I’m not proud of lying, or secretly trying to control a part of your lives. However, it is a decision I will take again. I don’t imagine myself losing, but if I do and Sang Yoo Jin achieves his goal, he will awaken something that normal men can’t handle.”
“So, is that why Appa Mama sent me out of the Palace as a child? So I will not be noticed by Sang Yoo Jin?”
“Ye. It is indeed the same enemy that made me send you out. But it wasn’t because you were a deity. I only found out you were one of the four deities recently. Precisely on the day Sang Yoo Jin saw you in the Hall of the Kings.”
“Then coincidentally, Choi Chun Hwa, Sang Hye Yeon, Kim Da Yeon-. All these people ended up away from the Capital.”
“I wouldn’t be in this seat if I couldn’t make such lucky coincidences happen.”
“Wah! Appa Mama is really scary. So for almost eleven years, Appa Mama has been planning for this momentous day?”
“Yes, I was.” His son was indirectly making his actions seem evil.
“And you kept pretending that I-. Ani. You allowed all of us believe we had a chance at a normal life. You even arranged my marria-.”
“Tae Jun-ah! This impatient child! Listen to what I’m saying!” He had risen from the throne, not caring for once, if his son was the Black Deity. “I said I only found out you were one of the deities very recently.”
Tae Jun bowed his head, coughing to hide a very unexpected laugh. ‘Child’? He glanced up at the first and only person he remembered as a father.
“What about the others?” He asked, struggling to hold on to his anger, which was slipping away. This was the problem with human emotions…
“I didn’t intrude on their lives, beyond keeping them from Sang Yoo Jin. Except the White Deity, and she was a special case.”
“Appa Mama is really skilled at acting from the shadows…”
“Stop twisting a person’s intentions! Truthfully, it was hard to accept, and we feared you would all forget and go off to do your duty as deities. I was even worried that I would not remember you.”
“Jeosonghamnida, Appa Mama. I performed the full bow just now, because I have no intention of stepping up as the Black Deity.” He bowed his head.
Jang Tae Yong sighed, sitting down.
“Crazy fellow. I knew you would be like this, but I don’t think you have a choice. Now that you’ve remembered everything, you know what sleeps beneath this Kingdom, right?”
Tae Jun stared calmly at him, but he continued.
“Sang Yoo Jin, or I should say Jang Yoo Jin. The true ‘blood thirsty king’, who has not learned from his past mistake, seeks to control the shadow beneath this Kingdom again.”
Jang Tae Yong leaned forward to deal the final blow.
“And, most importantly, the reason you want to remain a normal human being, Sang Yoo Jin will take that away… He will kill that person at the nearest opportunity.”
Tae Jun clenched his fists as his father spoke.
“Why her specifically? You may be asking. You might have guessed it, since you awakened on the Winter solstice, but if anything happens to Lady Hayan, whose curse brought you all back here, you will all vanish. She will naturally be his first target.”
Tae Jun briefly recalled the words spoken to Chin Suh.
“If anything happens to a single deity, you will become the most evil of demons upon the earth, and if all three of them are destroyed, you will die. Guard them well.”
But something else his father said drew his attention.
“She put a curse on all who played a part in your deaths. Pal Wol saw this in a vision, or we wouldn’t even know. The curse made you all come back. It is what Sang Yoo Jin fears the most.”
It was as Tae Jun had feared.
That person was really in danger.
“Pal Wol. How much exactly did she see?”
“Enough to help us, but not enough to answer all the glaring questions. She was murdered before those events.”
“Appa Mama really considered all these things.”
“Ye. I don’t want to give you up as my son, but as King, I have to make these decisions.”
“Anyone that seats on that throne before I return, is only temporary…”
Lord Kim’s residence…
Chun Hwa and Hye Yeon arrived at the Southern Palace first, as Da Yeong had gone to do one of the things she did best: Argue with her father…
“…So Abeoji, no matter what, I will absolutely never leave this household!”
“Aigoo, this stubborn person. Look at this person glaring at me! You’ve grown courageous! Haven’t you?”
“After all, I am Abeoji’s daughter.”
“I don’t know where this troublesome spirit comes from… Who do you take after? Your Omma was a gentle flower!”
“Obviously it’s from Abeoji!”
“Stop it now! I’ve told you, that decision is up to Jeonha.”
“Ye Abeoji. I understand. But Abeoji, I will absolutely never leave your household.”
“Then,” She bowed and ran off to follow Pal Wol to the Palace.
If fate wanted her to cut off her relationships, then, as usual, it should have taken away her memories of being human.
On the way, she did something she wished she had done in all her past lives…
She prayed for all the people that had once been related to her in one way or the other, before each awakening.
She was also thankful that she had never remembered them, but mostly that they had never remembered her in those lifetimes…
Back in his chambers, Kim Dae Hyeon sighed to himself, while pointlessly trying to concentrate on his documents.
“Aigoo. Causing a scene whenever she feels like it, seriously. This household will be quiet if she goes, right? Still, it’s a relief to see that she is still the same.”
When he had woken up that morning, he had been thankful that he still remembered his daughter.
Then the sight of her coming to rage war with him, had been the most pleasant thing he had ever seen.
He had been so worried…
He gave up, putting aside the documents.
“Me too, my troublesome daughter. I hope you won’t have to go far away from Abeoji…”
The Southern Palace, Nam Guk…
Being together after so long was certainly awkward. The four had met again in the Palace pagoda, not even sure what to say.
They sat quietly.
Chun Hwa avoided Tae Jun’s eyes, even though Tae Jun kept staring pointedly at him.
Da Yeong and Tae Jun avoided each other’s eyes, even though they sat next to each other, leaving JUST the socially accepted space between themselves.
Hye Yeon realized quickly that she was the only neutral party…
In the end, she broke the silence.
“Ahem! I just thought. I don’t want anybody to call me ‘Chorok’. I’m really a colourful person, but I would rather not be called a single colour.”
It was such a silly statement, given the awkward situation, that they all laughed a little.
Even Tae Jun scoffed, hiding his laughter.
Chun Hwa lightly hit her on the head with a book.
“Aish! You of all people should be called a colour.”
“Ah wae~?” She protested.
“We should call you ‘Mujigae (rainbow)’, for your personality.” Da Yeong piped in.
“Tsk! I think I might accept that one… Dongsaeng!” She had turned to Da Yeong.
“Don- dong…saeng?” Da Yeong asked, puzzled.
“Of course! I was born before you in this lifetime. Don’t think I will call you ‘Eonni’.”
“Omo. Your happiness is showing too clearly. You can call me anything you want, ‘Noona’.”
Hye Yeon beamed at the term. It was not that long ago, but it felt like it had been years since she heard it.
“You.” It was the first time Tae Jun spoke, turning to Chun Hwa.
There was a sudden chill in the air and Chun Hwa visibly flinched.
“What exactly was your reason to hide something like this?”
“Eh? Did you remember something before yesterday?” Da Yeong asked Chun Hwa, but his attention was on Tae Jun.
“Mi- Mianhe. I saw only a bit of my memories, after seeing Pal Wol on Jeonha’s birthday. I had hoped we would all just go on as usual, living normal lives in this lifetime.”
They looked at each other, fully understanding the unspoken words.
None of them knew what had happened, but it had been the Black Deity’s duty to protect the others.
Chun Hwa had wanted to keep him from the guilt of that failure.
“Tch! Protect yourself first, this person.” Tae Jun muttered, looking away.
“Ah… So you started remembering because of the Shaman?” Hye Yeon asked. “Figures. She did follow you around, asking a whooooooooooole lot of questions.” She used her two hands to over-emphasize the word ‘whole’.
“Ah, you mean like that young guard that used to follow you around, asking a ‘whooooooooooole’ lot of questions as well?”
“Ya! So petty-.” Hye Yeon paused, her eyes widening.
‘…that young guard that used to follow you around…’
She had just remembered Min So Yeon from her previous life.
She turned to face Tae Jun immediately.
“Jeosonghamnida, Daegun. Please where is Min So Yeon- Ssi?”
Tae Jun looked at her curiously.
“Forget it for now and sit quietly. Someone is coming.” He said quietly, and they all fell silent.
A minute passed.
Then two minutes.
But they didn’t see anyone.
Soon, a few long, silent minutes had passed, before they finally saw Pal Wol and an assistant shaman approaching.
The assistant shaman held a small wrapped bundle.
“Exactly where did you sense her from?” Chun Hwa whispered to him curiously. “The throne room?”
“Ye.” He replied. It was a little far from the Palace pagoda.
“Ya! Please remember to tell us that next time! We kept quiet for nothing. You can warn us when the person is within hearing distance!”
Da Yeong and Hye Yeon were giggling.
“It was noisy.” Tae Jun added simply.
When Pal Wol reached the pagoda, she and the other shaman sank into bows before the deities, and she introduced herself again.
They all inclined their heads politely, but their attention kept dashing to the bundle the assistant shaman carried.
She wasn’t surprised.
They of all people would sense its power at once.
The shaman handed her the bundle.
Pal Wol nodded to her and she left quietly.
“Forgive me for coming a bit late. Sangwang Jeonha wanted to discuss with me.”
“We understand.” Da Yeong said without hesitation. “Please proceed with what it is you have come to show us. I am here because you claimed you could solve the mystery behind our deaths.”
Chun Hwa and Hye Yeon glanced at her in surprise, but Tae Jun merely furrowed his eyebrows slightly.
It was what secretly bothered all of them.
Pal Wol looked up at her as well, biting back a smile.
The young lady didn’t know it, but she had unconsciously stepped right back into the role of speaking first for the deities.
She dropped the bundle before them.
“I believe the answer to your questions lie here.” She unwrapped the cloth to reveal a book.
The book was unlike any other book.
Its cover was hard; extremely hard, and it was pure white, with golden lettering.
The pages seemed to glow from within.
The characters read:
The King’s Journal.
Seeing such an interesting book, Chun Hwa itched to to look through it, but he stopped himself.
Pal Wol spoke.
“This book belonged to-.”
“The first King of Eondoeg Mun. Hwang Joon.” Tae Jun interrupted her.
He had seen it in Chin Suh’s memories; the first black deity.
He ignored their surprised looks and continued speaking.
“It was secretly given to him by the heavenly being, Chin Suh. A book that magically records the actions of all mortals within the Palace, or connected to it in any way. The ruling King could use it to know anything committed in secret.”
“Ah.” Pal Wol was a bit surprised.
She had never known the exact origin of the book.
She didn’t think even the deities knew its origin, and the questioning looks of the other three, proved her right.
Still, the Black Deity knew…
“This servant doesn’t know the origin of this book, so I am sure Daegun is right. The book was buried beneath the Palace, and I found it, while I was Head Shaman.”
“This book. Did you find it as the recent Head Shaman, or when you were Head Shaman under Jang Yoo Jin, in the past?” Tae Jun asked her.
“It is as Daegun suspects. I discovered it almost a hundred and sixty years ago. I hid it away, with the intention of keeping it from King Jang Yoo Jin, but-.” She bowed to the ground.
“I am ashamed to admit that, due to trusting the wrong person, a part of its secrets were revealed a hundred and fifty years ago. I think this book was responsible for everything that happened. Please forgive this servant.”
When Pal Wol had left the pagoda, they all stared silently at the book for a while, before Chun Hwa spoke.
“It’s odd that a King would bury such a powerful book.”
“Ye. But the book was an indirect punishment for a greedy King, who assisted in killing his own son. It was indeed a powerful tool, but what bothered the King was that it didn’t exempt him. His own actions were recorded in it as well. Fearing that it would fall into enemy hands, he buried it after moving the King’s seat to the North.”
Nam Guk had been where the original settlers had called home. Where everything had happened.
It had been the Capital for a long time, and most people never knew why the first King had chosen to change the Capital. But Tae Jun guessed.
He must have been running away from his guilt and bad memories.
“How do you know all this?” Chun Hwa asked him.
“My awakening was a little different from what I would have expected…”
Tae Jun told them everything he had seen and heard- well, everything except the part that involved the Black Deity’s existence being a curse.
He wasn’t ready to face the implications of that yet…
He also skipped what he considered the ‘unnecessary love story’…
He couldn’t imagine himself talking about that!
“So that is where the shadow comes from.” Chun Hwa observed, when Tae Jun was done.
“And that’s why we usually forget being normal humans.” Da Yeong added.
Questions that they had asked themselves for ages, were finally answered.
“I wonder why the memories of the first deities were not inherited.” Hye Yeon thought aloud.
“Someone with the knowledge of the heavens couldn’t pass on that knowledge to someone else.”
“Although, I don’t really think that is the only reason. It should have only affected the Black Deity.”
“So, all we have to do is read this book?” Chun Hwa had turned to the book again, and all of them followed suit.
They were apparently more curious about the events that led to their deaths, than they were about the first deities.
Chun Hwa reached for the book, but Tae Jun grabbed his arm.
“Wae? Why are you stopping me?” Chun Hwa asked him, glancing down at where Tae Jun held his arm in a vice-like grip.
“Read the situation a little. Your powers are cheating. If you touch it, it’s all over!”
“Ye! Then I can explain it to all of you. We would be done with everything faster.”
“I don’t want that. Let’s read it together.”
“No way… Are you still jealous of my scholarly powers?”
“You must mean it’s the other way round.”
“Ani. As children, you kept trying to study and beat me in everything.”
“More like, you kept trying to defeat me in combat…”
The two kept going at each other.
Hye Yeon’s mouth was hung open in shock.
She had never seen this side of Lord Geom.
Da Yeong shook her head, picking up the book.
She smiled to herself as she studied its intricate edges.
She preferred this Lord Geom to the one in the past…