Chapter Forty One- The Bloodthirsty King
Residents of the Capital became aware of the power change, the day after Sang Yoo Jin took the throne. Many were shocked to discover that every single minister, including those who had obviously supported Sangwang Jeonha, had signed against his son, for Sang Yoo Jin’s rule.
The rumours spread like wildfire.
“It’s definitely dark magic! They were controlled!”
“It’s an outrage! Maybe their lives were threatened!”
“Ani. Jeonha was never as good as his father. Someone with better knowledge has taken the throne.”
“Still, things are not done this way. Sang Yoo Jin is not to be trusted!”
“Ye. Who knows what he will try to do next, if he boldly reached for the throne!”
“Maybe Jeonha was really a lame duck. No use for a useless King. Besides, he was ‘Gun Wangja’.”
“Ye. His maternal bloodline is weak.”
Among the Ministers, there was equal unrest. Many hastened to pledge their loyalty to Sang Yoo Jin. Several hastened about, trying to prepare themselves for the worst.
A select few, were very calm, but equally as confused.
These included Lord Moon Guk Suh, the Minister of Defence and Head of the Military, Lord Choi Yung Seon, the Information Minister, and a few others.
Most of them would have died, instead of signing Sang Yoo Jin’s approval but, and this was what confused them, they had been encouraged by Sangwang Jeonha to allow Sang Yoo Jin take the throne.
“…If ever I leave this throne,” He had begun.
There were just six of ththem and they had instantly been bothered.
“Jeonha! Please do not utter an unlucky thing, Jeonha!” Lord Choi had protested, bowing to the ground.
“Do not utter such a thing, Jeonha!” The rest chorused and bowed to the ground.
He raised a hand, and they sat up.
“I appreciate the loyalty you have shown, but there is a plot that no one knows about.” He looked round at them.
“Very soon, I might step down from the throne, and Seja Jeoha will ascend.”
They had begun murmuring amongst themselves, but he raised his hand again.
“You all are very brave and loyal.” They were the only ministers he could trust, and they would probably die, rather than betray him.
That was why he was telling them this.
“Seja Jeoha will ascend as King, but he may not last long. Sang Yoo Jin will attempt to take the throne.” Again, they protested immediately, but he slapped his hand down on the throne, and there was instant silence.
“Stop it and listen to me! I don’t know how he will do it, but he will. My last command to you, is to support him, while making it seem like you don’t want to.”
“Support Sang Yoo Jin? He is not even in line for the throne.”
“Do as I have ordered. You will understand everything soon. Don’t openly defy him.”
“Ye, Jeonha.” They chorused
And though it confused them, they had obeyed.
Even more confused was Moon Guk Suh, Head of the Military…
After that meeting, Jeonha had given him a very beautiful eagle, named Sigan.
“In case you ever need to send me a message, attach it to him. Keep it a secret.” The King had vaguely said.
In the present, Lord Moon watched the eagle fly with his message to Sangwang Jeonha…
Central Palace, Gwang Guk…
Hye Su sat before her father, seething with rage. She had finally achieved her goal of becoming Queen of Eondoeg Mun.
And now, her father had deposed her husband, taking her title away in the process.
“Abeoji! How could you do this to me!”
“Lower your voice and your eyes when you are addressing the King!”
“Address me properly as ‘Appa Mama’!” He looked down at her. He had been expecting her outrage.
“I only helped you to become Jung Jeon, because I had my own ambitions. It is your own fault for not knowing your father’s heart.” He gave her a condescending smile.
“Jang Tae Min has become Sangwang… A rather prestigious title for his young age. Don’t worry, you can still be Gongju, (legitimate daughter of the King). That is if you decide to leave your husband and stay here in the Palace. I can arrange a good marriage for you.”
He had banished Jang Tae Min to the Western Palace.
Hye Su stood up angrily and stormed out of the throne room.
She was ambitious, but she knew when she had lost.
She felt angry at all the wasted years she had spent in the Side Palace. Still, she reminded herself, some good had come of it.
She and Jang Tae Min had not been married long, but she had found genuine love in Jang Tae Min.
She would go with him.
Still, if she couldn’t be Queen, she would make sure her father would never remain King!
Sang Yoo Jin did not intend to waste time and wait for his enemies to act. His first move on the throne had been to send word of his ascension to all of Eondoeg Mun.
Then he had summoned the Head of Military.
“I don’t feel comfortable with Taesangwang Jeonha (Tae Yong is now a senior abdicated King, since Tae Min is now a Sangwang). Send troops to Nam Guk with orders to monitor his actions.”
“Also monitor Kim Dae Hyeon. I will send a royal order with your troops. He is to cease training soldiers immediately.”
Of course, it was merely a first step.
He intended to kill Jang Tae Yong, Kim Dae Hyeon, Pal Wol, and the four deities eventually.
Next, he had put the Grand Priest in charge of the Palace magical body, to begin preparations for releasing the shadow.
This time, he was more prepared.
He will act faster…
A day later, Sang Yoo Jin began assigning high positions to those on his side.
The ministers were outraged, but there was nothing they could do.
Many were already trying to get on his good side.
By the third day of Sang Yoo Jin’s reign, the people wished their ‘Lame Duck’ King was back on the throne. Taxes had been raised, lands had been seized, and any body who spoke up against the King was killed; on the spot.
By the fifth day, children had begun to disappear again, not just in the Capital, but in surrounding towns as well.
Rumours that the King was sacrificing the Kingdom’s children to dark magic spread, but the gossips were very very careful not to be heard.
This was not a reign, where one could speak carelessly.
The King was also claiming slaves for himself, going as far as taking people’s young innocent daughters, to become palace concubines…
The Southern Palace, Nam Guk
Sigan, the eagle, had reached Nam Guk before dawn, on the day after Sang Yoo Jin seized the throne, which meant Jang Tae Yong, abdicated King of Eondoeg Mun, received Lord Moon’s message, and had time to act, before the troops arrived in Nam Guk.
“As expected, Sang Yoo Jin will waste no time in trying to eliminate us.” Standing by his window, he addressed Kim Dae Hyeon and Pal Wol, who he had summoned.
He threw Sigan into the air, watching him fly off with another message, then he turned to them.
“He should hold no power over me, but he is ruthless. He will try to frame us for treason as an excuse. Since he has shown us his seriousness, we should begin to proceed as well.”
“Ye, Jeonha. I will give the soldiers instructions and according to the plan, they will be temporarily disbanded.” Kim Dae Hyeon spoke.
Jang Tae Yong nodded, then turned to Pal Wol. She spoke.
“Jeonha. The news of a Grand Priest is a bit disturbing.” She paused, then continued. “As I blocked the evil attacks on Jeonha within the palace, the Grand Priest might also block our attempts as well. Our plans may not be effective.”
He considered what she said.
“Hmmm. I knew Sang Yoo Jin had a hidden power in the shadows, but I didn’t consider another Grand Priest. You spent a lot of years silently watching priests and shamans. Do you know who this priest is?”
Pal Wol fisted her hand, grabbing a handful of her chima and wrinkling it in the process.
It was her way of hiding her emotions.
This time, she was hiding her anger, and maybe a little fear…
“I did not meet any Grand Priest on my travels, except the Silent Monk. However, I have a very good idea who this priest is.”
They both stared at her intently, Kim Dae Hyeon noting the unconscious habit.
She continued, angry tears glittering in her eyes.
“I suspect that this Grand Priest is the one that led to the death of the deities, a hundred and fifty years ago.”
Two days later, Sang Yoo Jin’s troops reached Nam Guk.
The Leaders of the troops had arrived with flourish, fully intending to catch Taesangwang Jeonha and Lord Kim unawares, but were taken aback when both welcomed them easily…
Southern Palace, Nam Guk…
The soldiers who arrived at the Nam Guk palace were less than willing to approach Taesangwang Jeonha, but the leaders of the troops were determined to use the opportunity to raise their ranks.
They intended to be careful– outrightly annoying Taesangwang would lead to an early grave.
Still, they eagerly led the troops to the Palace.
“What is the meaning of this!” The Head of the guard demanded, when they arrived.
“We have come under orders from Wang Jeonha! We demand that you open the gates at once!”
The overall Head of the troops gestured to the men, and a few soldiers stepped forward, a sealed golden scroll before them on cushion.
The Palace Head guard was unfazed.
“Jeosonghamnida, but Wang Jeonha has no power here. According to law, ‘Taesangwang or Sangwang does not interfere with the ruling body, and the ruling body does not interfere with Taesangwang’.” He Quoted.
The Head of the troops smiled a mean smile.
“Do you think I came here unaware of that law?” He scoffed. “Jeosonghamnida, but that law has one loophole. Where ‘treasonous activity is suspected, Taesangwang Jeonha would allow for discreet investigation, so as to clear his name and status before the ruling body’.”
The Head guard looked over all the men.
“‘Discreet’?” He scoffed. “The last time I checked, discreet actions did not involve a party of-.” He mentally counted them. “-about eighty or so men.”
“Receive the Royal Orde-!”
“I understand, I understand, Jeonha ordered that you be allowed in at once.”
“I demand that-! Wh- wh- what did you say?”
“You are our honoured guests. Please go in.” He bowed them inside, noting their confused faces with amusement.
Inside the Palace, Jang Tae Yong had ordered a feast thrown for the leaders of the troops.
The Head of the troops had tried to raise an issue of the Head guard insulting him, but it had been neatly brushed aside.
Currently, the men reclined on soft, comfortable cushions, eating and drinking merrily.
Of course, Jang Tae Yong simply watched them, observing them secretly.
He spoke finally.
“As you know, I have not fully recovered since I left the Palace. This means I have little or no pleasures to amuse me. Forgive my Head guard. I asked him to put on a show.”
“Ah, so it was a show?” The Head of the troops asked, slightly indignant, then he flinched when he saw Taesangwang Jeonha’s face.
“No. It wasn’t. I don’t appreciate anyone questioning my authority in my Palace.” He said coldly, an extremely frightening look on his face.
The men begun to shift uncomfortably, fear slicing through them, but then he laughed.
“Loosen up! I really don’t have much amusement these days. You must forgive me for amusing myself at your expense…”
The men laughed as well, but it was strained.
Many of them were recalling stories they had ever heard about just how scary their current host could be…
Lord Kim’s residence
On Lord Kim’s side, the troops had been cautious of approaching.
He had once been the Head of Military, so most, including the leaders, did not know how to approach him.
A wrong move on their parts, and their positions- or even their lives- might be over.
But, they had their orders, so they eventually stormed to his gates.
They were surprised when the guards welcomed them in readily.
“What brings you to my household?” Lord Kim asked the Head of the troops, after they had greeted and settled in.
“Ah, ye. Jeonha has ordered that you disband your soldiers at once. You are to cease training soldiers immediately.”
“What did you say? Did you say Jeonha sent you?” Lord Kim asked, seemingly confused.
His guards drew their swords at the guests, who looked startled, but Lord Kim raised his hand and they put the swords away.
“Forgive my men. They must suspect that you are imposters. This is because Jeonha already ordered, about a fortnight ago, that I disband my men. I have complied, even though I have been in depressing spirits ever since.”
“Ye?” The troop leader was confused for a moment, then realized what must have happened.
“Ah! Kim Daegam is not aware! A new King sits on the throne…”
He spent the whole evening telling Lord Kim what he already knew, while Lord Kim quietly studied him…
They would have to find a way to take care of the troops.