Chapter Forty Two- Into The Past
The deities had been rather unwilling to let go of being human.
The day Sang Yoo Jin had taken the throne, had been the day the four of them had received the King’s Journal from Pal Wol.
At first, they had been eager to read the book, curious about what had happened, but oddly enough, none of them were willing to take that step.
“This will change everything, won’t it?” Da Yeong had asked, voicing out what bothered all of them.
“Ye. I suppose if we read this, we would have to take responsibility, depending on what we see.” Chun Hwa added.
“Wha- what if we lose our memories after this? I mean, it’s strange that we can remember everything.” Hye Yeon said, and they all considered this in silence.
“I don’t want to leave my family-…. yet.” She added in a rush, and Chun Hwa lightly hit her with a book again.
“Aigoo! Do you think anybody here wants to leave their family?” He looked at Tae Jun. “Tae Jun-ah, this decision is up to you. You’ve been quiet.”
Tae Jun had thought about it. He had really really thought about it.
“The responsible thing would be to open this book now and turn our backs on life as we know it. Even if it means we might lose our memories after all.” He paused.
“If we don’t know what happened, we might make the same mistake we made back then.” He added, and Da Yeong and Hye Yeon’s faces fell.
However, they were surprised when he stood up suddenly. He leaned down and grabbed Da Yeong’s hand, pulling her up.
“Chun Hwa-ah, I will entrust you to keep this book safe till a later date. Don’t touch it with your bare hands!” Without another word, he dragged Da Yeong out of the pagoda.
Chun Hwa and Hye Yeon stared after them open-mouthed.
“Heol! Did Lord Geom just-?”
“Whatever the Lord of the Heavens is planning, leaving us with our memories like this might be a problem.” Chun Hwa cut her off.
Still, he was more than happy to keep the book away, careful not to touch it.
Da Yeong had happily allowed herself to be dragged off, but she yanked her hand away when she noticed where they were.
It was one of the empty palaces.
“Ya. Dragging me away to a secluded location like this-.” She turned away shyly. “People will get the wrong idea.” She added, fiddling with the front of her chima.
“Ha! I’m impressed! You can think of such things at a time like this! You didn’t protest when I brought you in here, until now. Seriously, you’ve been secretly hoping I’d bring you somewhere secluded, right?”
“Ya!” She flushed prettily, spinning round to glare at him. “Wah! What do you take me fo-?”
She never finished, as he stormed over to her, grabbed her shoulders and kissed her deeply.
It felt like a blissful, magical eternity to Da Yeong- and yet, it was over all too soon.
They were both out of breath.
She felt herself swoon, but he caught her, his arm going around her waist.
“Wae? No stamina again?” He teased, then kissed her forehead as she flushed even deeper. He continued.
“If things are like this, I don’t exactly want to read that book. Forgetting all this is not something I accept.”
“What are we going to do?” She asked, placing her head to his chest.
“We’ll figure it out.”
It was a welcome reassurance, but as they slept that night, they saw the vision, as Sang Yoo Jin forcefully took the throne.
Still, making the decision to read the book was difficult.
“When you think about it, our human knowledge might make us better prepared.” – Da Yeong.
“Ye! I think we can understand how the enemy thinks a little better.” – Hye Yeon.
“Let’s meet tomorrow and make a firm decision.” Tae Jun and Chun Hwa said at the same time.
They turned to look at each other, then looked away.
That same day, Kim Dae Hyeon and Lee Ju Won were surprised when Da Yeong suddenly wanted to spend all her time, either reading quietly in her father’s presence, or just hanging around Ju Won.
“Ya, Ima (Kid). Why are you suddenly hanging around me, huh?” Ju Won asked, when she asked for yet another duel. “This is the ninth time already! You’re distracted, so I’ll just win again! Earlier you were sticking to Lord Kim, until Jeonha summoned him. What exactly is wrong?”
“Tch! Is it that obvious?” She asked with her wide smile, and he looked away.
“I can read you like a book, so please,” he said, exasperated. “Hanging around me will make me misunderstand. Stop it now, and just tell me what is wrong.”
“Mianhae, Orabeoni. I just want to spend time with you.” She said simply, sitting down in front of his chambers.
He joined her.
“Is it something you can’t tell me?”
“Aigoo!” He lightly stroked her hair. “My Dongsaeng is having a hard time…”
Lord Sang Yoo Min’s residence…
Lady Sang did not understand Hye Yeon’s sudden desire to accompany her about, doing things she usually had no interest in.
Hye Yeon hung around her father as well, but most of all, she had secretly gone to find Min So Yeon.
“I’m only saying this to Agashi, because you have refused to stop following me.” Min So Yeon said, after trying to get rid of her twice.
“Will you follow me somewhere?” He asked, and she nodded willingly.
He took her hand and led her off into the nearby forest.
It was a place Hye Yeon had come to herself, on some of her many previous ‘adventures’, but So Yeon took her deeper into the forest, till they came to a natural clearing with beautiful flowers.
“You like flowers so I brought you here. It was discovered by Daegun a long time ago, but I had no reason to remember it… Until you.”
Hye Yeon had simply grabbed his hand and pulled him down with her, sitting with him till it grew dark.
Lord Choi’s household, Nam Guk…
Chun Hwa would probably have clung to his father, but as Lord Choi was currently in the Capital, he satisfied himself with sending him several letters… all in the same day!
“Come in here.” He would call out and give a waiting servant, yet another letter. “Send this to the Capital as well.”
But after a while…
“Aish! Seriously, why am I this way?” He asked himself aloud, flinging the decorated paper aside.
“This is the seventh one!”
Feeling restless for no reason, he went to find Tae Jun…
…who was suddenly spending the day with his father.
“You. When are you going to go back home?” Tae Jun whispered to Chun Hwa, after the two had settled awkwardly before his father.
It reminded both of them of their childhood.
Then they had still been enemies, sitting before the King, who kept comparing Chun Hwa’s scores to an angry Tae Jun’s own.
At present, Chun Hwa merely slid a little closer.
“Aigoo. Is this the real face of friendship? You want me to suffer alone.” Chun Hwa whispered back.
The two sat awkwardly before Jeonha, listening to his deliberate jabs at both of them:
“Tae Jun-ah, remember when you were young, and I was explaining how a person should be RESPONSIBLE in his position?”
“I’m sure you do.”
“Ah, Choi Chun Hwa. I was always impressed by your scholarly talents. When you were both younger, me and your father discussed how our sons would grow into fine and RESPONSIBLE young men. Ah, ye. Good memories.”
Apparently, Jeonha wanted them to ‘RESPONSIBLY’ accept their fate, and fully intended to constantly remind them!
Three days later…
After days of ignoring the situation and deliberately closing their minds and hearts to anything happening in the Capital, they finally took the step.
The push had occurred when the King’s troops had arrived in Nam Guk, going to the Palace and to Lord Kim’s household.
That made them realize a simple fact, especially Chun Hwa, whose father was in the Capital, and Tae Jun, whose father had clearly explained things to him.
If Sang Yoo Jin knew who they were, he would never leave them or their families alone…
It was time to read the King’s Journal.
The hidden temple, Nam Guk…
The hidden temple had been deserted since Choi Chun Hwa had overheard the King’s assassination plot in it.
It had become another perfect place for Jang Tae Yong, Kim Dae Hyeon and Pal Wol to hold a meeting, away from the troops’ spying eyes.
Which is why they were a bit surprised when a spy was brought before them.
“Jeonha!” A voice had said from beyond the door. “A spy has been caught hanging around the temple, Jeonha!”
The three of them looked at each other, then he faced the door.
“Bring him here.” The doors were opened and three guards walked in, holding their swords to the neck of a fourth man.
It was Joo Chung Jae.
Chung Jae had wondered aimlessly for a while, questioning his own purpose in life.
Did he repent?
He wasn’t sure.
What he was sure of was regret- deep and sorrowful.
He remembered the look on Lady Hayan’s face, recently and in the past.
Someone who had drawn so close to him, despite his initial refusal to draw close to her or any of the deities.
He felt as if thousand lifetimes would not get rid of her blood which had stained his hands twice.
And he had involved his father…
In the past as well, his father had suffered because of him.
In this lifetime, he could have saved the Silent Monk, his father.
But instead, he had followed his master… A master who could discard him so easily.
A master who had killed his father, just so he won’t be swayed!
In the end, he chose to be on the opposite side this time.
Was it because he repented, or because he wanted revenge.
He didn’t know…
Jang Tae Yong watched the young man standing before him.
“Why are you just standing there? We both know you wanted to be brought before me.” He gestured toward the guards. “That is why you allowed them capture you.”
Just as he said it, one of the guards shouted “Kneel!” and attempted to make him kneel, but before he realized what was happening, Chung Jae had disarmed one of the other guards, taken his sword, and was holding it to the guards exposed throat.
“Jeonha is indeed clever. I see why Sang Daegam could never really get the upper hand.” He dropped the sword and knelt.
“I deserve to die, and I will welcome death willingly. However, there is something I must pass across before I die. Something that will help Jeonha in his battle against Sang Daegam.”
You keep addressing him as ‘Sang Daegam’. Are you unaware that he has become King?”
“It was a position acquired without honour. I refuse to respect it. Besides, isn’t Jeonha planning to take back his throne?”
“He is a clever young fellow.” Kim Dae Hyeon commented.
“What is it you wish to tell us?” Jang Tae Yong asked.
“I wish to tell you everything that happened in the past. The tale that even King Seung Jae did not know of…”
He began to tell them the story of the past.
At the same time, Tae Jun, Chun Hwa, Da Yeong and Hye Yeon had gathered in Chun Hwa’s house to read the book.
“The book only shows you what you want to see.” Tae Jun told them, as Chun Hwa placed it before them.
The book, however, was not exactly what they expected.
It was not something to be read.
Being the deity of knowledge, Chun Hwa opened the book, using his ability to turn the pages without touching them.
The strange words and characters crawled around the pages for a while, but then, they suddenly rearranged themselves on the pages, in recognizable script.
Chun Hwa read the first few words:
“In the year when Jang Yoo Jin Wang sat on the throne…”
The four of them were suddenly plunged into the past, watching the events as they unfolded…