Chapter Forty Three- Feelings Of Unease
Still in the past…
All the heirs of the royal family were dead, except one.
The Fourth Prince, Prince Jang Seung Jae.
Jang Yoo Jin, King of Eondoeg Mun, stood before the people, for once, to express his deep grief that all his children, except a murderer was dead.
The people gave the King their full support, and they wore white clothes to join in the mourning for the dead princes.
The King had blamed the deities’ visit for his son’s sudden bloodlust.
“The Fourth Prince was a very promising heir to the throne, despite being of low birth. He loved his brothers and the rest of the royal family! The deities must have influenced him somehow! They are against the ruling family!”
He even mentioned the gates, saying it would make the Kingdom even better, but the deities still refused to open them.
A sizeable number of people did not believe his word against the deities, but majority did.
He succeeded in turning the people away from them.
Seung Jae remained in prison.
Jang Yoo Jin felt a cruel pleasure in leaving him there.
He wasn’t tortured or judged. He was just stuck there, waiting, wondering when the horror would start…
It was a befitting temporary punishment, before he decided to torture and kill him.
The Sky Palace…
“THIS IS NOT RIGHT!” The Queen cried hysterically, dressed in a beautiful white mourning hanbok, which she had dreadfully wrinkled in her grief.
“Jeonha is using the blood of his dead sons to gain support from the people!” She knelt on the floor in front of the Sky Palace.
“Please stop the false mourning, Jeonha!” She cried out amidst wretched sobs.
She hadn’t been able to eat or sleep.
She kept seeing the image of her little son as the poison consumed him…
As the life went out of him…
She constantly felt like a spear was stuck in her heart.
The thought that his own father, who had probably killed him, was using his death like this, tore at her already raw heart!
“JEONHA! Please stop this political use of the dead-.” She fell silent, sobbing uncontrollably as the doors were thrown open.
Yoo Jin stormed over to her and held a sword to her throat.
All the servants looked away.
“Should I reunite you with your son?” He asked calmly, then lowered his voice.
“Now, are you pretending to be a mother? You think I don’t know what you were planning to do to other people’s own precious children?” He looked up.
“Head Maiden! Come out here!” The Queen’s eyes widened as her personal maid came out from the Sky Palace.
“Why are you coming from there-?”
“She has been my person from before you even came to the palace.” He repositioned the sword, bringing the sharp tip closer to her neck.
“Then, should I punish you for murdering the royal family? I merely added Daegun to your original list. If you had not poisoned the other princes, your son wouldn’t have died… Those were my orders. But you went ahead.”
He smiled cruelly.
“Make no mistake woman, you killed your own son.”
“Jung Jeon! Just decide if you want to replace Seung Jae in the Palace prisons, and I will make it happen. This aimless wailing tantrum is sickening to witness.” He withdrew the sword.
Several moments passed, the silence broken only by the Queen’s sobs.
Then she stood up with as much dignity as she could muster, ignoring the pitying looks the servants were throwing at her.
She turned away from him and walked away, broken, back to the Moon Palace.
Yoo Jin tossed the sword, and his guard caught it, placing it back in its sheath as they went back inside.
That night, the Queen took her own life, hanging herself in her chambers.
A fortnight passed, but Jang Yoo Jin was getting more and more discontent and impatient.
He had won against the Queen.
He had Seung Jae where he wanted him.
He had turned the people against the deities, thereby reducing any political power they might have had.
No one could challenge his throne, and yet…
He was no closer to getting the deities to open the gates.
He was still mortal.
Yoo Jin had summoned powerful priests and shamans from far and wide, but the answers were always the same.
“Jeonha. No one can touch those blessed by the heavens!”
“They are too powerful, Jeonha!”
“Jeonha, it is an impossible task!”
“Jeonha, the thing that sleeps beneath the Kingdom should not be released… It will bring doom.” He had killed that particular shaman.
Yoo Jin had even tried to find Pal Wol, the Prime Shaman that had headed the Palace magical body, before running away.
But she was too well hidden.
“Summon the Grand Priest in the hidden temple.” He had ordered.
He didn’t like the Grand Priest, because he seemed too close to the deities, but he would try to use him.
Yoo Han Ho, Grand Priest of the Gwang Guk hidden temple, came into the Palace prepared to die.
Being the priest currently in charge of meeting the deities, organizing their palanquins, accompanying guards, maidens and others, he had naturally drawn close to them over the years.
It had just been three days ago that Lady Hayan had been expressing her worry to him about the King’s actions.
He knew what the King was after, but he would not help him.
He performed the full bow, then settled before the King.
“Yoo Han Ho.” Jang Yoo Jin began. “I hear the deities are still in your temple.”
“Ye, Jeonha. They are waiting for permission to leave, from you.”
“Did you not hear what happened to the royal family?”
“This servant respectfully mourns with Jeonha. I pray that the Heavens will grant Jeonha utmost comfort and consolation.” He said, bowing to the ground.
“If you know this, why are you leaving them in your temple?!” The King’s voice rose with each word, but the priest wasn’t fazed.
“Jeosonghamnida, Jeonha. The deities merely await your permission to fully leave your presence.” He bowed again.
“I see.” The King said. “The deities have betrayed the ruling body, and turned their backs on the King. They have made my son into a murderer, and now they mock me by awaiting my permission?” He scoffed, then sat up straighter.
” I will ask you, Grand Priest of Gwang Guk. How does one defeat the deities?”
Yoo Han Ho pretended to consider the question for a little while, then he answered.
“Jeonha seeks to achieve an impossible thing. The deities, blessed and placed in this kingdom by the Lord of the Heavens, cannot be defeated.” The King slammed his palm down on the throne.
“There must be a way around this! Tell me.” Again, the priest wasn’t fazed
“The deities are immensely powerful beings, Jeonha. They do not possess a weakness that I know of.”
They did, and he had an idea what it was…
But he would die before he told the King.
“What if I decide to kill you, if you are no use to me on this issue?” The King asked.
“This humble servant seeks to continue living, but if I am no use to Jeonha, I will humbly go to meet my ancestors.” He bowed to the ground again.
The King considered him for some time, then spoke.
“Leave my presence. Go back to the hidden temple. Tell the deities to leave the Capital without turning back.” He sat up straighter, leaning back fully into the throne.
“That is the will of their King.”
“I will do as you have asked, Jeonha.” He bowed to the ground again, then left.
He had to make it clear to the deities.
The King would never stop.
The Hidden temple, Gwang Guk…
That night, the Grand Priest told the deities all that the King had asked him and commanded.
“Abeoji, is Jeonha going to continue like this? We still cannot see anything concerning him or ourselves. It is an uncomfortable feeling.” Lady Hayan spoke when he had finished.
Yoo Han Ho looked at her fondly.
He shouldn’t have favourites, but she was his amongst the deities.
Her open, innocent nature, and her desire to get close to a person, could warm any heart.
Sadly, people thought she was cold and aloof, considering she lived on an icy mountain.
They didn’t understand that the pure white, un-melting ice, signified an unchangeable, incorruptible good.
The rivers of Lord Paran’s mountain, signified the constant, never-ending flow of knowledge.
Lady Chorok’s evergreen mountain signified never-ending growth and success.
And Lord Geom’s Fog signified danger. The element of the things people fear, which are constantly hidden.
It described the unpredictable nature and strength of his powers.
People didn’t understand any of these, and just assumed all the deities were not particularly approachable, except perhaps, Lady Chorok, who was slightly chubby, and usually seemed playful.
Their assumptions were only right when it came to Lord Geom Jeong.
The previous Black Deity and the current one were the most aloof, un-approachable people Yoo Han Ho had ever met!
But in both cases, they had a definite weakness.
The White Deity.
Interestingly, it seemed worse in the present Lord Geom Jeong’s case…
Yoo Han Ho pulled himself from his thoughts, and faced the deities.
“It is above my place to worry about your well-being, but I worry anyway. The look in the King’s eyes was clear. He will never give up his plans for immortality.” He paused.
“You all must have seen, as I have, the tricky way in which he eliminated anyone with a right to the throne. He intends to sit on it forever. To achieve that, he needs to be an immortal being.”
“How does he intend to open the gates. He must know that we will never open them. Does he have another plan to become immortal?” Lord Geom Jeong asked him.
“I do not know. Like you, I cannot see what is to happen.” He smiled a sad smile. “No matter how powerful one becomes, he is subject to the rules of unnatural powers: ‘We can never predict our own fates’.
“This must mean I am involved in some way. However, like you, I sense something bad is to happen. Which is why I think you should obey Jeonha’s order and leave. Never return to the Capital, no matter what happens. He can’t hurt you, but he will never stop trying…”
If they stayed away from the King and all that concerned him, the King would probably never achieve his goals.
The deities never needed to travel, unless they felt like it.
They simply appeared where they wanted to be.
After Yoo Han Ho’s warning, they left the hidden temple, then disappeared, reappearing a little distance away from the White mountain.
“We have to keep away from humans for sometime. Unless it is absolutely necessary, refrain from doing anything unnatural to help humans.” Lord Geom Jeong told them.
“Jeonha will just assume that we are trying to win the people’s favor against him. Right now, he feels threatened wherever we are concerned.” He looked pointedly at Lady Hayan and Lady Chorok.
“You.” He addressed Hayan. “Stop trying to save everything. It is natural for humans to die… You even transfer your zeal to creatures as well-.”
He sighed, stopping himself, then turned to Chorok.
She flinched and stepped slightly behind Lord Paran.
“Making unnaturally beautiful flowers appear in a sad girls hands, pitying a lazy couple and granting them a harvest in winter, growing a peach tree on rocky ground to help an eloped couple.” He slightly stressed each word, and she flinched on each stress.
“Are you the deity of happiness? How many times must I warn you not to carelessly interfere with humans?”
“Ya!” She protested, but shrunk when he narrowed his eyes at her. “Lord Geom has berated me for those crimes already. I won’t do anything like that again…” She meekly added.
“You better not. Jeonha will be looking for any excuse to get at us. You might want to be careful who you pity. They might be his spies.” He turned and faded into thin air, returning to the Foggy mountains in the South.
“Aigoo! I totally had goosebumps! At times like this, I pity enemies that attack Eondoeg Mun.” Chorok said, then turned to face Hayan.
“Wah! Eonni, how are you able to spend so much time around him? Is he threatening you?”
“Ahem.” She cleared her throat, saying nothing. Lord Paran smirked.
“Chorok-ah, the Lord Geom you’ve been seeing is the nice one, thanks to a certain someone.” He laughed as he disappeared, and Hayan cleared her throat again, louder this time.
“Huh? Eonni you’re a bit red in the face-.”
“Aigoo! I guess we should go as well. Then, I’ll leave first.” She vanished.
“Aish! They all left me here alone.” Chorok complained to herself, as she disappeared as well.
The White Mountains…
Lady Hayan and Lady Chorok sat the next day in Lady Hayan’s home on the White mountain.
“None of you like coming here because of the cold, so I wonder why you came suddenly.”
“Just because. I feel very bothered for some reason. Very restless and uneasy.”
“Ah, ye. But Chorok-ah.” She looked down at the numerous bowls of food before her, and the nice stack of recently emptied bowls to the side. “If something is bothering you, how are you able to eat so much?” She asked in wonder, as Chorok defeated bowl after bowl of food.
Chorok slurped loudly, then swallowed the food in her mouth before answering.
“Ani ani ani.” She waved a finger from left to right as she spoke. “One should never let worries get in the way of eating healthily.” She advised importantly, then resumed her eating.
“Aigoo! If my spirit awakens as the next White Deity, I want to eat as healthily as you!” Hayan said, amused.
“You should set an achievable goal. No one can eat as healthily as me.” She said seriously, and they both started laughing.
A little later, they went outside, Chorok growing flowers and Hayan freezing them immediately.
“Ya Eonni~!” Chorok complained, chasing her. “Stop freezing the flowers!”
“Hahaha! I told you, everything here should be white! This is like me trying to introduce dead plants to the Green mountain.”
She vanished out of Chorok’s reach, appearing behind her. Chorok appeared near her, but she had quickly vanished beyond her reach again. “Even the lake is white here.” She pointed at the lake from beside it.
“Ah Wae?! Colours are such wonderful things!” Chorok appeared a little distance off, apparently giving up.
“Aigoo, my little ‘mujigae’. But when you look at it, aren’t these flowers very beautiful?” She pointed to the last group of flowers she had frozen, after appearing right next to them. They glittered beautifully.
“Wah! Daebak! They are pretty!” Chorok had appeared beside her, kneeling to get a closer look and caressing the closest one.
“Right? Colourful is good, but it’s not the only way.”
“Eonni is completely right! Totally!” She exclaimed excitedly, studying the flowers. “Ah! We can call these ‘Snow blossoms’! Combined effort from me and Eonni.”
“Should we? You can keep them.” She waved a hand over them. “Now they would never melt or die.”
“Now you’re making flowers as well?” A sarcastic voice said a little distance away.
They looked up at Lord Geom Jeong.
A very distinct black shadow, against the white landscape.
He looked at Chorok.
“Get lost.” He said simply.
“Ah, ye!” She said, then she lowered her voice, muttering to herself. “Tch! Always such a bully. Is this your own house?”
She gathered the crystal flowers, but got up to find Lord Geom right in front of her.
“Omo! Frightened me!” She jumped back.
“You realize I heard everything you said, right?” Her eyes widened and she looked hastily at Hayan, who was silently laughing into her hand.
“Then Eonni, I’ll go first.” She bowed hastily and vanished. Hayan started laughing out.
“Why must Orabeoni frighten her every time?” She asked.
He turned, heading over to her.
“She never listens and just does what she likes.”
“Am I not like that as well?”
“At least you know the two of you are similar.” He took her hand, then started heading inside.
“I came because I felt uneasy. Cheer me up.” She yanked her hand away.
“Ha! ‘Am I the deity of happiness’?” She imitated his words to Chorok the previous evening. “Tch! Why should I do any such thing for Orabeoni?”
“Don’t be difficult.” He complained, reaching for her hand again, but she moved it away.
“I don’t want to.” She rose her nose and turned her back to him. His hand went around her waist, spinning her round to face him.
Her eyes widened in surprise.
He hadn’t done this before.
Geom Jeong smiled.
He knew he had surprised her..
He had learned that move from a human.
“Please.” He said, slightly cajoling, a boyish smile on his face.
Hayan felt herself melt.
This was a side she was certain no one else had ever seen, and every time he brought it out, he managed to get his way.
“Aish… I guess I can keep you company this once.” She said, hastily stepping out of his arm and heading inside the house.
He watched her go, certain she was beginning to feel as confused as he had begun to feel recently…
From the moment Hayan had awakened and arrived at the hidden temple, he had changed.
He wasn’t the first, as he had seen in the memories of the previous black deities, but this time, there was a dangerous element that the others had never experienced.
It was almost as if it had been building in intensity, from black and white deity to black and white deity, getting stronger each time.
In his memories of the earlier ones, they hadn’t even liked each other.
It had been growing steadily from lifetime to lifetime…
And now, it had developed into something else.
He and Hayan seemed attracted to each other in a very human way.
His method of stopping her just now was a clear example. It had been sheer instinct….
‘Well’, he thought to himself, following after her. ‘As long as we don’t cross any lines.’
Near the edge of the trees, Paran sighed, placing his wide-brimmed hat back atop his head.
“I came here because I felt uneasy, but it seems someone was here before me. To proceed, or to go back…” He debated aloud.
But then he remembered the last time there was a situation where he had intruded on what he privately termed ‘Geom Jeong and Hayan’s quality time’.
The look Geom Jeong had thrown in his direction had not been friendly!
He pulled the hat low over his face.
“I’ll definitely come back another time. Ye. That’s the safest choice…”