Chapter Forty Five- The Hidden Hierarchy
Seong Su Min sat before the King, the two studying each other silently.
Jang Yoo Jin thought to himself.
‘Ah! He probably has the answer that I need, but he wants to seat on my head (Control me).’
Seong Su Min thought to himself.
‘Here is a greedy, power-seeking King. I refuse to bow fully to such a person. It will be easy to control him.’ He spoke finally, bowing.
“Jeonha, this servant has seen that something plagues your heart. If the heart of the King is burdened, the people can know no rest.” Jang Yoo Jin smiled.
“Saying things like that to swell my sense of importance, is a skill I sharpened with my uncle, the previous King. The people eat and sleep, regardless of my burdened heart.”
“Since you see much, tell me what it is I want to know.”
Seong Su Min was a bit impressed by the King.
He was no foolish ruler, content to listen to people praise him and swear loyalty.
The King had a goal and would eliminate any obstacle in his path.
Seong Su Min answered him.
“Jeonha seeks to destroy the deities. Jeonha seeks to open the four gates, so the hidden fifth gate can be opened.”
The King’s eyes widened at the mention of the fifth gate.
Apparently, not just anybody knew about it.
Seong Su Min continued.
“Jeonha seeks the immortal power of the creature which lies forgotten, beneath this Kingdom.”
Yoo Jin barely controlled his excitement. He lifted his eyebrows at the priest.
“And? If you dared look down on the King, came to the Palace at a deadly hour, and even refused to perform the full bow, then you either want to die, or you have all the answers. Tell me.”
Seong Su Min looked straight into the King’s face.
“This servant wonders why Jeonha is looking everywhere for an answer, when he holds all the weapons he needs to destroy the deities.”
The Hidden library…
As the day grew bright, soldiers arrived at the hidden library.
Pal Wol had come out in confusion, after making sure her husband and the children were hidden deep inside the library.
There were over a hundred soldiers at the gates.
“Receive the Royal order!” The leader bellowed out from the gates.
“Prime Shaman, Pal Wol, is to be arrested for treason against the King!” One of the soldiers handed him a scroll, and he read from it, bellowing out.
“The crimes are deserting the royal post of Palace Head Shaman, running away from the Palace with the King’s Head guard, and stealing one of Jeonha’s most precious possessions…!”
It was the last part that made Pal Wol realize that she had been betrayed by Seong Su Min.
No one else knew of the books existence!
Knowing she had to protect her family, Pal Wol lifted her hand and pushed through the air, as if pushing an invisible person.
The Head of the soldiers, and those around him, were flung backwards, throwing the soldiers into temporary confusion.
Pal Wol used the time well, dashing inside and closing the doors behind her. She heard the arrows hit the door almost at once.
She wasted no time and headed to her family.
It would take quite a while before they got past her protective seals, but it won’t hold them for too long.
“Seobangnim (husband)!” She called out, as she approached him, finding him before she had gone far.
“Jeonha has sent men after us. We have to go away from h-.” She stopped, wondering why he was here, away from the children.
Then she noticed all the blood
“Mianhae-.” He choked out, coughing blood from his mouth. She rushed to him at once, catching him as his knees buckled, and he fell foward. A sword stuck out of his back. He was dying.
“Seobangnim! Why are you like this?! Don’t go! How-?” He grabbed her hands, his blood soaking through the chima of her hanbok.
He struggled to speak.
“I had to come out, so they (the children) would remain hidden.” He lifted a bloody hand to her cheeks, which were wet with tears.
“Aigoo, my strong shaman. I miss you calling me by my name.”
“Yeong Ho-ah…” She whispered, the memories of their days in the Palace and here, rushing over them.
Her tears fell freely now, dropping on him.
“Don’t cry.” He forced out. “You have to be strong for them…” His hand fell away and she realized he was gone.
Being a shaman meant being prepared, and strong enough to handle the loss of a human life, but for once, Pal Wol did not feel strong.
Through her tears, she quickly lay him down properly in an honorable position, then, afraid of what she might find, she went to her children…
Pal Wol had heard of living nightmares… Dreadful events that made you want to die.
This was the first time she was actually living in one.
The first bad omen was all the blood.
Blood was splattered everywhere on the corridor. Not sure if it belonged to her husband, or the men he might have faced, she ventured forward.
The evil aura that emanated from the secret chamber were the children were hidden, was the second bad omen.
The aura must belong to a very powerful dark priest.
She tried to feel her children’s life force within the chamber, but she felt nothing, and it chilled her to the bone.
Almost too afraid to go in, she slid the doors open as quietly as possible, then stepped in.
“Yeong Su-ah! Yeong Ja-ah!” She called out in a panic, but as she took the next step, her shoulders sagged in defeat and immense sorrow.
Everything that had happened was revealed to her at once.
Her husband had told the children not to come out, and he had gone out to face the enemy.
He had bravely fought many men, but he had met another enemy.
Unfortunately, it had been the Grand Priest, Seong Su Min, who had been by far too powerful for him…
She purposefully took another step, and her two children came out, but didn’t run to her.
They stood looking at each other for moments that seemed like an eternity, both sides realizing the futility of approaching.
“Omma, Mianhamnida.” Her seven year old daughter, Yeong Ja, who always acted beyond her years, finally said to her.
She was holding her little brother’s hand, tears running down their faces.
“Mianhae Omma. We shouldn’t have come out. Mianhae…” she said in tears, as they both vanished before her eyes and she fell to her knees, seeing the rest.
The children would have been safe if they had stayed inside, but Seong Su Min had called out to them.
“Yeong Su-ah! Yeong Ja-ah!” He had come running down the corridor, passing the door which was never seen by anyone, unless it was shown to them.
He would never have been able to find them.
“Where are you?” He called out. “Your Omma and Appa sent me to fetch you!”
Recognizing the voice of someone they trusted and had played with on many occasions, Yeong Su, who was just five, had run out first, and Yeong Ja had followed…
He hadn’t even been merciful as he killed them, taking their bodies back inside… Knowing she would come here.
Pal Wol cried silently, not moving from her position on the floor.
She was the killer.
She had killed her own children by bringing that person in.
Not only had she trusted him, but she had made her family trust him!
She deserved to die!
She didn’t even flinch when she felt the sword tip at her throat.
She had sensed his aura.
He was no longer trying to hide it, so she felt his full power and finally realized why he had been hiding.
She loathed herself even more.
She had provided shelter for such a being.
“Wae?” She asked simply.
“Is that what you want to ask me?” He stepped round her and his feet came into view. “What was the real reason I was hiding? “How did I become a dark priest? You aren’t curious?”
“Wae?” She repeated the question, and he laughed loudly.
“You’ve always been simple.” He crouched down to her level.
“I didn’t need a reason. I wanted the book, but you didn’t let me have it. Since I didn’t have it, Jeonha became curious. He doesn’t want anyone to know of the book, or me, or his plans. He gave the death order on you and your family.
“Of course, the soldiers think they came here to arrest you… But I was given a different order.” He stood up.
“Actually, I could have made Jeonha believe that I didn’t know where you were, and that you weren’t involved in anyway.” He laughed again.
“But why would I do that? I want the book for myself and I don’t want any ‘living’ soul to know about it either.”
“This works for you then. My request as the last living soul is that you kill me. I hope you get the book you are after.”
“How brave and thoughtful of you. Don’t worry, I will.” He swung the sword and Pal Wol happily welcomed death…
A week passed and Seong Su Min realized that Pal Wol had happily died to partially thwart him.
He searched through the enormous library, used every spell and incantation he knew, but he never found the journal!
He had even tried to summon her spirit, but she had stubbornly remained silent.
As a last resort, he tried to destroy the whole library, but it had once been a hidden temple.
Hidden temples were protected by ancient magic, which was why even the deities could not appear into them.
Cursing Pal Wol in her grave, he had returned to the king.
The Eondoeg Mun Palace, the Sky Palace…
“Jeonha, we may not have retrieved the journal, but you can still achieve your goals with the part that I witnessed.” Seong Su Min told the King, When he first returned without the book.
The King had been angry, and had refused to see him.
But it hadn’t lasted, and he had been summoned in two days
“Tell me how. How is it that we can destroy them?” Jang Yoo Jin asked him, and he smiled.
“Jeonha needs to know the hidden hierarchy amongst the deities.”
Somewhere in Dong Guk…
Chorok stepped behind Lord Paran again, to avoid Lord Geom.
“Ah, Geom Jeong-i. Can’t you just let her go this once?” Paran asked.
“Move.” He ordered quietly.
“Ye, Hyeong.” He stepped out of the way hastily.
Geom Jeong reached for Chorok and she cowered, but he merely grabbed her arm; harshly.
“Ah, it hurts!” She complained as he dragged her away. Hayan and Paran followed at a safe distance.
He took her to a low cliff edge.
“Lord Geom, surely you don’t want to kill me here right?” She asked, wide-eyed, taking in the deserted location, but he grabbed her shoulders and turned her to face the town.
“Look closely at what you did.”
Chorok watched as the people threw food and stones at a passing boy.
“Ah! It’s that… kid.” She added weakly.
She had found him starving outside the town, before she had met the others that morning.
Wanting to make his life a little better, she had given him plenty of fruits to sell.
The words of the people in the streets, reached their ears.
“Where did he get the fruits in this season?”
“It must be the deity of the east!”
“Did the deities turn you to a murderer as well? Are the fruits poisoned?”
“Aigoo! Be gone! Those deities. Are they showing off their powers?!”
It continued, as Chorok covered her mouth with her hands in disbelief.
She turned her back on the scene and Hayan went over to wrap an arm around her shoulder.
“I will repeat myself because you are still quite young as a deity. Don’t interfere with humans. Especially now that Jeonha has successfully turned them against us. Whether they hate us or not, our existence will still bless the Kingdom. Let’s just do that from the shadows.”
He pointed to the boy, who was hastily running away from the townspeople.
“Anything more might create the opposite of what you intended.” He turned and walked away.
The Eondoeg Mun Palace, the Sky Palace…
Jang Yoo Jin listened very carefully as Seong Su Min spoke.
“Jeonha, everyone assumes that the deities are equal beings. However, even the deities obey the rules of nature.
“Knowledge and progress are ‘good’ things, which means naturally, they answer to good.
“Lord Paran and Lady Chorok would answer to Lady Hayan.” He paused here to look at the King, who was considering what he was saying.
“In an ideal world, good would rule over power, but not in the world we live in. Even amidst natural things, the weak ‘good’ creatures get consumed or destroyed by the strong ‘bad’ predators. The same rule applies to humans as well, even more so than animals.
“Lord Geom Jeong is such a strong personality, almost directly opposite to Lady Hayan. They are all powerful, but he is superior because of his role as protector.
“Even though the deities all present the illusion that Lady Hayan is the most important, she must answer to him.”
Jang Yoo Jin leaned forward.
“So, what am I to do with this information concerning the hierarchy? If anything, isn’t this bad news for me? Lord Geom Jeong being the leader, makes everything worse.”
“Ye, Jeonha. But there is a slight flaw in the hierarchy… A slight but VERY useful flaw.”
Jang Yoo Jin laughed as he listened to the priest.
He was finally close to achieving his goals.
Very close indeed.