Chapter Forty Seven- Interference
The Eondoeg Mun Palace, that same evening…
The Shamans and Priests milled around the large palace courtyard, where a huge pile of wood sat, right in the middle.
They wondered, not for the first time, what they were doing there.
They had been milling around for almost three weeks, ordered by the new Head Priest to be prepared.
“Exactly what are we supposed to be doing here?” A priest asked
“I don’t know, but it looks like a strange ritual, right?”
“Then, exactly how long will they keep us here? Besides, isn’t it strange?”
“Ye! Aren’t Jeonha’s special people absent?” They were the priests and shamans who had not been specially selected by Jang Yoo Jin.
“I think we might all die here.” A wise old priest said from the sidelines.
The rest didn’t take the statement kindly.
“Aigoo! Stop saying impossible things.”
“Ye. This is majority of the Palace magical body.”
“Senile old man…” most jeered.
The Northern hidden temple…
Yoo Han Ho did not appreciate the unexpected guest at his temple.
The two sat across each other, eating and drinking, painting a picture of companionship.
But they hated each other…
“Seong Su Min. The years have been kind to you. It’s not often that a dead man comes back to life.” He said with a smile.
“Hehehe, Yoo Han Ho. It has been long. I was never dead, but being believed to be dead served its purpose.”
“And what purpose was that? Don’t waste time feeding me the lies you fed the Prime Shaman. I see you’ve hidden your aura.”
“Haha, I am well aware that you are not so trusting. I came to discuss clearly. You’ve hidden your aura as well.”
“Ah, it’s a habit.”
“With me as well. Where is your son, Chung Jae?”
“Hehehehe, pretend I don’t have a son and state your business.” He drank from his cup.
“I understand. I want you to come over to Jeonha’s side.”
“Did you come, not anticipating my answer?”
“Will you righteously refuse without hearing me out?”
“Don’t you get tired of being here? Locked away from the world, simply because you are powerful, and the ruling King fears that same power. They encourage us to master the arts and become powerful, then they lock that power away, saving it for themselves!”
“Did you come seeking comfort? If so, have more of this fruit extract.” He filled Seong Su Min’s cup. “You already knew great power comes with loneliness, and you still chose that path. Why are you blaming others for your choices?”
He looked at him squarely.
“As a dark priest, hiding in the shadows and jumping from place to place to escape, are you not even more lonely? Did you not use your hands to kill the only family that accepted you?”
“I was merely following Jeonha’s orders.”
“I told you not to feed me lies…..”
“Ha. Hahaha. Hahahahahahahahaha!” Seong Su Min laughed. “I knew convincing you wouldn’t be easy. If you are content to shrivel up and die here in loneliness, what about your son? Is he also content? To remain here, doing nothing?”
“Me and my son are fine. Besides, I told you to pretend I don’t have a son.”
“And as I said, I understand. However, I will just say one thing. Having family is wonderful, especially when you intend to rot away in loneliness. Like you… or Pal Wol.” He smiled nastily.
“And yet, family can be your greatest weakness. I wonder if your son is as content as you are…”
“What are you talking about?” He asked, but Seong Su Min stood up.
“I will leave now, but we will see each other tomorrow.” He left without a word.
Yoo Han Ho waited till he had gone completely, before he moved from his position.
“Chung Jae-ah! Chung Jae-ah!” He called out, going through the big temple.
There were times when Chung Jae vanished from the temple for a few days.
He always said he just wanted to explore and see the outside world.
This had started only in recent years, and it baffled him.
The two had been quite content with each other’s company for many years.
He hoped Chung Jae had not gotten himself in trouble…
The Eondeog Mun Palace…
Yoo Chung Jae bowed before the King. Ropes bound his arms to his upper body, and his wrists were tied in his front.
He had spent three day in prison, after he had been discovered using a false identity, amongst the capital guards.
“This is the boy?” Jang Yoo Jin asked, watching the bold young man before him.
“Ye, Jeonha.” Seong Su Min replied. He had had Yoo Chung Jae brought before the King, the minute he had returned from the hidden temple. “This is Yoo Han Ho’s son.” Yoo Chung Jae was shocked to hear his father’s name mentioned here…
Chung Jae, had secretly learned the sword for a few years now.
Being something other than a priest, had always been a dream for him.
He admired his father, but he had no desire to follow in his footsteps.
Being a natural at swordmanship, he had aimed to join the military.
But he couldn’t stray too far from home, because of his father, so he had settled for joining the capital guards.
If he was destined to die for his decision, then he would.
At least he had lived for a while… as opposed to being stuck in a hidden temple.
“What business does the son of a priest, have with a sword? Answer me.” The King asked him.
“Jeosonghamnida, Jeonha. I merely wanted to be a swordsman. I didn’t join the capital guards with any evil intent.” He replied.
“Anybody with a false identity among the King’s soldiers, has an evil intent. It is a capital offence to use a false identity, but your crime is even worse, as you joined the capital guards.”
Jang Yoo Jin watched the young man’s shoulders slightly sink in resignation.
He threw the bait.
“However, it doesn’t seem like you have any malicious intent… But your father is the problem.” He appeared to be considering the matter very seriously.
“My father?” Chung Jae asked, instantly guarded.
“Ye. The Grand Priest. How can I trust the child of someone who doesn’t do what I ask?”
“Jeosonghamnida, Jeonha. I’m sure it wasn’t his intention.”
“I wonder if that is the case.” Jang Yoo Jin beckoned to a guard and collected his sword.
He moved to stand in front of Yoo Chung Jae, then circled him.
The young man didn’t even flinch.
“I hear you are quite talented. How about you become one of my personal guards?”
“How can I? A lowly person like me…”
“Since you have impressive skill, it shouldn’t be difficult. You might actually become the head of the Palace guards before long.”
Chung Jae couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
Head of the Palace guards was a personal dream of his…
He had never wanted to be a priest.
Still, he didn’t know what the King wanted from him.
“Gamsahabnida, Jeonha.” He bowed even lower. “But, Jeonha has not stated what he wants from this servant.”
“You are a clever young man. The position will not come free. Your father will be the one to decide things, so go back home to him.”
Chung Jae was about to stand up, but he asked another bold question.
“Is Jeonha saying that, if my father simply does his bidding, I will be pardoned, and even get a high position?” He was trying to understand fully, what Jeonha was saying.
“I don’t make it a habit to repeat myself, but your brave attitude is useful.” Jang Yoo Jin was actually impressed.
“Go back to the temple. Whether your father does my will or not, determines whether you live or not. He only has this night to decide. You should both return here at dawn tomorrow.”
Chung Jae bowed, then left after the guards untied him.
He fully understood Jeonha.
If his father refused his will, he would kill both of them without a moment’s hesitation.
Geom Jeong approached the palace, unseen and unheard, but he stopped in his tracks, when he sensed another presence; one that was all too familiar.
Paran jumped slightly, when Geom Jeong appeared beside him.
“Ya. Can’t you give some form of warning, before doing that?” Paran asked him.
“Were you going to release Seung Jae, despite what I said?” Geom Jeong asked him.
“Wah! There’s no need to give me that scary look. I was waiting for you. I believed in Lady Hayan’s powers of persuasion, this time. I went to the White mountain and noticed she wasn’t there. I logically assumed she came to see you.”
“Ahem, what do you want?”
“I came to help!”
“I didn’t ask for such a thing.”
“Aish! Stop trying to bare any unforeseen punishment on your own. Besides,” He threw an arm around his shoulder, then hastily removed it when he saw his face.
“Ehehe, Mian. But isn’t it more fun this way?”
“Still, I’d prefer it if you weren’t here.” He went close to the Palace and lifted his arm to the wall.
“In the past, me and Hayan met a powerful barrier in this place. It is suspicious that it is absent.”
The Palace guards had only heard, but had never seen.
When Lord Geom Jeong and Lord Paran arrived at the Palace prisons, silently and unarmed, the prison guards dared to raise their swords against them.
“Lord Paran! Lord Geom Jeong! Submit yourselves to the King’s authority! Do not proceed past this point, and allow yourselves to be arrested for breaking Jeonha’s orders, and entering the Capital and the Palace!” The Head guard shouted.
“Ah! He’s really loud.” Paran dusted out his ears with a finger. “It appears they were expecting us.”
“Ye. Since you insist on helping, get Seung Jae out of there, while I handle these people.”
“Sure.” Lord Paran was past the guards in the blink of an eye. A few tried to follow him into the prisons, but met Lord Geom Jeong, who had been behind them, suddenly in front of them, blocking their entrance.
“Wh- what are you?” A guard asked in awe.
“The Black Deity. Why ask a question, if you know the answer?”
The first person that charged at him, found himself hanging from the high walls, otherwise unharmed.
It seemed like Lord Geom hadn’t even moved.
The others, though more cautious now, charged as well.
Still, without seeing a single thing, they ended up knocked out, littering the ground around him.
When Lord Paran came out carrying the Fourth Prince, most of the Palace guards, in massive numbers, had assembled before the prisons.
Then one of the guards, who had pretended to be unconscious, silently pulled a knife to attack Lord Geom Jeong.
Geom Jeong sensed him, but before he even turned, one of the other ‘unconscious’ soldiers, drew his sword and stabbed the other guard from behind.
It was a soldier called Shim So Yeon.
Rather than attack the deities, he had laid down, pretending to be knocked out as well.
“There’s a hidden shortcut behind the prisons.” He told them, staring wide-eyed, at the person he had just killed.
“You’ve never killed anybody before. Why are you on our side?”
“I can’t raise my sword against you, after everything Lady Chorok has done for my family. Sorry I can’t be of more help.” He stood up, grabbed his sword and headed to the prison entrance.
“It’s this way.” They studied him curiously, considering their options, amused.
They could easily pass through the palace guards, but why not leave quietly, if they could?
They followed him, both of them thinking the same thing.
Chorok might be childish, and interfere a lot, but she won hearts.