Chapter Forty Eight- A Dark Ritual
The Northern hidden temple…
Yoo Chung Jae knelt in front of his father, who was looking away from him in disbelief and annoyance.
“Bad fellow!” Yoo Han Ho hit his son’s shoulder with the bottom of his staff. “Bad fellow! Bad fellow! Nine generations of priests in this family, I’m the one with a son who has no magical talent, and whose irresponsible actions tie me to the throne!”
“What were you looking for outside? Why didn’t you tell your Abeoji?! You wanted to learn the sword? Use that same sword of yours to kill me!”
“Abeoji, please! I don’t know what Jeonha requires of you.” He bowed. “However, if you don’t do what Jeonha wants, we will both be killed. I know this. Why not take Jeonha’s hand and escape our fate? Why must we remain hidden away here?”
“Ha! Aigoo! Bad fellow!” He hit him with the staff again. “Chung Jae Omma!” He shouted toward the high ceiling. “Where did such an irresponsible child come from?” He looked back at him.
“Ima, do you even know what Jeonha wants? The deities who have always come here, talked to us and kept us company, Jeonha seeks to destroy them! And in doing that, this whole kingdom will come to ruin!” He shouted at him.
Was this the fate that had been hidden from him?
He was to play a part, not for the deities, but against them?
He didn’t want such a fate.
He stood, bending and grabbing his son’s shoulders.
“Chung Jae-ah. Pack some things. We are going far away from here!”
But Chung Jae forced his hands away, gently grabbing his own shoulders.
“Abeoji! Jeonha is not foolish. He sent me back, but I know he didn’t send me alone. He must have considered the possibility that I will escape with you. There will be soldiers watching our every move.” He had sensed them a few times, so he was certain of it.
Soldiers had followed him home.
Yoo Han Ho collapsed unto the bench in defeat.
He detested the situation, but deep down, he knew he didn’t have a choice.
Chung Jae was someone he couldn’t afford to lose.
He stood up and went away in defeat, leaving the boy kneeling there.
Chung Jae watched his father leave, choosing to remain in his position, knowing he would remain there till the next day.
It had always been his form of repentance.
If what his father said was true, he was truly sorry to the deities.
And yet, the thought of dying, when he hadn’t achieved much in life…
When he was so close to one of his dreams…
But more importantly, he wouldn’t be the only one to die.
His father would die for his mistake…
If he had to choose between his father and the deities, he already knew the answer.
Chung Jae wasn’t letting his father die.
The Eondoeg Mun Palace…
Sang Yoo Jin had almost lost hope in the plan, when news of the deities reached him.
“Jeonha! The deities have entered the Palace, and have taken Fourth Prince out of Prison!” The panicked guard reported to him.
Jang Yoo Jin tried to contain his excitement.
“Geurae. Put out the word that the deities have committed treason. Have the capital guards search everywhere for them.”
“Ye, Jeonha.” The guard bowed and left.
Seong Su Min entered.
“Jeonha, good news greats your ears this night. We can eliminate the deities now.”
“Ha! They are fairly heartless! It took them so long!” He looked down at Seong Su Min.
“Begin at once.”
The Foggy Mountains
Chorok leaned over Seung Jae, placing her hand on his forehead.
“Aigoo…” Tears were running down her face. “How can a human do this to another human?!”
Hayan stepped forward and placed a hand on his chest.
A white light engulfed his whole body, and his cuts vanished. They heard any broken bones reforming in his body.
“Wah! I had forgotten Eonni could even do something like this!” Chorok exclaimed in awe, examining Seung Jae.
Then she stopped suddenly.
“But Eonni, why were you allowing me cry, if you could do that immediately?”
“It was a bit entertaining.”
“Ya, Eonni!” They all laughed.
“Ah, Chorok-ah, we should commend you.” Paran cut in. He glanced at Geom Jeong, who glared at him.
Geom Jeong faced her.
“Ahem! Chorok-ah, thanks to you, we were able to leave the Palace quietly. That young person, what’s his name again?” He glared at Paran.
“Ah, Shim So Yeon.” Paran replied, enjoying his obvious discomfort.
“Anyway, ahem! Thanks to your constant interfer-.” He caught himself. “Thanks to your constantly helping him, he was grateful, so he gave us some assistance. Good job.” He vanished immediately.
“Heol…. Did Lord Geom just-.” She paused dramatically. “-COMMEND me?!”
“Congratulations.” Hayan teased laughing at her stunned expression.
Lord Paran poked her forehead.
“Ye. That is something you will probably never see again, so enjoy it now…”
The King’s handpicked priests and shamans had been at the Eastern and Western gates of Eondoeg Mun for almost three weeks.
They were shrouded in the shadows, waiting to begin the dark ritual they were ordered to perform.
Excitement ran through each group, as messengers arrived at the two gates, telling the priests and shamans that they were to begin the ritual finally…
The Eondoeg Mun Palace…
Jang Yoo Jin sat in the Palace pagoda, a concubine singing, while an entertainer beat the janggu (a small drum).
Tonight was the beginning of the end.
The end of mortality.
The beginning of immortality and power!
He remembered everything Seong Su Min had told him…
“Jeonha. Each time a heavenly being breaks the heavenly law, they temporarily lose the protection of the Heavens.This was told to a being called ‘Chin Suh’, who was the first Black Deity.”
He had narrated the story of the first deity.
How Chin Suh had broken the heavenly law.
How the first deity was defeated, his powers shared to the first four deities.
“However, the soul of the first deity refused to leave the earth. Destroying him would destroy the new deities in whom lived his essence, so the Lord of the Heavens locked him away, deep under Eondoeg Mun, sealing him with four gates, one tied to each deity.”
“So this is the being that I am trying to control… I am to possess the powers of the four deities.”
“Ye, Jeonha. However, the Lord of the Heavens gave the deities one final blessing. No one would ever be able to find the four gates, thus making it impossible to open them. Only the deity guarding a particular gate, can know its location.”
“You have not told me how to defeat them, or open the gates. You are merely giving me information.” Jang Yoo Jin had silently threatened.
He had become impatient.
“Jeonha. The gates are tied to the deities. If a deity’s gate is opened, that deity will die, and if a deity dies unnaturally, the gate they are guarding will be briefly opened.”
“So open a gate to kill a deity, and kill a deity to open a gate. That explains why they stubbornly refused to open it. Still, you said no one can find the gates. How will the gates be opened?”
“For breaking the heavenly law and interfering, they will temporarily lose the protection of the Heavens, which hides the gates.
“Jeonha, the priests and shamans will wait at the East and West gates for the moment when the deities break the law. Then they will perform an ancient ritual, one that requires the sacrifice of powerful people…”
At present, the priests and shamans in the Palace courtyard were witnessing a strange occurrence. The huge pile of wood in their center had miraculously caught fire.
“What is this?”
“Is it some kind of warning?”
Then they began to panic, as the palace guards at the courtyard gates, began to shut the gates, locking them inside.
The flames began to spread, engulfing them, as they ran around trying to escape.
The wise old priest never moved from where he sat…
He had expected this.
Their tortured screams were heard throughout the Palace…
It would have been music to Jang Yoo Jin’s ears, but he had asked the concubine to sing for this very reason.
He recalled the rest of the plan…
“… This ritual will use the souls of the sacrifices to find the gates of the two weakest deities, and open them.
“Being the deity of good, Lady Hayan’s gate will repel them.
“Being the deity of power, Lord Geom Jeong’s gate would probably be unapproachable.”
“So we would eliminate two deities.”
“No. We would eliminate three. It was something told to the being, Chin Suh, which I didn’t hear fully, but I managed to grasp. As protector, Lord Geom Jeong will die, if anything happens to those under his care…”
At present, the shamans danced, while the priests chanted by the sidelines.
Neither party moved when the sacrificed priests and shamans appeared, divided between the two gates. Their eyes completely black, and they seemed greyish in overall colour.
They hovered around the Eastern and Western gates, as the chanting and dancing rose in intensity.
Then they dispersed suddenly, heading away from the capital, towards the east and the west.
The Eondoeg Mun Palace
Yoo Han Ho arrived at the Palace with Chung Jae, the next morning.
True to Chung Jae’s warning, he had caught sight of the soldiers, hidden in the crowd, watching them.
He and Chung Jae performed the customary full bow, then sat before the King.
Jang Yoo Jin gestured to a guard, and he stepped forward.
He drew his sword, placing the tip at Chung Jae’s neck.
He didn’t flinch, but his father drew in a sharp breath.
“There is no need to fear.” Jang Yoo Jin smiled, looking down on them. “Naturally, I want to make sure you will do the right thing. I will ask you a familiar question. The deities, what is their weakness?”
Yoo Han Ho hesitated a few moments.
He looked at Chung Jae, and the guard moved the sword edge closer.
He bowed his head, then answered.
“The deities have a hidden hierarchy. Lord Geom Jeong as protector, is leader. However, Lord Geom Jeong’s weakness is the Lady Hayan. Knowing the weakness of the leader, translates to knowing the weakness of them all.”
There was brief a silence.
Then Jang Yoo Jin nodded and the guard sheathed his sword.
Yoo Han Ho sighed in relief.
“At least I know you are speaking the truth. Seong Su Min.”
“Take him to that place.”
The White Mountain…
It snowed heavily. It had never snowed so much, even in the heart of winter.
This was the end of the summer, and though the white mountain was always snowy, it was never this snowy.
Hayan walked amidst the snow, trying to understand the weather.
Was it an omen? She wondered, catching snowflakes in her hand.
She looked up, as Geom Jeong appeared.
“Orabeoni.” She said in greeting, then turned a deep shade of red, as she remembered the previous day.
“Ahem! It’s snowing a lot.” He commented, turning away.
“Ah, y- ye. How is Seung Jae?” She asked.
He frowned, heading toward the house. “He’s awake. He has been singing your praises since morning.”
Paran had told Seung Jae that Lady Hayan had convinced Lord Geom Jeong to rescue him.
He swivelled round to face her.
“Isn’t he a little too attached to you?”
“Ye?” She blinked in surprise.
“Seung Jae! He keeps following you around calling ‘Noonim, Noonim’.”
She laughed, covering her mouth with her hands.
“Why are you laughing?” He asked, but she kept laughing. He turned around and stormed toward the house.
“Ya! Let’s go together!” She ran to keep up.
“I don’t want to.”
“Ya! Orabeoni is the one who got the order wrong.” She appeared in front of him.
“Seung Jae is always following you around, calling you ‘Hyeong-nim, Hyeong-nim’! But about that, is Orabeoni jealous?” She had a hopeful expression.
“Ye. Among humans, when a situation like this happens, it is almost always jealousy.” She recited.
“Wah! You had a lot of time studying humans.” He suddenly placed both hands on her cheeks again. “Then, should I practice what I’ve learned from humans?”
“Why- why are you like this?” She stuttered. He leaned down and she shut her eyes expectantly.
He smirked, then released her.
“Then, I’ll go inside first.” He laughed as she opened her eyes, blinking in surprise.
He stepped around her and went into the house.
“Aish, that person! Why act like you will do something and then go away? Shouldn’t you always finish what you start? I must have gone crazy!” She silently berated herself, then she heard stiffled laughter from inside.
She flushed deeply as she remembered he had extremely good hearing…