Chapter Fifty Three- Appa Mama
Still Chin Suh’s memories…
The men withdrew their swords from Chin Suh’s neck, taking a step backwards and falling to their knees in respect.
Chin Suh took a tentative step toward the veil, expecting the long line of soldiers to stop him, but they didn’t.
He ran and threw himself in a bow before the veil.
“Jeosonghamnida, Wang-Shin (King deity). This humble servant, asks your forgiveness.” Chin Suh did not dare look up as he spoke.
There was a long silence where, despite the cold, he felt sweat run down his chin.
Then he sighed in relief when he heard the fan snap shut.
Wang Shin, the Lord of the Heavens, had always had the habit of playing with his golden fan, every time he talked with a subject.
That meant Chin Suh was safe for now.
Wang Shin spoke.
“Ah. Chin Suh-ah. My favourite servant who threw two of my own laws in my face.”
“For breaking the law, you are living with the consequences. Why have you bothered me for fifteen years?”
“Jeosonghamnida, Wang-Shin. This shameless servant has come to seek your help-.”
“Do you believe I don’t know why you called me?” The fan swished open. “You want to destroy Hwang Chul, so the deities can lead normal lives.”
“I won’t help you. I already said this, but your life is a punishment.”
“Ye, Wang-Shin. I do not mind suffering for eternity. But the other deities are innocent. After we die, this suffering will be passed unto four more innocent people. And there will be more as the years…”
“So you now realize the consequences of your actions?”
A longer silence. Then…
“There is something you should know.” Fan swish. “Hwang Chul is slowly going to get stronger, and the deities are slowly going to get weaker. His powers that I transferred to them, will slowly return to him.”
“For the Kingdom that lazily wanted everything without hard work. For the King who greedily chose his own son, and ended up sacrificing the life of that same son. For you who did the right thing for the wrong reasons-.” Chin Suh jerked up.
“What do you-?” But one of the men drew a sword on him.
No one, even him who was once above them, dared interrupt Wang Shin.
He bowed back.
“Jeosonghamnida, Wang-Shin.” Fan swish.
The servant withdrew the sword and stepped away.
“Chin Suh-ah. I didn’t punish you because you interfered. I punished you because you didn’t interfere. Not at first. You were bothered back then, but you were strong enough to ignore the cries of the Kingdom, until Hwang Chul cast his gaze on the woman, Han Joo Hae. Then you threw caution to the wind, even resorting to dark magic to kill Hwang Chul.”
“If you were so noble and intent on destroying evil, then you should have acted for all humans, not just the one you favoured. I might have overlooked your disobedience, but I could not overlook your selfishness.”
Chin Suh’s face fell, the realization of his own faults, bearing down on him and destroying his hopes. But then…
“However. Hwang Chul will eventually become a problem, so I will give you a chance to defeat him.”
“You will die, but I will give you back your immortality in a cruel form. Half of you will be born as the next black deity, while half will be trapped within that which you created. Do you see my meaning?”
Chin Suh’s mind immediately went to the sword he had created.
Power had been taken out of it to create two other parts of the same weapon, still there was no doubt that Wang Shin was talking about the sword.
“Ye, Wang-Shin. ”
“You will be trapped within the sword, until another ‘black deity’- your other half- touches the sword. If this happens, you will be able wield the sword again, against Hwang Chul.”
“Unfortunately for you, because of your actions, when I gave the deities powers, I also gave you all a logical side that would never interfere, especially for selfish reasons. Especially you.”
“The black deity will lose your memories of your past, after he is reborn, so you will be trying to convince your heartless half to interfere, and touch a sword which currently belongs to the royal family.”
Chin Suh considered everything.
It was a hopeless situation with a low chance at success, but it was something.
There was that tiny glimmer of hope.
Besides, at the very least, no one but himself would suffer the fate of the black deity.
He bowed even lower.
“Kamsahabnida, Wang-Shin. I will accept your gracious gift to me.”
All the candles flickered out and there was darkness again
The Foggy Mountains…
Tae Jun found himself back in the weaponry, leaning against the table.
He looked up, half intending to find Chin Suh gone, but he was there, arms folded, looking down at him.
“Hmm. The deities really got weaker. Are you this way because you saw my-. Your memories?”
Tae Jun straightened to his full height at once, acting calmer than he felt.
The person before him was…
“Ahem. So, if I understood correctly, I am half of you?”
“Ye.” Chin Suh answered, and Tae Jun swallowed an involuntary choke.
He coughed, hiding his surprise
“Ahem. And what you are saying is that you are the one to face the Shadow?”
“Ultimately, yes. When two gates were opened in the past, he got a lot stronger. I can’t face him alone.”
“Your usefulness constantly reduces.” Tae Jun mumbled to himself.
“Ani. Ani. Ahem. So, did our powers get weaker, because they are slowly returning to the Shadow?”
“Not entirely. You are also slowly becoming more human.”
“Tch! What is that supposed to-.” He paused remembering something.
His own thoughts in the past.
The fact that he and the White Deity were developing human feelings.
Even the fact that the four deities were closer than usual…
“I see you’ve realized. I wasn’t hiding all these years. I failed to destroy my enemy all those years ago. Like him, I was trapped, so, like him, I acted from the shadows.”
“What are you-.”
“It wasn’t easy, but I slowly made you more human. Year in, year out, I placed you all in situations that would slowly change you… Change your outlook on the world. In short, I was trying to remove that troublesome personality that Wang-Shin gave you.”
“Wait. You are saying we slowly became more human. So everything that happened was because of you?”
“Hold it there. I can see you want to blame me. I slowly made you have human feelings, but whatever was between you and the Lady Hayan, was your own doing… Call it an age old attraction.” He picked up the sword, and they subconsciously began to circle each other.
“The fact that I’m here now, was my goal, but it did not have to happen during your time. I would have been content to slowly change the deities, till there was one who would have interfered, not because the White Deity convinced him, but because he knew it was right from the start.”
“I believed saving Jang Seung Jae was the right thing!”
He stopped suddenly and swiveled to face Tae Jun. He pointed at him.
“Ye. But that only happened, after Lady Hayan opened your eyes!” A pause. “For years, you ignored any involvement with the king, and then you suddenly acted out. You would have been the last set of deities, but I had to come up with a solution. Since this weapon which I created, was used to kill Lady Hayan, I took her curse as a wish to a deity… A way to pay off my debt of causing her death. I prayed to Wang Shin again and made you all come back, even though the deities are never meant to be reborn.”
Tae Jun had stopped as well, facing Chin Suh.
“Directly or indirectly, you caused everything. Because you made us more human.” His voice was rising with each word. “Those emotions you brought out of us, without consideration of the time and place, ultimately led to my actions!”
A few silent moments passed.
Chin Suh stepped closer.
“Then, do you regret your actions?”
Tae Jun stepped closer as well.
“I never did.”
“Stubborn to the very end.”
“I’m merely a part of you.”
It was Tae Jun’s most sarcastic smile.
Chin Suh shook his head, turning away and placing his hands behind his back.
He laughed for a long time, ignoring Tae Jun’s puzzled look. Then he faced him again.
“Wang Shin’s decision to bring you back as that person’s son, is a decision I never understood… He said he wouldn’t help, but all your families made you more human faster than I ever imagined. You acquired that person’s childish personality.”
“What are you talking about?”
“You’ve not realized who your father is, have you?” Pause. “Figures. He himself hasn’t realized it yet. He doesn’t know the reason why he always wanted to protect you, far more importantly than anyone, and more than most fathers would.”
“Stop speaking in riddles and tell me clearly!”
“You probably don’t know that Eunuch Eun was not the only one following you all those years… Jeonha himself would follow you around, which is why you couldn’t catch him. That driving force. His love as a proud father, combined with something else he never understood.”
“Tell me clearly!”
“The only reason that person let go of your hand is because he had to weigh you against the whole Kingdom. That person will die without any hesitation, if it will save your life.”
“Any father would do that!”
“Ani. There are fathers who would sell their own children for a better life. Your father almost gave up the throne after he banished you, so he could go over to you. But he knew that wasn’t the best way to protect you. From the throne, he could ensure your safety.”
“Who is my father?”
“You’re clever. Think about it. Who would have a driving need to prove himself to you. To protect you in every way he can?”
Chin Suh playfully swung the sword from hand to hand before him, the light from the candles glinting off the blade.
Tae Jun seemed hypnotized by the play of lights across the blade.
Then he looked up at Chin Suh’s smug expression.
Then he looked at the empty box on the table, the contents of the letter running through his head…
In the end, everything that happened was possible because of me. Many times, I have wished you had not been present to save me as a child. I will bow on this black hill, which is now called a cursed place.
I will bow as an apology for my very blood. The blood of my father. If you are born again, never save a thing like me. Rather, I will atone with my very life. I will be the one to atone…
…the one to atone…
…the one to atone…
“Jang Seung Jae.”