Chapter Fifty Five- Baduk 1
Two nights later…
Central Palace, Gwang Guk…
Two dead deities and two men snuck into the Palace. The Palace guards were skilled, but were no match for them. Silently, unhindered, they made their way to the Sky Palace…
Two nights earlier…
The Central Palace, Gwang Guk…
Sang Yoo Jin was no fool. Opening any of the four gates would not be as easy as it was in the past.
Seong Su Min had told him it might take longer, but more than that, he knew the deities would be prepared for that move.
“Jeonha. You are worried the deities would stop the process?” Seong Su Min was seated before him.
“Don’t worry Jeonha. There is no way they can stop it, even if they are by the gates… The deities can eliminate spirits, but these particular spirits have an added protection.”
Seong Su Min had cast a spell on the dead magical body…
They were completely void of all form.
Any attack from the deities would pass right through them…
The Foggy Mountain…
“To destroy the Shadow, you will all have to die.” Chin Suh stated blankly.
They all sat in what was supposed to be a garden pagoda, but the Black Deity had never, EVER thought of growing anything like flowers in his home.
“What?!” Da Yeong and Hye Yeon piped up at Chin Suh’s statement.
“Please make yourself clear.” Tae Jun said after a few silent moments passed.
“Very well.” Chin Suh stood up from where he sat. “You probably already know this, but the position of the four gates changed after you were reborn.
“Still, that won’t stop Sang Yoo Jin from finding it the same way he did in the past.”
“We are aware of this. We will be alerted if any human or entity even gets close to them. We will reach the gates before they do.” Chun Hwa explained.
“It was something I asked everyone to take care of after we regained our memories.” Tae Jun added, drawing back the sleeve of his black and gold hanbok.
Around his arm was a yellow and red cursed seal.
The others followed suit, revealing similar seals around their arms…
Before they had read the King’s Journal, Tae Jun had asked Pal Wol for eight seals, two each for the four of them.
One would stay with each of them at all times, and the other would be placed close to their gates.
If anything approached, the seals would activate, and the ones with them would activate as well.
“A clever plan.” Chin Suh commended. “However, what we want is the opposite. When the seals activate, I want you to ignore it.”
“Are you asking us to literally die right now?!” Hye Yeon attacked, but Da Yeong placed a calming hand on top of hers.
“Good. I am asking you to gamble.” He strode over to Tae Jun. “If we don’t gamble our lives, we would have no chance of success. I myself will be doing something risky. Powers Wang Shin separated for centuries, will be merged into me, a heavenly being not designed to carry them.
“Then there is the sword to consider. Wang Shin said I would wield it against the Shadow, but over time he has grown stronger, and I am no longer a heavenly being. The blood oath I used to create this weapon is also weaker.” He glanced at Hye Yeon.
“I intend to renew the curse with the green deity, who was reborn as Sang Yoo Jin’s niece. But the blood tie they share may not be strong enough.”
He started pacing, looking round at the four of them…
“At the moment the gates are opened, I will temporarily bring you all back as humans and absorb most of your powers.
“When the Shadow enters Sang Yoo Jin, it will take some time before it engulfs him completely. There will be a slight window where you will be able to eliminate him, forcing the shadow to the surface.
“This will break his hold over the priest, Seong Su Min, and that troublesome barrier would be removed. Then I will face the Shadow with the sword.” He stopped suddenly, facing them.
“That is the gamble. If the sword fails, or if we don’t eliminate Sang Yoo Jin and the Shadow quickly enough, we will probably all die.”
The deities all looked at each other, Tae Jun focusing on Da Yeong.
The silence settled around them like an uncomfortable blanket, as they allowed the weight of what he had said sink in.
Tae Jun broke the silence.
“So, we will become human, and you will possess our full powers. What is the plan after that?”
Chin Suh gave a straight answer.
“I don’t have one.”
“What?! Aren’t you supposed to be prepared for something like this?” Tae Jun had risen in anger.
“Yes, but Sang Yoo Jin would be extremely cautious.”
“So what are we-?” Chin Suh interrupted him.
“I realize why Wang Shin allowed you to be born as Jang Seung Jae’s son. That clever mind of his, combined with your natural affinity for battle and strategy, combined with your knowledge and hatred of Sang Yoo Jin…
“I think you are supposed to plan this.”
“Say something that makes sense.” He looked round at the others, but they were slowly beginning to nod in approval.
“Tae Jun-ah. You’ve always been able to put yourself in Sang Yoo Jin’s head. This might be why Jeonha told you to keep ‘Blue bird’ close.” Chun Hwa said, full grin in place. “Think of it like a game of baduk…”
The Foggy Mountains…
The deities and Chin Suh all stood around Tae Jun, who had drawn a makeshift map of the Gwang Guk Palace.
“Chun Hwa-ah. Find out everything that has been happening around the nobles from your father. Focus on those who currently have Sang Yoo Jin’s favour. They are most likely the ones involved in his plan.”
“We will need help if we are going to break into the Palace as humans. Da Yeong-ah. Hye Yeon-ah. I need you to bring Min So Yeon and Lee Ju Won to the Black Mountain.”
“Ye, Orabeoni.” Da Yeong replied.
“Ye?” Hye Yeon had a wide smile on her face. She had brightened up at the thought of seeing Min So Yeon again. “But isn’t Daegun closer to him? Wouldn’t he follow you easily?”
Tae Jun rose an eyebrow.
“Are you asking that with such a wide smile on your face? Hyeong would obviously rather see you.” He turned back to the map.
“Besides, I have someone bigger to convince… Someone who probably has his own plans.”
And that was when they went to get Min So Yeon and Lee Ju Won…
The Central Palace, Gwang Guk…
The plan would go well, the gates would be open, the deities would die… But it all seemed too easy.
Sang Yoo Jin was not going to take chances.
“Come in here!” He called his Eunuch and head guard.
“Jeonha” They both bowed before him.
“Call Seong Su Min.” He gestured toward the eunuch, then faced his head guard. “Summon the Head of Military.”
“Ye, Jeonha.” They both replied and left.
Sang Yoo Jin was going to summon most of the Army to the Palace…
The Foggy Mountains…
“As humans, only Hye Yeon is foreign to battle, so we will play to her strengths… Chun Hwa-ah. Take Hye Yeon to see the head Gisaeng in Gwang Guk.”
“Ye, ‘Orabeoni’.” Chun Hwa teased.
“Ya!” Tae Jun swung an arm toward Chun Hwa, but he vanished just in time, appearing slightly far from him.
Tae Jun sighed, turning back to the table.
“Da Yeong-ah. Me, you, So Yeon Hyeong, and Lee Ju Won will sneak into the Palace.
“Chun Hwa-ah. When you’ve delivered Hye Yeon, you should rally the men who are still faithful to Taesangwang. Your father is the best place to start…”
The next day…
The Central Palace, Gwang Guk. The Moon Palace…
Sang Yoo Jin stamped his seal on the letter, allowing the doubling of all taxes in the Kingdom.
He put the scroll aside and reached for another letter.
“The gates are going to be opened tomorrow, Jeonha. The spirits approach. I can feel it.” Seong Su Min cut into the silence.
The two had been sitting quietly for a long while.
Seong Su Min had refused to leave the King alone for his own protection.
“Why are you telling me something I already expect?” Sang Yoo Jin asked him, never looking up from the letter he was addressing. “Besides, the deities will certainly come here tomorrow. I don’t know how they will survive, but I can feel it. Put the men in place.”
The Southern Palace, Nam Guk…
Father and son stared at each other, stubbornness etched in the lines of both faces.
“Ima. My plan is not something to be looked down on. Combine both plans, rather than rushing around in stubborn independence.”
“I’m not trying to be independent, which is why I came to request Appa Mama’s-.” Tae Jun caught himself.
Aside from the fact that he had told his father to forget him as a son, there was the annoying knowledge that his father had been Jang Seung Jae in his past life…
“Ahem. I came to request Jeonha’s assistance.
However, it is better to have one stable and simple plan, than two elaborate but unstable plans.” His plan was far from simple… He was finally going toe to toe with Sang Yoo Jin.
He would rather not complicate things.
Jang Tae Yong looked down on his son.
“How are you able to refuse, when you haven’t even heard the plan? If I orchestrated your awakening to happen how and where I wanted, sheer curiosity should make you hear the plan at least. Right?”
“Ye. This servant is curious. However, this servant will not pay attention to that curiosity.”
“Ya Ima-!” Jang Tae Yong stopped himself, releasing a deep sigh.
“I understand. Your memories of the past are intertwined with your present, and you were always alone in the past. However, your present can’t deny the advantages of a shared plan or idea.”
He stood up and walked over his son.
“I’m talking to Jang Tae Jun right now, not Geom Jeong.” Tae Jun’ eyes widened and he continued. “You should remember all the times in the past, where it was Choi Chun Hwa’s idea or help that turned the tides in your favour.
“However, I know convincing you won’t be easy, so play a game of baduk with me. I hear from Lord Kim that you are quite skilled. If you win, we’ll do things your way.”
“And if Appa Mama wins?” Tae Jun asked, the sense of challenge already calling out to him.
Jang Tae Yong hid a smile, pleased that Tae Jun had used the term ‘Appa Mama’, this time without catching himself.
“If I win, I will simply require you to meet the two unexpected guests I received last night.”
It sounded a little suspicious, but Tae Jun smiled. Half smirk, half genuine joy.
“Ye, Appa Mama. Such a challenge would be the best way to decide things…”
The Night before…
That night held many events. Seong Su Min put up a stronger barrier around the Palace…
The dead magical body opened all four gates…
The four mountains slowly began to die again…
The people of Eondoeg Mun felt a strange and oppressive darkness…
Pal Wol and the good priests and shamans chanted all the night…
Taesangwang Jeonha, the previous King of Eondoeg Mun, and his friend, Lord Kim Dae Hyeon, worried their servants with endless pacing, all through the night as well…
Chun Suh, the fallen heavenly being, dipped his hand into black magic for the second time…
And the four deities, the source of the land’s blessings, experienced death yet again…