Hello once again, everyone! I never thought the update would be this quick, but seeing everyone's heartwarming greetings on the final chapter of IAL, it made me want to continue on with my writing high. So without much further ado, here are the special chapters! (yay)
Little background on this one. The setting is sometime in between Joseon era and Present Day Seoul, and I based it on the plot set in the movie Battleship Island (I hope you've seen the movie earlier!). Here's the time when war and sorrow dwelt in the whole of Korea, and the continued story of two people who--despite the ever-changing world--are eternal.
IAL - Special 1
Waking up with the same thing that had clouded my mind everyday was beautiful just as it was irrevocably painful.
One can never stomach seeing oneself in the last days, often stuck at an excessively formidable prostrate, lungs crushed by its own crippled nature, heart shrunken by its own frailty as I helplessly do nothing else but lie half-awake, my eyes and ears vaguely hearing the sound of the cries of someone whom I consider as the one who meant the whole world to me. When my ears perked up at the anguish of my lover's sweet voice—that beautiful blossom of spring in the middle of that miserable winter's evening—it felt as if my entire world crushed along with the sorrows.
I remember everything.
I remember the house where I was born, the house in between the busy Joseon town and the lush forests, the same house where I lived and slept in and ate at and died.
I likewise remember writing. Those nights when I would write and write until my hands were tired. Everything is still clear and intact in my head: the brush , even the warm light from my lamp as I devoted my time reading and writing countless journals and letters.
I remember the bow and arrow that felt good on my grip, and using it during battle. I remember the sword I had only wielded once; if it weren't for my chronic illness, I could have swung it a million times or more, like how a warrior should. I could still recall and recount perfectly how I managed to save a nation and a woman—the princess—and I would always wonder how this has been the case for me. Why, among this sea of apathetic, clueless, mindless people, do I remember what took place in the life preceding this?
I remember every single detail of me before, but I never know how, nor why.
I still have no clue as to how I had been brought back in the world with all my memories intact; and neither still do I consider this a blessing nor a curse from the gods and the deities. I don't know. All that's there is that I'm alive again with the memory of the past. Reincarnation, yes, I could tolerate that. Having everything still in my head? That's something I could question for eternity.
When I was a kid, nothing seemed to matter until I turned 25 on the 19th of September 1938, barely a year before the Second World War began. It was when all my previous encounters came resurfacing one by one, and then in an instant. It surprised me, like shaking an old empty box with a mind of its own, wanting to let me know it has something inside that it does not know about. When I thought I was just an average human being, perhaps the cosmic deity slammed me on the head, just to tell that there's still something inside of me I have not realized yet. And since then, back when I was training alongside the Allied Forces US delegation in Korea, the memories began.
I even remember being ill, and it's awkward that I do.
There is still an ambiguous, murky trace of the pain inside of me, as though my soul chose to bring it along for it to remember that there did exist a time that I had to bear a bigger scale of that pain. But other than that, I thank the heavens for making me healthy as I've never been this way before. Being alive again, although in a different identity, and in a different structure of a body (even having my hair cut shorter than the longer one I donned back in 14th century Joseon) only meant that what I had said to Mo Yeon before—the chance of meeting again in another lifetime—is indeed possible.
However, even with that fact already secured and established, I still have not met Kang Mo Yeon in this life, at least not yet.
I don't think she could remember me; not all people has this same gift or talent. I have seen a few number of people I have encountered back in Joseon, those whom I've met during Sejong's reign: the great King Sejong appreared as a wealthy businessman who landed a good deal at the market. My comrade Ahn Jung Joon was now a farmer somewhere in the province of Gyeonggi, and the Minister of Taxation I had once met at the streets, now a happy beggar. How ironic it is to be happy when you're poor, and to be poor when you were once rich. Well, at least he seems content. And drugged.
All these people I've seen, never saw me the way I saw them; they do not know me, but I know them very well. They never called me. Never spoke to me or patted my head and called me by my previous name. When I spoke to them, it never sparked a memory.
However, I experienced it differently a few years ago, one springtime in Gyeongsong (Seoul), at a pub where the soldiers wanted to celebrate their furlough. Women were there to pleasure us, and of course, there was one courtesan assigned to pleasure me. When I was completely, totally drunk and wasted with all the liquor, she dragged me to an empty room upstairs. It was funny, because I allowed myself to be dragged by her. I probably might have missed having ual contact with someone, that is why.
As we began to undo ourselves and our bodies pushing against each other to the heights, she paused midway and stood up, backing herself in the corner of the room. She looked horrified—way horrified—that her eyes were wide and her jaw dropped. Horrified was even an understatement.
"Yoo Si Jin?"
The moment she mentioned my real name, and not the name I was born in this life, I was alarmed. The drunkenness went down the drain. I hastily studied her in the dark and recognized her and realized how stupid I was for not knowing it was Yoon Myung Joo I was making out with this whole time.
"Yoon Myung Joo?! What are you—"
"Ya! What are you doing here?!" She yelled at me before I could even ask her first. Both of us were alive, and I am thankful for that. But now wasn't the time to be happy; we were and we just hammered on each other.
This was a big mistake.
"What are you doing in this ed up place?!" I screamed angrily, both because I didn't picture her ending up as a pleasure woman, and also because I was frustrated I made out with a dear friend I never wanted to fill myself with ual frissons. She was just as aghast as I was, as she shakily attempted to reach for her slender-looking hanbok on my side of the bed, but when she failed to reach for it, I took it and handed it to her instead.
"My parents in this life are ed up. What else do you expect of the offspring?" Hearing us use '' casually now was quite interesting. We never got to talk this casual back in the day.
"Aish. What's gotten into you? You know better than this. I was born in a family of farmers in this life, but crawled my way back to do what I love doing,"
"I was thinking more about becoming a soldier," I frowned, covering my lower regions with the bed's blanket, "But that applies too,"
Myung Joo made a little giggle, but then it was eventually replaced with a heavy sigh, "Not everyone can alter what circumstances would bring, tough guy. And besides, I'm not Myung Joo in this life," She tightened the hem of her hanbok, "I'm Han Kyeong Eun,"
"I'm guessing you don't go by the name Yoo Si Jin n