"The recent news regarding the enemy infiltration in the northern boundaries have already subsided after our men have controlled and secured the territory, but I think this is still not an indication that we should be lax with our operations."
"This looks like an ongoing struggle ever since the time of the late byeongjo,"
"We have to work twice as hard,"
Dae Young nods his head in affirmation, even though he already expected this remark from the man talking to him.
He continued to remain silent as he listened to the man talking.
"It is still the best time to act. As of now, the Uijeongbu have deliberated along with His Majesty that the whole of Joseon's territory, as well as its entrances, be guarded by the soldiers from each province, town and city. It will be evenly distributed. Now, as the minister of the military affairs, I command all soldiers to be vigilant for another possible outside attack," The byeongjo, Yoo Si Jin, sat comfortably on his working area as he relayed the news to his loyal right hand soldier, Seo Dae Young. "I suppose you have an idea of what task I'm about to give you,"
"I'm left without any idea at all," Dae Young responded, sitting on the opposite side facing the other. While he watched Si Jin scribble a few notes on a piece of paper, he asked him what Si Jin had in mind and upon hearing that query, the minister placed his brush aside and looked at Dae Young.
"I can't exert myself too much with this thing," He frowned, pointing to his chest where his heart was, "Which is why I now ask you to be my arms and legs,"
Before the soldier could react, the man in front of him raised a hand to clarify his previous statement.
"Take note, I'm not appointing you. I'm asking. It's an offer I'm presenting,"
"Even if you appointed me on doing so, I'll accept it," Dae Young replied reassuringly, "I always have your back,"
Si Jin smirked, "Good to know, because this time, I'll be appointing you on another mission. Appointing," He clarified with a smile, and Dae Young could tell that his friend was up to something clearly not related to his work by just looking at the smirk on his face.
"Is it a personal matter?"
"I'm appointing you to spy on Kang Mo Yeon,"
"What on earth—" Dae Young had wanted to object but he was put into a stop when Si Jin raised a finger.
"I'm appointing you. You can't go back or say no to my command," Si Jin quipped, "Keep an eye on her as I keep an eye on Myung Joo for you. That's what friends are for, right pal? Guarding each other's ladies?"
Dae Young sighed in disbelief; the renowned prodigy, Yoo Si Jin—no matter how smart and cunning he could be in matters that concerned military and politics—can sometimes be helplessly unreasonable.
"Sometimes I just think you're abusing your power,"
"Not at all, I always see to it that I am using my power to protect the citizens of Joseon,"
"A citizen you consider your sweetheart,"
Si Jin laughed, as he stood from his seat and slowly walked to open his secret lair: the library hidden behind the doors of his office.
Opening the door was like opening a treasured memory from a few days ago—when he had shared a brief conversation in that library. It was the first time Si Jin saw her radiant, smiling face when he handed over a book.
This library, a smile crept on his face, has been blessed with her beautiful smile.
"A citizen I call my sweetheart, you say? Then it gives me all the more reason to protect her," He chuckled, "But with all sincerity, I need you to keep watch over her. Something tells me she's hiding something," he wore a much more serious look on his face as he turned around and faced Dae Young.
It gave him the notion that Yoo Si Jin's request to make him the sangmin woman's spy was not just because he took interest of her...there was something more than just that.
"Is she a thief? A spy?" He questioned, but Si Jin shook his head for an answer as he remembered her; other than finding her pretty, there was something peculiar about the errand lady of that commons health center, and had it not been for the urgent Yukjo meeting he got called to, Si Jin would have went to check on Kang Mo Yeon himself today.
He promised to meet her again, anyway.
"Seo Dae Young, do you have an idea when a woman from the sangmin class would need education?"
He raised a brow at the sudden inquiry, but nevertheless, he gave an answer.
"When they are to become court ladies or a part of the royal infirmary, they are required to understand language and the sciences; they learn a lot more than just the basics of the Confucian values,"
"Precisely," Si Jin snapped, gazing back at the open doors of his library, "Or if not, it would mean that the educated ladies came from noble families, am I right?"
Si Jin breathed as his mind traversed to a memory that had happened days ago, in that exact place where he stood. Images flashed of the time when he presented Kang Mo Yeon with a book about general medicine—a book that he knew normal commoners would find difficulty of understanding because of their limits to literacy.
He saw the glint in her eyes when he gave that book to her: eyes that did not exhibit any perplexed or confused emotion, but only sparks of interest.
Little did Kang Mo Yeon know that Yoo Si Jin was not only being kind or making his move on her: he was also putting her to the test.
A test of her questionable identity.
"She said she'll surely return it after she finishes reading the whole book," He remembered her saying those words before he decided to let her keep it, "An errand lady who has no background in medicine whatsoever...says that she'll finish reading that book with certainty. What do you think, soldier?"
"Her actions and words...don't they sound bizarre coming from a commoner like her?"
"Or not," Si Jin retorted as he slid the doors shut, "Because Kang Mo Yeon might not be a commoner at all."
Contrary to the two men's silent and peaceful conversations in that room, things were going haywire and noisy at the local health centre.
"Mo Yeon, go get some of these medicinal herbs at the store!" One nurse yelled, holding up a list in her hands.
"Ne, suuinyo-nim," The meek woman bowed at the sound of the head nurse, but before she could walk towards her and get the list, a nurse suddenly tapped on her back.
"Mo Yeon-ssi, can you just watch over this patient? He's really annoying and he just needs someone to talk to," The nurse points to the patients in the room.
Mo Yeon smiled, "Ah, which one of them—" the previous nurse walked away before Mo Yeon could ask, and soon later another nurse's voice called her attention.
Oh no. She heaved a sigh when she heard that certain voice—the one she particularly felt peevish with.
Turning around, Kang Mo Yeon saw Kim Eun Ji—the physician who does not deserve to be called one—holding up a piece of crumpled paper, "Can you throw this outside? I'm really busy attending to my patient right now,"
Oh, does she have one now? I'm not even sure if it's good news, Mo Yeon ranted in her mind. "It's just a trivial task. Do it on your own,"
"Well," Eun Ji rolled her eyes as she took a step closer to the other woman, "It's a task made especially for errand girls like you, so why would I bother throwing this?"
While the two girls were at it, everyone who surrounded them were quietly observing, shifting their eyes in a worried manner between the two women and what they were individually busy with. To the people in that health center, the Mo Yeon-Eun Ji rivalry would be considered as one of the greatest, enduring struggle in the health center.
Everybody in the hospital would agree, at least secretly, that between the sangmin errand girl and the cheonmin physician, Kang Mo Yeon was the better woman; Kim Eun Ji was in fact treated like a 'mascot' uinyeo in their institution, for an unskilled woman like her garnered her status as a physician just because her parents are one of the people owning the land for the hospital.
In their silence, everyone surrounding the two ladies cheered for Mo Yeon to triumph another battle with Eun Ji.
"Ya," Mo Yeon confidently said, stepping one foot forward.
"'Ya'?" Eun Ji scoffed a laugh, "Did I hear that right?"
"You did," Mo Yeon replied with no hesitations, her meek demeanor set aside as she takes another step forward, "Throw that piece of trash on your own,"
"Heol. Do I need to whack you on the head? Maybe you're forgetting who you are. You're just an errand girl," Eun Ji throws it on the ground, and points at it, "Pick it up, and throw it away,"
That's when Mo Yeon lost it.
Picking up the trash, she immediately unrumpled it and cannot control her laughter when she saw what was written inside.