The sun merely rised up to 300 position but seemed like the day at Yonsang village had been busy since most people there were farmers. After a long journey with horse-drawn carriage from Hanyang, Lady Yuri finally arrived to her destination. She needed to meet the land lord there to discuss her issue without her husband knew.
“I want to meet Lord Sooman. Please tell him Lady Yuri is here to greet him” She said to the house servant at the gate.
The servant bowed his head “Yes, Madam. Please wait here for a moment”
She waited with a nervous feeling. She knew it’s not right to visit Queen Min’s uncle while the latter already left politics and spent his life gardening in this small village. She also knew if her husband would very mad if he knew his wife visited Lord Sooman. Prime minister Leeteuk was a very loyal follower of Lord Sungjong so he would never seeked advice from a person whom even Queen Min’s father admitted that Lord Sooman was too dangerous for Lee Faction. His way valued his own faction were kind of extreme even somewhat higher than royal family.
“Hahahaha..... I know sooner or later there will be someone come here but I didn’t expect it would be you” The said man laughed while watering his plants beside his house. Lady Yuri who just arrived to the place after being accompanied by the land lord’s servant was bowing her head deeply toward the man.
“Glad you’ve been healthy, My Lord”
The land lord paused his activity then glanced at lady Yuri for a moment “If you come here about Lee Faction condition, just forget it. I was out from royal game since 13 years ago”
Lady Yuri quickly kneeled down to the ground “Please forgive this child's rudeness, My Lord. We have been so boastful with our pride that we didn’t realize we had closed our eyes to the most loyal person of our clan. Please forgive us. Now we know our fault. We need you”
The lord scoffed “Does your husband know you come here?”
Lady Yuri didn’t answer. Sweat had been spread all over her face and her hands didn’t stop trembling since she met the lord. Indeed the main line of Lee clan, no wonder the man had the same scary aura just like Queen Min.
He scoffed again and dropped the watering can from his hand to the grown “So do you come here alone? You can leave now. I am busy” he said as he left the garden.
“Queen Min is fragile now” Lady Yuri said a bit loud from behind, still with kneeling position. Once the mention of his niece’s name, Lord Sooman stopped.
Lady Yuri continued “She is slowly losing her power. She doesn’t even care with what's happening with her own faction. Our hearts now are like wandering spirits without our master”
The land lord became silent for a moment then he turned around and let out a long sigh “You know I had given up from politics since a long ago, right?”
“Yes, my lord. But I’ve been collecting more than a half of Lee faction member’s signatures to agree for your returning to royal courts, Sonsengnim”
His lifted up his eyebrows “Huh? So you have been going that far? Hahahahaha..... Seems like our faction condition now is pretty severe. I had told Sungjong years ago that our faction shouldn’t have too soft toward the royal family. Jonseong shadow had to control every single part of royal stuff. He didn’t believe me at first, but now see? Jonseong had been led by a naive brat!!!”
Lady Yuri bowed her head again “Now we realize our false decision. Please come back. We need your wise and grace”
The lord sighed “Now stand up, Lady Yuri. A high class lady like you shouldn’t have kneeling down to the ground”
Lady Yuri raised up her face and it turned brighter “Is.... is that meant... you agree?”
He chuckled “Like I said before, I already retired with all politics stuff. I will visit my dear Sungmin one day but not now. I will send Lady Yubin to the palace with you. You have to give her the position I require. Some of my people will come to”
Lady Yuri’s eyes became wide “La...lady Yubin? Is that meant...”
He nodded “Yes, you have to get rid someone in order to made her enter the palace. All details will be explained inside my house. You’re tired after a long journey, right? Let’s take some tea” he said before he walked toward his house.
Lady Yuri smiled and stood up. She kept bowing several times to show her gratitude “Thank you.... Thank you so much... My Lord!!”
She sat brooding at the edge of her pavilion’s terrace which stood toward her rose garden. Nobody knew what she had been thinking this time. After being mute, there’s no one even Sunkyu could predict her thought.
Her eyes then glanced to a jade ring on her left finger. She carressed the ring which nowadays became such an important thing as she recalled the memory when that Gisaeng gave back the ring to her.
“I don’t take this much from my friend”
She smiled unconsciously. Friend. That term was so rare and she even doubted before it’s really exist in this world. What she knew about what’s so important for her were her family and her love toward the king. She didn’t have anyone close to her since her main family member left her one by one. She had her husband but not his mind and his heart. If only there’s no Sunkyu who always beside her, she might have lost her sane even before she met him. That Gisaeng.
Friend. Yes. It’s just friend. Her heart kept saying this to make sure she didn’t mistake the heavy feeling she had when witnessing how intimate Heechul with the chinese man as jealousy.
Then her memory traveled again as she remembered their happy moment in Lampion festival. The way he hold her hand, the warm feeling when he hugged her tight, the worried look he gave when he scolded her, and the cotton candy which they ate together. Just remember that simple moment made her blushed. But she didn’t have the rushing heartbeats like she felt toward Kyuhyun when she was still crazily in love with him. However with Heechul, she felt comfort as if she could drift into sleep in a second whenever she remembered the way he smiled to her.
So it’s not love. She didn’t love him. She assured herself with that thought. They’re just friend. What she felt was not love but like. Only like.
She nearly startled with Sunkyu’s voice behind her. The courtlady bowed at her “Today the dancing competition round 1 will be held soon. Do you want to attend, Min Mama?”
The Queen’s mouth nearly hanged open as she forgot she had promised Heechul they would watch together.
“If you won’t, I will ask Siwon to inform that person that you can’t come”
‘I will go’
The queen stood and approached her courtlady. Then something flashed in her mind ‘That young court lady, is she still there?’
Sunkyu nodded “Yes, Min Mama. I had told her that you didn’t need her apology but she still insist. Don’t worry Min Mama. I won’t let any of Lady Seohyun’s people spying—–“. She paused as the queen hugged her all of a sudden “Min—Min Mama...”
‘Thanks for always be on my side, Sunkyu’
But the said female couldn’t see what the queen said to her. The Queen broke the hug with the shocking and blushing Sunkyu then smiled at her ‘Hurry… and help me dress’
Sunkyu bowed repeatly “Yes…yes… Min Mama”
He spotted her walking with her courtladies not so far from him. As they met and stood against each other. She bowed her head to him. “How are you doing?” He asked her.
‘I am fine’
He sighed and nodded “Well.... Will you watch dancing competition today? It’s still first round but I heard there are a lot of talented dancers attend this year”
She eyed him with shockness ‘Ye...Yes, Phea’
He sighed “That’s good then. I have to meet Yesung hyung first” He said as he took a step to leave but before he took his second step, he paused “That hairpin looks ugly” he pointed at a red hairpin at the queen’s bundled hair. As she stared at him with a hurting look, he sighed again then he took something inside his sleeve. It’s a black rose hair pin he bought from a chinese merchant yesterday.
He took a step forward, pulled out the red hair pin from her hair and threw it to the ground. He then applied the black rose hair pin to her bundled hair by himself “Wear this from now onward!” he said before leaving the shocked and dumbfounded queen.
“How was that? Was I good?” He asked Eunuch Kang.
“Your acting was too stiff, Phea” Eunuch Ryeowook commented.
“Yah, you supposed to be mute” He said as he pulled out the black rose hair pin earlier from Ryeowook’s fake bundled hair “As if your acting was any better. Right Eunuch Kang?” He asked Kangin again then caught the eunuch bit his lower lip as if he's fighting to not laugh.
“You’re laughing at me, aren't you?”
Kangin quickly closed his mouth with his palm and shook his head “No, Phea. I was laughing at Ryeowook. He can’t act as Queen Min well”
Ryeowook protested “But what I was doing just stood here and mut—”. Kangin quickly came approached him, closed his mouth, then whispered to his ear “Just shut up brat if you don’t want to die” He warned the young eunuch eventhough deep in his mind he agreed with Ryeowook that the King’s acting indeed was too stiff.
“But Phea, you didn’t say all your lines in the script. You supposed to say ‘I have been worry about you because of yesterday’ before ‘Will you watch dancing competition today?’. And you also forgot to say ‘That’s look good on you’ before leaving” Kangin said.
“No!! I won’t say that cheesy things. And it’s sound stupid if it were let out from my own mouth”
“You’re just too shy, Phe— Umph!!” Kangin shutted Ryeowook’s mouth again. This kid was too straight forward for God sake.
Then they heard someone knocked the King’s chamber door “Phea..., Prince Yesung is waiting outside ...” A courtlady announced outside the king's chamber.
The King cleared his throat first then said “Please wait for a moment. I will come to greet him”
“Yah,... Sulli ah. How many times I have to tell you that it’s useless kneeling in front of Min Mama’s pavilion. You got your wound just yesterday. It hasn’t even dried yet” Sunyoung let out her frustration toward her stubborn bestfriend. She didn’t believe herself why she agreed to accompany Sulli to Queen pavilion at dawn. But she didn’t want the latter would come alone by herself with the wound like that.
“I’ve told you. I have to apologize formally to Queen Min because of my behavior” Sulli said, still in kneeling position and showing her persistent toward her friend.
“It’s almost been four hours, Sulli. Courtlady Dasom had told us that Min Mama didn’t need your apologize. And not to mention what courtlady Sunkyu had said that there’s no position to add more courtlady for Queen pavilion. Woah... that woman is so scary” she suddenly felt the fear through her spine as she recalled what Sunkyu said an hour ago to them.
“Want to become Queen’s courtlady?”
Sunyoung’s mouth hanged open widely watching Sulli kneeled in front of Sunkyu. She asked to meet Queen Min to apologize and also to apply a courtlady position in Queen Pavilion. Sunyoung shook her friend shoulder from behind and whispered “Sulli? Are you crazy?!!!”
Sunkyu’s eyes flared in anger as she slouched down and lifted Sulli’s chin in order to see her face closer “Are you plotting something, ? Are you planning a revenge?”
Sulli quickly shook her head “No. I won’t do something like that?”
“Or is King’s concubine send you here to spy Min Mama?”
“No. I come here with my own decision. Please believe me Madam. Min Mama is my savior”
Sunkyu take off her hand from her face “She’s the one who punished you”
“But... but she saved me from death”
Sunkyu sighed “Min Mama doesn’t need your apologize. I even doubt she remembers a person like you. Just do your work and go back to your place. Let's go back Dasom” She said as she walked back to the pavilion.
Sulli tried to stand up with legs trembling and shouted “Her hug.... is warm!! Like.... like a mother.”
“Sulli!” Sunyoung held her shoulder to support her. “Just stop it. It’s useless” she whispered to her friend.
But Sulli didn’t give a damn and seemed like Sunkyu stopped her paces after hearing her words. As the courtlady turned around, Sulli continued “I...I... want to follow Queen Min”
Sunkyu eyed her for a moment then approached the younger with long strides and glared at her “Do you think it’s easy to become like us? Have you ever heard about Gun Eui Gungnyeo before?”
Courtlady Dasom quickly held her “Sunkyu-shi, we don’t suppose to—“
“Gun.... Gun Eui Gungnyeo? I thought they’re just a legend” Sunyoung suddenly interrupted. Her eyes grew bigger and so did Sulli. They heard the term of Gun Eui Gungnyeo when they’re still child. Gun Eui Gungnyeo was a term for a military courtlady who was not only skilled for all kind courtlady’s jobs in the palace but also had a good skill of martial art and it’s included killing people. That’s why Gun Eui Gungnyeo had been trained much longer than regular courtlady. They heard they existed hundred years ago before Jonseong period.
“It’s ... it’s not true, right? We’ve been told that royal family had stopped to train Gun Eui Gungnyeo because of too many courtlady died after training. You tell me that so I will give up my wish” Sulli said bluntly and didn’t believe what Sunkyu said.
Sunkyu smirked “It’s your decision to believe or not. I just want to say it’s not easy to become Queen Min’s courtlady”
Sulli stared at her for a moment then kneeled back to the ground “Then at least let me meet Min Mama for a minute to apologize”
Sunkyu huffed knowing it’s useless to make her give up “Do what you want but don’t wish Queen Min will spare her valuable time just for a brat like you!” She said before she left.
End of Flashback
“Sulli, please think about it again. How if what courtlady Sunkyu said are true? That all Queen min courtladies are Gun Eui Gungnyeo? That mean you might be killed if you pissed them. I just spoken with some senior courtladies last night and they said the rumours about Queen Min had killed a lot of people who pissed her were true. I heard a mysterious dead of a fortune teller years ago was because she said that King Cho and Lady Seohyun would be happy together so Queen Min killed her with her own hand” Sunyoung said desperately toward Sulli.
Sulli sighed. Her eyes were still staring toward Queen pavilion “I don’t believe about Gun Eui Gungnyeo but about Queen Min’s rumour, even if it’s true, I understand”
Sunyoung’s mouth hanged open ”Are you becoming her fan now? I can’t believe this. Are you sure yesterday you got hit only on your legs not your brain too?”
“I still remember what my mom said. That too much loneliness can make a person crazy”
“OMO....OMO... You’re not Sulli. Who are you?”
She saw Sulli’s mouth a bit stretched to curve a smile “Maybe I am just no one for her but at least I want her to know she have my back”
Then they heard royal guards opened the gate. Sunyoung quickly took step backward and bowed her head as she saw Queen Min and Sunkyu came out from pavilion. Sulli was still in kneeling position.
The Queen and Sunkyu dressed with black overcoats so they couldn’t see what they wore inside. As they meant to pass Sulli and Sunyoung, Queen Min paused her step in front of Sulli. She became nervous as her braveness she had a minute before just disappeared all of a sudden knowing the person she badly wanted to meet finally stood in front of her “M...Min Mama....”
She lifted her head to see her queen. Her expression was just like before. Unreadable. Then uttered something. She didn’t understand what’s the mean then Sunkyu translated it “She said ‘go back to your place and take a rest’”
“Ye...yes!!” She answered happily. Then Queen Min and Courtlady Sunkyu left after that.
Sunyoung approached Sulli then helped her to stand up “Waa...., I don’t expect she would say that. Still scary though. But I am curious why Min Mama dresses like that. Won’t she watch dance competition?” Then she saw Sulli’s face blushed “You don’t think she agreed you became her follower just because she said like that, don’t you?”
“W—What? N—No. Of—of course No. Why do you think like that?” Sulli answered stuttering. Sunyoung just rolled her eyes. Now, they had to go back to their room at namwol pavilion but bringing Sulli alone had making her joints tired everywhere before, so she meant to ask help to any courtlady from nearest department.
Then her eyes spotted a courtlady walking too carefully like a sneaking thief. From her costume, she knew the courtlady was from Jinbang (Clothes Making Room) just like them “Hey!! Excuse me!! Over here... over here!!” She shouted toward the courtlady direction.
The courtlady looked startled then glanced toward them and pointed her finger toward herself “Me??”
Sunyoung nodded and waved her hand “Yes. You. Come here!”
“Damn it” Heechul muttered to himself. He became anxious how if those young courtladies found out he wasn’t a real courtlady. He had tried so hard to walk like an ordinary courtlady. He wanted to run, but he’s afraid those courtladies would call palace guards to capture him. So he granted her call and came to them.
He cleared his throath first “Erm...(gulp). Um... What can I do for you, ladies? Oops...” He closed his mouth, realizing he said his words like a gisaeng did.
Sunyoung frowned “Huh? Why did you speak like that? Are you a new? You’re from Jinbang right? What are you doing here?”
Heechul’s eyes grew wide “Ji...Jinbang?”
“Yes, clothes making department” Sulli said.
“Oh. Ye...Yes... Jinbang. Of course I know Jinbang. The name sound like a name of bread hahaha.... Yes. I am—am new here. I got lost hehehe.... Um... Can I know where dancers dorm?”
Sunyoun’s eyebrows knitted “Huh? You’re Jinbang Gungnyeo. Why you want to go there?”
Heechul gulped, didn’t have any idea what to answer for a second “Just because.... I just curious. Yeah... Just curious” he tried to hide his nervous by smiling.
“Omo, it’s so far from here. This is Queen pavilion. But, no problem. It’s behind namwol pavilion. So can you help me bring her there? I will tell you where’s dancers dorm after we have her go back to her bed” Sunyoung said refered to Sulli.
Heechul glanced at Sulli who still leaning her body to Sunyoung’s hold “what happened with her?”
Sunyoung lifted up Sulli’s skirt a bit making Heechul gasped “Omo what happened with her leg?”
Sunyoung shrugged “ happened”
“Sunyoung! It’s not ” Sulli warned her, making the said courtlady rolled her eyes and sighed then she glanced back at Heechul “What’s your name by the way?”
Heechul became silent for a moment “Um.... Hee—Heesun”
Both Sulli and Sunyoung gapped “Stupid name” they said in unison.
“Hey what's the heck!! Is that your way asking someone's help?” Heechul protested (he thought the name sound stupid too though but he didn’t have time to find a proper name).
Both girls giggled “Sorry. Please help us, Heesun-shi” Sunyoung finally said.
Well, Heechul had accepted their request no matter what after all. It’s already five times he walked around to search dancer dorm and he had always stopped at the same spot which these courtlady had mentioned as Queen Pavilion. He promised himself to try his best to make sure Hyoyeon wouldn’t find out about this mistake.
“That Hangeng guy is really something, Hyung. So he’s the one who have been helping you to annihilate some revolts” The King said while walking together with Prince Yesung along his eununchs and courtladies whom following behind.
Yesung chuckled beside him “I know right? He’s too smart for just become a paid warrior. I want to recruit him to become our Jonseong warrior, if you don’t mind”
“At first I doubt your thought, Hyung. But after meeting and speaking with him earlier, I knew it he could hold Jonseong pride. Ming didn’t realize they had a great man like him in china. Um.... but I still curious why he looked in hurry?”
“Ah, I heard he have an important meeting with someone”
The king lifted his eyesbrows “Don’t tell me he left because he’s meeting a woman”
Prince Yesung chuckled “No. It’s his friend, Phea. He just left him behind when I called him. Seemed like his friend is having a problem at the moment. I feel bad for him actually, I should not make both of you to meet soon. I was just too excited”
“Yes. Now I have to make a new script”
“Script? What do you mean Phea?”
Realized he just spoke out his own thought, Kyuhyun quickly shook his head “No. Um...Aa... nevermind hyung” he smiled awkwardly.
They kept walking toward the main gate and meant to go to Myeongjongjeon Hall to watch the dance competition. On their way, they spotted a group of courtladies were walking toward their direction.
As they recognized their king, they quickly formed in two lines to make a way for the king and bowed their half deeply to greet their king. The King and his brother stopped their conversation as they passed between them. But one courtlady caught his attention because she didn’t stopped scratching her back as if it had been itchy. Kyuhyun felt mad with her unpolite manner.
“You! The courtlady over there!!” He pointed at her.
Other courtladies there turned their head toward the said courtlady who didn’t have any idea that the one who the King called was her. Another courtlady beside her tugged her arm “Yah, King Cho just called you” she whispered with fear in her eyes.
The unpolite courtlady then noticed a pair of legs just stood in front of her “Lift up your head!!” he said sharply.
As she lifted her head and showed her face, the King looked surprised with the familiar face. He had seen her before he went to Wonju. At an open place near the forest. The woman who called his queen just by her name. The woman who piggybacked her and made her smiled freely which it never showed to him even once.
He pointed a finger at her “You.... you’re a courtlady???”
Kekekekekeke XD you’ve been tricked (I guess?). It’s too fast for Kyu to say some sweet words to Sungmin right? ^o^
I hope you all enjoy this chapter guys ^^. I am sorry that the Queen Min hasn’t met Chul yet. Please don’t forget to give me COMMENTS guys ^^. THANKS a lot for your positive feedbacks about the previous chapter ^^. Also Big Thank for Fullemoontea for making me this poster :