In The Years Imja Was Gone
The general returned empty handed.
He was wet, eyes cast down and ears closed off to the world. His men followed as he passed by, because after all they were very worried about him. It's been seven days since he left, determined to return with the High Doctor, and now this ghostly apparition was all that replaced that person. The vice general was the first to join Choi Young's side, quiet and willing to listen, while the others, even Dae Man followed behind.
"We have secured him and the Queen, Lady Choi is handling such matters."
"Are all the groups in alert?"
"Yes, General. The King wishes to see you as soon as possible."
The General halted and turned. "All of you back to guard! Now!" He barked and watched the men, except Dae Man and Deok Man disperse. Then turned to the Vice General. "Dol Bek?"
"We dressed him in his finest armor and send him off." Choi Young turned, swallowing hard and nodding.
"Pass this order to the WooDalChi, all must hear; their General Choi Young demands that none of them ever lift a weapon to defend their general unless ordered. Whoever disobeys will be severely punished by me."
"Very well, General. Though I don't think they will obey I will pass down the orders." And patting the man's shoulder the General handed his sword to Dae Man.
"I will change my clothes and go greet the King. You two escort me."
"General?" Asked the Vice general, worried.
"The High Doctor, where is she?"
Choi Young blinked and took in a deep breath. "Did you expect her to remain, really?"
He took a bath, changed to his lined blue and gray robes and calmly walked through the camp, looking around. He was aware of the morning sun, the windy hour and above that of the clouds gathering around the castle, announcing later rain. Hands behind his back he passed by the guards, his escorts following suit, and quietly walked towards the King's office. It was still quite early and he was aware the Queen would not allow her king to leave yet, but walking soothed his heart the most at the moment. It kept his mind going through schedules and meeting, not halting what made his memory twist and turn inside him. He opened the door to the office and to his surprise there was the King, sitting and reading some parchments in wonder. Their eyes met and Choi Young bowed quickly. "Majesty, forgive my boldness I didn't believe you would be here."
The King simply smiled. "I told you that decorum was not necessary between us. Now come in and answer some questions to your King, please."
With a sigh Choi Young obeyed and while the King stood to walk to the table they always discussed things the warrior waited. "I understand the High Doctor did not return with you." Choi Young sat, hands for some reason sweaty and shaking slightly. "And neither did the Prince of the Court."
"The Prince of the Court I found, frozen to death before the rocks were the gate to Heavens open."
The King, understanding avoided his General's gaze, looking forward. "The High Doctor, was her poison not...?"
The General smiled. "She managed to save her life through risking it, again. She used a similar poison, and counterattacked the effects. It was the last suggestion of the late Dr. Jang Bin."
"I'm at peace, Majesty."
"How so? When that person..."
"Majesty; the items the High Doctor required to find all clues to her current situation were left to her by Hwata; the doctor known for his knowledge and skills."
"I was able to deduce as much."
"The High Doctor is Hwata, Majesty." The words confused the King. "At some point that person was supposed to travel again, leave this wonderful clues to herself, and then return. Hence she had to leave, but in my heart I know she is to return; so Majesty I must ask you to allow me to remain in this position till that moment comes."
"Was there ever a doubt that you would continue to hold your title?"
"Thank you, Majesty."
They both took a deep breath and the King stood. "Shall we have breakfast together?"
"You are too kind, sir."
"You need to gather your strength, should I ask Lady Choi for some Tarak porridge?"
That did not sound bad at all.
His hand tremors didn't occur anymore; he'd tested training with the new recruits, then calling several Suribang to help him, but his hand was as steel. To the joy of his subordinates he resumed carrying his sword everywhere. Yet the matter at hand made his entire body tremble. Never had he thought about such thing happening to him and now that it had dread was cushioning itself within his mind. After this the King would surely have him escort ladies around the gardens… The thought alone made his body shake with the terror of been forced to take a concubine.
The King had sent him the furniture for an office.
The desk was large, comfortable to his height; the wood had been worked on recently, as if the King had been planning this for a while. The chair tall and cushioned, adorned with the same dragon his armor had. Choi Young sat on it, staring at all new items and suddenly panicking; why was he here? Standing up he turned to look at the furniture in shock when the door opened and his aunt walked in, making his hand lift in surprise.
"You scared me!"
"What are you doing?"
"The King game me this to create an office within the WooDalChi camp, I came to pick them up." The woman gave a nod and sat across from the desk touching the surface. "What is it?"
"The Queen is wondering if you are alright." Choi Young gave a nod and sat down again, smiling. "The King is trying to assure her you are, but she doesn't quite believe it. Neither do I." Choi Yong lowered his eyes; at some point the night before, as he rested over the unknown bed he requested avoiding the one smelling of Eun Soo, he knew this sort of talks would emerge with a lot of people... But not this soon after the King spoke to him.
"I assure you aunt I am quite alright."
"As expected your heart does not cringe because of a woman."
"No it doesn't. It aches." That got her to look up in surprise; that woman, the High Doctor, has pierced my soul deeper than expected. She has deposited something in me which gives me peace." He turned to her with a quiet smile. "Faith, and trust."
"If she is the Hwata, could Jojo find some way of seducing her into staying?"
"No, she will come back."
"I don't know. Probably when she is ready."
The woman watched her nephew; the boy had grown to be a man yet his eyes always spoke volumes of his heart. Through the pain of his old lost fiancée his eyes had spoken and cried to the heavens for retribution, for someone to throw a sword at his heart and finally release his anger and pain. He had wanted so badly to die then… only when the High Doctor arrived did he start to live again. The King had been right; she had not seen her own nephew's heart; it took his actions, the simple joining of lips to deliver the broken down aspirin to the doctor's mouth… How was it she'd been so blind?
"Punk," She said softly, making him look up. Lady Choi had never been a tender woman; usually surrounded by tough guards, having to protect the royal line and with nothing but a father and brothers she had been breed to be cold and calculating. But she stood; her hands resting over Young's shoulder and with her body shielded him from the rest of the world. This, as she had known for so long, was as far as motherly love would move her to this young generation.
The general was no doubt surprised; and his shoulders shook for a second, before his hand lifted, that large hand that had been small once, enough to had been wrapped by her hand, and took hold of her coat. The way his fist tightened and his body trembled was reminiscing of that day his father had died, and without a mother or siblings, Lady Choi became his only source of consolation.
"Then we will have faith, and trust in her safe return." Was all she could say, as he leaned onto her and gritting his teeth, released some of that frustration.
The first year was like that; people staring at his direction in a pitiful way, people he knew and who cared about him, asking about the doctor's whereabouts and the constant painful wait. He amazed everyone by showing calm strength, overseeing the training of the new WooDalChi, the creation of that unit the King so much wanted, and making sure his closest officers were groomed to be leaders. There were many battles, but thanks to quick thinking, strategizing and the honorable fighting the lands was slowly claimed for Goryeo.
At the end of that year he decided to take those who deserved the trip to a small holiday; nothing fancy mind you, simply a training exercise and some rest in the wilderness. Only that their training was scarce and the WooDalChi usually fooling around the villages, not in a negative way, but fooling around none the less. After the full moon he sat under the tree, not moving from its shade, while cold and rain fell. The sun would come up, and go down; four days would go like that. Waiting, knowing that at some point she would have to cross this path in her return… and their walk would be resumed. Her hand would like around his and with a smile they would both return to that life that awaited them.
It wasn't until before the fourth sunset that he realized he, General Choi Young of the WooDalChi and Goryeo, had become a hopeless romantic.