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Ghost

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Yangcha followed the man on horseback, obedient. The chains on his shoulder weighed too much; he still didn't get used to walking with them. The young man didn't want to use such weapons. Although he was the only one capable of handling the chains so well at such an early age, he preferred to use the sword. However, he wasn't free to decide which weapons to use.

Beside him, Tagon, one of his companions, struck him gently on the shoulder, trying to get his attention. When the boy looked at him, Tagon pointed out something in front of them. Yangcha looked in that direction.

It was a village; it seemed small and humble. There were no more than twenty medium-sized houses, and the few people that roamed there made it clear that they didn't have many inhabitants.

ーWhy do you think they brought us here? ーTagon asked in whispers, as they would be scolded if they heard them speak; they had been forbidden to do so.

They had left Arthdal a few hours ago. Their superiors had not told them where they were going or what they would do. They had only been ordered to take all their weapons and follow them. Yangcha supposed it was part of the training. Two years ago, a man named Mugwang had picked up Tagon and him from the ashes of a small village near Arthdal and had taken them with his boss and older brother, Mubaek. Since then, they had lived with them and with other young people who had been rescued. The only condition was to do what they ordered and be willing to do everything to be the best soldiers; otherwise, not only would they not be worthy of being part of the Daekan Forces, but they could lose their lives.

ーI don't know ーYangcha responded, also in whispers.

A few meters from the entrance, Mugwang stopped and got off his horse, drawing his sword. With a smile, he turned to the twelve young men behind him.

ーLet's see what things you have learned ーhe said, playing with his sword, as if he were stabbing someoneー. If you become members of the Daekan Forces, you will conquer lands ーhe grimaced, then clicked his tongue and smiled againー. Sometimes those lands will be occupied... but that will not be any impediment. You know what I mean?

Several of the boys nodded, somewhat doubtfully. Mugwang raised his arm with which he held the sword and aimed at the village, where several were already beginning to notice their presence.

ーThey are Wahan village ーMugwang laughed a little, very funny with what was going to happenー. They... they aren't important, so Sanung allowed me to kill them for their training. So... go ーhe ordered, with his voice in a more serious toneー. Don't leave anyone alive.

The young men nodded once more, and each drew their respective weapons. Tagon took his bow and arrows, while Yangcha grabbed his chains, and together, they ran towards the village.

Upon arrival, the few wanderers looked at them confused, frowning. But their expressions changed to panic and terror when Tagon attacked, throwing one of his arrows at the neck of a man carrying two large baskets full of flowers.

ー¡Yeonsol! ーexclaimed another, running towards the body of the man.

Yangcha was faster; he caught him on the road, throwing his chains at his feet, making him fall. He dragged him to him, and when he had him in front, he suffocated him with the rest of the chains, killing him in seconds.

The others present started screaming, desperate. Some managed to enter the houses; others were killed.

Yangcha exchanged glances with Tagon when there was no one outside. The other approached.

ーI will go see inside these houses ーTagon said, again in whispers, pointing to the houses on his rightー. You go with those over there ーhe indicated, referring to those at the bottom of village.

The minor nodded and addressed them. There were three, side by side. The middle one seemed to be much bigger than the others, so Yangcha decided to enter.

When he opened the wooden door, the first thing he saw was a woman turned, with her back to him. This is so easy, Yangcha thought, approaching her in silence. However, being only a few steps away, Yangcha made the mistake of moving his chains slowly, causing noise, and without the young man seeing him coming, the woman turned quickly and stabbed his right leg with a dagger.

Yangcha clenched his teeth to prevent a scream from coming out of his mouth. He quickly removed her dagger from his leg and looked at the woman, who tried to approach once more with another dagger in her hand.

Again, Yangcha was faster. He wrapped his chains around her hands, causing her to drop the dagger. He approached her and suffocated her, just as he had done with the man outside.

She tried to break free, fighting with him, but after a few seconds, she began to lose strength in her arms and, finally, died. When he removed the chains from her neck and hands, Yangcha heard something fall at his side. He turned after leaving the woman on the floor, frowning.

To his right, there was an open door. Apparently, that door led to one of the rooms. In it was a little girl. She was short, with brown hair full of small braids. At her feet, there was a basket with fruits scattered on the floor. Her gaze was fixed on the dead woman who lay at Yangcha's feet.

ーMom! ーshe exclaimed, in a trembling voice. She ran to her and sat beside her, shaking her in a futile attempt to wake her up.

Yangcha didn't know what to do. He could kill men and women without hesitation, but children? He didn't think he could.

He looked at the girl, feeling sorry. For some reason, she reminded him of himself. Yangcha was equally naive and innocent when they attacked his village; he had tried to wake everyone up, even knowing there was no way to do it.

ーMom, wake up ーdemanded, shaking her mother againー. Please ーshe begged, crying.

Yangcha's sudden grip made her scream. The boy had taken her in his arms and had quickly entered the room through which she had left. Looking around, Yangcha saw a large wooden closet at the back of the room.

With all the speed and delicacy he could, he opened the doors and put the girl inside; she looked at him with a frown.

ーStay here ーordered Yangchaー. Whatever happens, don't go out. Wait until it's night to do it.

ーDid you do something to my mom? ーshe asked suddenlyー. Why doesn't she wake up?

Yangcha looked away.

ーI did nothing to your mother ーhe lied, still not looking at herー. But you'll end up like her if you go out. You... ーhe looked at her againー. You just have to wait here. Wait for me to come back, okay?

The girl nodded. As she had stopped crying, Yangcha assumed he could leave her, so he closed the closet doors and left.

Inside the closet, Tanya waited patiently for the boy's return for hours, but he never returned.

Chapter Text

It was barely noon. The sun was at its highest point, illuminating every corner of the place. The wind gently moved the tree branches, and the birds flew free over them. Tanya carried a large wicker basket, where there were several flowers of all colors and types.

She was heading to a small and humble village hidden in the middle of the forest. There she lives with her best friend, Chaeeun. She's a young woman she had known, if her memory didn't fail, about twelve years ago; since then, she had lived with her, her sister and her parents, since, unfortunately, Tanya had no home of her own.

When she was little, the village where Tanya lived had been attacked. She was the only one who survived, and it was all thanks to a dark-haired boy who disappeared after his heroic act. Tanya still remembered every faction of his face, the tone of his voice and his promise to return for her. A promise that, regardless of the fifteen years that have passed since then, Tanya hoped he would fulfill.

She couldn't even remember how she had survived those three years before she met Chaeeun. It was as if someone had stolen those memories from her head and could no longer recover them.

After walking a few meters, she could see the entrance of the village. In it was Eunseom, one of Tanya's best friends and neighbors. He was a nice and funny young man, although there are times when Tanya just wants to tear his head off.

ーUntil you finally arrived ーhe said when Tanya was about two meters from the entranceー. I was about to tell everyone that a bear had eaten you.

Rolling her eyes with amusement, Tanya passed by, ignoring him completely. He followed her, without letting himself be ignored.

ーHey, Tanya ーEunseom called her. The girl didn't answerー. Hey ーTanya kept ignoring himー. Tanya, Tanya, Tanya, Tanya, Tanya...

Tanya suddenly stopped, already tired of his immature behaviors. She turned to see him, raising her right arm as a sign that if he didn't shut up, she would hit him. Eunseom reacted by covering his face with both arms.

ーWhat do you want? ーthe girl asked, lowering her arm.

ーI want you to tell my brother that you saw that it was Noonbyeol who broke the necklace he was going to give Chaeeun ーhe begged, removing his arms from his face and joining his palms in supplication ー. If I tell him, he won't believe me.

She sighed. If she did, she would be getting into a big problem. Saya, Eunseom's twin brother and Chaeeun's crush, wasn't a fan of lies, while Noonbyeol, Chaeeun's younger sister, was a very vindictive girl. If she lied to Saya involving Noonbyeol, they would both come together to take revenge on her.

Cursing through her teeth, Tanya turned around, as if continuing her way, ignoring him. But instead, she stood still, turning her head back a little.

ーOk ーshe said, loud enough for Eunseom to hear herー. I'll do it. But you owe me a favor.

Eunseom celebrated behind her with small jumps, and thanked her with a big hug from behind that gave Tanya a smile.

ーThank you very muchーhe whispered, giving her a quick kiss on the cheek and then running away.

Tanya opened her mouth in surprise, turning just in time to see him enter his house.

ーCrazy bastard! ーshe exclaimed.

━━━━━━━━

Everyone had lunch in one of the great halls of the palace. That was one of the many privileges they had as members of the Daekan Forces.

Yangcha was at the tip of one of the tables. He hadn't touched his food yet, and Tagon noticed. With a soft knock under the table, the man looked up, making eye contact with Tagon, who pointed to the plate full of food.

When they were training and not yet members of the Daekan Forces, they weren't allowed to talk much. If they did, they would be punished. No one knew why. But now, being official members of the troops, they understood everything perfectly.

Being a perfect soldier meant obeying orders without even saying a word. That's why they were forbidden to speak. If they did, they would cut their tongues.

Yangcha decided to listen to his best friend, and took off the black mask that covered half of his face. That was another condition for being a member of the Daekan Forces; wear a mask. Everyone had it, except those of a higher level, like Mugwang and Mubaek.

He took the silverware and, in view of Tagon, began to eat. He, pleased to have made his friend eat, smiled and concentrated on his own plate. However, Yangcha couldn't even eat two tablespoons when Mugwang's voice was heard from the dining room door, breaking the silence.

ーYangcha, come here ーIt was what he said, standing at the door. The soldier was confused with the request. He didn't remember doing anything wrong. Putting on his mask once more, Yangcha got up from his seat and walked towards himー. Accompany me.

Mugwang came out the door, waiting for the soldier to follow. He did so obediently, closing the door behind him. Both walked through the long halls of the palace; Mugwang said nothing along the way, and seemed to want to avoid making eye contact with him.

After changing direction in one of the corners, they found a large wooden door at the end of the hall. Yangcha knew immediately what that place was; it was the torture room.

Although he was beginning to worry, he didn't show it, and entered that room after Mugwang opened the door. Inside, there was a chair in the middle of the four walls; walls that were filled with several artifacts perfect for torturing someone. Yangcha looked at each of them, wondering which one Mugwang was going to use.

ーI'll not torture you ーMugwang said when he noticed the expression on the man's face. Looking away, he drew his swordー. I'll kill you.

Yangcha opened his eyes surprised by those last words. Had he done something wrong? Turning to see Mugwang, he realized that the man had his eyes full of tears, which only generated more confusion in Yangcha.

ーI don't want to do it... ーMugwang whispered, making eye contact with Yangcha for the first time since they left the dining roomー. But if I don't do it... then he will kill her ーThe warrior didn't understand anything. Who was he talking about?ー. I'm sorry.

Taking advantage of the man's confusion and finding no way to defend himself or escape, Mugwang approached Yangcha and stabbed him quickly in the abdomen. Yangcha's blood began to stain his clothes and fall to the ground. His vision began to darken and he felt a strange metallic taste in his mouth.

ーI'm really sorry ーMugwang sobbed, stabbing him once more. Having to kill someone who was like a younger brother hurt him too much, but the possibility of losing her was something he couldn't bear.

When Mugwang removed the sword from Yangcha's body, he fell to the ground on his knees. His eyelids seemed to weigh heavily, and his mask was full of blood, which made it much harder to try to breathe. He tried to raise his arms to take off his mask and give at least one last breath before he died, but these weighed too much and, due to the effort, he fell sideways.

Seconds later, the brightness of his eyes disappeared. He was dead.

Chapter Text

Tagon was starting to worry. Hours had passed since lunch, and there was still no sign of Yangcha.

He had waited for him in the dining room, but something told him that his friend wouldn't return to that place, so, having a bad feeling, he left the great hall and began to walk the corridors of the castle, hoping to find him.

In one of the corridors, he found Mugwang coming out the door that led to the slave prisons, accompanied by one of them.

After making eye contact, Mugwang's expression reflected nervousness for a few seconds.

ーTagon ーhe greeted. The man responded to the greeting with a nod.

Mugwang said nothing more and, without saying goodbye, dragged the slave with him.

Something caught the attention of the young man. Frowning, he turned his head in the direction of Mugwang. His eyes immediately confirmed what he thought; Mugwang's clothes were stained with blood.

Turning his gaze to the door, Tagon let out a sigh.

I think things got ugly inside the prisons and he had to kill a few slaves, he thought. What a waste.

Turning to the opposite path that Mugwang was heading for, Tagon kept walking, opening all the doors he found hoping to meet his friend. But when he opened the door of the torture room, all hope disappeared.

Their eyes couldn't believe what they were seeing. They refused to believe it. It wasn't possible, Tagon didn't want it to be possible. His knees were shaking and he felt his eyes burning with tears that accumulated in them.

In front of him, submerged in a pool of blood, was Yangcha's lifeless body.

For the first time in his life, Tagon wished he was wrong. He wished he was wrong and that the dead man on the floor turned out to be anyone else. But he knew that, as much as he wanted, his wishes wouldn't be fulfilled.

The lump in his throat grew larger with each step he took towards Yangcha. He knelt beside him with tears starting to slide down his cheeks.

He put his hands close to Yangcha's mask and took it off, seeing the remains of blood covering half of his face.

Discovering that he had drowned in his own blood before he died only made Tagon feel worse.

Sobbing, he took his friend's body in his arms and hugged him with all his might, clinging to him as if that brought him back to life.

I promise to find whoever did this to you, Tagon thought, stroking Yangcha's back. I promise I won't stop until I make him pay... and I promise that I'll do my best to find a way to give you your life back, no matter what it takes.

━━━━━━━━

Tanya began to leave the rest of the flowers in the basket. It had taken hours, but she had finally managed to finish all the flower crowns for Chaeeun's birthday. Every year they celebrate it with all the village.

She remembered that when she was little, in her old village they used to celebrate birthdays this way. Everyone wore small crowns of flowers and painted their faces. They spent the whole day dancing, telling stories and eating the best meals. It was a beautiful tradition that Tanya hoped would continue in her current village, as a kind of tribute in the name of the one she lost.

Unable to avoid it, the girl thought about that day. She still had many questions without answers.

Why had they been attacked? Who were they? Why had that boy left her alive? Why hadn't he come back for her yet?

Tanya sighed weakly.

Did something bad happen to him and that's why he didn't come back?, she thought, suddenly feeling sad. If the answer to that question was positive, the young woman couldn't bear it. Despite only having talked to him once, that boy had become the reason Tanya woke up every morning.

ーWho died? ーasked a voice behind her, making Tanya come back to reality.

She turned around and met Saya. She frowned, thinking she had said it out loud.

ーYou have a face that someone died ーhe said, with a slight smile.

Tanya returned her eyes to the basket of flowers.

ーOh ーshe murmured, trying to sound as normal as possibleー. No one died. I was preparing mentally to tell you something.

The brown-haired boy approached and sat in front of her, helping her pick up the last flowers on the table.

ーTell me what?

Tanya took a broken necklace from her pocket, which Eunseom handed her shortly before. Trying her best, she left it on the table pretending nervousness. Saya looked at the pieces of the necklace, frowning.

ーWhat...? ーSaya's voice showed that he was trying to keep calm.

ーI found it by accident hidden in Noonbyeol's room ーTanya lied, looking away.

You're going to pay me dearly, Eunseom.

ーI think I broke it ーshe whispered. Suddenly, she realized the error in her words and opened her eyes in fear, slowly turning to Saya.

The young man was looking at her with a smile on his face.

ーYou're lousy lying ーSaya said, still smilingー. Don't worry, I'm sure it was Eunseom who did it and asked you to lie. He was the only one who saw where I hid it.

That was supposed to reassure her, but Tanya knew that behavior was like calm before the storm.

ーSo... you're not angry? ーshe asked nervously.

ーNo, I'm not angry ーSaya replied, getting up from the chair and walking towards the door.

She sighed in relief.

ーI'm furious ーhe murmured before leaving.

Chapter Text

Nerves and fear consumed Mugwang with every step he took, with every breath he took, with every beat of his heart. He was afraid someone would arrive before him, discovering Yangcha's body earlier than planned. If that happened, he didn't even want to imagine what he would do to her to punish him for his mistake.

Increasing the speed of his steps, he took the last lap necessary to arrive, dragging the slave with him. To his misfortune, he wasn't the only person at the door of the torture room. Several Daekan soldiers were there. Mugwang swallowed, begging not to be discovered.

ー¡Mugwang! ーsomeone yelled behind him, causing the man to startle, scared.

It was Mubaek, his older brother. He approached Mugwang and placed his left hand on his right shoulder, looking at him with a frown.

ーWhat happened here? ーhe asked, turning to look at the men stacked at the door.

ーI don't know ーMugwang lied, breathing hard.

ーAnd who's he? ーMubaek was referring to the slave his younger brother held.

ーHe's... he's a prisoner of war. I was going to question him ーhe lied again, unable to look him in the eye.

ーI see... ーhe muttered, nodding. Seconds later, a sob was heard; someone was crying inside the torture roomー. I'll go see what happened ーMubaek said, saying goodbye to Mugwang and walking towards the door, hurriedly.

When Mubaek left, the slave laughed, capturing the warrior's attention.

ーThings went wrong ーhe told Mugwang in whispersー. They will soon discover that it was you, and I don't think that benefits herHe will go for you.

The man opened his eyes wide, surprised by his words. How did he know what was happening?

He stared at him, waiting for him to speak again. But he said nothing.

Stacked people started to step aside. Mugwang looked at them. Gitoha and Yeonbal, two commanders like him, came out with Yangcha's body in their arms.

Behind them, was Tagon. His face was wet, the product of the tears he had shed. He wasn't wearing his mask and his eyes were empty.

I'm in big trouble, Mugwang thought.

━━━━━━━━

Tanya looked for Eunseom throughout the village, but there were no signs of him. After her conversation with Saya, it was clear that the young man was going to take revenge.

Why is he so dramatic?, Tanya thought, pursing her lips. It was the third time she was looking for both of them, and she was getting tired.

Apparently, Eunseom wasn't in the village, but Tanya didn't know if he had left of his own accord or if Saya had taken him on a "walk" to the forest, then he had left him tied upside down in the branches of a tree.

Sighing, she looked at the entrance of the village. She had to go find them.

She walked over there, cursing the twins, with her eyes fixed on the ground. Since she had fallen from a small mountain for not looking where she was walking, she had become accustomed to doing so.

Two black rocks along the way caught her attention. No, they weren't black rocks. They were black boots.

Frowning, she began to slowly raise her eyes.

After the black boots, there were dark pants, a black belt with a sword, a blue shirt and...

Tanya shouted, backing away; the way she tried to step back caused her to trip over her own feet, falling backwards. On the ground, she crawled back, closing her eyes tightly.

The blue shirt was stained with blood. It had a hole, through which the young woman could see the horrible wound in the man's abdomen.

Chaeeun, who was having a lively conversation with her father at the time, turned when she heard her friend's scream.

ーTanya! ーshe exclaimed, running towards her. Other people walking looked at the girl, surprised by her behaviorー. Tanya! What happened? Are you fine? ーChaeeun asked, taking Tanya's face in her hands.

The brown-haired girl, who was still with her eyes closed, shook her head.

ーHe's still there?ーTanya inquired.

Chaeeun frowned, confused by the question.

ーOf whom you speak?

ーOf the man standing in front of me ーshe answered.

The young woman turned her head towards the entrance of the village, looking for the man Tanya was talking about. Not finding him, she turned her gaze to the girl on the floor.

ーI don't see any man, Tanya ーChaeeun assured, stroking the girl's shoulderー. Are you sure you are alright?

Tanya opened her eyes. Chaeeun was right; he wasn't there. The man she had seen was no longer there. But, how...?

ーThere was a man right here ーTanya said, rising quickly from the groundー. I saw him! He had a wound on his abdomen, and his face... ーshe tried to remember it, but she hadn't even seen it. When she saw the wound, she had become so scared that she closed her eyes instead of seeing the man's face.

She narrowed her eyes, looking at the forest. She was sure she saw him. She snorted, watching Chaeeun rise from the ground.

ーI must find him ーshe told Chaeeunー. He was hurt. He can die.

ーBut... ーThe young woman began to say, but was interrupted by Tanya, who, determined to find him, began to run, leaving the village and entering the forestー. Tanya!

Chapter Text

Tanya didn't think clearly before running into the forest. For some reason, she feared for the life of that man. The wound on his abdomen seemed serious, enough to kill him if he didn't receive medical help immediately.

The question that the young woman constantly repeated herself while searching for him was where he had come from. Because of his clothes, Tanya could ensure that he wasn't from any of the neighboring villages. He carried a sword, so there was a chance he was a soldier, probably one of the king's warriors. But how had he got there? Who had hurt him that way?

Letting out a tired sigh, Tanya stopped her walk. She wasn't sure how long she had been walking, but she assumed it was hours. She was tired and there was still no trace of that man, so Tanya decided to return home. It was possible that the soldier had already died. Feeling guilty for not having found him, the young woman turned to walk towards her village, but didn't take five steps when she heard a struggle coming from the bushes in her right.

She turned her head in that direction. She waited, looking for some other sound, but the only one she could hear was her own breathing.

ーAnyone there? ーTanya asked, with a slight tremor in her voice caused by the fear she began to feel.

Nothing was heard but silence.

Returning her eyes to the front, the young woman chose to assume that it had been an animal. Recovering from fright, she continued her walk, until she heard it again. It was a struggle, but this time accompanied by a gasp.

Without thinking twice, Tanya walked quickly to the bushes. No doubt that wasn't an animal. The young woman crouched down in front of the bushes and moved their branches aside with both hands to see what or who was there.

ーSaya really is a damn psycho ーmurmured Tanya, seeing what was hiding behind the bushes. There was Eunseom, tied hands and feet, with a piece of cloth inside his mouth that prevented him from formulatingー. That crazy bastard ーshe exclaimed, taking away the piece of cloth in Eunseom's mouthー. How long have you been here, huh? ーshe inquired.

Eunseom looked into her eyes, making a small pout.

ーMost of the afternoon ーhe replied.

Tanya snorted, starting to untie the ropes that prevented his legs from moving.

ーOne day, Saya is going to kill you. If I don't do it first.

ーI'm the victim here! ーthe boy exclaimed, watching Tanya untie his hands too. Once free, he sat on the floorー. Besides, I should kill you. It's your fault. 'I broke it'? Is that how bad you are at lying under pressure?

Tanya opened her mouth with indignation, holding both ropes to her chest.

ーWhat did you say? ーshe asked, bringing the ropes to his legs, making him understand that if he didn't shut up, she could tie him again and leave him there.

ーI said nothingーEunseom hastened to say, rising quickly from the ground.

Tanya smiled without being able to avoid it, and rose from the ground seconds later. She handed the ropes to Eunseom; he took them and put them on his shoulder.

ーCome on ーTanya said, then she crushed her lipsー. Let's go home. Chaeeun must be worried ーshe added, grimacing. It hadn't been good of her to leave her like this. Who knows the ideas that should cross her friend's mind at that precise moment.

Eunseom nodded, and both began to walk along the road that led to the village. None said anything, but the silence between them wasn't uncomfortable, so they preferred not to seek the topic of conversation.

The speed of their steps was fast, but not enough to say they were running. They passed through the trees, trying not to step on any poisonous weeds, any plants with thorns or feces of any animal. They lacked very little to reach their destination, but suddenly, Tanya stopped.

ーWhat happens? ーEunseom asked, also stopping and turning his head to see her.

Tanya didn't answer. Her gaze was fixed on something in front of her. Her expression reflected sadness, perhaps worry or confusion. The young man looked in the same direction as his friend, but saw nothing but bushes and trees full of mold.

ーIt was you ーTanya muttered, drawing the young man's attention. Eunseom frowned, not understanding Tanya's wordsー. You came back ーshe added, her eyes filled with tears due to the happiness she was beginning to feel.

ーWho are you talking to, Tanya? ーEunseom was really confused with the girl's behavior.

Tanya turned her head to see Eunseom. She smiled before answering.

ーDon't you see it? ーshe inquired, turning her eyes to the front. In front of her was the man with the wound in the abdomen. But this time, she saw his face, recognizing him immediately.

It was the boy who had saved her as a child.

━━━━━━━━

Mugwang had no idea what to do now. They had found Yangcha's body much earlier than planned. What excuse would he give? Without a doubt, he was in big trouble. And to his misfortune, his mistake wouldn't only affect him.

After seeing that Yangcha's body was taken out of the torture room, he went to leave that strange slave in his cell. He still didn't understand how he knew those things about him, but he would take care of that later.

Mugwang went to his room, on the first floor of the palace. One of the many benefits of belonging to a higher rank was the advantage of not having to share a room with other soldiers. Upon entering, he made sure to close the door well. Then, he walked directly to the back wall of the room. Breathing deeply, he moved the huge closet that was there, allowing the hidden door behind it to be visible. It was a simple wooden door that gave way to one of the many secret passageways of the castle. They were passageways so old that he was sure that not even the current king's grandfather knew them. He opened the door and, after taking one of the nearby torches, entered. As always, those halls were filled with immense darkness, capable of terrorizing anyone. He walked for minutes that seemed eternal, constantly changing direction and entering new passages, until he found a dead end. Or at least, it would be for anyone who was walking through that place for the first time.

He approached the wall. If people paid enough attention to that stone wall, they would realize that there's a thin rectangular line that extends from the ceiling to the floor; a door. Mugwang raised his free hand and placed it on the door. His intention was to push to open it, but a scream made him paralyze, being unable to do so.

Hyesook.

Mugwang identified her immediately. Without a doubt, it was the voice of his daughter.

Chapter Text

Tagon felt terrible. Yangcha's death had affected him more than anyone. He didn't just lose a friend. Yangcha was more than that. He was his brother, his only family.

Despite the sadness that consumed him, Tagon wasn't going to do what the others were doing; he wasn't going to sit idly by, not when the culprit is still around. He was going to find him and he was going to do his utmost to bring his friend back to life. He knew there was a way. About fifteen years ago, Yangcha himself had told him a legend about a mysterious man with the ability to summon spirits, read minds and bring to life all that was dead.All Tagon had to do was find out where that man was, if he really existed.

After taking Yangcha's body to his room ーwhere his farewell ritual would be performed the following dayー, the young man went to the great library of the castle. If there were records of the man Yangcha had told you about, they should be among all those books.

When he came in, the smell of moisture smothered him. It was clear that no one entered that place in years. There was even dust covering the furniture. Tagon was saddened that people preferred violence instead of strategy, weapons instead of books. Although being a soldier, he couldn't complain much. He himself had chosen the path of brutality to survive.

The place was beautiful, despite the neglect. The big torches lit little, but the daylight that came through the numerous windows let him see the beauty of that room. There were large shelves running through the four walls, filled with books of all colors and sizes. Several wooden tables and chairs of the same material roamed the entire room. On each table, there were small candles waiting to be lit. On the roof was painted one of the most important wars of a hundred years ago. The mixture of colors, the delicacy of the drawing of the figures. Everything was beautiful. At the time, that place must have even been magical.

Tagon let out a sigh of weariness as he looked down at the shelves. He hadn't started looking yet and he was already feeling tired, although his fatigue was probably due to previous events. Determined to begin his quest, he approached the nearest wall. The first book that caught his attention was one with a purple lining. It looked ancient. When he opened it, he discovered it was written in a language he didn't know, so he returned it to its place without even bothering to discover what language it was or what it was about. He continued with the book on its right. It was brown and although it looked almost new on the outside, on the inside it was almost dusty. The book was about an ancient battle between two heirs to the throne that had taken place over three hundred years ago. He returned it to its place without thinking twice. It wasn't what he needed.

He stopped for an instant before taking the third book. He lowered the arm he had raised with the intention of taking it. Finding what he was looking for was going to take days, maybe weeks or even months, and he didn't have that time. He walked away from the shelves, taking a deep breath before turning to the door. It was clear he would need some help. Walking back to the door, Tagon promised Yangcha that he would return the next day, accompanied by someone to help him, and left the library without noticing the presence of that young woman at the back of the room who looked at him with curiously in her eyes.

━━━━━━━━

Recovering quickly from his surprise, Mugwang pushed the door in front of him. The sound of it crawling on the floor echoed across the hall. The soldier entered the room, desperate. He couldn't bear that something bad happened to his daughter, much less if it had been his fault.

He looked around, looking for her. The darkness of that room made it difficult, but thanks to the torch in his hand, he was able to see two figures in the background, hiding in the shadows. The sound of metal colliding with each other made present, accompanied by her moan of pain and a laugh from him.

ーWe were waiting for you ーhe said, looking at him with a smile. In his left hand he held a kind of iron hammer. His beard had blood on the bottom.

Mugwang looked at Hyesook. She was sitting on a wooden chair; her feet were tied to the legs of it, her hands too. Her long light brown hair stuck to her forehead, neck and shoulders due to sweat. Her eyes were full of tears, her face covered with her own blood. She had several iron sticks nailed to her legs and numerous cuts on her arms. Her dress was torn apart, dirtier than the last time he saw her. A knot formed in Mugwang's throat.

ーYou didn't think I was gonna find out? ーinquired the man. Mugwang looked into his eyesー. I have spies throughout the palace. You should already know.

The soldier looked at his daughter again. Hyesook looked back at him. The fear in her eyes made Mugwang feel even worse.

ーDon't hurt her ーbegged Mugwang, looking awayー. Please ーMugwang was on the verge of tears. He inhaled deeply, trying to calm himself. Then, when the room went quiet, he realized that they weren't the only ones in it. He noticed the presence of four other men in one of the corners, ready to attack if Mugwang tried to do something. They were soldiers, dressed in black armor and large helmets of the same color hiding their faces, as alwaysー. She didn't do anything wrong.

Hyesook closed her eyes when a tear slid down her cheek. The man in front of her laughed once more, drawing the hammer closer to Hyesook. With his free hand, he drew another stick from his pocket and placed it on her left leg. The young woman crushed her lips to prevent a scream from coming out of them when the stick penetrated her leg.

ーPlease! ーMugwang cried outー. You also have a daughter. How would you feel if something bad happened to her? ーinquired the man, trying to touch his sensitive and fatherly side that he hoped to have.

However, he completely ignored him and took a small dagger out of his pocket. He took it to Hyesook's cheek and Mugwang lost control. Without thinking clearly, he drew his sword. Immediately, two of the soldiers who were there approached him and took him by the arms. A third man approached and took the sword from his hands. Mugwang struggled to free himself, but he just got held tighter.

ーFix the mistake you made with Yangcha... ーhe began to say, gently touching Hyesook's cheek with the edge of the daggerー... and maybe consider leaving her alive.

The remaining soldier drew his sword and walked towards the girl. With the hilt of this, he hit her on the back of the neck, leaving her unconscious. The man turned to see Mugwang with another of his psycho smiles as the soldier unleashed Hyesook and carried her over his shoulder.

ーI don't want any more mistakes from you, Mugwang ーhe warned.

Mugwang opened his mouth to speak, but one of the soldiers holding him did the same blow as the other, leaving the man unconscious.