While exiting the passage of the tomb, Seol Young roughly took care of the wound.
But the spear’s cut looked deep. Even if a powder mix of lime and herbs were sprinkled on it, it would soon turn wet again, and the fabric had to be changed several times.
With all of that blood, it seemed like both of them were injured at first glance.
However, after knowing that only Zaha was injured, the wooden spirits and Jung Myung rushed to him.
“High Governor Hwarang!”
Zaha raised his hand and stopped them.
“Since the treatment is done, it is much better for us to think about that thing instead.”
The goblins of Silla were so talented that they could build a bridge in one night.
The wooden spirits made a door to block the hole in the tomb with wood and stone. They covered the hole with that, and Seol Young, Zaha, and the shaman used talismans and their power to seal it.
Then Jung Myung covered it with branches. The place where the ground was dug up and the pile of dirt blended in with the forest landscape.
“No one will find this place because I used an illusion spell.”
Jung Myung lowered the tree branch and asked,
“What was in that tomb that you hurt this badly?”
“As soon as we entered, earthen beings attacked us.”
Seol Young answered.
“Bird-shaped earthenware turned into moving birds and attacked us. After we destroyed them, there were iron troops guarding the tomb, and they all rushed at us. That is how the arm of the High Governor ended up like this.”
“Bird-shaped earthenware and iron troops?”
“The shrine maiden must have noticed it, but both of them remind me of the Gaya Confederates. Usually, things that are deeply related to the dead are buried in…”
“Right. Let us ask about that. So is Mita a Confederate?”
“It can be assumed as such.”
Seol Young frowned slightly and said,
“But the iron troops were unusual for sure. During the fight, both of us became paralyzed in the middle, and we had no idea what technique it was.”
“Does the maiden know anything? About those iron soldiers with odd spells?”
Jung Myung thought for a while and shook her head.
“I don’t know. I cannot remember anything. What do we do?”
“It is fine. If we search thoroughly, we might find something.”
Zaha looked at the sky. It was dawning, and the day would soon turn bright.
“I need to go back for now. I should go and investigate the things that are centered around the Gaya Confederates.”
“Then I will protect this place for the time being.”
Jung Myung looked at Zaha’s arm.
“I will send you back home.”
Seol Young and Zaha quickly stopped her.
“We can borrow horses and ride our way out.”
“What if you use your power and get exposed to the other forces?”
Jung Myung lowered her hand.
“Right. Then go ahead first. I will stay and look around.”
She said so, but she just stood there and watched until the two disappeared. And the two men went down Mount Toham.
“Since your injury is serious, the maiden is worried.”
Seol Young stopped for a moment and tried to untie the cloth that was wrapped around Zaha’s arm.
It was deeply cracked, and his skin was dark blue. Thankfully, there was no change in the talismans that they had wrapped around it, just to be sure.
“If we take care of it like this, your arm will heal without any problems.”
When Seol Young said that with a serious look, Zaha raised his eyes.
“Seol Young-rang, are you saying you don’t want this to heal?”
“It’s not that… If you touch a powerfully sealed tomb and get hurt, you cannot help but be worried about the curse that follows. Usually, the curse starts with….”
“So, are you feeling sad that it isn’t showing up?”
“The latter is the problem. If it is a curse from a wound, then it can be handled, but that isn’t happening. What is going to happen? I am more concerned at what curse awaits us.”
“It had such a meaning? I misunderstood you.”
Zaha thought the same.
“First, the attacks were all mostly basic. If it were a psychological attack… would the people I’ve killed show up and curse me? I will be through so much pain.”
“Going through the memories of the past? You have already been through that a lot of times.”
“I’ve been through a lot of things many times. I don’t think anything can bother me anymore.”
“Still, is there something else that is different?”
“Well, it does bother me.”
The two of them continued to have a subtle conversation, and they borrowed a horse to return to Zaha’s home.
After opening the gate and going inside, both of them stopped.
In the yard, lanterns lit up the darkness of dawn that was slowly moving in. Then they saw Jin Rim and Hyo Wol lying face down on the table.
Everyone was drunk and seemed to be sleeping in peace, and the couple was carrying the people one by one inside.
They were so focused on Mita’s tomb that they forgot they had guests at home.
His teacher and his parents, who were all alive, were here in this place.
The married couple found the two and approached them.
“Sir Baek San went inside, and even Seol Young-rang’s parents also went in. Was there something so urgent you had to do that you ran out without saying anything?”
“Your parents said they would wait for their son to come back, but Sir Baek San seemed to have been tired from traveling, so they went inside together. Everyone is asleep…”
The couple paused while talking.
And they only noticed it when they got closer.
In the dark, Zaha’s and Seol Young’s clothes were stained with blood, and the arm of their master was wrapped in cloth.
“I just scratched myself a little”
“The rumors will circulate tomorrow. I heard about this ghost that appeared near the Wolha Bridge. I decided to check it out and forgot to inform anyone. It was such a rushed situation that I couldn’t even tell the elders and had to hurry out.”
“Then is this the doing of that thing? Such a nasty one.”
“Right. Maybe not to the extent of being nasty. And it won’t appear again, so there is no need to worry. I should get some rest.”
After sending them off in a familiar manner, they entered the study and shut the door. The candlelight shone through the cracks in the door.
The couple went back to moving the drunk people again, and grunts and moans from the drunk people could be heard.
‘So peaceful like expected.’
Seoil Young thought to himself.
It was so opposite from the tomb they had just gone into—not to mention their own world.
They looked at the light shining through the crack in the door, and then Seol Young said,
“If we had been brought here through the tomb of the God of Cataclysm… It must have been because of Jung Myung’s wish, but the evil spirit must have also done some work.”
“The reason it showed this world to us must be because it wants to keep us locked in here, right? To seduce us by showing us the sight we want to see.”
“But since we are not easily swayed by such temptations, what shall we do to this peaceful world? Isn’t that the curse we get?”
Zaha turned his gaze and looked at Seol Young.
“Well, it sounds like the God of Cataclysm is….”
But then his eyes changed.
“But isn’t this a world where it can’t just mess around with like that? Even though there is just one Tree God left alive and standing here, the shaman who has lived for a hundred years had gained great power, and is guarding it, right?”
“That is true, but….”
“Anyway, it is a problem that can be solved when we get back.”
Zaha leaned back on the chair as he said,
“It’s better to get some sleep until the morning.”
Seol Young looked at his arm.
He picked up a book about the Confederates and some old bamboo sheets on the bookshelf before heading out.
He heard that the lodging for him was in the house, so when he went there. The whole place shone brightly. It was a place for the Hwarangs, and there were some traces of the trainees visiting this place.
It was different from a normal resting residence, which had a historic look.
‘Where is my room?’
He couldn’t ask the couple now, and it would already be morning soon, so he went to the nearby study room.
Sitting at the desk, he opened the books and bamboo sheets he had brought.
After digging around, he found something that caught his eye. They were earrings with a shape that was similar to an upside-down drop of water. 1
Among the objects that they had noticed at Mita’s tomb, such things were there.
‘Gardenia fruit earrings. These must also be there.’
Various objects and accessories in the book were close to the burial objects.
As he flipped through the book, he felt tired, and before he knew it, he began to get drowsy.
Seol Young sat down at the desk.
Soon, his consciousness fell endlessly into the darkness. He didn’t know where he was and had been floating for a while…
Suddenly, it appeared.
The Moon Palace.
And the front yard.
An altar was decorated with a five-colored cloth spread around it. A sacrifice or ritual was going to be held.
The Golden Ring members were busily coming and going while carrying incense burners and flags.
Even in the midst of a hazy situation, Seol Young noticed that this was the other world, the one they lived in.
He was now looking beyond space and time.
So he became curious.
’While we were gone, what happened to the world over there? What are the other us doing?“
He looked down at his body, but he found nothing. It was just empty space.
At that moment, Seol Young realized that they didn’t exist.
He didn’t know what had happened, but Zaha and Seol Young weren’t there.
‘Then where are they?’
He was a bit shocked as he looked around, and earthen things suddenly appeared on the altar.
And characters were written on the bodies of the bird mud beings.
These were the ones that he and Zaha met in Mita’s tomb.
The courtiers arrived, mumbling. At that moment, the earthenware beings transformed.
In the form of half-humans and half-birds, they attacked the courtiers with their claws and beaks.
Blood splashed, and corpses were strewn about. The sacred altar turned into a mess.
[Is something the matter?]
The Golden Ring Hwarangs came rushing in, and a group of iron troops suddenly appeared in front of them. They were the ones that almost killed Seol Young and Zaha.
[Who are you?]
The men drew their swords.
But the spears of the iron men pierced them like wooden dolls. An annihilation happened on the spot.
[What is happening?]
People began to rush there and were horrified at what they saw.
[What are those things?]
Those who knew nothing about what had happened were now being attacked by these rogue beings.
Blood splattered everywhere, with screams echoing.
Seol Young shook his head. He was now looking at the book on the desk, and the light of the candles was swaying.
‘What did I just see?’
He jumped up in shock. He opened the door and ran outside, tripping in the darkness several times, and rushed to the main hall.
He knocked on the door, but no answer came.
He was about to shout when he realized it wasn’t locked, so he pushed it open.
Zaha was in the chair. In the darkness, his golden eyes looked so odd.
“We have a problem!”
Seol Young spoke right away.
“I know what the curse is! What we have broken in the tomb appears in the other world! The earthen beings and iron troops are all attacking the Moon Palace! The courtiers and the Golden Ring were slaughtered!”
“The punishment of not touching the forbidden tomb. You need to pay the price of it like this. We need to head back! Right now!”
He hurriedly said that, but Zaha didn’t say anything. And after a while, he slowly said,
“Isn’t this the best thing? You want to kill the divine tree here and go back there right now?”
His eyes, which were looking at Seol Young, were different from usual. They seemed to be covered by some sort of veil.
‘Why is he looking at me like that?’
And then he thought,
‘is he suspicious of me?’
For a moment, he felt the blood drain from his head. Even though it was in his mind, the thought that he had been trying to put away came back.
‘As expected, the tomb was too suspicious.’
Still, all of it felt like a creepy coincidence, even though it might not seem that way to others.
Looking at Mita’s tomb, he remembered what Zaha said. Even his eyes, which seemed to melt like ice, looked colder now.
Actually, weren’t his words aimed at Seol Young and not the tomb? How could such a coincidence happen?
‘How did I not know there was such a huge tomb underneath when I have lived there for over ten years?’
Did Seol Young’s words sound like a false answer? Was that why he was looking at Seol Young so strangely?
He was suspicious, but suddenly there was a noise.
In the stillness, Zaha’s gaze was still on Seol Young.
Seol Young felt like his chest was clogged. And he barely opened his mouth as he asked,
“Are you wondering if I am the reincarnation of Mita… ?”
TL/N: Similar to a mango. ↩️
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