Daos IV ~ Prologue: Rubble and Dust

Previously ~ Dramatis Personae

A/N ~ The noble family we're about to meet is entirely fictional, though the time, place, and reigning monarch are historically accurate.

The scene we're about to witness is in part inspired by the Japanese film Dororo, in which Lord Kagemitsu thinks his fate is secure, but one of the demons he bargained with basically shows up and calls him a fool.

Goguryeo, 668 BCE
Last days of King Bojang's reign

Lord Gung Yiryeon
In the House of Lord Gung, there was saying that his youngest son,Yiryeon, should've been born a woman.  He was not a good archer.  He was not a good swordsman.  He was not fond of riding horses.  He didn't have a religious bone in his body and avoided temples like the plague.  But it was said one look from Yiryeon could fell a nation.

His own servants often whispered he was better suited to the life of, say, a royal courtesan, for he spent most of his days either at his calligraphy (which was so-so) or tending to his looks (which were exceptional).

The saying was somewhat ironic, for this evening, as he casually pampered his face, his countrymen were actually at war, with his own father and elder brother leading a good portion of the royal forces.

Yiryeon had always lived in his brother's shadow, friendless and odd.  He rarely spoke to anyone save to give an order to his servants, and fervently avoided his own relatives.  His mother had died in childbirth and his stepmother bore him no love, nor did any of his extended kin.  His only companion was a totem of a dokkaebi he'd bought in the market years earlier, which he often conversed with at random.

"They have been gone ten days now," Yiryeon mused aloud, twisting and turning before his bronze mirror.  "Perhaps Muhyul has been killed.  I always thought he would die in battle; he seems like the type.  Probably rushed the enemy's ranks and in his ardor fell upon a spear."  He chuckled, amused.  "Then Father will have only one son left, and no choice but to finally acknowledge me and make me his sole heir."

For the first time, he heard a rasping voice on the wind.  At first, he thought it was his own imagination running away with itself or a servant playing a cruel prank.  But when he turned, looking across the vast wooden floors in the sparsely decorated chamber, Yiryeon knew he was alone.

"Foolish Yiryeon," the voice derisively whispered.  "Even now the armies of Tang and Silla reduce your lands to ashen ruin.  You will be the only son and heir of dust."



Confused, Yiryeon continued to look about himself.

"Who speaks to me?" he called. "Jin Yi, I will have the guards beat you within an inch of your miserable --"

Dokkaebi art
"Do you not recognize your old friend?" came the insidious hiss on the breeze.  "I have kept you company all these years.  Or are you simply in love with the sound of your own voice as you are your face, young son of Gung?"

Yiryeon's eyes eventually fell upon the totem which he'd spoken to for years but never really noticed before.  At the market it had seemed a harmless, random purchase, but now...gazing at the fangs and dragon-like visage of the dokkaebi demon, he suddenly realized what troubling piece of art it was.

"Sweet Yiryeon, gentle as the palest blossom on the wind," the disembodied voice rasped slowly, leisurely, with just the mildest hint of a taunt.  "Even with your precarious fate I envy you."

"My precarious fate?" Yiryeon asked, blinking.  Regardless of who was actually speaking, they officially had his attention.

"The House of Gung will not withstand the changing tides," came the warning.  "The new king will have no use for the last king's servants.  The age of Goguryeo is coming to an end, and the blood of Gung will end with it."

Yiryeon was visibly growing disturbed.  "That's a horrid fate!"

"Yet still I would weather it if only I could wear that face for a day," mused the voice.  "The face that could fell a nation."

"This face will do me no good if our forces are not victorious!" Yiryeon cried.  "You call yourself my friend, yet you speak of my death so easily!"

"Poor young Lord Gung Yiryeon," the voice snickered.  "So pretty and pale, yet unloved by his kin.  No loyalty in his heart for those who shall fall.  No tears for those who mocked his tender ways.  No filial son of Gung is he.

"Perhaps...perhaps, he shall take a new name and become a new lord in Silla."

"If Goguryeo is to fall and our king replaced, I will have no name," Yiryeon whispered softly.  "My family's fortune is tied to his fate.  I will have nothing with which to make myself a lord."

"Your face alone is worth caverns of gold," the bodiless voice cackled.  "I know I would pay a king's ransom to wear that skin someday."

Next ~ Adaptation


  1. So we get to see how Hyun got his face? I am down. I like the history behind characters.


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