Daos IV ~ Ch3: Iseul

Previously ~ Sympathy for the Devil

Hyun-jun Im
She's the daughter of a Tang family, but I will call her 'Iseul'.

Hyun-jun had thought that by going with the guys, it would help his take his mind off his memories.  The memories were what triggered his drinking, not the shock of the change.  After all, it wasn't the first time he'd experienced humanity.

But how could he explain the feeling of remembering events from lifetimes ago?

It was different in a mortal body.  Though Hyun-jun enjoyed nothing more than gazing upon his own face in the mirror every day, he rarely actually thought about the source.  In fact, he hadn't actually thought of the name "Yiryeon" in centuries.  Yet even since he'd become human, Yiryeon was suddenly all Hyun-jun could think about.

***

Silla, 669 BCE
The reign of Munmu

"I do not know her name," Yiryeon waved dismissively, preening before his favorite new bronze mirror.  He'd had a smith melt down the dokkaebi demon totem and re-fashion into a mirror for him.  His "friend" had suggested it.  The top of the tall oval mirror still bore the upper half of the demon's visage, which often drew murmured comments from the servants.

Muhyul, his weary older brother, stood near the bedchamber door, trying to remain patient.  After all, Yiryeon was now Lord of the Gung family, which meant that somewhere, their father was weeping in the afterlife.

"My lord," Muhyul began calmly, "her family has written over a dozen times."

"I only know that she's the daughter of a Tang family, but I will call her 'Iseul'.  The last thing we need is for everyone constantly reminding us that I've married a foreigner," Yiryeon shuddered.

Muhyul raised an eyebrow.  "His Majesty has ordered this?"

"Indeed," Yiryeon nodded, still fondly gazing at his own reflection.  "The King is interested in land owned by the Tang.  Their Emperor will only allow him to have it if one of his nieces - Princess Something or Other - is given a young, handsome husband from a great family.  Since the good Princess is said to be so hideous her mere presence turns wine to vinegar, none in the royal house will have her."

***



***

Muhyul knew better than to laugh. His lips twitched anyway.

"Thus the duty falls to me," Yiryeon continued sourly.  "In the exchange for marrying her, I will be raised to the status of Prince Consort, and paid her full dowry, a very substantial amount of gold."

He finally turned away from his precious mirror and narrowed his eyes at his brother.

"This is the price I've paid for our lives.  This is the debt I owe the King of Silla, and with our new status comes new responsibilities.  So I obviously cannot have a brother involved in secret rebellions and protests."

Muhyul blinked innocently, keeping his voice neutral.  "I would never."

"You might want to learn to lie better than that," Yiryeon warned.  "I'm charging you personally with with bringing my new bride here safely.  Do this, and you will prove yourself."

Six Weeks Later

Yiyang glared as her governess Madame Zhou tried in vain to squeeze the young princess into a dress that hadn't fit her for over a year now.

"They say he talks to himself often and possibly consorts with demons.  They also say he turned his back on King Bojang during the war," Yiyang grumbled.  "My mother has married me off to a traitor."

"Your future husband is the most good-looking man in Silla," Madame Zhou impatiently reminded her.  "None of their King's sons look so fine.  And his house is very beautiful.  You saw how many servants he has.  You saw those vast, sprawling gardens.  This is no ordinary lord.  And aren't you happy you married before any of your friends?"

"I've never had real friends," Yiyang scowled.  "Just schoolmates who did all the talking."

"You don't need friends anyway," Madame Zhou replied off-handedly, waving over one of the serving girls for a new dress.  "You have a husband now, and hopefully, many fat children soon."

"He won't touch me," the princess mumbled.  "He thinks I'm ugly.  We've been married four days and he won't share my bed.  He just wanted Father's gold - that's all."

"There were many others who saw the same gold, and still fled for their lives," Madame Zhou grimly remarked.  "Your skin may yet clear up; we could try a new doctor here in Silla."  As she stepped back to view the rotund teenager, she added, "In the meantime, Your Highness may consider eating less meat, less sweets, and more fresh vegetables."

***

Soleado Valle, TX
Present Day

Nicolao Daos
"I know only that she's the daughter of a Tang family, but I will call her 'Iseul',"Hyun-jun murmured randomly.

"Who was Iseul?" Daos asked suddenly, sharply remind Hyun-jun he wasn't alone in his Benz.  Dominador had borrowed Daos's car to go pick up Trish.

"What?" Hyun-jun blinked, caught off guard.

"Iseul," Daos repeated.  "You've been muttering about her for days, especially when you're wasted.  As I recall, she was the wife of Prince Yiryeon, whose face you...'borrowed'."

The ex-demon was visibly flummoxed.  "How did you...how could you...nobody --"

"Been doing a bit of reading on you," Daos casually admitted with a shrug.  "Probably should've done it years ago, but hey...que sera.  Now that I've actually gotten around to it, I've found that you worked your ass off to stay out of the history books, even before you got your face.  But that's when it all started, isn't it?  That's when you first became 'maker of lords and kings'?"

"Yiryeon was my first," Hyun-jun confessed solemnly, eyes on the road.  "As for Iseul, she never legally took that name.  She kept her birth name of Yiyang."

Daos nodded, putting the pieces together.  "So she was Chinese.  They married as part of the Tang-Silla alliance."

"The humans cruelly nicknamed her Iseul the Dreadful because of her looks," Hyun-jun rolled his eyes.  "Personally, I never saw what the big deal was.  I mean, yeah...she had a bit of a skin condition, but in hindsight, I think it was just allergies.  And to be honest, I've never seen anything wrong with a woman who's got some heft to her.  That was my Iseul," he suddenly chuckled.  "Never met a cooked animal she didn't like."

Daos actually turned in his seat.  "Wait...your Iseul?  Hyun-jun, did you...did you love this woman?"

Next ~ Skeleton in the Closet

Comments

  1. Chortling again at After all, Yiryeon was now Lord of the Gung family, which meant that somewhere, their father was weeping in the afterlife.

    I am really enjoying the historical portion of this moreso than the modern day, but I won't push it. I will say that your chapters are short. :-( But you don't suffer from elephantiasis of the keyboard like I do.

    Hyun-jun was in love???? Mehopes this will be explored.

    Also chuckled at "Madame Zhou."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am really enjoying the historical portion of this moreso than the modern day, but I won't push it.

      I appreciate this because I've been deliberately not trying to overwrite the historical aspect. I was afraid people would be like, "WTF is up with the history lesson? Who cares?"

      Also chuckled at "Madame Zhou."

      It was originally Madame Gong (as in actress Gong Li), but because I was already using Gung, I switched at the last moment.

      And here I thought you in particularly would be laughing at this:

      "...That was my Iseul," he suddenly chuckled. "Never met a cooked animal she didn't like."

      Delete
  2. Ooooh, we're prying into demon's personal history. Muahahahahahha

    ReplyDelete

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