Chaos: nobody really knows when, where, and how it will come. For the people of Joseon, no one expected such horrible events to constantly happen. It was the kind of chaos that could possibly make a whole country crash down. Could the king possibly handle such a situation?
Chaos starts in the peaceful era of my father’s reign, King Seojin. As a prince living in the palace, I know better than calling these times “peaceful.” In the palace, things aren’t always as they seem. People are not as peaceful and kindhearted as they play out to be. I know this better than anyone else. If only the people knew what I knew.
People commits sin, then sins turn to gossips, gossips turn to half-truths, half-truths turn to lies, and lies destroy. This is the environment where I grew up in. This is my world. This is the palace.
It hasn’t always been like this. There was a time when everyone was once innocent. Yes… there was a time. My brothers and sisters have grown up now. Our innocence has been long lost. We have our own monsters hidden in our closets waiting for the right time to show its ugly face to the world. The only question is, will we ourselves reveal our monsters or will someone else reveal them for us?
They say it’s a cruel world out there in the outskirts of the kingdom. Everyone looks out, but they have forgotten the danger within. Will they ever look within the palace and witness the corrupted plans and deceits that take place? Will they ever dig up the secrets that were buried to save our selfish little deeds? I don’t think so. They will only praise and worship like astray sheep. If only they knew. If only they knew…
Secrets in the palace keep the kingdom safe, but everybody knew once those secrets unfold, it would lead to the country’s downfall.
At Beijing, Qing…
“Another case ended,” Xiumin clapped his hands and stretched. “Finally, we’re going to take a break!”
“Break? Ha! Like we’ll ever come to a point of relaxation,” HyoYeon scoffed. “There are still a bunch of cases being pleaded to us and most of them aren’t even worth it. Agh… so tiring.”
“Don’t talk like that, HyoYeon-noonim. All cases are worth of something. Death, laundering money, and disappearances or what not; it’s up to us to solve them all!” Jongdae exclaimed with an optimistic grin.
“Stop it with your prince-like speeches like you can do everything, Chen,” HyoYeon rolled her eyes at Jongdae. “It’s starting to annoy me.”
“Yeah, admit it Chen,” Xiumin sighed as he closed his eyes to rest. “You’re tired, too.”
“Wouldn’t it be nice if we could take a trip back to Joseon and meet our families again? Aigoo… how long has it been since we haven’t visited?” HyoYeon wondered.
“The King of Joseon is so cruel, Chen,” Xiumin said with a playful tone. “He doesn’t even invite you home even though you’re his son.”
“He’s a busy man. Don’t talk like that about him.”
Suddenly, Kyungsoo, Jongdae’s loyal servant, burst open the door, panting. The three lazily turned their heads and sighed.
“Ugh… another case again,” HyoYeon huffed. “I hope it’s something interesting this time around.”
Kyungsoo ran towards Lu Han, their team leader, who was there in the room with them. Lu Han took hold of the letter and his eyebrows crumpled as soon as he opened its contents.
“Guys, looks like you’re going home,” Lu Han said.
“What?” the three said in unison.
“We’ve been summoned to investigate a mystery in the Royal Palace of Changdeokgung.”
Xiumin and HyoYeon turned to Jongdae.
“What about?” Jongdae asked.
“Deaths in the royal family.”
Months ago at Changdeokgung Palace, Joseon…
Crown Prince Yoochun woke up when the sun was still hidden beneath the dark skies. He didn’t mean to wake up at exactly this early hour. It’s just that his insomnia kept him awake. His mind was so crammed up with things that he just couldn’t sleep.
He quietly woke up and took a peak at the door to see if any eunuchs or court ladies were awake and attentive. Seeing the coast was clear, he silently sneaked out the window.
Still in his royal underwear, he tiptoed his way to the bu-yong pond to have some fresh air. It was the nearest place where he could find solace and peace. “Just for a few minutes,” he said to himself, “then I’ll go back to sleep…”
Taking in the fresh air of nature all around him, he started tearing up. Hot tears trickled down his cheeks as everything he had been holding back the previous days crashed down on him.
“I’m sorry…,” he breathed out raggedly in the silent hair. He wished the wind would pass his most sincere feelings to those he had committed wrong to—those he had hurt, those he had failed to protect, and those whom he was supposed to love but didn’t.
Suddenly, a sharp pang in his chest cut through his thought system as his feet unconsciously took a step back from the mysterious impact. His hands gripped his chest to ease the pain but it was impossible. When he looked down, he saw his own blood slowly pooling out of his royal robes, staining his trembling hands to blood red. He could not even decipher what was going on as the pain enveloped his whole being.
Another impact pierced at his back exactly at the spine and neck. For a second there was excruciating pain… but it faded instantly.
His eyes closed back to sleep.