Leaving Wonbeom to fight alone isn’t an option for Soyong. She can’t leave him, but she also doesn’t know how to fight. So, she runs to the side, far away enough to give him room to fight freely, and watches how he easily counters Yul Mu and the assassin. The latter is obviously only interested in her, as he continuously looks in her direction and tries to leave Wonbeom’s side to go after her.
But her husband is too good, too fast and strong. His movements are graceful and coordinated like a powerful dance: he spins, making the sides of his cheolik1Cheolik – fighting garment. At the show, Cheoljong usually wore blue and gold one. swirl, and uses both his sword and the sheath to fight both opponents.
Soyong takes out one of her knives, assessing who she should hit first. All three men are fighting in very close combat, moving too quickly for Soyong to aim properly without risking hitting Wonbeom by mistake. And unfortunately she does not have much time to dawdle: Soyong can see how Wonbeom is slowing down a bit, growing tired from the endless fights of the day.
Once there’s a clear shot of the assassin, who is aiming to strike Wonbeom’s arm, Soyong doesn’t hesitate to make her move. She throws the knife, aiming at his right arm, hoping to wound him enough to make him drop his blade. The knife swiftly spins through the air and hits the assassin near his right shoulder, making him shout in pain.
She let out a relieved sigh, happy that she didn’t accidentally hit Wonbeom as she wasn’t sure about her aim. However, Soyong hides her fears behind her wit, mocking the assassin to make him lose concentration. It’s just enough distraction to give Wonbeom a chance to wound the assassin, though Wonbeom doesn’t have the opportunity to kill him before Yul Mu engages with him in sword fight again.
While Yul Mu occupies Wonbeom’s full attention, the assassin is now focused on her. Fear pulses through her heart as she comes face to face with him again, but she won’t succumb to that feeling. She survived their previous encounter, and she will do it again.
When he approaches her, Soyong quickly ducks to the side and kicks his wounded leg. He wails in pain again but is still fast enough to catch her. Soyong fights back, desperately struggling to get free from his surprisingly strong hold for a wounded man.
The assassin draws her closer to him and his hand finds its way to her neck. He squeezes painfully hard, his face contorted in rage. Soyong hears a buzzing sound in her ears as she desperately gasps for an ounce of air. She rips at his fingers, trying to set herself free with no success. As her vision starts to grow blurry, her hands reach forward with the last bit of her strength and she squeezes the wound in his arm.
The pressure on his wound distracts the assassin for a moment, and he loosens his hold on Soyong’s neck just enough for her to finally breathe. She feels too weak to stand, but her tormenter isn’t finished with her. He quickly recovers and clutches her neck in his left hand, stretching his arm so she can’t reach his wound.
Once again Soyong’s hands are on his wrists, in a futile attempt to set herself free. After forcing
her panic under control, she finally remembers her last knife. Her hand moves under her sleeve, and the cold handle of the knife helps her find her confidence.
She takes the knife out in one fluid movement, and quickly stabs him in his left arm. Once she’s free to breathe again, Soyong surges forward towards the assassin, who is shouting a string of curses as he examines the wound in his arm. Soyong does not hesitate when she stabs him once more, this time landing her knife directly in the middle of his chest.
The knife slides inside almost too easily, right to its hilt. Blood starts pouring out of the wound, all around the knife. Soyong is caught off-guard when the assassin pushes her backward and she falls to the ground. He breathes strangely as if he has suddenly forgotten how to breathe, and soon he starts coughing in blood. He pulls the knife out and takes a step forward with a chilling look on his face, but his legs soon give out and he falls in front of Soyong. Determination radiates from him as he still tries to reach her, stretching his arms to catch her feet, but Soyong kicks them back with all her force. In a few moments, all his strength leaves him, and he lies still on the dusty ground for eternity.
Soyong breathes rapidly, in a state of shock from the life-or-death experience she just had. She forces herself to push away any thoughts about the murder she just committed. She has other things to worry about.
Soyong gets up onto her feet, her eyes searching for Wonbeom, and she finds him with Yul Mu’s body on the ground in front of him. He turns, shaking strangely, and his eyes find hers.
A faint smile appears on his face, a smile she mirrors herself. Is it really over? She feels tears gathering in her eyes and she runs toward him happily.
Soyong realizes something is wrong the moment she sees him taking his first step forward. It’s not just fatigue from the fight; his steps are too hesitant. Everything runs cold inside her when she sees him fall to his knees. She rushes toward him, falling to her own knees and catching him in a hug just in time.
“Your Majesty, what’s wrong?” She can barely recognize her hoarse voice, her throat feeling too sore to speak. “Your Majesty, are you hurt?”
His head rests on her shoulder and he mumbles something unintelligible. Soyong changes position, guiding him to rest on her thighs. She examines him, searching for any wounds, and finds blood pouring slowly from his right side, just by his waist.
“Your Majesty, please talk to me,” she whispers, taking her jeogori2Jeogori – is an upper garment. Also could be named dangui. from her shoulders and using it to tie around his waist. She uses the sleeves to tie the knot tightly and earns a pained shout from Wonbeom.
“Why don’t you ever listen to me?” he wheezes in response. “You should have run…”
“I will never run away again,” Soyong stubbornly answers.
The images from last year when she ran away through the woods come back to her — the memories of Court Lady Choi being wounded and Hong Yeon distracting the soldiers. And lastly, the final moments of Byeong-In’s life.
No, she’s never going to run away from the people she loves again. She will fight alongside them until the end.
“Why are you crying?” Wonbeom reaches up to brush her tears away. Soyong did not even notice when tears had started running down her face. “It’s just a scratch.”
“We need to get you out of here, Your Majesty.” Soyong looks around, searching for someone to ask for help but sees no one. The sounds of the battle are heard somewhere distant, but she doesn’t know who is winning.
“My Queen is so worried,” he chuckles. “I am truly happy now…”
Soyong wants to ask him to stop saying nonsense and to scold him for his absurd, sweet words at a time when he is bleeding out and in need of help. But when she opens her mouth, she sees his eyes flutter shut, his body going still in her arms.
“Wonbeom-ah…” Soyong shakes him. “Say something, Wonbeom-ah!” Sobs wrack through her body when he doesn’t respond. “You can’t just leave like this!”
She cries for help, so loudly that it could wake the whole of Joseon.
You might also read a side-story The Minefield of “Meet Me in the Pale Moonlight”, a one-shot stories related to this main one. It’s not necessary to read if you want to understand some parts of this chapter but it will give you a deeper understanding.
I want to note, that the assassin wasn’t at Parks before, this is why he and SY didn’t cross paths. He’s Yul Mu’s new friend, so who send him after SY is still a mystery.
- 1Cheolik – fighting garment. At the show, Cheoljong usually wore blue and gold one.
- 2Jeogori – is an upper garment. Also could be named dangui.