A tale of a flower that become a King.
For many years, Queen Inhyeon has struggle to produce a son as a way to protect the royal family and from the evil machinations of the ambitious concubine, Royal Noble Consort Hye. However, a fifth daughter is imparted upon her by heavens after her only son dies in childbirth. The queen decides to masquerade the Princess as the deceased prince in order for them and her family to survive. Will Yi Je be able to live the rest of her life as a man?
Kim Sujong, the king, was lying on his bed. His body was getting weaker. He wasn’t too old. But the pain in his heart and mind weakend his body. He starred at three of his sons who sit in front of his bed. The eldest one is Crown Prince Hamyang, son of Queen Jido, who wore a dark blue robe. At his left side, was the youngest prince, Kim Hye, second son of Queen Jido, who wore a dark red robe. At the crown prince’s right side was Kim Jin or Prince Yongsu, who wore a similar robe with Prince Hye but a darker one. Prince Yongsu was the first son of the former queen, Queen Myeongseong, who died after giving birth to her second child who died after one week. The current queen, Queen Jido, was a royal noble consort at the time.
Kim Sujong smiled at Yongsu. “Yesterday, you asked me the truth about your grandfather’s life.”
Yongsu lowered his head, “Ye, ahbamama.” (Yes, father)
The king asked the crown prince and Kim Hye to help him to sit in front of them.
“I’ll tell you everything. That’s why I invited you all here,” remarked the king.
Yongsu looked at his father’s eyes. “Gomapseumnida, ahbamama.” (Thank you, father)
Crown Prince said, “And I really want to know, how did that Hwarang caused trouble to our family?”
The king laughed, made the youngest prince wonder.
“I also heard that rumour,” said Hye. “Ahbamama’s uncle, son of our great grandfather and the previous king’s second wife who had a treacherous mind caused a high treason. Many people became his victims including all Prince Biryu’s maternal family.” Prince Biryu is Prince Sukheuljong’s son who is King Yangmyung’s brother.
“So, we are curious about that hwarang,” the crown prince said.
“Just curious?” asked the King.
“No, ahbamama,” Yongsu answered. “I need to know the truth. If someday my children ask me about their paternal family, I can answer them correctly.”
Kim Sujong smiled at Yongsu. Then he began telling them the story.
“It wasn’t that hwarang’s fault. I am Kim Sujong, the second son of King Yangmyung and Queen Dowager Sado. I know the real story,” the king said. “My father trusted friend and servant told me everything.”
The three princes was silent.
“Your grandfather had a secret no one must know about it. But I will tell you, but promise me you will tell no one about his secret.”
The three princes glanced to each other and said. “Yes, we promise ahbamama.”
One stormy night, King Seongjong suddenly awoke from an unusual dream when a loud thunder crash disturbed his sleep. In his excitement, he yelled out for his eunuch.
“Yes, jeonha?” Eunuch Kim inquired entering his master’s chambers.
Throwing aside his blanket, he stood up and started to quickly pace his chambers. “I had a wondrous dream.”
“What is it, jeonha?” Eunuch Kim asked respectfully while bowing his head.
Swinging his head around, he gave his eunuch a closed-lip smile. “Bring me a sheet of white silk and paints.”
Eunuch Kim looked at the king a bit befuddled wondering what his master could want at that time of night. He simply just bowed his head and left a “Yes, jeonha.”
A while later, the eunuch displayed the objects the king had requested and steps away. King Seongjong begins to draw something. After a while, the king stood up holding the piece of white silk with a pleased smile painted on his face. “What a great thing this is.”
“I dreamt a black dragon came into my bedchamber and played with my youiju.” Youiju is a mythical jewel that one could attain one’s wish).
The next day, he showed his pregnant queen the painting of the beautiful, majestic black dragon with golden scales and relayed the dream he had the other night. “That night, I dreamt of a black dragon came into my bedchamber and played with my youiju (a mythical jewel that one could attain one’s wish). I believe it is an omen that you will bear the nation a son, junjeon,” he said giving her a small smile.
She looked at him quite happily, pleased at this very idea that her duty to her country would now be fulfilled after already bearing four daughter. She looked down at her stomach, now already in her eight month, and stroked it lovingly.
One fine day, Queen Inhyeon was taking a morning stroll when she suddenly encountered something unpleasant. Approaching her was hye-bin and her entourage with a smug look manifested on her face. Prince Yeom, who was in his sixth year and the king’s oldest son, stood beside his mother with a blank look.
“Jungjeonmama,” the concubine greeted in a mocking, honeyed voice as she put a hand on her son’s shoulder as if to show him off.
“Hye-bin,” she answered indifferently giving her rival a nonchalant look.
“How are you faring, mama?” Hye-bin inquired with a closed-lip smile.
“Well enough,” she answered in a stern voice.
“And the princesses?”
“They are well.”
“I see. Have you guessed whether your new one will be a prince or a princess?” asked hye-bin in an indifferent tone looking straight into the queen’s eyes.
“The king and I have come to believe it will be a prince,” she said and smiled.
The wretched concubine smirked and walked up to Queen Inhyeon. Leaning closer towards the queen, she whispered, “Don’t think you have gained the heavens when you might once again gain the earth a fourth time for a simple mistake in your deduction, mama.” There was no mistake that Hye-bin was referring to her three daughters, Princess Jeonghyeon, Princess Jeong-an, and Princess Jeongin. Givinga smirk, the concubine then bowed and left while the queen stood still in horrified embarrassment from her mocking comment. Clenching her skirt, Queen Inhyeon took a deep breath and stalked back to her chambers.
Entering her room, she rests, mentally drained from Hye-bin's emotional torment. "Mama," Court Lady Choi replied with a worried look on her face. "Hye-bin should not have spoken in such a way to you. It's obvious how she shows her contempt towards you, as mother of the nation."
"I'd rather not discuss it, please," she said in a tired voice. "Geumpyeong!" she called out for her loyal bodyguard.
A man of an extraordinary tall height with a wizened face entered. He payed his respect's to his mistress. He carried himself as the very respected warrior he was. "Yes, jungjeonmama?" Geumpyeong inquired.
"Keep a close eye on Hye-bin. I fear that the birth of the prince will be hindered by her schemes," she confessed. She looked away, her eyebrows knotted in worry upon her beautiful, round face. She knew without a doubt that Hye-bin was the cause of her last miscarriage.
"Don't worry, mama. I will do as you head," he said. "I will make sure that nothing happens so you may give birth in peace." He bowed and left.
Turning to her court lady, she ordered, "Help me out of my clothes. I wish to rest."
“Yes, mama.” The court lady replied.
As she was sleeping she saw a bright light and a minute later she heard a baby crying. She hurriedly ran towards the baby laying on the floor. But was stopped when she saw a man running towards the baby holding a sword. Behind him is a shadow of a woman.
“Kill the baby!” the woman shouted.
The man pulled the sword he was holding and about to take the baby’s life when the queen cried out loud.
“Stop! No! Don’t kill the baby!” she cried out.
“Mama!” Court lady Choi called.
The queen stood up. She saw Court Lady Choi sitting beside her.
“Court Lady Choi.”
“What is it, mama?”
“I dreamt of a man trying to kill the baby.”
“A baby, mama?”
“Yes, a baby. The baby was crying.” She said. “Can’t these sorts of dreams be considered to be a precognitive dream regarding the birth of this child?”
Court Lady Choi was stunned upon hearing the queen’s word. “Mama?”
“I can’t let Hye-bin hurt my baby.” The queen said. “I will stop their evil plan.”
“Daebimama,” the queen heard outside her chamber.
“Announce me to the jungjeon.” Said the Queen Dowager.
“Yes, daebimama.” The lady in waiting said. “Daebimama is here to see you, mama.”
After a while the Queen Dowager enter the Queen’s chamber. Queen Inhyeon stood up and gave her greetings to the Queen.
“You must have been troubled lately.”
“Not at all, mama.”
“I know very well how you must feel.” The Queen Dowager said. Then sighed. “If that child is a Prince. I would be able to die in peace.”
“I don’t know how I can atone for my inability to fulfill my duty, Mama.”
“That wasn’t what I wanted to hear, jungjeon. Whenever I think of you, I feel such sadness and pity…I will promise you something. There have been rumors of Prince Yeom being made a Crown Prince, but that will never happen.”
“I won’t allow her son to be the Crown Prince!”
The queen was stunned upon hearing the words uttered by the Queen Dowager.
The next morning the Queen Dowager visited Queen Inhyeon again. She take along with her a woman.
“Jungjeon, I brought you some medicines that are good for pregnancy.” The Queen Dowager smiled.
Queen Dowager’s court lady handed the large wooden box to the Queen.
“Thank you, daebimama.”
Queen Dowager smiled again.
“And who is this woman with you, mama?” Queen Inhyeon asked curiously.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Say hello. She’s from Muryangsujeon. Shaman Kim Jan-shil” Queen Dowager introduced the woman beside her. “She can read the future and faces too.”
The shaman vowed down to show her respect for the Queen.
“I wanted to know the future of that child.” She said then turned to the woman beside her. “You may begin now.”
The woman closed her eyes. A minute later, the shaman’s body started trembling. Then open her eyes again.
“Daebimama, it’s a Prince. He was wearing the King’s robe. His fire energy and water energy balance each other. The dragon is to appear on his birth date. It means the dragon has met the water. If the baby prince safely becomes a king, he will be a generous king…who governs the country wisely. However,” the shaman paused for a while.
“Go on.” Ordered the Queen Dowager.
“His fortune means the black dragon. He will have a heroic characteristic…and will face various hardships.”
Both the Queen were shocked upon hearing those words.
“If the dragon cannot ascend up high at the right timing, it will bring a catastrophic disaster. The water will dry out, so the dragon cannot ascend. Rather, it will be buried in the ground. In other words, if he cannot overcome the hardships he faces, he will die at a young age.” The shaman spoke to them with her head still bowed down.
Queen Inhyeon and the Queen Dowager gasped in horror upon hearing the words from the shaman.
“What did you say?” the Queen Dowager asked in a sharp loud voice.
“Please be calm, Daebimama.” Said the shaman.
“How can I be calm when that child-my grandson will die at a young age?” asked the Queen Dowager.
“But he is destined to become a wise king…to be respected by his subjects.”
“He should be.” Said the Queen Dowager. “The Queen’s son is the rightful heir to the throne.” She said firmly before turning to Queen Inhyeon. `
The whole chamber was filled with silence. No one dared to speak.
On the day Queen Inhyeon was giving birth, her mother, Lady Yun, Court Lady Choi, and the midwives were all in the same bedchamber. For most of the day, the queen was in a painful labor. Out of all her pregnancies, she felt that this one was the most painful for her. It was until she could hear the loud cry of a new life that the knot in her chest vanished. "Mama!" cried out the ladies in excitement. Queen Inhyeon looked to her mother to see what the excitement was about.
With a prideful look manifested on her seasoned face, Lady Yun smiled. Dropping the formalism to show the intimacy of their relationship, she answered, "Daughter, you have given birth to a lovely son." she looked at her mother in shock and then a joyous sensation shook her being. She had done it. She had finally given birth to a son!
"Word has been sent to the King that a son was born," Court Lady Choi informed the queen. She smiled and nodded her head.
"I want to hold him," she said turning to her mother and holding out her hands.
"Yes, mama," Lady Yun obliged smiling. Turning to a midwife, she took the prince from her arms and was about to hand her grandson over to her daughter when she saw the queen's face contorted with pain.
Suddenly without warning, a terrible pain had seized Queen Inhyeon's body. "Aaagghh!"
"Mama!" cried out Lady Yun still holding the prince.
Court Lady Choi looked over towards the queen's mother in shock. "C-could it be...?" she speculated.
"It couldn't possibly be!" she gasped her eyebrows furrowed in confusion. In her haste, she handed the prince over again to a midwife and took hold of her daughter's hand.
For the next half hour, Queen Inhyeon went through the whole ordeal again until it was finally over. A second cry heralding a new life has been born once again filled the birthing chambers. "It's a princess!" cried out one of the midwives.
Court Lady Choi looked at Lady Yun with a perplexed look. "Twins," she breathed.
Lady Yun turned to her daughter with concern. "What will the king think of this matter? Twins in the Royal Family is unheard of!"
Abruptly, a loud sniffle was heard from one of the midwives. "What is it?" the queen inquired tiredly.
"The Prince..." she choked out.
"The prince what?" Lady Yun demanded in a stern voice.
"Something is wrong with the prince!" she cried out as tears began to streak her ruddy face.
The head midwife went to see what the matter was. After a few minutes of inspection, the older woman slowly looked towards Queen Inhyeon with tears glazing her eyes. "M-mama," she whispered as her lips trembled.
In a sudden alarm, the queen hastily, but slowly tried to sit up with the aid of Court Lady Choi. "What is wrong with the prince," she demanded. Her throat now felt dry and coarse as if she had not had a sip of water for days.
"The...the prince has passed, mama," the head midwife confessed.
Upon hearing the devastating news, Queen Inhyeon completely sat still like a pillar without even blinking for a moment. "Mama," Lady Yun said softly in a sorrowful voice. She began to put an arm around her daughter, but she suddenly clenched her mother's clothes and began to weep as if she had lost the whole world.
"Oma!" she sobbed.
"Would you like to see the Princess?" one midwife meekly offered who was holding the princess gently in her arms. She hoped that this cajole the queen in her moment of grief.
Looking towards the midwife, Queen Inhyeon just stared at her daughter with a blank look with tears still streaking her lovely face. "At least you have a daughter," Lady Yun encouraged.
"A daughter?" the queen raged looking at her mother. "My son was supposed to be my everything. A path to eradicate that wretched concubine from fulfilling her evil ambitions and to lead this country in a peaceful reign," she agonized. "And what does a daughter have to show for that?"
"Mama!" Lady Yun protested appalled by her daughter's attitude towards her surviving child. "You can always try for another."
"And what?" she leered. "And what if that doesn't happen? Will I have to be forever subjugated by Hye-bin, because I could not give birth to a son?!"
"Mama!" her mother pleaded.
"No!" she insisted. "Things will not go her way as she please." she then suddenly turned towards her daughter the young midwife was still holding. Narrowing her eyes, a sudden and outrageous idea began to formulate in her head. "Give me my daughter," she ordered holding out her hands. The midwife did as she was told. Queen Inhyeon gazed at her beautiful daughter and smiled lovingly and began to coddle her. "No..." she whispered. "Not my daughter. My son."
With the words uttered from the queen' lips, Lady Yun and Court Lady Choi looked at her with widened, shocked eyes. "Mama!" Lady Yun cried. "You aren't..."
Swivering her eyes towards her mother with an angry look, she hissed, "And why not?"
"It's outrageous!" she reasoned.
Turning back to her daughter, she traced the baby's plump lips and yearned. "I know."
"It's the only way for her and I to survive," she explained.
"What do you mean?"
Looking off in the distance, she quietly and calmly answered with confidence, "Because if the King knew of her existence, he would have had her send away in believing that twins were a bad omen. And it seems that my son was not meant to be, so the heavens have imparted me with a daughter, so that my grief is not too great." turning to her mother with an imploring look, she added, "And for us to survive, she will exist in place of my son. She will pave a path for us and my family to survive in this wretched world, Omani."
"My daughter," Lady Yun said as tears began to form in the corners of her eyes. She lovingly placed a gentle hand on her daughter's tear stained cheeks. "And how could a female exist as a prince? Are you suggesting that she rule the nation?"
Shock flashed over her mother's once lovely features and her hand fell from the queen's cheek and laid limply upon her silk skirt. "W-what?"
"Mama!" Court Lady Choi implored.
"I've given up hope on ever bearing a prince. I feel like my body will not be able to handle it anymore," she confessed.
"Then you are dreaming of putting the young princess on the throne?" Lady Yun entreated.
"And how will she carry on the Royal Family line?" she asked appalled. "How can a female marry a female? And she will certainly not be able to pass off any offspring!"
"I know, Omani," Queen Inhyeon admitted. With one hand holding her child, she took her mother's hand and pleaded, "Omani, please help me with this matter. I beg of you! I will deal with that issue when it come. But this is the only way for us and my own family to survive. I stake everything on this child of mine, and I will do everything in my power to pave a great path for her. What will I do to protect my children and me? I’ll just watch them suffer because of that ambitious concubine? Tell me."
Lady Yun looked to her daughter then at her granddaughter in perplexity. She certainly felt that her own daughter had stepped into the land of madness after hearing the news of her dead son. She then gave her answer after a moment of contemplating. "Alright."
"Omani!" she cried gratefully as tears once again meandered down her face. Letting go of her mother's hand, she held her daughter with both hands and began to coo. "My daughter--no...my son. You are the Crown Prince of Joseon and no one can take that away from you and I will give my life just to protect you and the throne! You are the rightful heir to the throne. You are my living hope.”
“Mama?” lady Yun said.
“Court Lady Choi, call Geumpyeong for me.” The queen ordered.
“Yes, mama.” She replied then left the room.
“I will do whatever it takes, omani. Even if I have to stake my life to give the Crown Prince position to my son. Yes, I will stake my life to keep what I have accomplished.” She told her mother.
“Mama?” the only thing her mother said.
Upon her request, Geumpyeong entered the chambers when the midwives had left and the room had been cleared of any evidence that there had been a birth. The only ones left in the room was Lady Yun and Court Lady Choi. In her arms, Queen Inhyeon held the princess close to her heart and rocked her to sleep. "Geumpyeong," she greeted meeting her trusted guard.
"Junjeonmama," he said bowing with respect.
"I need you to do something of grave importance for me," she beseeched. "You must rid of all the midwives who were in attendance during the birthing process."
"Yes, mama." Court Lady Choi then proceeded to hand him a list of names and instructions on the matter. Geumpyeong accepted it and bowed and left.
"Mama!" Lady Yun cried in horror to think that her daughter's hands would be blood stained of innocent lives.
"It must be done, omani," she said grimly. "Court Lady Choi," Queen Inhyeon ordered for court lady.
"Yes, mama?" Court Lady answered in return.
"Who was the maid that held the princess?"
"That would be Min Dan Bi, mama," she explained.
"Bring her to me."
A little while later, Court Lady entered the queen's chambers with Dan Bi following behind. The young gangly girl shivered in the presence of the queen wondering if perhaps her fate would be decided by her mistress. As the ladies paid their respects to their queen, Queen Inhyeon to the palace maid. "I've decided to spare your life on the matter of the princess," she stated.
"T-the matter, mama?" Dan Bi choked out.
"Yes. Court Lady Choi tells me that you are shrewd and self-composed under pressure. I have a job that requires the upmost secrecy that you will have to put your life on the line for that very secret. Can you do that?"
Dan Bi dared to meet the queen's eyes which her burning with a certain fire that she could not pinpoint. She then averted her gaze. "I will do as you ask."
"Even if it may mean your death at the end?"
For a moment, she was silent again. "Yes, mama."
"I know that your family is in dire need. Once you take your position I will reward you accordingly. Your job is to protect and assist the prince and guard the fact that she is a female. This is your duty. Court Lady Choi," she said then turning to her old nursemaid.
"Yes, mama?" the court lady answered in accordance.
Queen Inhyeon smiled at her old friend who was like a second mother to her. "You have been with me since I was just a baby and my most trusted person. I shall leave the young prince in your hands. Please guard her with everything you have. I feel I can only trust you with this matter alone. Dan Bi will help you in assistance."
"From this moment on, you are to refer to the princess as the prince and no longer will the child be a 'she' but to be referred to as a 'he’,'" the queen passed down her order with stern look.
"Yes, mama," everyone in unison.
Queen Inhyeon hugged the baby.
Later that evening, King Seonjeong visited Queen Inhyeon to see his new son. He entered the chambers with his usual stern, watchful mask upon his handsome, rugged features. Taking a seat right across from her, the queen handed over their child whom she had just breastfed. Upon feeling the soft, small baby in his hands, a small smile lit up his face that was usually shrouded in dark, weary storms. "Our son is magnificent, jungjeon!" he stated breaking in to a wonderful smile showcasing rows of pearly white teeth. "Well done, my queen! You made sure that the Royal Family can stand strong."
"Thank you, jeonha," she said pleased with the King's praise. She smiled at her husband.
“I shall share my joy with all our people.” The king said and smiled.
"I shall indeed find a name befitting for our lovely son, jungjeon," he proclaimed. "He shall accomplish many great things I believe. I knew that the dream was an indication of something grand that would happen in the future, and I believe it is this very thing." He held up his son and began to coo. Queen Inhyeon was surprised to see the reaction to their child as he had never been so animated before even when his first son, Prince Yeom, had been born. It had been said that he seemed indifferent towards the infant's birth, but pleased that he had a potential heir to the throne. She did hope, however, that the thing King Seonjeong was indicating was her son's investiture as Crown Prince in the future.
When the king left, Dowager Queen Jeongsun came in his place. She looked at her daughter-in-law with a pleased look.
“Daebimama,” said Queen Inhyeon in reply.
“Jungjeon,” she said sitting across from the queen. She handed her mother-in-law her son and the elder woman began to coo the baby. “How beautiful my grandson is,” she stated gazing at the lovely child in her arms. She stated gazing at the lovely child in her arms.
Turning to the queen, she said. “You have done well as the queen of the nation in producing such a strong and healthy heir!” the Queen Dowager played the baby. “Do you have a name for my grandson?”
“I guess jeonha is thinking for a name now, jungjeon.” Said the Queen Dowager. “How can he be so beautiful?” she asked.
The baby smiled at the Queen Dowager.
Queen Inhyeon smiled too.
Hye-bin heard the news of the queen bore a son from Minister Kim Tae-yeong, one of her loyal followers. She was shocked upon hearing the news.
She was not expecting this to happen. A son…a Crown Prince was finally born. So surprised was she. She was furious to the extent that she wants to kill the new born baby.
And what more, she was not expecting her loyal attendant doing. They’re performing black magic cursed for the death of the Queen and the new born Prince when Hye-bin came.
“What are you doing?” she said as she throw bodoo dolls in front of the altar.
“Did you think this would help me or the Prince?” she shouted in fury.
They all kneeled down.
“Please forgive me, mama. We were just worried about you and wangja.”
Hye-bin sighed and looked at her attendants kneeling in front of her.
That afternoon Hye-bin summoned her own mother into her chamber.
“Omoni!” Hye-bin called.
“Yes, I was the one who made her do it!” her mother said referring to what her attendant was doing. “I felt like I would die of fury if I didn’t!”
“Mama, there is nothing I wouldn’t do. I would do anything to kill Queen Inhyeon and her child! Don’t you know that people are saying her son will be the Crown Prince? Doesn’t that anger you? Your child is the eldest son of the King. Will you just sit and watch?”
“Is that why you made them do this childish thing?” she asked holding the boodoo dolls. “How can this change anything?”
“Do you think I’m sitting here just waiting for time to pass by? Do you think that without this doll I wouldn’t be able to get that position for my son?”
She sighed again.
“No, of course not! I’m just waiting for the right time.”
“Mama…!” said her mother.
The door open.
“Omoni!” Prince Yeom cried out in concern for his mother. He ran over to her and Hye-bin greeted him with a hug.
“It’s okay, Heun,” she cajoled him. She began to pat his head in comfort while she stared off into space with narrowed eyes.