Nyang, better known as Seungnyang meaning "The Jackal" is a woman pretending to be a man to escape the Yuan concubine tribute. The young crowned prince of Goryeo, Wang Yu, helped the captives escape but most of them died or recaptured. Her mother was killed by Yuan's Imperial Regent's son Tangqishi so she made a vow to herself to avenge her mother's death. After being orphaned, she has found a new home. Nyang lived in service under the Goryeo King's distant relative and enemy, Wang Ko, who wishes to to be king not only of Shenyang which he already rules but all of Goryeo. Nyang then adopted the name "Seungnyang".
After 13 long years, Seungnyang and Wang Yu are finally grown-ups. Seungnyang working for the friend of her mother's murderer for revenge and the crown prince finally ascending the throne after fighting his uncle Wang Ko with Seungnyang's help betraying her master. She is a doyen of fighting skills indeed, how could she not? She trained hard all those years for when the time is right, she could cut her mother's killer's neck. They never knew she was a woman until the day she cut ties with His Highness the king and his subordinates.
When Seungnyang has finally found her father in the military as Commander, as per instructions of her late mother before she died, Seungnyang decided to enter and train further as a soldier of the state under her father.
"Sir! The King has sent word for you to enter the palace." One of Commander Ki's men informed him while he, officers Yom Byong su, Pak Bul Hwa, and lower ranking officer Seungnyang were inside his office discussing about their men's training progress.
"What could the king want?" Seungnyang wondered out loud not having a clue that the one whom she thought was an investigator and friend of the before prince now king, is actually the king himself.
The four of them set out on their horses to the palace and meet his highness but after they have arrived, only Commander Ki was allowed to enter into the king's study where his grace awaits. Commander Ki Ja-o bows in utmost respect for the king with which the king returns with an approving smile and a greeting.
"Yes, so how are things in the military?"
"Well Trained and ready to serve you Sire."
King Wang Yu never felt more than pleased to hear his answer of assurance for he has them a mission to fulfill together with their soldiers.
"That's good to hear. Now..." the king's tone turns serious. Commander Ki then knew that something is not right.
"The Yuan are on their way here with a carriage containing something very...important."
The commander can't help but ask "What could be inside?"
The king paused for a short while, making the atmosphere around heavier than usual before giving him an answer that surprised him.
"The Prince." Wang Yu said, his face a hint of grimace like by just saying his name could kill.
"I got word that he was banished and is to be sent here."
King Wang Yu looked at the commander eye to eye and in a more serious note he continued, "Commander, I need you to muster your men and march to the border to meet the prince and get him to safety." He placed a hand on the commander's shoulder. "Something tells me something isn't right. I need your help."
Commander Ki stood in alert then took a knee; much obliged.
"Yes your majesty! I am yours to command."
With that the king gave one last smile before sending the commander and his men away.
So close. Seungnyang and Wang Yu were so near but fate forbids them to meet; in time, at the right place, at the right moment.
The thought of prince Ta Hwan being sent to Goryeo just didn't felt right for the king. Why banish him, and to Goryeo at that? He waved his troubling thoughts away and it instantly turned to his long lost friend who's helped him so much. Seungnyang. Oh how he missed that little trouble maker. He reminisced the times from when they first met a battle of archery while taking a cup of wine with each strike. Having a bet of who would win. And the time he taught him the gomungo. How Seungnyang's hand felt, his lustrous neck, his...
Wang Yu snapped and got his head out of the clouds feeling his face burn up.
"What's wrong with me?" He asked himself fanning his face.
The banished prince's carriage is only a few steps away from the Yuan-Goryeo boarder.
Tal Tal, General Bayan's distant nephew and right hand man approached him, both mounted on a horse as they march closer to the boarder.
"Sir, the prince hasn't been eating well since the start of the journey." Tal Tal's voice was deep and cautious allowing only Bayan to hear whereas Bayan's could be heard until to the man behind them.
"Ah, that headache."
"What should we do with him?"
"We do as El Temur ordered. Once we're done with him there's nothing to worry about." General Bayan said with no hesitation.
"Should we fail we'll be facing El Temur's wrath."
"And that is why nothing should go wrong." His eyes, squinting together with a sinister tone.
From a distance Bayan and Tal Tal could see men on horses approach them, they stopped to a halt to greet the prince and general.
"General! Welcome to Goryeo. Commander Ki Ja-o at your service."
"Commander?" General Bayan's tone felt insulting that the commander and his subordinates, especially Nyang, felt degraded, only, Nyang felt like killing the general, dare he insult her father in front of her. No, she had to keep it in for only she knew her true identity as a Ki.
"The prince of Yuan is here and he is greeted by a mere commander? Pathetic."
Being pure Mongol, Bayan thinks of himself and the Yuan people higher than the Goryeo men, whereas the Goryeo men can't do anything but accept every word they say, in short, Goryeo lives are in an "obey or be killed" kind of way.
Commander Ki smiled a smile of shame for himself in humility and disciplinary conduct as a soldier; a good man he is. "His highness is busy with matters of the state. We're sorry." The commander explained in behalf of the king.
"Busy or not he should've come to greet his majesty himself." Bayan said.
Commander Ki answered with a low bow of his head before inviting them to the palace and before moving to Daecheong Island where the prince is to be exiled.
Just as before they were about to move, prince Ta Hwan, in the grand carriage carried by slaves was covered whole by sheets of thick cloth and wood for support, called them to a stop with a wave of his hand and signaled for the head eunuch to come closer. He whispers something in his ear. And when he's done, Lord Zhang, the head eunuch spoke out loud.
"His majesty wants to camp here for the night!"
Everybody wondered why.
"General, the palace is not that far from here. Perhaps you could tell the prince, ask him to endure a little longer." Commander Ki suggested. Lord Zhang spoke again making his voice louder, sharper as he look at the commander in the eyes sending signs of contempt.
"The prince is fatigued, he wishes to rest." No one could do anything, not even Bayan who so bitterly commanded to stop and set camp. After building up the tents and setting other needed provisions, Bayan entered the prince's tent with Tal Tal, Lord Zhang and a doctor inside checking the prince's pulse.
"How is the prince?" Bayan inquires to no one in particular.
"He was not joking when he said he does not feel well." Tal Tal answered. Bayan just sighed with insecurity painted on his face; they remained watching his highness being examined.
Ta Hwan opens his eyes and calls Bayan first thing; Bayan went forward to hear what his majesty has to say. Ta Hwan's voice was weak and sickly rough but nevertheless audible to everyone inside.
"General, I had a dream." He began. "I had a dream about my late father saying that should I be troubled with anything, I should go to you for help." Ta Hwan was looking pretty serious talking about his dream. "Can you do me a favor?" he begged.
Bayan shifted his weight to his other side thinking that if he dies by his hand he should at least take this one last favor from him.
"Tell me, what is it?"
Ta Hwan looked him in the eyes for a short while before requesting a very unusual favor.
Ta Hwan finally said. Bayan and the rest looked like they heard him wrong that they spoke in unison to clarify.
Ta Hwan stared smiling at the ceiling of his tent, his face dreamy of the thought of his sweet persimmons. "I'm told Goryeo has the most delicious and sweetest persimmons. I want some."
Lord Zhang stepped up and volunteered to get his majesty his persimmons from Goryeo and right away, he set out riding a horse. Bayan and Tal Tal went out of the tent one after the other hearing Ta Hwan whine about his persimmo-yum-yums.
"That kid... His life is in danger and all he could think of are persimmons?" Bayan raged.
"Let's just kill him tonight." Tal Tal was calm at the thought of killing the banished prince.
"No. Not yet. If we kill him now, it would be too suspicious."
His nephew agreed to his decision then both Bayan and Tal Tal went in their own tents and decide to retire for the night.
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It has been two days and they were still on the boarder camping, doing nothing. Bayan can't take the prince any longer so he took the audacity to storm into Ta Hwan's tent while the wimp of a prince lies still in his bed.
"Your Majesty, we should get going now. It's been two days!"
"Your Highness, we should go." Tal Tal repeated. Ta Hwan was lying on his side, his back facing them as he spoke with a weak tone.
"My persimmo-yum-yums aren't here yet. Let's wait for Lord Zhang to come back."
Bayan ran his fingers through his hair frustratingly before walking out of the prince's tent followed by Tal Tal. Once they were out, Bayan immediately came to a stop feeling impatient and is clearly being irrational at the moment spoke in a volume only Tal Tal could hear.
"Tonight, that wimp dies." Bayan then walked away.
"Yes sir." Tal Tal replied, his eyes showing no emotion.
Came nightfall so Bayan and his men were starting to prepare the prince's assassination. They plan to make it look like a Goryeo assassin was sent to kill the prince so the Yuan won't be held accountable. Ta Hwan knew what they were planning from the moment he was banished by Yuan's imperial house regent so he thought of countermeasures. He dressed up his eunuch as him and ordered him not to move away till day break. Ta Hwan then dressed up like one of the Yuan soldiers and plans to escape with the help of Zhang waiting outside the camp with two horses.
Ta Hwan stepped out of his tent with what little courage he has left and went out going to the camp's exit panicking. Bad luck is on his side today. Ta Hwan turn about face then walks away upon seeing Bayan and Tal Tal there discussing about his death.
Ta Hwan had no idea where to go so he roamed around looking for a nice place to hide and ended up in a soldier's tent.
Seungnyang just got back from getting a basin filled with fresh, clean water to clean herself up in her tent. Cautious as she always is, she tied her tent's cloth door and proceeds to cleaning up. On one hidden side of her tent, she heard a loud sneeze, there was someone inside. Seungnyang, fixing her garments back to place, took up her sword unsheathing it silently as she sneaks along to where she thought the sneeze came from and when she lifted the covers, voila! There was a soldier who seemed too scared to move with her sword pointed at his neck.
"Who are you?" Seungnyang's voice sounded very threatening that the prince couldn't say a word straight.
"A-ah-I-I'm..." He was in panic. "I'm-I'm-I'm his majesty's royal guard!" Ta Hwan lied.
He can't say he's the prince not that she'll believe him anyway; a wimp of a prince, hardly believable. Seungnyang lowered her sword and Ta Hwan thought he was safe but not likely. She got and pinched one of his ears and dragged him out of her tent going to the stables as she hear him whimper from so much pain. Horse dung filled the area together with its disgusting smell. Alas Ta Hwan can't take it anymore. He pushed her hand away forcefully but not hard enough to make her stumble or flinch and looked at her with terrified eyes.
"You can't do this!"
"Why? Can't clean a little horse poo?" She is obviously mocking him.
Ta Hwan got impatient with her but he still felt threatened in her presence so, he just called her closer to tell her what he should've said earlier in the tent.
"You-you see..." Ta Hwan scanned the area to check if anyone was around eavesdropping. The moment he saw that the coast is clear, he continued. "I'm the prince." He revealed. Seungnyang's eyes went wide with the revelation and took a knee bowing her head down.
"Your majesty!" Her voice was in panic.
Ta Hwan's fear was replaced with confidence seeing how she kneels before him now. He stood proud, erect, with both hands behind him.
He cleared his throat shifting his pitch to a note lower.
"That's right. Now, tell me how to get out of this wretched place."
"Your majesty, would you care to answer why?" Seungnyang asked not taking a glance.
"I need to escape from here. Now, lead the way." Ta Hwan commanded. Slowly, Seungnyang rose to her feet but instead of leading the prince out, she smacked him right on the face with her fist knocking him down to the ground and landing half of his face on horse poo.
"What? Prince? If you're the crowned prince then I'm the Jade Emperor." She sneered at the useless runaway soldier before leaving him with the horses. Ta Hwan quickly stood up after she's left and wiped the dung away from his face with hay, his expression disgusted while he grit his teeth at her. His mindset went back to where he currently is now; there's still time, he needs a plan to escape from here, from Bayan, from death. He knew what they were plotting against him by order of Regent El Temur who is also the one killer of his late father, the emperor.
Ta Hwan ran to the storage room where jars of wine were contained. He thought of starting a fire for distraction so when they're all busy putting it out, he'd take the chance to leave the camp. He spills the wine everywhere inside and with the grass dry; it would spread to other tents too. He then lit it up by rubbing two stones together creating heat and friction and immediately after which, creating a spark of fire. Other soldiers ran to it in rush trying to put out the raging fire but it was spreading too fast. Ta Hwan ran away careful not to get caught and hid in a huge box where he thought he'd be safe for the time being before getting out of camp.
Bayan and Tal Tal heard the commotion from inside their tents so went out in full armor with their swords. Bayan grabbed one of the solder rushing to help put out the fire and asks him furiously.
"What's happening here!?"
Bayan released the solder that went on his way; the general and Tal Tal had the same face of frustration. How could this happen?
"Sir?" Tal Tal called out the silent Bayan who seem to be thinking about something. Bayan unsheathed his sword and yelled out loud, loud enough for everyone in the commotion to hear.
"Find the prince and kill him!"
The sounds of panic turned to battle cry. Bayan's men slashed and killed everyone on their path not with them. Ta Hwan's eunuch, the one he dressed as him, was still lying in bed, quivering, not having a clue of what was going on.
Commander Ki and his men fought off the enemy soldiers side by side with Seungnyang who doesn't want to leave.
"Seungnyang! Go to the prince's tent and save him!" the commander yelled in the midst of battle.
Seungnyang was hesitant to leave her father fighting alone but she did as she's told. She ran as fast as she could to get to the prince only to find him curled up in his bed.
"Your majesty!" She called but there was no answer. Seungnyang took steps nearer to him and forcefully removed the comforter. "Your-" She was surprised to see Kkwebo, the eunuch she talked to earlier and like her he was just as surprised and scared.
"You?" The eunuch was whimpering. She set the confusing trouble aside and grabbed his wrist trying to drag him out but the eunuch refused to do so and so, struggled to release from her grip.
"I can't! The prince told me to stay here till he comes back!" He said.
She turned to face him, frustrated. There's no time. In a moment the tent will be swarmed up with killer soldiers.
"If you stay here you'll die!" She yelled. She feared for him. Fear consumed the eunuch, he wants his life. Seeing his face more terrified than ever Seungnyang dragged him out and this time he followed willingly but it was too late.
Bayan's men were already there circling them, swords drawn. Seungnyang bravely raised her sword waiting for them to attack, her face fierce.
"Get behind me." She ordered the poor eunuch.
"Kill the prince!" One of the solders yelled. They launched two, three at a time at her but she blocked, evaded and pars every strike. The eunuch stood there behind her scared, watching as she fought them off and by the moment he saw an opportunity for a way out he decided to run for it whilst they were all busy attacking her.
"No!" Seungnyang screamed. It was too late. Someone shot him with a crossbow from a distance that struck his chest and instantly he fell to the ground calling for his mother with his one last dying breath. Seungnyang ran to him the instant the soldiers rejoiced and announced the prince's death.
"Hey! Hey! Don't die on me!" She yelled at him.
The eunuch coughed blood. "Ma-my mother...she's waiting..." These were his last words before turning into nothing but a corpse. A tear escaped her eye seeing him, what could have this guy ever done to meet such fate? Then she remembered the runaway soldier from earlier.
'I'm the prince.' She recalled him saying. Seungnyang quickly rose to her feet and ran for the stables.
Bayan's men placed the eunuch's carcass on a cart and covered it with white sheet. No one has really seen the prince's face, only the general, Tal Tal and the members of the imperial house so they all were unsure. The only thing that keeps them certain is the prince's robes on the body that lays before them now.
"The prince." A soldier said. Bayan took off the covers expecting to see Ta Hwan but to his dismay it was his eunuch. He didn't say anything about him not being the prince instead he ordered them to place the body back in the tent. The fight subsided until it all went down and after a lot of dead bodies were dispersed from every angle. By the grace of Buddha commander Ki, Yom and Pak are still alive.
The battle lasted the night; it was already sunrise when they set the corpse in the tent. Wang Yu heard of what happened and started to grow anxious so sent his most trusted eunuch, eunuch Bang Shin Wu, to the boarder to check what has happened.
Meanwhile, Seungnyang was out and about searching for that runaway who claims to be the Yuan prince yet she couldn't find him anywhere in the stables. She saunters around the camp until she settles in for a tent with tattered covers revealing almost everything inside. Out of all the tents, this one weren't too damaged, a nice place to hide. Inside the tent were nothing but stacks of hays and boxes on top of another. She closed her eyes and focus on listening if anyone was hiding inside when a loud snore escaped coming from the boxes to her left. Seungnyang took steps towards them then carefully opened the box at the very top.
The box revealed a soundly sleeping Ta Hwan in fetal position. She wasn't surprised nor anything of the like. She just sneered at him and faintly, mockingly said,
"Look at him, all scared. Tss!" then closed the lid back. She turned around but before she could walk away and leave, she again remembered what he said last night.
'I'm the prince.' His voice rang in her ears. Seungnyang glanced back over her shoulder.
"It can't be... Him?" She doubts. She took a step back seeing general Bayan and Tal Tal approach to the tent so she quickly left and hid behind another. Both Men stood beside the box where the prince is.
"What should we do now?"
"We need to clear up this mess. No one can know we planned to kill the prince."
"El Te-" They both heard a snore coming from the box beside them so they drew their swords in alert and open the lid. Both were astonished to see Ta Hwan sleeping inside.
"Your majesty!" They called in chorus.
Ta Hwan woke up to the sound of their loud voices and became just as surprised seeing them, especially Bayan. He quickly stood up and jumped out of the box, his fear not leaving him.
"Your majesty, what were you doing in that box?" Asked Tal Tal. Ta Hwan ignored him and his question; instead he took Bayan's hand in both of his and began to beg.
"General! General please, spare my life. Don't kill me I don't want to die." He pleaded. "Spare me just this once. I can't die, not like this!" He waited for what Bayan would answer but the general kept his mouth shot allowing the prince to relentlessly finish what he has to say. "Okay?" Ta Hwan looked around like a crazy person trying to think of a possible idea and when he's found one he spoke again.
"I know. As of today I'm dead. You don't have to kill me. Let's just say you already killed me. That's right, tell El Temur I'm dead and you don't have anything to worry about."
Bayan made calculations in his mind and if he's right, they really don't have to kill him and just go their own separate ways but... the general just sighed and agreed after thinking about it. Thinking about it Ta Hwan didn't really do anything to deserve death. He's just an innocent child deprived of education, an illiterate to term his correctly.
"Sir." Tal Tal protested. Bayan lift a hand telling him to shut up and that he knows what he's doing. Tal Tal had no choice but to back up obey his commanding officer.
"On one condition," he told Ta Hwan. "Don't show your face again. Never come back and don't do anything that would get us all killed. We all know how the regent is."
Ta Hwan shook his head frantically in agreement. He thanked and thanked the general as he went back in the box. "Thank you general! Thank you! You'll live a hundred years. I'm going back in this box now. Thank you!" He said smiling with a frightened face.
Once back in, they closed the lid with Tal Tal placing a black sheet on top of the box. Bayan raised his sword, feeling pity for the prince printed on his face.
"Stay alive and live." He breathes.
Bayan then thrusts his sword.
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