(This story continuation is a work of fan-fiction, in progress, using characters from the South Korean epic “The Great Queen SeonDeok 선덕여왕.” No copyright infringement is intended. This story continuation is merely the imaginings of, and for the entertainment of, the author.)
He whispered in her ear the one word that would calm her, as long as it was uttered by him.
She settled in his arms, once again, as the nightmare seemed to settle.
Regina’s smell, the languages she had no way of knowing, the names she mumbled in her sleep…how could this be? Could she really be Deokman?
There were two women in Alcheon’s extremely long life that he truly loved: the royal princesses of King Jinpyeong of Silla, Cheonmyeong and Deokman. A man of royal blood himself, rather than become a part of the court and its politics, Alcheon chose to become Hwarang Alcheon Bicheon Ji Do. As such, he proudly served Princess Cheonmyeong, the owner of the Hwarang. Though the princess was the widow of another man, and had a son by him, Alcheon always saw Princess Cheonmyeong as a beautiful young woman. He never forgave himself when she died.
After performing the Nangjang Resolution in an effort to convince the King the death of Princess Cheonmyeong was murder, and failing, Alcheon had no other path but to kill himself. That was the way of the Hwarang’s Nangjang Resolution.
In the woods, near a shack, ready to thrust his danger into his gut, a voice, the voice of Deokman, pierced his concentration. Somehow, she was able to browbeat him into not killing himself.
Deokman had yet to publically make her claim as a princess of Silla, yet she had the arrogant personality for it.
She always seemed to have that trait of arrogance. It probably came from being raised in the very harsh environment of the Taklamakan Desert. There, she and her surrogate mother ran a busy trading station near a very sparse oasis. While growing into a young woman, Deokman was able to interact and learn from traders of many cultures. She became friends with traders from all corners of the known world and learned many things from them, including four languages.
Being a Nangdo under Kim Yushin probably helped develop her arrogant behavior, as well. Then, Deokman was living as a man, searching for her identity. On the battlefield, she arrogantly told Alcheon what a fool he was by killing all the injured men, including himself. Her argument saved his life.
Still holding his Kisaeng, brushing her hair from her face, he wondered if she could really be that arrogant lady; the one who saved his life twice, the Princess and then King of Silla, and the woman he was devoted to.
The next morning, he had already taken Regina to his bed.
Dressing for the day, Cheonmyeong commented, “You are leaving earlier than your usual time.” He smiled. Cheonmyeong was like an invisible wife.
“I have some errands before class. Do we have enough food for Regina?”
“Yes. The Kisaeng will be well fed in this house.” After a few more seconds, Cheonmyeong asked, “May I assume the Kisaeng will be here for at least a few more days? The Kisaeng House AI is asking about her daily needs.”
“You have quite the AI network going on, don’t you?”
“Of course,” responded Cheonmyeong. “About the Kisaeng?”
“Please, refer to her by her name. And, yes, she’ll be here for an undetermined amount of time.”
“I will and I will inform the Kisaeng House.”
When Regina awoke, she found herself in Alcheon’s bed. She felt better than she had the day before, probably thanks to Cheonmyeong’s fortified cuisine. She noticed a set of day clothes on the foot of the bed.
After bathing and dressing, Regina went to the open room where she first met and performed for Alcheon. She smiled as she recreated the night in her head. She wondered at how a man who once killed others brutally with a sword could be so gentle.
“Regina, a meal is ready for you in the screened patio,” informed Cheonmyeong. As Regina made her way to the patio, she asked Cheonmyeong if it could play some music for her. Without even asking for a preference, Cheonmyeong played Carmina Burana, Regina’s favorite opera.
Regina’s breakfast was simple rice topped with berries. It was her favorite breakfast and she ate it hungrily. After her last bite, she thanked Cheonmyeong for a wonderful meal.
“Where is Alcheon?” wondered Regina.
“Master Kim is out. He will return in a few hours.” Cheonmyeong’s response startled Regina but she realized she must have verbalized her question, something she had a bad habit of doing.
“Might I suggest,” continued Cheonmyeong., “after listening to the opera, that you practice playing the gayageum” The gayageum was an ancient stringed instrument of Asia, and notably, Korea. “ Your instrument is in the open room.”
“Cheonmyeong,” she said. “You sound just like the Kisaeng House AI.”
“I’ll be sure to let it know you are keeping with your studies,” responded Cheonmyeong.
Regina left the patio, wondering just what the Kisaeng House AI and Cheonmyeong shared with each other.
“She seems to have no recollection of her past, at least when awake.”
Alcheon decided it was best to ask the ancient Venerable at the Buddhist temple for advice about Regina. Alcheon had already decided to keep her. He just wanted to know if there was a way this woman could really be his Peyha.
“Ah. It seems you cherish this woman. Do be careful. The Buddha said attachment is the cause of grief. You have lived a very long life without attachment. Be sure you are ready for the grief that will happen.”
Alcheon nodded in acceptance.
“I know Regina will not be with me forever. Even if she decides to not stay by my side, I will regret it, but I will accept it.”
The Venerable nodded, knowing Alcheon would accept the inevitable, grief and all. The question of the memories, though, was a difficult one. The Venerable tried to be as forthright as possible.
“It is very, very unusual for one’s past life memories to flow with one’s reincarnations,” he stated. “As with everything, memories are impermanent. The Kisaeng may have experienced many incarnations, over time, and not have memories of any of her past lives.”
The Venerable let out a deep sigh. “I remember her. She was very strong willed. Your Kisaeng is very submissive. Let’s assume her nightmares are memories of her life as the King of Silla. If she starts to formalize her memories when awake, she may or may not regain the strength of will that helped make her King.”
“Should I try to help her remember?” asked Alcheon.
“Are you asking for her benefit, or yours?” countered the Venerable.
Alcheon left the temple, pondering that question. It distracted him while teaching his weekly sword class and on his walk back home.
He entered his home to the very ancient sound of music being played on a gayageum. It seemed obvious the Kisaeng House was grooming her just for him.
Regina was sitting in the middle of the open room, playing the ancient stringed instrument. Nostalgic memories filled his mind of women in stunningly bright hanboks playing beautiful and relaxing music on their gayageums. He sat in front of Regina to enjoy the art of her visage and music. When finished, Regina looked up at Alcheon and smiled.
“You play beautifully,” he commented. Regina bowed her head, humbly.
He reached over and brushed his fingers through her hair. Whether she was his Peyha or not, he had fallen for her.
Later that evening, they were on the sofa with Regina being held in Alcheon’s arms in his loose back hug. They were watching Earth News, with gory scenes edited out by Cheonmyeong. The biggest story, and one that had a major impact on the citizens of Mars, was the UN’s declaration that the settlements on Mars were illegally being referred to as nation states and that if they did not adhere to the edicts of the UN within six months, marshal law would be imposed on the populace. The president of the UN made a statement to this effect, as well with the observation that since the three settlements acted independently from each other, the task of imposing marshal law would be a relatively easy task.
Regina asked Cheonmyeong to pause the playback of the news as she sat up and turned toward Alcheon. The look on her face was quite serious.
“We need to unite the three nation-states,” she stated, matter-of-factly.
Alcheon looked at her, hearing and agreeing with her assertion.
While doing so, he couldn’t ignore the obvious parallel of events from fourteen centuries ago when his Peyha pronounced that the three Great Kingdoms were to be united.