Chaotic Nights – Chapter 10

Smoke filled the air from the firewood burning in the main room.

“The former crown prince is here.”

Shi Hoon, who hadn’t seen his father in a long time, was surprised by his words.

“By former crown prince, you mean…”

“Yes, the man who lost his position and became blind after eating a poisonous plant. Seo Ji Hak, the crazy prince, is here.”

The Minister of Defense took a sip of alcohol. As Shi Hoon quickly refilled his cup, he checked his father’s expression.

“Is this bad news for you?”

The Defense Minister clicked his tongue and looked at his son, who had no interest in politics.

“Why do you think that?”

“Because your expression doesn’t look good. You seem worried about something.”

“I still don’t know if his presence will be a good or bad thing for me. But I need to put him under surveillance.”

“You want to put the former crown prince under surveillance?”

“Yes. There are many things I need to figure out. I need to confirm if he really lost his sight or simply lost his mind. I also need to make sure he’s not planning to re-gain his former position.”

‘It’s time to put an end to this conflict…’

The Minister was gazing around the room when something caught his eye. A scroll hanging on the wall. In particular, the handwriting was soft and delicate, an indication that the author was unlikely to be a man.

“That’s not your handwriting.”

Shi Hoon blushed at the Minister’s question.

“I hung it up because it looked beautiful.”

“It is very beautiful indeed. Does this handwriting belong to a woman? Is she someone you hold in your heart?”

The easiest way for him to get married was to take the civil servant exam and become a government official. Although he was more than ready, Shi Hoon delayed taking the exam with the excuse that it wouldn’t be fair to his older brothers.

Watching Shi Hoon lower himself in order to avoid conflict with his brothers, despite being the most intelligent, filled the Minister with guilt.

“You can tell me. If she’s from a good family, I will try to arrange a marriage.”

“I am unsure of the identity of the author as I came across it by pure coincidence. Once I grow bored of it, I will probably take it down. Therefore, there is nothing for you to worried about, Your Excellency.”

As the lie fell from his lips, Shi Hoon’s jaw tightened and he grew nauseous. He smiled, hoping to mask his uneasiness.

The author of the poetry on his wall was Eun Ha. Last year, Eun Ha came to see him on his birthday and presented it as a gift.

‘I really didn’t know what to get you… This is a poem that I like. If you don’t like it, feel free to throw it away. I’m really sorry for this lackluster gift. Once I make a lot of money, I promise to get you the best ink.’

He wouldn’t change her gift for anything in the world.

That’s why he averted his gaze from the wall. He knew that the more affection he showed towards Eun Ha, the more she would suffer.

“Oh, by the way. Another exam is scheduled to happen soon. Your brothers have already passed the exam, so now it’s your turn.”

“I still have much to learn.”

“You’re very good at lying. I know my son. Take the exam and come work for me, I will recommend you for a good position.”

Shi Hoon smiled bitterly and bowed his head. He couldn’t refuse his father’s wishes anymore.

“Yes, I will start preparing for the exam.”

 


 

Early the next morning, when Eun Ha went to see Shim Dok, the scent of blood was still in the air.

She didn’t get a wink of sleep the entire night she spent locked inside her room. She didn’t want Young to see her like this, nor did she want to explain the situation to her.

She already knew what Young would say if she saw her, dressed like a courtesan, with an expression as pale and empty as a corpse.

It seemed like the owner of the courtesan house also hadn’t slept all night. She lit her pipe and stared at Eun Ha, who was once again wearing men’s clothing.

“Why have you come to see me so early in the morning? It’s not like you came to greet me, right?”

Eun Ha restrained herself, ignoring the sarcastic remark, and kneeled.

“I’m here to ask for a favor.”

The room was full of plants and ornaments from foreign countries. There were also many books that she still hadn’t been able to read. In the middle of this luxury, Shim Dok was wearing a simple robe, her eyes widened in disbelief.

“You know I won’t listen to any of your requests, right?”

“I don’t completely understand what happened yesterday. I just work for that man as a reader. Please, don’t get the wrong idea.”

“A reader, huh? Of course, you read to him with that sweet voice of yours. Eventually, you will open your legs and take his seed. So, what do you want from me?”

Eun Ha knew Shim Dok’s words were intended to humiliate her. The house owner wasn’t the type to think twice before spouting such crude words.

Eun Ha struggled to suppress her pride as she bowed down.

“I want to take out my sister from the courtesan house. I will repay you for everything you have done for us. If you allow us to leave, we will go live someplace far away, and you’ll never have to hear from us ever again.”

Shim Dok discarded the ashes by tapping her pipe and then smiled bitterly at Eun Ha.

“You’ll pay for Young’s freedom? Can you afford to pay for her?”

Eun Ha felt a cold sweat drip down her back.

For a brief moment, the only sound was the birds chirping outside the window.

“The price for Young is 4,000 tael coins…no 5,000 coins. Also, a very important individual has asked for her to become his concubine. If I deny his request, the cost of his forgiveness will cost another 3,000 coins. This brings the total to 8,000 coins.”

Shim Dok smiled when she saw the blood drain from Eun Ha’s face.

“She’s my child. I took her in, nurtured and raised her. I might as well be Young’s mother. There’s no way I would sell my child for a small amount of money. Eun Ha, your sister will continue to be my child until I say otherwise.”

“That’s ridiculous! How can you ask for 8,000 coins?!”

Eun Ha was at a loss for words.

She was demanding the exact amount the Lord claimed to be Eun Ha’s value. Nevertheless, Eun Ha straightened her shoulders in defiance. Seeing this, Shim Dok lifted Eun Ha’s chin with the end of her pipe and spoke quietly.

“This is revenge for yesterday’s humiliation. If you want to save your sister that badly, ask that gentleman for 8,000 coins. Who knows. Maybe you’ll get it if you suck him a couple of times.”

Eun Ha stood up and left Sim Dok’s room with a devastated expression and eyes full of disappointment.

Standing in front of the entrance were two new replacements for the guards murdered yesterday. Eun Ha ran towards her room, making sure no one saw her.

Her breathing was harsh and uneven. She felt a sharp pain in her chest as if she was about to have a heart attack. She slumped to the floor as soon she entered her room and glared at the wall while panting heavily.

‘8 thousand… 8 thousand tael coins…’

It was as if she had fallen into an abyss. She closed her eyes and tried to calm herself. She desperately wanted to leave before her sister could find her. Even if the Sim Dok had forbidden the servants from speaking about the incident last night, it was only a matter of time before the truth reached Young’s ears.

Eventually, she escaped from the courtesan house through the main door. Surprisingly, no one tried to stop her.

Eun Ha ran towards the bookshop, where the owner was anxiously waiting for her.

“Mister!”

“Oh my god, Eun Ha! You’re safe!”

“Of course, I’m safe. Did I cause you to worry?”

“You have no idea how anxious I was! When I went to the Lord and explained what happened, I was trembling in fear that I was about to die! He ended up saving you, right?”

Eun Ha nodded, wishing she could forget everything that happened last night.

“Yes, and it’s all thanks to you.”

When Mr. Song smiled and patted her head, Eun Ha decided to spare him the details.

After all, two people had died.

Eun Ha, accompanied by Mr. Song, walked toward Seo Ji Hak’s estate. Along the way, she saw women making dumplings and preparing soups.

Eun Ha gazed up at the sky. The sun was hidden behind a mass of ugly gray clouds, it would probably start snowing soon.

At that moment, the sky resembled her hidden emotions.

“Eun Ha.”

“Yes?”

“They say the rewards are sweeter after enduring harsh and trying times, so let’s do our best.”

After reaching the entrance that resembled a palace, Mr. Song grabbed Eun Ha’s hands. There were many things he wanted to tell her, but he was having second thoughts. Perhaps things weren’t as bad as he thought. When Seo Ji Hak, the former crown prince, heard that they had imprisoned Eun Ha, he grabbed his own sword and went straight to the courtesan’s house.

Which meant he considered her as someone useful. This could change her life for the better. He didn’t want to say anything since he was afraid of ruining this opportunity for her.

In the end, Mr. Song decided to keep Seo Ji Hak’s true identity a secret from Eun Ha.

‘I’m sure this smart kid will figure out the truth on her own.’ 

“Let’s see each other again soon. I’ll try to come here at least once a week, okay? Don’t forget to eat all your meals.”

“Of course, please take care.”

“See you!”

After bowing to him, she knocked on the door. Then, as if they’d been waiting for her arrival, a guard opened the door and greeted her.

When Eun Ha crossed the threshold, she could smell the smoke coming from the main room. When she looked in the direction of where to smoke was coming, she caught sight of the Lord gazing at her with a smile on his face.

“You’re finally here.”


¹[The price of Young’s freedom would be equivalent to 33,040,000 RMB or $4,960,737.28 today]


 

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