Dark Arts

Queen Iseul put an end to the raised furor by announcing that she herself had summoned her. King Eun fidgeted nervously on his throne, uncomfortable with the shaman’s presence. He dismissed the court in disgust after hearing that the Queen had summoned the shaman.

“Are you out of your mind? How could you let this dangerous lady enter the palace? Did you forget what she had done to the previous king?” The King asked in vexation.

“She charmed him with her black magic and he ended up dying painfully.”

“How could you forget that it was your own mother’s conspiracy because she wanted to see you on the throne, and not your step-brother. Mi-sook was only following the royal command.” The Queen argued back. 

“I still can’t believe that my own mother did this to my loving brother. Just because of her, I only exiled that shaman, or else I could have executed that toxic lady.”

“Talking about my mother, she also died a painful death. I can clearly remember her condition after my brother's death. She had been hallucinating dark shadows that claimed to kill her; she couldn’t even sleep peacefully because of the series of horrible dreams that used to chase her the moment she fell asleep.” He continued sorrowfully. “I still remember her last day, she was hiding in a big trunk while court ladies came to me, and told me about her condition. I quickly rushed to her, after seeing me, she whispers in my ear slowly that sends chills down my spine even today- ‘THE DARK SHADOWS ARE BEHIND YOU. THEY ARE SAYING THAT NO ONE CAN SAVE THE PALACE NOW. THEY ARE HERE TO TAKE ME WITH THEM’. Just after the words slipped her lips, she fell unconscious and was later declared dead by royal physicians.” The King said in a deep and somber voice.

 “It was all because of her hallucination, nothing else. She just suffered from a mental illness,” said the Queen. “Let the dead bury the dead. Stop looking back, we are not going that way, we must think about our present problem’s solution. And the solution to our problem is taking the help of that shaman. She can do wonders with her powers.”

“We’ll find other alternatives. I don’t want that lady to practice her dark arts in this palace. She is dangerous and I can’t trust her.”

Queen Iseul was not positive about the idea of going for another alternative. She had made up her mind to go for shaman’s help as she is certain that Mi-sook won’t disappoint her. The Queen started sobbing in pain. She took a knife and threatened the King to agree, or else he would lose her. The King loved her wife dearly. Therefore, he reluctantly agreed to her wish. 

“Promise me you’ll help me when the time comes, whatever it takes, I need your contribution too, after all, I am doing it all for this nation,” said the Queen.

“I promise you. I just want my Queen to be happy.” The King surrounded her in his embrace. 

Lots of random thoughts choked his mind, but he still didn't feel frightened. But he did have an uncomfortable sense of foreboding, the knowledge that something unpleasant is going to loom in the future. He was silently praying for the wellbeing of the nation while gazing at the sunset as a fiery red orb of light slowly sank beneath the horizon, and threads of light lingered in the sky, and slowly the stygian darkness took over the sky.

Next Morning

The Queen and Mi-sook continued their conversation in a private quarter. She began to explain why she had called her, but Mi-sook stopped short and simply reassured her. She promised to give her a successor. No matter what it took.

 “Your Highness! It is possible that the bad energy near you is a hurdle causing these problems for you.” 

 “Does that mean there is no hope?” The Queen asked as her spirit suddenly dampened.

“Don’t worry my lady, you have summoned me for this task and that’s my promise, I’ll definitely give you an heir. But unfortunately, you’ll have to go through some harsh practices.” 

The Queen sighed and said, “I’ll do anything for this.”  

Mi-sook entered the Queen’s chamber, and to their dismay, ordered all of her maids and court ladies to leave. When Mi-sook stated that the order had come from the Queen, the court ladies reluctantly filed out. Then Mi-sook had the Queen restrained and stripped, and placed a talisman on the front of her skirt.

Without warning, Mi-sook had her henchwomen whip the Queen over and over, claiming to be riding her of bad energy. The Queen was struck repeatedly until her garments were completely stained in blood. The whipping finally stopped when Mi-sook saw the burn marks appeared on the talisman.

Mi-sook- “Your Highness! I am sorry to say that, but you’re barren.”

The Queen bite down on her lip and closed her eyes for a moment to keep herself from crying out in anguish. The news broke the Queen, and she realised that the revelation is far more painful than the pain of whipping.  Her body was drenched in the hues of red, blood was still oozing out from her fresh wound but she didn't care about the wound. She started sobbing in the corner, the news destroyed her.  

 “Your Highness! Stop crying. I know a way to work around this complication.” The Queen looked at her.

“Your Highness! I must inform you beforehand that this spell is going to be risky. It’s up to you now.” Mi-sook warned the Queen.

“I’ll do everything; my top priority is to get an heir for the throne,” said the Queen.

“Alright. But first, you need to be treated. Pardon me for causing you pain.” She called the Queen's maid and asked them to take care of the Queen.

The Queen ordered her maids to hide her injury from the King. She knew that if he found out, he would execute Mi-sook.

Mi-sook gave a devilish smile and walked out of the Queen’s quarter only to see Lord Yong stand before her. 

The air became thick with the tension between them. 

He heard that Queen Iseul had invited her back and wasn’t pleased with the idea of her residing in the palace. 

 “Long-time no see Lord Yong.”  

“Our Queen is naïve. You can trick her with your shrewdness but you can’t trick me. I know very well what you are up to. You won’t be able to succeed in your cabal while I am here.”

Lord Yong proceeded to the Queen’s chamber but stopped right in front of the door. He asked the Queen why she brought Mi-sook back to the palace.

The Queen silenced him. She knew that Lord Yong had known all along that the Queen was barren. She no longer wanted his help. She had decided that from now on, she would rely on Mi-sook. She commanded him to leave the palace forever and asked him to never utter a single word to anyone about what he knew.

Later that night, a young court lady of the palace who’d woken up, ran to Mi-sook, shouting, “That person! That person is in danger!”

After some time, the Queen got news that the King had fallen ill and rushed to see him. She was told that it was an acute indigestion, and they were lucky to catch and treat it so quickly.

Mi-sook recalled the young girl who woke up from her sleep and ran outside to inform other people about the King’s condition but eventually bumped into Mi-sook. 

“How come you know about the illness of the King before anyone else?”

“Since childhood, I can hear and see glimpses of the future.”

It didn’t take her much time to realize that the girl was gifted. 

“A girl who can see future events can be dangerous for me, I need to get rid of her anyhow,” Mi-sook planned something to take care of the girl.

She quickly rushed to the Queen with a game plan in her mind to make the innocent girl her scapegoat.

“I have found a girl for the King, my Lady.”

 “Good. But how do we convince her?”

“It’s treason to not follow the order of a Queen. Therefore, no one can deny your order.” Mi-sook stated. 

The Queen summoned Min-shi and ordered her to sleep with the King. The Queen kept a passive expression as she commanded her to sleep with the King to get rid of his bad energy. 

 “Your Highness! Have mercy on me. I can’t do this; I’m a maiden, I can’t give my body to a man.” She tried pleading with the Queen which earned her a slap.

“He is not just a man. He is the King of Noam. As a citizen of Noam, it is your duty to do this much. You should feel proud at this moment that you have been chosen for this noble work. Once it is done, I will reward you handsomely.”

The innocent girl was left with no choice. She reluctantly said yes.   

So that night, Min-shi was bathed and robbed, and the Queen issued instructions on how (and how not) to comport herself. She notices Min-shi’s hands tightly grasping her skirt and pulls them into her own, embracing her. One can see her expression break into one of guilt.

No one looked happy at all as the King entered and began to disrobe Min-shi.

To convince the King to sleep with a maiden was also a hard task but the Queen succeeded in convincing him in the end.

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