Memoir Of The King Of War - Chapter 5
The Pro-Yuan faction was forced to pay tribute and maintain peace and that way, they were able to remain in power.
[Editor’s Note: A quick recapitulation of some historical facts: after the Mongol-ruled Yuan dynasty of China invaded Korea in the 13th century, Korea’s Goryeo Dynasty came under its control and Goryeo became a semi-autonomous vassal state and compulsory ally of the Yuan dynasty for about 80 years.
The Mongols received tributes from all over the empire, including Goryeo. The tributes included gold, silver, rare herbs and clothes, and people like eunuchs, Buddhist monks, and of course, women as concubines. It became a prestigious matter for Yuan elites to have concubines from Goryeo. Our current story refers to this part of Korean history.]
They paid tribute regularly to maintain the power they had and the tribute included women.
The women in Goryeo were far more beautiful than the women in the Mongol empire and the Central District.
The royal family of Yuan, which used to receive women from various places, noticed it, and now they demanded women from Goryeo.
However, the ruling class of Goryeo could not just send any women to them, so the royal family searched all over the country to find meritorious women and sent them to Yuan for marriage.
Soon, rumors regarding that started spreading and the families got busy hiding their daughters.
However, as time passed by, it proved to be more and more difficult to protect them.
That was the reason why Hyang Ri had come all the way to their village.
Dan Sa Yu ran like the wind, heading towards his friend Gung Jeok San’s house.
Several old people stood in the front yard of the house, blocking the entrance.
They were chatting loudly.
“They’re asking for your sister.”
“Stop talking nonsense. I won’t hand over noona to them.”
“Oho! Why not? Isn’t it for the sake of the whole village? So……”
“I don’t care about what happens to this village. I can’t believe you’re giving up on her for such a petty reason. Please say something that actually makes sense.”
”But the village…”
Dan Sa Yu’s expression was contorted. What Gung Su Deok said was true after all. He sighed and stood beside Gung Jeok San.
Gung Jeok San’s expressions brightened when he saw him but he did not stop staring at the old people.
They were the elderly people of the village and they demanded that Gung Jeok San sacrifice his sister for the sake of the village.
“Please go back now.” Dan Sa Yu said.
“This is a matter of our Gung Family Village. You Dan kid, stay out of it!”
“I am the best friend of Jeok San. Even though I have a different surname, you can’t just leave me out.”
“You little brat…!”
Gung Jung Hwan, one of the sons of the village chief, looked at him fiercely.
He was very fierce but Dan Sa Yu did not even budge.
“There are many other women in the village, send them instead. Why does it have to be Mu Ae-noona?” He asked.
“Our children aren’t pretty and not big enough to be sent to Yuan. There’s none other than Mu Ae who meets the requirement and is still unmarried. So we’re hoping that Mu Ae can sacrifice herself for the sake of our village. You kids are not the only orphans in this world, and she will be left alone anyway once Jeok San leaves. So, we have chosen Gung Mu Ae, the elder sister of Gung Jeok San. It’s good for her to go to Yuan and it’s good for Jeok San too.”
The faces of Dan Sa Yu and Gung Jeok San were distorted by the argument of the others for choosing Gung Mu Ae.
Hyang Ri and his people chose Gung Family village, and the people of Gung Family Village chose Gung Mu Ae.
Other than Dan Sa Yu, the only children in the village without their parents were Gung Jeok San and Gung Mu Ae.
There was no one to protect them.
Therefore, the villagers chose Gung Mu Ae to be sacrificed to protect themselves.
And this was how they were trying to force Gung Jeok San.
If only Gung Jeok San did not possess superhuman strength, they would have already taken away Gung Mu Ae.
Hyang Ri and the Yuan envoy were already waiting for Gung Mu Ae in the house of the village chief.
“No matter how much you refuse, eventually they will come to pick her up themselves. If that happens, you will only have a hard time, so just give her to us. I’ll tell them to give you a lot of rewards.” The village chief said.
“Is that how much you hanker after money? We can’t do that. If you want money, sell your children instead.”
“Oho! You really don’t understand. You’re wasting a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
“You’re the ones who don’t understand what I’m saying. Get out of my house before I split your big head into two with my axe!”
Gung Jeok Sung stopped arguing with the elderly people and picked up an axe from the side of the yard.
Most of the elderly people scurried away quickly, but some of them still did not give up.
They took out their weapons from their waists and tried to threaten Gung Jeok San into condescending.
“No matter how strong you are, you are no match for the Yuan envoy and his men. Some of them are said to be able to fly and kill people. No matter how much you refuse, you can’t stop what has already begun. So…”
They were uncomfortable inwardly. If Gung Jeok San refused to send Gung Mu Ae to Yuan, some other women of the village would be taken. They did not want that to happen. That was why they chose Gung Mu Ae in the first place.
Even if she were to be taken to Yuan, only one person would suffer and that was the best choice the villagers had.
When they still persisted on staying despite Gung Jeok San threatening them, Dan Sa Yu took out his bow and arrows hanging on his back.
“If there is still anyone here at the count of five, I’ll assume that someone wants to die by my arrow.”
The expressions of the remaining villagers changed when they heard Dan Sa Yu’s words.
He was already aiming his arrow at them.
There was no way they could avoid it since they were just ordinary villagers.
“You bastard dare take out your bow and arrows? Come on, you punk! We’ll see what happens next. Father, let’s go.”
In the end, Gung Jung Hwan and the others decided to leave, but their expressions did not change and they were still fierce.
They still had not given up just because the situation right then was unfavorable.
“I’ll give you time until tomorrow morning. Think well until then. You should think about the lives of the villagers.”
The village chief said before leaving.
The remaining villagers followed after him.
Gung Jeok San sighed after they all left.
Despite being big and strong, he was still a sixteen-year-old boy.
Hence, the tension was too much for him.
He looked at Dan Sa Yu and said, “Thank you for coming on time.”
“Come on, let’s get inside. We need to come up with a plan. They’re gone now but they will be back.”
Gung Jeok San nodded. As the two of them came inside, they saw Gung Mu Ae sitting on a chair.
Her face was pale as if she had heard what they were talking about outside.
Gung Jeok San called her in a sad voice.
However, Gung Mu Ae did not answer.
She was in a state of stupor.
Finally, she stuttered as she said.
“Jeok San…I don’t want to go to Yuan. I…I will live in this place. No, I…”
“It’s all right, noona! No one can hurt you, because I will protect you.”
Gung Jeok San said firmly.
“That’s right! Can’t we just speak to the higher-ups? This is too unreasonable. So maybe if we talk to them……….”
“Noona, it won’t work.”
Dan Sa Yu said. Hyang Ri himself had come to their village which was not normal.
It also did not make sense that the Yuan envoy also moved there directly.
There was already a rumor going around that Yuan was in a big mess.
It was strange enough that they came at a time when the rumors about Yuan collapsing were spreading rapidly.
Gung Mu Ae’s face, which was already pale, became even paler because of what Dan Sa Yu said.
“So, what do we do now?”
“Let’s leave this place. There’s nothing in this village anyway.”
Gung Mu Ae looked at Gung Jeok San. Her face revealed her inability to decide what to do.
Gung Jeok San sighed and nodded.
“Yes, you’re right! We don’t know what will happen if we stay here any longer. So let’s just get out of here.”
They were not together for a day or two. For Dan Sa Yu, it was as if they had always been together.
Their minds became stronger facing the difficult situation.
Once they made the decision, they started to discuss how to move.
“Even the villagers won’t expect us to run away.”
“No! We never know. We need to be cautious.”
Gung Jeok San agreed with Dan Sa Yu that they needed to move very cautiously.
He was superior to Dan Sa Yu when it came to brute strength, but not when it came to using their brains that way.
“Let’s wait until dark. In the meantime, let’s pack up what we need for now. We’ll need the supplies once we leave this place.”
“Noona should get prepared, too. Change into comfortable clothes. You might get hurt once we are in the mountains. As soon as it gets dark, we will get out of the house and move to Wolf Peak. They won’t be able to track us down as there are a lot of wolves there. Maybe they’ll give up on looking for us.”
Normally, it was always Dan Sa Yu who laughed more than anyone else, but when it came to moments of crisis, he became smarter than anyone else.
The nature of a hunter that was hidden in the bottom of his heart had risen again.
Dan Sa Yu had always been like that.
He always looked sloppy and was always smiling, but once he made up his mind, he would never hesitate.
That was why the Gung siblings trusted and relied on him so much.
As instructed by Dan Sa Yu, both Gung Jeok San and Gung Mu Ae started packing their things while Dan Sa Yu checked his weapons.
He checked his bow and arrows and examined his dagger in detail.
He also packed five to six bamboo spears which were hanging on the wall of Gung Jeok San’s house.
Gung Jeok San also packed bamboo spears and large axes.
They did not wish to use the weapons they prepared, but they would not hesitate to use them if it was required.
Dan Sa Yu took out the wild ginseng from his bag and handed it to Gung Jeok San.
“It’s wild ginseng.”
The eyes of Gung Jeok San grew rounder.
He was aware that Dan Sa Yu had climbed the mountain to dig for wild ginseng.
But he did not expect him to hand over a root of wild ginseng like that to him.
“Hoho! It’s hundred-years-old wild ginseng. Once you sell it, you will get a lot of money. You wouldn’t even make that much money if you sold all the furs and hides you have. So save it for the future.”
Gung Jeok San’s face was full of emotions.
But he shook his head and refused to accept the wild ginseng.
“I appreciate it, but how could I accept such a precious thing?”
“Stop the bullshit, you punk. Just take it. Do you think I’m giving it away just because of you? It’s all because of Mu Ae-noona. It’s an advanced wedding gift for her. When we go to the Nangrim Mountain, we’ll get noona to marry that man with the surname ‘So’, and the villagers won’t be able to do anything to them anymore. So just keep it for now.”
Gung Jeok San nodded at Dan Sa Yu.
He clenched his hands with his full strength thinking that he would never forget his debt.
The three left the house when it became dark.
They moved cautiously as if someone was watching over them.
Torches had started to light up one by one near Gung Jeok San’s house which meant that the number of people on guard was increasing.
The three of them stealthily entered the forest behind the house.
Fortunately, no one seemed to notice them.
They moved carefully through the forest, paying attention to the sound of their own footsteps and every leaf brushing against them.
After they were successful in leaving the village far behind them, they started running.
Dan Sa Yu encouraged Mu Ae and said, “Cheer up, noona. Wolf Peak is more than two cities away from here on foot. So we have to hurry. Don’t worry about us, we’re experienced in climbing the mountain.”
Gung Mu Ae replied in a clear voice.
Dan Sa Yu was relieved.
He led the two of them and kept thinking about the situation at hand.
‘This is very weird. I can’t believe that an envoy from Yuan came personally to the village. No matter how well-known noona’s beauty is, it’s weird for them to come like that.’
The existence of Gung Mu Ae was known in the nearby villages despite her living in such a remote place.
Her appearance and beauty stood out among all and attracted the attention of men of all ages without failure.
But still, the situation was very strange.
They started to hear Gung Mu Ae’s heavy breathing.
Her face had already become very pale.
Her stamina might have been really good among women, but it was not comparable to Dan Sa Yu and Gung Jeok San.
She ran out of stamina while following the two.
With her condition, she would soon lose all her energy and would not even be able to walk.
Dan Sa Yu stopped walking and said, “Jeok San, take your sister to Wolf Peak first.”
“What are you going to do?”
“If we go straight to Wolf Peak, they will easily track us. I need to make some traps before going, so the two of you could slow down for a while.”
“Yes. I got it.” Gung Jeok San nodded.
It would be easy for the villagers to follow them because of Gung Mu Ae’s condition.
That was why Dan Sa Yu was trying to buy some time for them.
Gung Jeok San agreed because he was well aware of how Dan Sa Yu did things.
“Sa Yu, hurry up and follow us later.”
“Don’t worry, noona. I’ll catch up right away.”
Tears started to fall from Gung Mu Ae’s eyes.
She looked at Dan Sa Yu with worried eyes.
Dan Sa Yu nodded his head.
“See you later!”
He turned and went down while the other two started to move.
“Let’s go and wait for him at Wolf Peak.”
Gung Jeok San and Gung Mu Ae started to move towards Wolf Peak.
To Be Continued.
Read Manhwa Version here.