The First Death
“This is an absolute waste of time,” I exclaimed, exasperated as I slammed the book I was reading on the floor.
We had been researching in the Royal Library for the past few months on any information or cure that could help our Father but every single day, we came up with zilch and as every fruitless day passed, our confidence and hope deteriorated a little more. Every second in the Royal Library seemed to stretch on forever and I was itching to do something more productive.
“Patience is a virtue, Hyung,” Changmin said without looking up from his book.
“Patience is not exactly my strength,” I snapped back and then sighed.
“I feel so helpless sometimes. I can see that Father is suffering and yet I can’t do anything to help at all. I see him fade a little each day and I try to tell myself that … that there is a cure for his illness and someday he will stand up again as the powerful and wise King he once was…” It was the first time that I voiced out my true feelings and I was struggling to find the exact words to express my inner emotions.
My brothers were all looking at me with the same pained expression. I knew that they shared my exact feelings and thoughts and they too were afraid of what the final outcome would be.
“That is why we don’t give up hope,” Jaejoong said as he passed me a thick book and then continued.
“The only way we can help Father is to understand the illness and to attack it from there. Knowledge is the key to this and we can only find it in books. There are over a million books in the Royal Library. We will find what we are looking for.”
“Wait!…What if…” Changmin suddenly added on.
We all diverted our attention to our youngest brother.
“What if… Father isn’t sick? What if he’s poisoned?” Changmin glanced up towards us with a frightened expression.
A chill ran down my spine.
“Poisoned?” Yunho whispered uncertainly.
“What…how… who would do that?” Junsu’s voice trembled slightly.
I looked at each of my brothers and they stared back at me with the same alarmed expression.
“I don’t think its poison,” Jaejoong replied thoughtfully at last.
“The Royal physicians have informed me that they detected no trace of poison in Father’s body. If there was any toxic in his body, they would have notified me by now,” Jaejoong continued.
“How would you know? What if the poison was undetectable?” Changmin asked urgently.
“I’ll summon the Royal physicians to do a whole body checkup on Father right now,” I said, scrambling from my chair.
The idea that Father was poisoned was frightening. Changmin had put a new light on this matter and I was determined to find out if there was any truth in his theory.
I opened the door and collided straight into a maid.
“Oh!” The maid cried out in surprise as she dropped the tray of food that she was holding. Plates and bowls of food fell onto the floor with a loud clatter and shattered into many pieces.
“I am so sorry, Your Highness.” The maid bowed and apologized profusely as she bent down to clear the mess on the floor.
“I didn’t see you coming out and I should have moved aside instead of blocking your path. I am so very sorry,” The maid continued to apologize as she picked up the pieces of shattered porcelain with shaking hands.
“It’s ok. No harm done,” I assured her.
“Ouch,” She cried out softly as she nursed her right hand while she sat on the floor. Blood was gushing out from a small but deep gash on her right hand and I could tell that she had injured herself quite badly on a piece of broken porcelain. I untied the scarf that I was wearing and quickly wrapped it around her injured hand. She seemed to be in a daze and did not struggle even though I applied quite a bit of pressure on her wound to stop the blood from flowing out.
“What happened?” Jaejoong asked as he came up from behind me.
“I bumped into a maid and she cut her hand on the broken plates,” I said as I pointed to her injured hand. My silver scarf was slowly turning a shade of red as I continued to apply pressure on her wounded hand.
“Lyssa? Are you ok?” Jaejoong asked.
Lyssa raised her head at the sound of his voice and to my surprise, I realized that she was one of the personal maids from the selection yesterday. Her big, doe eyes gazed at Jaejoong apologetically and then she bowed at him.
“I’m sorry, Your Highness; I dropped your lunch due to my clumsiness and even caused much trouble to Prince Yoochun. I… I’ll clean up the mess now and bring you another set of lunch,” Lyssa replied nervously as she struggled to pick herself up from the floor.
“No, wait. Let me bandage your hand first. It looks pretty bad,” I said as I helped her into the Royal Library.
“Yunho Hyung, could you bring me the bandages and the cleaning balm from the medicine box?” I asked as I pulled a chair out for Lyssa to sit down.
“Here,” Yunho said as he handed me the cleaning balm.
“You can look away if it helps,” I told Lyssa as she nodded and turned her face away from her injured hand. Her face paled slightly as I gently wiped away the dirt from her wound.
“Your Highnesses, lunch is ready,” A smooth, gentle voice called out. I turned my head and saw the other two personal maids who were chosen by my brothers’ standing in the doorway. Ker was walking towards the table carrying a massive tray of food while Eris was slowly picking her way through the mess on the floor.
“Awesome!” Changmin cried out happily as he shut his book immediately and bounded over to Eris who was holding what seemed like an even bigger plate of food, if that was possible. Yunho followed closely behind and smiled widely as he approached his lunch. I glanced towards Junsu and sniggered at his hopeful, longing gaze upon the mountain of food.
Turning my attention back to Lyssa’s hand, I caught her staring at me with a strange expression on her face.
“What’s wrong?” I asked curiously.
She blinked and smiled.
“Oh… nothing… it’s just that I never expected Prince Yoochun to be so …”
“So?” I prompted.
“Nice…” She finally said.
I chuckled and placed the cleaning balm back into the medicine box.
“Well, since I’m so nice, shouldn’t I be rewarded?” I teased as I pointed at my cheek.
“I…I’ll bring you a personal lunch set too, Your Highness,” Lyssa stammered as she walked over to the door and bent down to clear the mess on the floor.
I smiled to myself as I saw her face still flushed from my comment.
As I watched Lyssa’s retreating back, a sudden memory flashed through my mind. She reminds me of her; I thought wryly and strolled slowly towards Junsu.
“Why the glum face, Hyung?” Changmin asked he picked up a drumstick from his plate and offered it to me.
“Hey! How come when I wasn’t offered one?” Junsu asked indignantly. “You are showing favoritism, Changmin,” Junsu scolded and reached out for a drumstick only to be smartly rapped on the hand by Changmin’s chopsticks.
“Hey!” Junsu cried out and sulked.
Changmin laughed and pushed the whole plate towards Junsu.
“Am I still showing favoritism, Hyung?”
Junsu carefully selected a drumstick and took a bite from it.
“Hmm…” He chewed and said thoughtfully. “Well…” He continued as he surveyed his half bitten drumstick.
I laughed and slapped him playfully on the chest.
“Oh Hyung, where did you go?” Yunho asked as Jaejoong walked into the room. I hadn’t noticed his absence and guilt washed over me as I recalled my promise of summoning the Royal physicians earlier on.
“Hyung, I’m sorry I forgot about …”
“It’s fine, Yoochun. I’ve already summoned the Royal physicians to do a whole body checkup on Father in the afternoon. Let’s have lunch now,” Jaejoong smiled and patted my shoulder reassuringly.
“Yeah, it’s ok, Yoochun, we know you forget everything the moment you see a pretty girl,” Yunho teased.
I glared at his grinning face then turned back to Jaejoong.
Jaejoong laughed and ruffled my hair affectionately.
“What on earth is Lyssa is doing? This is so unlike her,” Eris asked as we watched her walk away from Prince Yoochun. Her blush was still evident even when she bent down to clear the mess on the floor.
“Charming the Prince,” I replied. “Perhaps you should ask her for lessons sometime,” I continued and smiled at Eris.
“Heh. You’re funny Ker. Really, I’m laughing. See?” Eris replied with a poker face, sarcasm dripping from her voice.
I watched silently as the Princes fought over a plate of food. Such childish behavior, yet I felt no absurdity, just a tinge of sorrow. Somewhere along the path of my profession, that innocence had been wretchedly abducted from me.
“Crown Prince Jaejoong,” Both Eris and I bowed as he walked into the Royal Library. I shook my head slightly; glad of his appearance for once that broke my sudden train of wild thoughts.
“You two may leave us now. We will call you again when there is a need,” Crown Prince Jaejoong said as he dismissed us.
“Yes Your Highness.” We replied together.
Closing the door lightly behind me, I pushed my thoughts towards the back of my mind and promptly forgot about it the next second.
“Physician Ko, please come this way,” A maid directed a middle aged man wearing a long, cream coat towards the stairway. She motioned for us to move aside as Physician Ko walked past us.
We bowed politely and greeted him as he stopped and turned to scrutinize us. Staring up towards us from his lower step, I could feel his eyes roam down our bodies, taking care to stop at our chests and waists.
A shudder of disgust ran down my body and I itched to gorge those slits of lecherous eyes out.
The Physician licked his lips slowly with a small smile on his face. His flat face was void of all emotions but his eyes danced brightly with excitement.
“Who are they? New maids? I have never seen them before. Bring them to my room after I examine His Majesty,” Physician Ko’s voice was surprisingly deep and throaty for such a small man.
“Yes, of course, Physician Ko,” The maid replied.
Apparently satisfied with the reply, and giving our bodies’ one last look, Physician Ko continued to climb up the staircase and brushed lightly against my arm as he passed us. Again I shuddered at his touch and clenched my teeth in response.
“I think…” Eris said, her voice crackling with annoyance.
“Yes,” I replied, my voice steelier than usual at the same thought we shared.
“Ker! Eris! Physician Ko wants to see you two in his room NOW!” A maid shouted as her head popped into the maid’s main quarter room.
I looked over my shoulder towards Eris and saw the flash of anger in her eyes. Giving her a nod, I followed the other maid to Physician Ko’s room.
“Come in.” A muffled voice called out.
A familiar, sickly sweet smell filled our noses as we opened the door.
Eris grabbed my arm at once and gave me an urgent look. I nodded my head and continued towards the dark figure in the dimly lit room. It was a simple, yet powerful overdose of lavender, chamomile and bergamot oils, guaranteed to make the victim drowsy or may even succeed in making the weaker ones fall asleep. We had been trained to detect such aromas and were even immune to some of them; however, this was a much stronger scent to overcome.
“Good afternoon, ladies,” Physician Ko murmured as we slowly approached him.
A translucent curtain separated us.
Through the curtain, I could see the white mask that covered Physician Ko’s face and the wisps of smoke that escaped from the incense pot beside him.
He had without doubt prepared himself amply against the sleep aroma, I thought dryly.
“Since you two are new to the castle, I will spare some of my precious time to educate the two of you. As you well know, I am Physician Ko, one of the six Royal Physicians in the Kingdom. My influence on the King is enormous and there are thousands of girls out there who would die to be in your positions now. I occasionally show a little favoritism to the maids in the castle and these girls are handsomely rewarded with not only money, but a closer relationship with the Princes. The only payment I would like, of course, is some pleasure with you. I’m sure you girls are smart enough to know what I mean,” Physician Ko’s eyes narrowed into slits and I was certain he was smiling behind the mask of his.
A lecherous man as expected, I thought and moved closer towards the curtain.
However, Eris beat me to it.
“Bastard!” She screamed and ripped the curtain open with both of her hands.
“Taking advantage of innocent girls just because you are a Royal Physician! Have you no shame at all?” She continued screaming as she advanced towards him.
Physician Ko observed her with amused eyes and suddenly pulled out a sword and pointed it directly at Eris’s throat.
“You’re feisty, girlie. Excellent, the spirited ones tend to be more….fun,” He chuckled and traced a vein along Eris’s neck using the tip of his sword.
With a snarl, Eris kicked the sword into the air, caught it with her right hand and aimed the sword at its owner.
“Le… let’s take things a little slower, my dear,” Physician Ko stammered and raised both his hands, his eyes never leaving the sword.
“Don’t you dare call me girlie,” Eris hissed through her teeth and ran the sword lightly across his throat. Beads of blood followed the tip of the sword.
“Wait.” I said and placed my hand on Eris’s arm.
“Ye.. Yes. Listen to your friend,” Physician Ko stuttered as he gave me a grateful look.
I ignored his comment and whispered in Eris’s ear.
“It will be hard to explain his death if we kill him like this. I have a plan, but we need to ensure that we do not inflict any internal wounds at all. Scream when I shout your name.”
Physician Ko suddenly shouted and fell backwards. He launched himself immediately on me and both of us crashed onto the floor. Using his body weight, he pinned me on the ground and wrapped his hands around my neck. I felt his hands tighten around my throat and when I knew that bruises would show, I aimed a kick at his genital area.
Physician Ko groaned loudly and his hands around my neck slackened. I slammed my head against his and elbowed him sharply on the neck. Using the base of my hand, I smashed it into the side of his head and heard the satisfying crunch as his neck cracked.
“Eris!” I urged.
Eris started screaming and crying out for help as she pulled Physician Ko off me. I joined her screaming, injecting as much fear as I could into my voice.
Smashing a table with my fist, I placed Physician Ko’s head in the middle, with his neck against the edge of the table. Eris kicked and threw all the furniture around as she continued to scream for help.
“HELP! SOMEBODY! ANYBODY!!! HELLLPPP!!!!!! MOLESTER!! RAPE! AHHHH!!!” Eris and I screamed as we hurriedly messed up our hair and tore our clothes.
Footsteps thundered towards the room. I held Eris and we sat in a corner as far as we could from the body of Physician Ko.
I squeezed my temples and urged the silent tears to fall more rapidly and hugged the now whimpering Eris tighter.
Would they fall for our trick?
thank you my lovely beta kiryu:)
comments would be loved!