(Read the previous chapters here.)
They’re looking for me and all they’ll have to do is follow the trail of blood to where I’ve collapsed.
As my light fades, so does Taeguk’s. My poor gem. Once so warm and brilliant, it lies cold and shattered in my hand. As for me, I can hardly breathe.
In books they will write that I died broken and betrayed. But they will not write I died without a fight. That I didn’t resist until my last breath. That I didn’t give my blood, sweat, and tears until there were none left to give.
As I look to the sky, I wonder if whoever is up there finds the view amusing–me, lying in the snow with wet cheeks and a smile on my lips. Would they wonder why the front of my dress is soaked in blood? Would they want to know whose blades carved me in two? Or would they already know?
It’s said that when a phoenix dies, it erupts into a blaze before turning to ash. That would be an ugly, unfair end to such a beautiful creature–if that really were the end. The phoenix is reborn, rising from the ashes of its predecessor as it’s born again. How lovely.
I wrap my fingers around Taeguk, perhaps a last, feeble attempt to hold onto something I once lived for. When I close my eyes, I imagine my body bursting into flames.
Many Years Later
“Studious boy, aren’t you? You shouldn’t read in the dark, though. Don’t you know a fire spell or two?”
I don’t look up from my tome out of spite. I’ve been in the library all night and, yes, maybe my eyes were starting to hurt, but I’m not going to admit that to China.
“But if I were to stop my studies,” I said, “I’d become mediocre and complacent like you.”
“Tell me, while you’ve been in here pouring over ancient texts, did you find an incantation that teaches respect?”
“Not yet, sorry.”
He’s going hiss dramatically, narrow his eyes, and shake his head, all as if I’m being outrageously ill-mannered. Except he doesn’t. I look up and see him staring with softened eyes at the glass-encased stone on the pedestal.
“It used to be radiant,” he says after a while. “The most beautiful gem I’d ever seen. The day it stopped shining was a sad day indeed.”
I know he’s not talking about just Taeguk. He means her.
I’ve asked him so many questions; Does he miss her? Does he feel responsible? Did he ever try to do anything to stop them from killing her? What did he see the day he found her in the snow? And I’ve asked, many times, whether Taeguk would ever glow again. He can’t say. I haven’t found the answer yet either, but there is one thing I know for certain:
I will do anything to bring Taeguk’s power back and nothing can stop me.
The end! I had a lot of fun writing this and I hope you enjoyed it too. Remember to like and share if you did; I’d really appreciate it. I’d also love to know if you like these multi-part stories or if you prefer the less plot-heavy one-shots
This story was inspired by some of my favorite video games like Final Fantasy XIV and Diablo 3–the latter in which there is an actual Legendary Gem called Taeguk.
I wrote this epilogue because I wanted to at least address the forcible end of Korea as a unified country. I only hope that I did so respectfully.
(Now, do I really want to make a sequel starring North Korea? Yes. Should I? Ehhhhhh…)