Chapter 4

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Jia had lost track of time, wandering through the streets of the city. After saying goodbye to Suk Hansung, she couldn't bring herself to actually leave. She couldn't stop thinking about the way he looked at the compass and the people around them. He seemed to be fascinated by so many little things. A stranger in the crowd or an unknown object, even the sun and people's everyday lives were interesting to him. Surely he was living in a world of his own, completely oblivious to the dangers of the world... At the same time, he seemed to know more about this place than most people, see what others were blind to. An odd combination. And he had managed to make her curious about this place. She wanted to see the city through his eyes, with his curiosity.

She explored darker alleys, shops and revisited all the places she remembered from her childhood like the soccer field. The young masters seemed to use it for tournaments against their rivals but it was still fun to watch them. Apparently, they hadn't changed one bit while she was away she realized and chuckled. The city was lively and on every free area, children were playing under the clear sky, running around carefree and with smiles on their faces. The light of the setting sun painted the sky over the capital in a range of orange and dark blue, colors melting to create the beautiful painting that was the evening's sky. Maybe she was a fool for changing her mind this fast but for a moment, she felt as carefree as the young master Hansung, looking at the capital with a sense of child-like curiosity. This place didn't seem as bad anymore as it used to look in her mind.

Suddenly the young woman found herself in front of high walls of black granite standing tall above her. Like prison walls, devouring the sun's light and casting its long shadow over her. A shiver went down her spine like an icy knife and light of optimism that had just awakened inside her chest died out. These weren't the city walls. No, they were more familiar. The royal palace. Jia was captivated by the pitch-black stone but repressed by what lied within at the same time. She had the sudden urge to touch the stone but before her fingers touched the surface, she withdrew it hastily as if she was afraid to get burned. This was wrong. She shouldn't be here.

Back in Makmangcheon, she could pretend it never happened. She wasn't Princess Seon-mi of Silla but Kim Jia. And Kim Jia had no responsibilities, no restrictions and fewer demons hunting her. But even out there it found her again. She couldn't escape the curse on her life, and the fact that she was forced to come back here was proof of it, wasn't it? Shut up, stop whining. It is going to be alright, I will leave this place soon again. The princess and all her sorrows will stay inside that palace. I won't become that person again.

She drew in the cold air, clearing her head. The sun had completely disappeared by now and the streets were lit by nothing more than the torches on some of the walls. That was the moment she realized that she had actually no idea where Moo-Myung was and where she was supposed to go. She hadn't seen him in hours and it was getting late. Did they even have a place to stay? They left in such a hurry, what if they didn't even have a plan for the night?
But Chance seemed to be on her side for once.

"Jia!" a voice behind her called out.

She turned around to see her friend in the yard of a simple one-floor building with a thatched roof. "Moo-Myung, where-"

"Sun-Woo. You'll have to call me Sun-Woo from now on," he interrupted her quickly.

"What? I don't understand... what are you doing here?" She shook her head in confusion and came to the gate.

"This house belongs to Mak-Moon's father. Sun-woo was his name before he came to Makmangcheon"

She nodded slowly. "I understand... You're pretending to be him as long as we're here. This is the only way you can stay within the city walls."

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