Chapter 7

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A thick white layer of clouds covered the sky since the day of the parade. A fitting analogy for the atmosphere around the house. Quiet, even appearing peaceful at times, but something was wrong and everyone knew that it was only a matter of time until the clouds would turn into a storm. It didn't come as much of an surprise when their day was interrupted by three guards riding up to the house in the middle of the day, carrying a fateful message. Ah-ro furrowed her brows even more, increasing the expression of worry that was engraved into her face even since her father was taken to the royal palace as they gathered at the gate.

The guard in the middle straightened his back and raised his chin before he started speaking in a monotonous tone. "Show your respect as the Queen sends you an order."

Without hesitating, Sun-Woo kneeled, Ah-ro bowed her head and Jia followed their example.

"Master Ahnji's son, Sun-Woo, shall become a Hwarang under the Queen's order. Come to Jowonjeon in Wolseong palace at noon, ten days from now. You shall attend the Hwarang appointment ceremony."

Jia's eyes went wide and her heart started pounding. The Hwarang? She can't be serious about this... The Hwarang, a group of young masters who were supposed to become a group of elite warriors here in Silla. But even though they weren't trained by a man of the Queen it would be foolish to assume that they weren't serving her. How dare she take him away like this? Is this to get back at me or for continuing her vendetta with Ah-Ro's father? That place was dangerous and if he got himself into a fight she wouldn't be there to protect him.

"Will he be released now?" Sun-Woo asked.

"Just wait." There was some sort of compassion in his voice and he gave Sun-Woo a apologizing look before they mounted horses once again and left.

Jia pulled Sun-Woo to the side, enough distance between them and Ah-Ro so they could talk in private, and tried to decipher the look on his face. "You don't think about actually doing this, do you?"

"This is the only way Ah-Ro will get her father back."

"But it will be dangerous in there! You can't risk your life to make them release him."

"The only reason he was captured in the first place was because of me. He would have sacrificed his life to save me. Now it's time for me to save him." His facial expression were usually hard to read but this time she could see in his eyes what she had seen hundreds of times before. Stubbornness. He wasn't going to change his mind about this, even if she tried.

"I see..." she sighted. "Try to prepare for it at least. You have ten days and you better be ready before entering that house." She quickly redid her pinned up hair and strapped on her sword as always when she left the house.

"Fine. But where are you going?"

"Don't worry, I will be back soon. There's just someone I've got to talk to."

It wasn't too hard to find the place the master of the Hwarang was staying. All it took was asking a few commoners and even though they seemed rather hesitant, looking as if they'd try to figure out where they might have seen her before, they eventually gave her the directions to the Sutabaksu where he apparently spent a lot of his time.

Master We-Hwa was a middle-aged man, a few gray strains mingled with his dark hair. But his awake black eyes made the impression her could still beat her in a fight using nothing more than her own weakness and a fork. "So, who are you?"

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