As Seol Young and Zaha exchanged glances, the villagers asked again,
“Didn’t I ask you a question? Come on! Answer me!”
“Seeing that they aren’t answering, they must be the spies from Baekjae!”
Spies from Baekjae?
Seol Young was about to answer, but Zaha quickly intercepted,
“We are the Hwarangs from the golden castle. We came to Apryang because we have something to say to the military officer.”
Then he took out the jade seal from his sleeve and showed it.
“It was our first trip, so we took the wrong way, but we stopped by to see if we could take a break at a nearby village.”
The seal belonged to Zaha, but the people didn’t seem to know what it was. At first glance, Zaha’s appearance looked like that of a high-ranking person.
The villagers looked at each other.
Then everyone lowered their weapons, and the shaman named Sabiso said,
“We had no idea. Please come this way.”
Have they gotten past the crisis?
The villagers took the lead, and they went to the village. Dozens of thatched houses were huddled together around the stump of a giant tree.
The villagers led the two of them to a small place that looked like an annex.
“We will bring you some simple snacks.”
When they left, Seol Young sighed.
The villagers were beings who obeyed the laws of this unknown world. It was better not to provoke them if possible.
“It seems that the situation here is really bright. And lies usually come out fast in such places.”
“It is not a lie. It is a skill.”
Zaha said that with a slightly triumphant face.
“Memorize the words I will say quickly, because if what we say doesn’t match, it won’t work. Before everything, Apryang served as a base to keep Baekjae in check. They appointed military officers from the Hwarangs who were known to be skilled in military tactics…”
It was then….
…. came the sound of the iron grill near the window. In the blink of an eye, the window was blocked.
At the same time, the door was locked from the outside.
“What are you doing?”
Seol Young protested in surprise.
And a loud voice was heard from outside.
“Do you think we didn’t know? That you came to steal the mysterious jewel of Mr. Sabiso!”
“What? I didn’t even hear anything about that! And the shaman…”
“Enough! Stay locked up in there silently until the ritual is done!”
The villagers left after screaming.
The people from the villages in the countryside were always known to be scary, but they never imagined they would stab them in the back.
“Now that this has happened, this is war.”
He looked at Zaha, but he didn’t answer. He just stood still.
“Are you that shocked? Because the villagers fooled us…?”
He pointed to the grill.
Seol Young looked out with a puzzled face.
Who was there?
Someone was hiding behind the wall of the house and spying on the side.
It was a girl around sixteen years old. She was wearing a sky blue long skirt with a white jacket and a five-colored belt.
Looking at her clothes, she looked like a shaman too.
But just from one look at her, unlike the man who was called Sabiso, she was a truly born shaman.
It was impressive, but there was something that surprised him.
“Can you see it?”
At Zaha’s words, Seol Young nodded.
The necklace on the girl’s chest.
It was a round plaque of wood with the face of a monster engraved on it.
“Is that it?”
Seol Young answered without taking his eyes off the necklace.
“It must be the last body of the ancient God.”
“How do I get my hands on it?”
“I will try having a conversation with her.”
Then Seol Young beckoned for the girl.
The girl was startled.
‘I am not a bad person. I am someone who does similar things to what you do.’
Seol Young drew a talisman in the air to let her know the truth. Even though he couldn’t exert its power, it still took the shape it was supposed to have.
At that moment, the girl’s face turned red. It was definitely a shame. As if she had seen something she shouldn’t have, she turned away and ran.
Zaha clicked his tongue.
“What the hell did you do? Do you want us to be considered criminals and be locked up here for a hundred years?”
“No! I didn’t do anything strange. I just drew a simple…”
Seol Young regretfully said.
“It’s strange. Hundreds of years ago, maybe the simple spell would have had a different meaning.”
“If we have a shrine maiden, we can find out.”
Zaha replied and pulled out his dagger.
Seol Young asked,
“What are you doing?”
While Seol Young grumbled about losing face, Zaha inserted the dagger between the cracks of the door and began sawing it down. His physical power was surely working.
Since the dagger was an unusual weapon, the wooden lock was chipped off bit by bit.
In the meantime, Seol Young just watched.
A few men came in and went, but soon they didn’t seem to care. The entire town seemed busy. It seemed that they were preoccupied with something important.
Come to think of it…
He noticed that each house had put something out. From large pots to rice bowls, it was as if they had brought out all the dishes from their houses.
Seol Young mumbled what the villagers said.
“They are experiencing drought here too. So they are holding a ritual for the rain.”
“And speaking about the mysterious jewel. The one that grants wishes.”
Zaha said as he cut open the door.
“Aren’t those the beads that grant wishes? Cintamani? It seems like the fake shaman is trying to make it rain here…”
After struggling for a while, Zaha was able to cut the lock.
The two cautiously opened the door and got out. They saw three to four tall men, and neither of them noticed anything before they were hit by the hilts of their swords.
“Is this all of them?”
“There’s something strange there.”
Seol Young pointed to the other side of the village, where there seemed to be a commotion.
The two of them hid behind a thatched roof and sneaked closer. And shortly after, they found an altar built of stones at a corner of the village.
The villagers had gathered there.
“We need to hide somewhere and take a closer look.”
Zaha looked around to find a warehouse. In the blink of an eye, he unlocked the door’s lock and entered.
“Come inside quickly.”
“Even if I quit the Hwarangs, I won’t have to die of starvation.”
Seol Young went inside, admiring him. They observed what was happening outside through a hole made for air circulation.
There were seven flags on the altar. Six of them were pointing to the sky and fluttering, while the seventh was on the ground.
And the villagers were praying with their hands clasped in front of them.
“Dragon God. Please let it rain, Dragon God. Let the drought in this land end. This is our wish.”
“Let it rain heavily. Let the water flow and fill up this parched land.”
On one side, Sabiso, the shaman, was ringing a bell and shouting.
“The seven days of prayers have reached the heavens! There will be answers today!”
Hearing that, Seol Young and Zaha could guess what had happened here.
Sabiso had the beads that granted wishes. When there was a drought in this village, the people made a wish on that stone.
Everyone was praying earnestly, and they succeeded in raising the flags one by one. If all seven went up, their wishes would come true.
And it was the seventh day.
“It is going up!”
The last remaining flag slowly rose towards the sky. The villagers were excited—so excited that they bowed to the flag and prayed more desperately.
Sabiso looked at them and nodded, and after saying something to the people behind him, he went into the shrine next door.
But at that moment, a huge commotion erupted.
“The beads disappeared!”
The villagers scattered in all directions, and soon there was a loud noise from the other side.
“They ran away!”
“Catch those thieves who stole the jewel!”
Things took a weird turn as the two were accused of something they didn’t do.
“I will say you did it.”
“Who will believe that? Anyone can tell that you are the superior…”
But before they could do anything…
“I found the bead.”
With a loud shout, someone was dragged in front of Sabiso. The girl.
The girl with the body of the Tree Spirit God on her. The villagers surrounded her.
“Jung Myung! Did you really steal it?”
“Why did you do it? It’s not that I don’t understand your feelings, but…”
The girl called Jung Myung was so scared that she cried.
“No! I did not mean to steal Mr. Sabiso’s beads…”
Sabiso shouted loudly, and the girl couldn’t resist the people who were dragging her away.
“Dragon God. Dragon God, please end this drought….”
And the rain ritual started again. But there was nothing more to see.
“The shrine maiden.”
The two left the warehouse. The annex from earlier seemed to act as a prison, so they went there.
“Please remain silent in here until the ritual is over!”
A scolding voice could be heard.
The villagers hurriedly locked her up and ran back to the altar.
Once they left, Seol Young and Zaha broke the lock outside and entered.
The girl, who was crouching, looked at them in surprise.
Seol Young made the girl silent.
“We are here to help.”
Her eyes went wide as she looked at them.
“You are the people who were arrested this morning. I know you. You are not ordinary people. You are the ones who shouldn’t be here.”
“It doesn’t matter.”
Seol Young pointed to the plaque around her neck.
“Do you know what that is?”
“This is just a necklace I’ve had since I was a child.”
“Can I see it for a minute?”
The girl clutched the necklace right away, as if she didn’t trust them.
Zaha had to intervene.
“It is because it is similar to something we know.”
“I did not steal it!”
The girl bowed her head.
“Since I stole the bead, you won’t believe me now…”
“Why did you steal it?”
Seol Young asked.
“No. I know why, even if you don’t answer. Didn’t you try to stop that ritual?”
The girl raised her head, her eyes trembling.
“Right. We need to stop it. That is not a rain ritual. When the last flag rises…”
At that moment, the sound of drums rang out, and the voices of the villagers cheering were heard.
“This is bad!”
The girl’s face turned white.
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