9 Household of Kim Pt.2

    The maids' quarters were not far from the main courtyard. Gyuri followed Taehyung to a relatively small building that was separated from, what appeared to be, the main house. Gyuri expected the maids' quarters to be horrendous but to her surprise, it looked quite comfortable.

    Wow, this place is bigger than our flat in London.

    "You better count yourself lucky" she heard Taehyung mutter. "At least now your meals are now guaranteed and you have somewhere warm to sleep."

    Gyuri glared at him before pulling faces behind his back.

    "I saw that!" he snapped, surprising her.

    "Geez, you must have eyes behind your head."

    He scoffed, "No, you are just too stupid to realise that I can see your reflection from the looking glass above." Taehyung pointed to an octagonal concave mirror that had a red, black and yellow pattern. Something about it looked eerie and creepy as if looking at it directly might send a malignant force to haunt you. Not that Gyuri was superstitious anyway.

    Taehyung led Gyuri to the entrance of the maids' quarters before walking away. He turned to her, "Ask for Madam Zhou."

    "Madam Zhou?"

    "Yes," he said, rolling his eyes. "Do not tell me you are dumb too."

    Gyuri narrowed her eyes at him. "Seriously, what's up with you? Why do you keep insulting me?"

    To her astonishment, Taehyung smiled. "Because I find insulting you enjoyable," and with those words, he sauntered away.

    This kid's a lunatic, Gyuri huffed.

    Gyuri peeped inside the maids' quarters warily, as she murmured in a small voice, "Hello? Anyone home?" but there was no reply. With small steps, she ventured further inside the building, admiring the oriental-style architecture in spite of the minimalistic decoration.

    "What are you doing here?"

    Gyuri jumped at the sound of a feminine voice. She turned to face the owner of the voice and found that it belonged to a young woman with long, black hair that was bound in a thick braid. She was wearing dull-coloured robes but her features were soft and demure, almost doll-like. To Gyuri, she appeared to be around her age, making her feel somewhat at ease.

    "I'm looking for Madam Zhou" Gyuri explained. "Erm, Taehyung told me to find her."

    "Taehyung?" the young woman repeated her eyes as round as saucers. "You mean, the Young Master sent you here?"

    Gyuri thought for a second. "Erm, I guess so."

    The young woman gave Gyuri a once-over, clearly exhibiting a doubtful expression. "Wait here, I'll go and fetch Madam Zhou."

    The girl was true to her word as in less than a minute, Gyuri found herself in the presence of a middle-aged woman whose hair was bound by a frugal wooden hair stick. She glanced at Gyuri, her sharp eyes closely inspecting her as if measuring her character against a mental checklist she had concocted in her mind. Gyuri nervously stood her ground, waiting for the woman to say something. It felt like she was on trial.

    "Mayu tells me the Young Master brought you here" Gyuri heard her say. Her voice was quiet and sort of raspy, indicating to Gyuri that Madam Zhou was someone who wielded a lot of authority.

    Weakly, she nodded.

    Madam Zhou scrutinised her further, "Well, it seems as though we will be having another addition to our house." She turned to the young woman from earlier. "Mayu, tell Pho to bring out a set of clothes from the storage cupboard. If Kalyani is back from her tasks, tell her also that they will need to make room for another person," she briefly glanced at Gyuri, "our new addition will be sleeping there from now onwards."

    Mayu nodded before disappearing through the halls.

    Madam Zhou turned her attention to Gyuri once more. "Tell me, child. What is your name?"

    Gyuri shifted on her feet. Something about Madam Zhou's penetrating gaze made her nervous. "It-it's Gyuri" she stuttered.

    "Gyuri..." Madam Zhou repeated as if in thought. "What a pretty name." She turned her back to her and signalled for her to follow. "Well, Gyuri. I hope you will serve the Kims well. Judging by your appearance, it seems as though you were plucked from the streets and given an invaluable opportunity."

    "I'm not really sure I'd call it 'invaluable'" Gyuri replied. "It was more like I was shoved into a crappy situation and just got swept away by the current-"

    Madam Zhou abruptly halted and swerved to face her. "You will do well not to speak in that way" she murmured, her lips thin and her eyes narrowed. "The walls have ears, Gyuri. You should be mindful of what comes out of your mouth, now that you are in the Kims' residence."

    A cold sensation shot down Gyuri's spine at Madam Zhou's chilling warning. Why had she warned her like that? Was she in some sort of danger?

    Madam Zhou's features softened and she continued walking ahead of her. "Since you are new here, I will let your earlier comment slide," she said quietly. "But next time, you may not be so lucky." She led Gyuri through a small corridor where they eventually arrived at what appeared to be a primitive bathroom.

    Gyuri didn't know how to react to seeing the buckets filled with water that lay in one corner and the wet wooden stool in the centre of the small room. It was only then that it dawned on Gyuri how austere the hygiene situation was in this unknown time period.

    Madam Zhou turned to face her again as she ordered, "Take your clothes off."

    "What?" instinctively, Gyuri wrapped her arms around her chest at Madam Zhou's preposterous suggestion. "Why?"

    "Is it not obvious?" she remarked. "You need to bathe and you cannot do so with your clothes on."

    Gyuri was sceptical. "You expect me to bathe in here?" She pointed at the damp room and Madam Zhou nodded.

    "It seems to me that you have not cleansed your body in a while."

    At this, Gyuri gaped down at her clothes and legs and only then realised that she didn't even have any shoes on. She eyed Madam Zhou. "Okay" she consented. "But I'd prefer it if I bathe alone."

    Madam Zhou wasn't fazed by her request. "It will be quicker if I help you. I have a duty to ensure that every servant in this household is clean and without disease."

    "I assure you," Gyuri said, trying not to sound too offended at what Madam Zhou was hinting at, "I'm not as dirty as you think."

    Madam Zhou hmphed. "We shall see."

    After much bickering, Gyuri eventually complied and let Madam Zhou help undress her. It felt very odd for Gyuri to strip in front of another woman. It wasn't like she's never been in the presence of other naked girls before- after all, she did Physical Education in school so of course, she had her fair share of locker room scenarios- but she's never once shown her body to a woman older than sixteen.

    Gyuri covered herself shyly as Madam Zhou helped her take off the last of the rags she had been wearing. It was only when Madam Zhou stood still behind her did Gyuri attempted to speak. "What's wrong?" she asked as she peered behind her to where Madam Zhou was standing. Gyuri found that Madam Zhou was staring at her back intently.

    "You poor child..." she heard her murmur with what sounded like a hint of pity. "You are practically a living corpse."

    Curious as to why Madam Zhou had said that Gyuri looked down at her body and gasped.

    In front of her was a body deprived of nourishment, clearly indicated by the bones of her ribcage protruding through her green-tinged skin. Her legs were scrawny like she had no muscles in them, and her arms were no better. Gyuri inspected herself closely, bewildered as to how her body had suddenly become so dangerously thin.

    "Wait a second..." she leaned her head over a bucket of water to gaze at her reflection. "Oh, my God." Gyuri blinked numerous times and even prodded her cheeks just to make sure that the reflection she saw in front of her was actually hers. She watched in disbelief as her reflection mimicked the same actions she performed on her face, from the pinching of the nose to the opening of the mouth.

    "Are you okay, Gyuri?" Madam Zhou asked, concerned that the naked girl in front of her was suddenly acting very strange.

    Gyuri turned to face her, forgetting altogether that her body was in full view. "This isn't my face!" she exclaimed in panic. "My face has changed!"

    Madam Zhou arched her brow. "Gyuri-"

    "I'm in some other chick's body!" Gyuri yelled, panic slowly consuming her. "I mean, I thought it was weird that my hair felt so dry and the fact that I wasn't getting back pains like usual-" Gyuri stopped midway her sentence as she explored her body again. "Oh my God, my boobs are gone!"

    Madam Zhou watched in confusion as Gyuri grabbed hold of her breasts as if checking that they were indeed hers.

    "Gyuri, I am not completely certain what you are talking about but I need you to sit down so that I can help wash your-"

    "Mate, I'm practically back to an A-cup!" she whined. "This is so messed up. Never mind almost getting whipped for no reason- I have no boobs!"

    Madam Zhou gaped at Gyuri who went on a long-winded oration on the importance of her bust size. Not knowing how else to cease her confusing blubbering, Madam Zhou picked up one of the water buckets and threw the ice-cold water at Gyuri, causing her to shriek and jump in surprise. Finally, Madam Zhou was able to get a word in.

    "I have no time for your chattering" she declared sternly. "So please sit down and sit still while I scrub you clean."

    Gyuri sniffled as she sat down on the damp stool obediently. "That was cruel" she complained. "The water is freezing cold!"

    Madam Zhou sighed as she approached her while rolling up her sleeves. "It would have been warm if you had stopped your jabbering sooner."


    "No," Madam Zhou flatly admitted. "Now, stay still."

    After Gyuri had been given a very thorough washing by Madam Zhou, she was led to the maids' chambers where a set of clothes was already waiting for her. Madam Zhou turned to her and asked, "I assume you can manage to dress yourself?"

    Gyuri eyed the robes that were neatly folded on top of a futon. She noticed that there were four futons in the room and assumed that she will be sharing the room with three others.

    "I-I'm not really familiar with these clothes."

    Madam Zhou didn't look surprised. "I should have thought so. Your life as a peasant must have deprived you of access to such garments." She picked up one of the layers and proceeded to dress her. "Well, be thankful that not only will the Kims provide you with a place to sleep and food to eat, they will also clothe you and take care of you."

    Gyuri allowed Madam Zhou to dress her, dropping the towel she had wrapped around her body onto the tatami floor. "Madam Zhou, what are the Kims like?"

    Madam Zhou was quiet for a while as she helped Gyuri into her undergarments. "They are very powerful people, one of the most well-known in the kingdom."

    This made Gyuri think. "So... are they like princes?" she asked, suddenly fantasizing about Namjoon, the most attractive Kim she had encountered so far.

    Madam Zhou shook her head, "No. They are not princes."

    "Oh..." Gyuri couldn't help feeling slightly disappointed. If they were, at least she'd be able to fantasize an epic love story like the one in 'Scarlet Heart Ryeo'.

    "They are part of the aristocracy" Madam Zhou informed her. "They are one of the nobles closely related to royalty."

    "Oh!" Gyuri's mood suddenly lifted. "How are they related to royalty?"

    Madam Zhou peered at her quizzically. "Child, are you not from these lands? How have you not heard the news that has been sweeping throughout all of Benkei?"


    "Erm... I'm, er, kinda dumb" Gyuri admitted against her will. She mentally kicked herself for letting Taehyung's earlier insult save her. "So, I'm not really familiar with what is going on around the area."

    Madam Zhou didn't make any attempt to refute her lack of intelligence. "Well, the eldest master of the house, Master Minseok, is engaged to the princess. They are to wed soon, solidifying the Kims' relation to royalty."

    A royal wedding, huh? Gyuri mused. I wonder if it'll be as extraordinary as Prince William's and Kate Middleton's?

    But just as Gyuri was lost in thought, an unwanted presence suddenly burst through the door, startling the two women inside. Gyuri immediately covered her chest as Madam Zhou had not finished binding it.

    "Ah, good. I see that you managed to find Madam Zhou after all" Taehyung observed.

    "Young Master," Madam Zhou bowed to Taehyung. "What are you doing here? It is inappropriate for you to be here."

    "You got that right!" Gyuri screeched. "Get out you little perv! I'm getting dressed for goodness sake!"

    Madam Zhou was aghast, "Gyuri! Mind your tongue!"

    "It is fine, Madam Zhou" Taehyung replied calmly. "I am already used to the new servant's sharp tongue." He had an impish look about him that Gyuri did not like one bit. "And I do not see why you bother to cover yourself," he remarked as he turned towards the door. Gyuri watched as he glanced her up and down as he looked over his shoulder. "There is nothing interesting to see anyway."

    Gyuri's jaw dropped at Taehyung's insult. "You cheeky little-!" She grabbed hold of a nearby pillow and launched it at him, much to the horror of Madam Zhou.

    Taehyung quickly dodged it by disappearing through the door. But before he left, he stuck his tongue out mischievously.

    Related to royalty or not, Gyuri mumbled internally. There's one Kim that I'm not keen to get to know at all.

    And that was Kim Taehyung.
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