26 Mark My Words Pt.2

    The sound of the door sliding open disturbed Hyesung from his reverie.


    Hyesung turned away from the window to see that Minseok had finally arrived.

    "Ah, Minseok, there you are." He beckoned for his eldest to join him at his desk, where a mountain of scrolls was messily pushed to one side.

    "You called for me?" Minseok queried as he crossed his legs to sit down on the cushion opposite his father. Spotting the bottle of soju and the two cups nearby, Minseok took it upon himself to pour a cup and offer it to him.

    "Yes, I want to speak to you" Hyesung answered as he accepted the cup gladly. "How are the preparations for the ceremony?"

    Once Minseok had finished pouring himself a cup, he replied, "Everything is going smoothly. The wedding will go through as planned."

    Hyesung gave an acknowledging nod. "Good." He took a long sip before saying with satisfaction, "Our family is one step closer to the throne."

    Minseok hovered his cup before his lips. "I am marrying the Princess for love rather than political design, Father."

    "So, you say." Hyesung murmured as he eyed his son steadily. "But I hope you have not forgotten the true reason behind this arrangement."

    "No," Minseok responded with thinned lips. "I have not."

    Hyesung's eyes formed into half-moons as he stroked his wispy beard. "You are my heir apparent, Minseok. One day you will stand to inherit all that I have worked hard to build for the last twenty-five years." Suddenly, Hyesung heard an ominous cackling ringing in his ears and he shuddered. He pushed the memory away into the deep recesses of his mind. "You must ensure that our legacy withstands the test of time."

    Minseok was pensive. "I know, Father. I understand what I must do and what is at stake."

    Hyesung met eyes with Minseok and saw the determination in them. "Alright." He took a long sip of his soju before continuing, "Have you heard any news of the new emperor yet?"

    "Only whispers amongst the men in court" Minseok responded. "It seems that his arrival is only known by the elders of the Park family. Even the Princess does not know."

    Hyesung hummed uncertainly. "The Parks are taking great care not to reveal his identity even now." He scoffed, "they do not even reveal it to us, their allies. Did we give any reason for them to doubt our loyalty?"

    "It is most probable that they are just being cautious, Father" Minseok interjected. "He is the only male heir, after all."

    "Still," Hyesung deliberated. "These are worrying times. Just as our great kingdom is going through times of strife, our emperor had to suddenly pass away." Hyesung shook his head glumly, "It surely reminds one of their mortality" and with that Hyesung glanced down at his gnarly palm.

    "Father, you must not speak that way. You still have a lifetime ahead of you."

    "Ah, but only a foolish man would jest that he will live longer than what he is due. Park Jisoon was such a man. As emperor, he promised to rule for thirty years. In the end, he fell short by five."

    Minseok agreed solemnly. "He was a great man. And it is not only my, but everyone else's, hope that the new emperor will be just as inspiring as the late emperor."

    "Indeed" Hyesung murmured. "Pray that he is."

    The two men fell silent as they both took long sips of soju.

    Minseok finished his first and was about to speak when he was abruptly interrupted by someone at the door.


    Minseok looked behind him and then glanced back at the old man. He saw Hyesung's lips curl into a frown when he recognised whose voice it was.

    "Shall I tell him to come in?" Minseok asked cautiously.

    Hyesung gave him a reproachful look but eventually, he nodded.

    Minseok faced the door again and called for Junmyeon to enter.

    In a few moments, Junmyeon appeared through the door, his robes immaculately pristine and his hair, neatly bound. He briefly met eyes with Minseok before glancing up at his father. Seeing the coldness in his eyes, he lost his nerve and averted his gaze. He decided to look down at the floor instead.

    "Greetings, Father" Junmyeon murmured politely while bowing to him.

    Hyesung remained silent as he watched his third son.

    "And greetings to you too, brother" he added, turning to Minseok.

    Minseok bowed in return before asking, "What brings you here, Junmyeon?"

    Junmyeon was caught off guard at the sudden question but then quickly composed himself. He snuck a glance at Hyesung before answering, "I came to inform Father that I have been accepted for a position in court."

    "Really?" Minseok's tone was jubilant. "That is excellent news, brother!"

    The corners of Junmyeon's mouth stretched into a small smile at his brother's reaction. He peeked at his father to see if he shared his enthusiasm. To his discouragement, Hyesung's visage remained unfazed.

    "Is that all?" Hyesung grunted.

    Junmyeon's eyes flickered. His father's unfeeling words were as icy as his stare. "Ye-yes" Junmyeon muttered. "I-I apologise for disturbing you..."

    "Show yourself out" Hyesung uttered coldly and Junmyeon retreated backwards. With a hurt gait, he exited the room not daring to look back.

    Once Junmyeon was out of earshot, Minseok sighed at his father.

    "Not a word, Minseok" he warned.

    "But Father-"

    "Not a word" he spoke firmly. "No matter what you say, I cannot accept him."

    Minseok looked away sadly. "As you wish, Father. As you wish."
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