87 In Plain Sight Pt.3

    "The White Hibiscus?" Taehyung repeated as he directed his attention from Jongin to Tutor Wentai. "What is that?"

    Tutor Wentai shuffled uncomfortably. "Where- where did you hear about them from?"

    Jongin replied, "From the newspapers brought by the pedlar. That is what the investigations bureau is calling those responsible for the attack, correct?"

    "Master Jongin, we really should not be discussing this here-"

    "You mean, they have a name now?" Taehyung questioned. The image of Gyuri's ashen face flashed before his eyes and he shuddered. "They know who the culprit is?"

    "Young Master-"

    "From what has been said," Jongin cut in, "they are calling them the White Hibiscus because of the flower tattoo found on one of the captured assassins." He paused as he eyed his brother gravely, "They say that the assassin had a tattoo of a hibiscus flower on his arm. It has also been speculated that they are the same rebel group responsible for the series of disruptions in Seoncheul."

    Taehyung was speechless. He remembered hearing about the disturbances that plagued Seoncheul last year but didn't think much of it. He had no reason to. However, things were different now. By surfacing, this threat had created a ripple on his uneventful existence by harming someone he had grown to care for and he wasn't going to allow them to get away with it.

    "Do you know anything else about them?"

    "No," Jongin answered before turning to the elder. "That is where I hope you can enlighten us, Tutor Wentai."

    The elder anxiously pursed his lips.

    "I was hoping you know the reason behind the hibiscus tattoo. There must be something about it that the bureau is hiding from us." He peered down at his inkstone, where their family crest was engraved. "The assailants would not have branded their skin with it for no reason. For us, our clan was named the Jade Lotus because it symbolised 'royalty' as well as 'purity'." He traced his finger across the rosewood lid. "One might interpret the Jade Lotus' insignia as a connotation for the wish to establish a strong and wealthy Saim."

    "But what could a white hibiscus symbolise?" Taehyung queried. He searched his brain for what he knew about botany and was dismayed at how limited his knowledge was.

    The pair stared at Tutor Wentai expectantly.

    Reluctantly, he answered with his gaze averted, "A hibiscus flower symbolises a 'fleeting beauty' or 'personal glory'."

    The brothers attentively nodded.

    "It is just my speculation, but I think that the rebel group uses the hibiscus flower as a satirical symbol to mock the Jade Lotus." He looked up momentarily, "In the language of flowers, lotuses are revered by the Saimese while hibiscuses are weeds for they are common flowers. By branding their bodies, they must be using it as a symbol of triumph which they hope their cause will be. In some sense, it is a mark of insurgency, judging by their actions so far."

    Jongin murmured, "I see..."

    Tutor Wentai peered at Taehyung and took note of his dubious expression. "Do you not concur, Young Master?"

    He hummed in response. "No, I agree with the latter of your speculation but..."


    "But it just seems nonsensical for a rebel group to brand themselves to mock the Jade Lotus."

    "It is just my speculation, Young Master" Tutor Wentai clarified. "In truth, I remain as clueless as you."

    Taehyung nodded in acknowledgement as he entered his state of reverie. While Tutor Wentai resumed the History lesson, he glanced out of the window, where he spotted the garden from afar. It was a beautiful summer's day and the flowers were in full bloom. He rarely took the time to admire the wide variety of shrubs and flowers but at that moment, he noticed something peculiar. He narrowed his eyes just to confirm that he did not see a mirage and that it was indeed what he thought it was.

    "Now, I understand."

    Both the elder and Jongin turned to him.

    "Understand what, Taehyung?" Jongin asked.

    "The White Hibiscus" he replied. "I think I know the significance behind it."

    This piqued Tutor Wentai's interest. "Oh? Pray, do tell, Young Master."

    Taehyung eyed the pair before pointing to the window. "Look out to the garden and tell me, what do you see?"

    Jongin leaned forward as he made his observation. "I see... flowers" he answered. "And trees and bushes."

    "Yes, but what stands out to you the most?"

    Jongin narrowed his eyes as he searched the garden again. There were so many exotic flowers competing for his attention that he was unsure of what to say. He surveyed the garden again and eventually settled on the majestic specimen that called out to him the most. "I guess that would be the magnolia tree."

    "And what about you, Tutor Wentai? What catches your attention the most?"

    The elder peered out of the window and was immediately drawn by the vibrancy of the chrysanthemums. They were a lovely shade of auburn. When he voiced out his observation, Taehyung smiled at his answer.

    "Do you not see? The answer is simple."

    Confused, Jongin questioned, "What do you mean?"

    Taehyung gestured to the window again but this time, directed their attention to a part of the garden. "Did none of you notice the hibiscus flowers in the corner?"

    Tutor Wentai and Jongin craned their necks to see where Taehyung was pointing at. In the far corner of the garden was a large patch of blooming white hibiscuses. Once they located it, their eyes widened in disbelief.

    "How did I not notice that?"

    "Since when was that there?"

    "The White Hibiscus," Taehyung explained, catching their attention once more, "may be a rebel group but at the same time, they represent the lay people." He glanced at the garden with sombre eyes. "Like just now, none of you noticed the hibiscus flowers because they were being outshone by the other flowers. They were hiding in plain sight."

    "I see" Jongin let out a sound of realisation. "We overlooked them like weeds on the ground."

    "Precisely" Taehyung affirmed. "Last year, they attacked Seoncheul. This year, they attacked us, here, in Benkei." He addressed Jongin, "Do you know of any other attacks around Saim?"

    His brother nodded slowly. "There were other articles, mainly regions that the Waekugin occupy-"

    "What if they are all connected?"

    Tutor Wentai interrupted, "Young Master, that is really too much of a stretch to assume that."

    "But what if they truly are connected?" Taehyung persisted. "Tutor Wentai, I think that this is what the White Hibiscus is trying to get across."

    The elder locked his gaze on Taehyung, uncertain as to whether he should be impressed or anxious about the way he thought. He did not anticipate for Taehyung to possess such a brilliant mind; a mind that was dangerously close to the border of high intelligence and pure madness.

    Where had he been hiding his talent all this time? Tutor Wentai thought. If he had only applied himself sooner, he could have surpassed Master Jongin. He gaped at him secretly. There is no doubt that the Young Master has untapped potential that needs much honing.

    "Tutor Wentai," he heard Taehyung address him. The elder looked up just in time to see the clarity in his crescent eyes. "The White Hibiscus is a warning," he said solemnly. "If we keep overlooking their plight, the struggle of the people,  it will not be long till they make us face their direction." Taehyung lowered his voice as he uttered,  "And when we do, I am afraid that it may be too late."
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