Title: Atlas Hands 1B/?
Word count: 3444
Summary: I don’t think about you anymore but I don’t think about you anyless…
Hyosang and Yoonchul walk quietly through the halls, only the sound of Yoonchul’s hooves softly hitting the marble floors echo and bounce against the long open halls. The sounds of Sanggyun’s younger sisters and brothers playing outside in the courtyard filter in through the archways of the halls. The two guardsmen stop to watch Sanggyun run out to play with them. Yoonchul’s eyebrows crease up in worry when Sanggyun dirties his robes with grass and dirt stains despite knowing his mother would scold him for it later.
“I’m worried about him.”
“We all are, but he’ll be fine. He has us, and I like to think that we are a good team, despite...losses...that have happened,” Hyosang’s gaze flickers towards where Yoonchul is playing with his fingers against his bare chest, leans in, the top of his head barely reaches the centaur’s shoulders, and does his best to keep his voice quiet, “He also has that little potions boy from the countryside with him.”
The two resume walking after Sanggyun flops onto a mess of leaves, dirt, and grass. His smile is wide and his eyes sparkle brightly. He looks just as boyish and childish as he did twelve years ago. He does not look like a soon to be king. Yoonchul shuffles in his spot awkwardly, rubbing at his arm. “Did we ever find out where exactly the boy is from? I would rather not him sneaking into Sanggyun’s crowning ceremony, much less his marriage ceremony.” Hyosang bows his head as they pass by a small group of manservants leaving the main healer’s study, shifting his sheathed sword slightly, but his voice is still hushed “He uses three eyed ravens to get into the walls and we only know of one person with that ability who has entered the palace.” Yoonchul looks at him nervously as they finally reach Hojoon’s own study, dark clouds of steam filtering through the opening at the bottom of the heavy wooden door. “But that’s what--” “That’s exactly my point. It’s in our best interest to trace the raven back to it’s source, for more reasons than just finding the potions boy.”
Yoonchul finds his mouth opening and closing in disbelief before settling itself downwards into a frown when Hyosang pushes past him and slams open the door to Hojoon’s study. “But he left, Hyosang, we can’t do that to him. We might as well kill him if you’re going to try to bring him back.” Hojoon looks up from where he is brewing a mass potion at the large cauldron in the center of the room. “Who are we killing and why? The reason I left the battlefield was because I don’t want blood on my hands anymore. So behave, you two.”
“We’re not killing anyone, we’re just bringing a certain someone back.” Hyosang’s loud voice is even louder as it bounces off of the cobblestone walls in the small circular room. For a moment, Hojoon stops stirring the glowing green potion in shock, causing it to dim and shift to purple before resuming his stirring. The small grey mouse that was previously sitting on Hojoon’s shoulder clambers down and dashes towards where Taeyang was sitting on a pile of pillows and slumped against the window in the circular room. He doesn’t say much other than a small greeting and resumes watching the three talk after perking up from his position and waving slightly at Yoonchul.
“Who did you find?”
“We haven’t found anyone. It would be best if--” Yoonchul interrupts the kingsguard before he can reply but he’s cut off and pushed backwards before he can finish his thought in Hyosang’s excitement. “We found Hansol! Or, well, like camel boy over here said, not yet at least but we have ideas and a way to find him.”
Hojoon looks back at Hyosang wearily before turning around to grab a jar of something morbid off of one of the taller shelves on the wall. Yoonchul tries not to smile as Hojoon steps onto his tip toes. “Yoonchul’s right, Hyosang. We really shouldn’t bring Hansol back, not unless it’s necessary or he wants to. This place wasn’t good for him.” Hyosang huffs and settles himself beside Taeyang and lays his sheathed sword across his lap looking much like the excitable child he is. “This place wasn’t good for any of us.”
“You are right, the palace walls were far too cruel with all of us but Hansol was allowed to leave. He was given the Grace and the permission to leave, Hyosang. I do not usually agree with Yoonchul, but for you to disrespect Hansol this way is discerning.” Hojoon speaks gently, carefully but Yoonchul can see how irritated he’s getting, his round spectacles fogging up with how warm his cheeks have become in frustration, little red and white speckled mushrooms sprout out from the angry red tips of his ears.. Where he had previously been stirring the potion smoothly, Hojoon is now stirring it sharply, the colors of the potion shifting between a glowing neon green and a bubbling turquoise. He stops all together, however, when Taeyang speaks up.
“We might need him though, Hojoon. The two of us can’t possibly handle the new trainees by ourselves. Especially that Byungjoo kid. Despite being a boy from the country with no previous training he’s out of Kim Joonmyeon’s reach and nearly out of mine.” Taeyang is calm, his voice is steady but there’s a slight desperate and exhausted tone to it that has Hojoon’s resolve withering. His brows are furrowed upward and his eyes are tired, so so tired. Despite not being a cleric himself, Hojoon knows how difficult it is to start preparing for new trainees, especially the country boys, especially after the kingdom had stopped accepting trainees since Hansol was accepted into the regimen. “You know how easily Hansol took to healing magic. He was..He was great, phenomenal even. He reached and surpassed our levels in a matter of three years. I do not want to bring him back to the palace walls anymore than you or Yoonchul do, especially after you-know-who left, but it might be necessary.”
Hojoon sighs, refusing to look at any of the three young men staring at him, especially Taeyang. Taeyang had always been a trusted source and so he had made most of the decisions by himself after considering everyone’s opinions, even when they were trainees, but Hojoon had always been the one that everyone had actually listened to. Having this heavy weight placed on his shoulders was exhausting, and Hojoon feels even more pity and sympathy towards Taeyang after not properly understanding what the older had gone through.
“Hyosang...find him. Do not make any other moves until Taeyang or I give you the go ahead. If Taeyang, Joonmyeon, and I cannot help Kim Byungjoo improve at all by ourselves after a fortnight then you are required to bring him to the walls. His chambers should not have been left unclean since he was given Grace but even so, Yoonchul, I want you to make sure the maids and manservants have been doing their duty.”
Hyosang immediately races out of the potions room, the dark smoke bubbling out of Hojoon’s cauldron trailing behind him. Taeyang smiles gently, eyes tired, and mouths a you did good before setting off to follow the kingsguard. Yoonchul however still stands in front of Hojoon, only the large cauldron separating the two, and shifts his hooves back and forth. “Is there anything else, Yoonchul?” Hojoon looks up after a moment of silence, watches as Yoonchul’s cheeks flush and he does his best not to look at the small mole in the center of Yoonchul’s chest. Hojoon smiles gently to coax the words out of Yoonchul. “Do you think I could get my legs back?” Hojoon’s smile widens and his nose crinkles when he turns around to pick up a much smaller cauldron off of the stone floor and gathers the ingredients for the potion.
Three weeks later, Sanggyun follows his mother and father down the closed up halls of the left wing in the palace. Most of the palace had open halls leading out towards the main courtyard and several smaller ones, but the entire left wing’s halls had been closed off after the last trainees of the Royal Guard had been deemed ready for the battlefield and had graduated. The halls of the left wing progressively became more cold and damp the further they went underground and Sanggyun doesn’t like it. He doesn’t like how dark and foreign the entire left wing of the palace is.
Sanggyun’s parents were flanked by Hyosang and Yoonchul, hands placed at the hilt of their swords more through habit than anything else and knowing that there would be no danger. Up front his mother was going on about the history of crowning and knighting ceremonies and how important this is for him and how he should experience it for the good of the kingdom and how he shouldn’t be nervous at all since Taeyang and Hyosang had taught him the procedures for each class respectively. Usually Sanggyun would provide his mother with every ounce of his attention but the shrieks belonging to his younger brothers and sisters behind him and Park Kyungri smiling at him every so often are distracting him far more than they should. When they reach the end of the hall and arrive at the doors to the left wing’s ballroom Kyungri and Sanggyun’s brothers and sisters enter first. Sanggyun’s mother turns around to face him, Yoonchul does the same and steps back before smiling slightly at him, before she places her small hands upon his shoulders and pulls him forward in a tight hug. “You’ll do wonderfully, Sanggyun, just follow your father’s lead.”
Sanggyun does just that as his father walks through the doors with his head held high, shoulders squared, and his straightened back stiff. Once Sanggyun and his father reach the platform where their thrones sit the make their separate ways for the lap around the room, Sanggyun to the right and his father to the left. The closer Sanggyun gets to making a lap around the left side of the ballroom before settling on the throne beside his father’s, the louder the whispers of he’s rather pretty, isn’t he and with how he carries himself he will make a great king, he will be a saint compared to his father coming from proud parents and guests becomes. Sanggyun is never sure what to do in these situations and he thanks the gods and his mother for the heavy makeup that hides his warm flushed cheeks, the whispers happen often whenever he appears in the public eye alongside his father. Sanggyun’s father doesn’t seem to be affected by it and years prior had told Sanggyun he had gone through the exact same thing with his father, and so he smiles awkwardly at the guests and trainee’s family members.
While he’s making his way up the middle aisle beside his father, Sanggyun meets eyes with one of the trainees who will be in one of the healing classes. The trainee’s mother is fussing over his hair, pressing it down so it lays flat and straight. And while both Sanggyun and the trainee know she’s doing it out of love, they both flush in embarrassment and smile awkwardly at each other. Before he passes the trainee and his mother, Sanggyun mouths a good luck before turning to face forward and squaring his jaw, trying not to chuckle at the mother’s excited whispers about Sanggyun acknowledging them. Finally the prince and king complete their lap and arrive at their thrones, wasting no time, Sanggyun immediately pads over to his throne before taking a seat and instinctually crossing his legs. Yoonchul, Hyosang, Taeyang, and Kim Joonmyeon promptly step forward, introduce themselves as the head mentors of the training program and begin to drone on about rules, regulations, expectations, and what is allowed and what is not, for the remainder of the ceremony.
Hyosang ushers Sanggyun down as the trainees begin to line up in front of their respective mentors and after he had knighted the first in line. The trainee Hyosang had knighted stands up and is ushered towards the back room where his parents were sent, and the next trainee steps forward. Half of his dark hair is pulled upwards into a short ponytail and there’s a certain haughty air about him that Sanggyun finds himself taken aback by. Sanggyun's hands begin to shake when the king's guard hands him the longsword specifically used for knighting and welcoming trainees into the regimen, he lifts the blade of the sword over each of the kneeling trainee’s shoulders and nicks them, watching thin streams of blood slide down his broad shoulders and chest. Some of the blood soaks into his nametag, making his last name almost impossible to read but his family crest of a roaring lion is spotless, and Sanggyun manages to realize he must be Han Jiwon. The eldest son of the family of nobles, constantly spoken highly of for his strength. Nonetheless he repeats Hyosang’s actions, and continues to do so for the remaining trainees in the other classes.
Midway through the subclass of clerics with protective magic, the trainee whose mother was pressing down his hair clumsily stumbles in front of Sanggyun with an unattractive flush straight down to his collarbones. He smiles anxiously at the prince before kneeling down and baring his neck, waiting for the press of cool metal from the cleric’s staff against his jugular and his sternum. "Kim Byungjoo, I announce you as the fifty-third trainee in the class of remedial clerics of the kingdom's sixteenth training regimen. Welcome, and may the Moon be with you." Rushing to stand and head over to his mother and sisters in the back room, Byungjoo bows repeatedly. His cheeks were still flushed a bright red but there was a sense of pride in the way he began to carry himself now, even as he trips and nearly loses his balance as he stands straight. Gradually, Sanggyun goes through all ninety seven trainees, learning each of their names but only a select few actually standing out to him. He can’t help but feel guilty that out of nearly one hundred trainees, soon to be soldiers that will fight and heal for him, for his soon to be kingdom, he can only remember a select amount of them while no doubt they will all recognize him. Instead of acting on his guilt, instead of immediately apologizing to the trainee in front of him, Yi Moonbyul her battered nametag reads, he smiles gently and tries his best not to worry about the overwhelming built gnawing at the inner corners of his mind by the end of the ceremony.
As Byungjoo shoves a hat onto his head and prepares for his first Understanding of the Weather and Moon's Effects on Magicks class of the day, he likes to think that he’s been adjusting to life as a trainee within the palace walls pretty well. He’s been living as a trainee for three weeks, and so far he hasn’t been caught within any drama or had gotten into too much trouble. Granted, his hair had embarrassingly curled and poofed up on his second day here despite all the effort his mother and three sisters had put into straightening his hair and keeping it that way had gone to waste, and his once smooth soft hands were more than sore after being sent out to pick healing herbs in the mountains last week and accidentally picking up a poisonous herb that belonged to the same family of faire root instead of picking up faire root itself. The day after his group had come back from the northwestern mountains, Byungjoo spotted a small figure with black billowing robes stomping angrily through the halls and into one of the older chambers for trainees that hadn’t been used since the last regimen ten or so years ago.
Lifting his rucksack onto his shoulder, Byungjoo dismisses the daily raven his mother sends to remind him to eat well and take care of himself, and locks his chamber doors before beginning the long trek across the castle and to his instructor's classroom. It's odd, how empty the halls seem to be today, usually he would be shuffling along with the other trainees who live on this side of the palace with him but today the halls are completely empty save for a manservant or maid rushing past him every once in awhile. He considers he woke up earlier than most today but that thought is dismissed when he hears Instructor Kim's voice echoing from inside of the classroom. The closer he gets, however, the more confusing the sounds get. It almost sounds as if he's arguing with another student, bringing up incomplete or missing work and the like, but when the voices quiet down Byungjoo sneaks closer to the door and peeks through the slight gap in the door he’s taken by surprise. Doing his best to surpress the blush blooming across his cheeks and at the tips of his ears, Byungjoo drops his rucksack without thinking and dashes towards Taeyang’s study, hoping the older man would be there.
He is, Byungjoo finds out as he slams the door open and surveys the room with wide eyes, chest rising and falling rapidly. Hojoon jumps when the door collides and bounces loudly with the wall and his cauldron slips out of his hands and he drops it, spilling the entirety of it’s contents and staining the wooden floor. He and Taeyang seem calm however, so Byungjoo seems he won’t be getting into too much trouble. “Sir, Taeyang, sir, I have something to te--,” Hojoon cuts him off before he can finish panicking and Byungjoo is left even more confused by what he says next. “It’s nice to see you’re finally awake, Byungjoo, we were worried you might have a severe allergy to faire root.” The trainee tilts his head to the side and furrows his brows but his face is still a bright red and he feels the heat of the blush begin to creep further than his collarbones and down to his chest. “What do you mean, sir? Today is a class day, is it not?”
Instead of answering, Hojoon just looks towards Taeyang and crouches down to begin scooping the thick turquoise mixture into his cauldron. “You’ve been resting since Friday night, Byungjoo, today is a praying day or for those who do not believe, a resting day. We received word that you had woken up last night and wandered around the halls for quite some time, however you were still under medication. Though you seem to be well now, was there something you needed?” Byungjoo is reminded of what he just witnessed, and suddenly the empty halls make much more sense than him waking up earlier than the entire student body. By the time his face had cooled down, the blush returns and Byungjoo begins stammering, obviously uncomfortable with what he needs to say, “Well, you see, sir, I saw something quite...inappropriate between a student and an Instructor and I didn’t really know who else to tell and--” Hojoon places a small hand on his shoulder in order to stop him from rambling and becoming even more uncomfortable.
“Unfortunately, Byungjoo, that is...just a thing that happens here. Specifically with clerics, though I am not sure if the knights in training do the same.”
Taeyang pipes up from behind his desk, sending Byungjoo a reassuring glance that immediately calms him down. “It is not behavior that is...mandatory, nor are you meant to feel as if you must do the actions you have seen. While some students are perfectly fine with doing so, others are not and that is completely fine. If an instructor or anyone tries to...force themselves on you or anyone you know, you are, however, obligated to tell either myself, Instructor Hojoon, or Kim Joonmyeon. If you cannot find any of us, you are to go to either of the king’s or queen’s guards, they will know how to handle this. Do you understand?”
The severity of Taeyang’s tone leaves him frozen but Byungjoo finds it in himself to nod an affirmative but he can’t help but feel he’s gotten himself into something he won’t be able to back out of. His throat feels tight, and he wants to cry as his eyes flicker between Hojoon and Taeyang, “I understand, sir.”