Il's eyes narrowed as he scanned over the many faces stood before him- particularly that of his sixteen-year-old sister. Sixteen; the same age their mother had been when she had been chased from the castle.
Kashi had also inherited a huge responsibility at such a young age. Sixteen and she was already the next Son and general of the wind tribe.
His eyes lifted to glance at the heavens. Are you watching us Mother? Are you proud of us Father?
Son Hak, the 'Thunder beast'- Il's father. Many times, throughout his life, he had barely escaped the claws of death, living through countless injuries that would have left many people dead.
It was this lifestyle however, that had ultimately led to his father's death- at what many would consider a young age to die, his body could no longer withstand against the more serious injuries that had accrued over time. It had already been six years since his father had left them.
Yona- the red-haired princess, master of the four dragons- Il's Mother. She was a great inspiration to all women- Kashi especially. She showed Kashi how to fire an arrow before she could even count to 10.
The story of his parents was now legendary- but many people retold the story as a romance. No one knew the real reason behind Yona's death, but Il knew she simply gave up on living- so did many others.
When his father had died, his mother became the first female Son, but only a year after the death of their father, she joined him, Il would never forget that night- the night she told him she was ready to die!
"You are nearing 21 now Il- you are a man. It is time for me to go to heaven where your father is waiting for me" Il shook his head in disbelief! Yun was a fine doctor. He had visited regularly and never expressed any concerns regarding his mother's health.
"I don't understand. You're in perfect health!" With a gentle smile she laid down in her bed and closed her eyes "Hak told me, 'I will wait for you in the next life!' I believe him. I needed to be sure that our children were happy first- you are going to be a great king and Kashi is strong enough to take my place as Son- you don't need me anymore!"
Tears began to fall down his face "of course we need you! You're our mother! Kashi is only 11- she still needs you!" With a small shake of her head, tears also emerged in his mother's eyes "she has a great big brother to watch over her. I'm sorry Il, I am a selfish mother. I have grown tired of this life, a life I can no longer bare to live- not even for my own children, because my beloved Hak isn't here".
Cradling his mother in his arms, Il kissed her head tenderly "I know mother, I know. This life wasn't always kind to you, and now you just want to watch us from afar with father. I promise I will watch over Kashi in your place".
Il left his mother's room with hot tears in his eyes. Quietly, he turned back to her and whispered, "goodnight mother- sweet dreams" The next morning, his mother was gone. Undoubtedly back in the arms of the one she loved.
Il was now 27, he was standing in front of the kingdom- ready to rise as their King. Though his name had earned him a lack of confidence in his soon to be subjects. In each of their eyes he could see uncertainty and doubt.
He had been named after his grandfather King Il; many knew him as a cowardly and foolish king. Soo-won had murdered his grandfather and chased his mother from the castle; this was something Il had known for a long time.
Soo-won had been a fine king- but also a great mentor and he too died young. Il's eyes grew dark as he recalled the week before.
Soo-won had called him to his room. Il knocked and entered as he had done so many other evenings for lessons from the king. This evening was to be different, though a similar event had already happened many years ago- the night Il's mother fled from the castle.
"You wished to see me King Soo-won?" Il bowed his head as he lowered onto one knee. Normally the king would offer him a seat, but this time he remained standing and signalled for Il to stand also.
"I find it rather fitting that your mother would name you after your grandfather" Il lowered his head to hide his discomfort. In truth the fact that king Soo-won; a man Il considered a second father, had killed his grandfather, and tried to kill his mother, had caused a great deal of anguish in him. Though this was something he had since moved past, after talking about it at length with both his parents.
"I'm not sure I follow my King?" Soo-won took two steps forward and stood purposefully on a certain spot "it was in this very spot…I killed your grandfather. He was very kind to me, and I loved him very much, but still, I took his life- surely your mother told you this?"
Very slowly, Il nodded his head once. His eyes were fixed on Soo-won, wondering why on earth he would say all this now. Soo-won took his sword very gently from its sheath. The sliding of its blade rang out against the silence of the room.
Il wondered for a moment, if he would run it through his heart- as he had done his grandfather's. This thought was discarded however, when Soo-won threw it at his feet.
Once again Il looked at him with curious eyes "it is time for you to take your place as king, Il. I have nothing more to teach you. I wish for you to end my life, here on this spot- with the very sword that claimed my uncle's life!"
He was serious. Il knew that. Not many people understood the King- he was a man of mystery. Il however, knew him better than anyone! He had spent more time with Soo-won than even his own parents.
"Why do you have to die?! Why does it have to be me?!" Soo-won's eyes closed as his lips curved into a small smile "because I need to atone for what I have done. I wish to join the only 2 people I care about most in this world- besides you, only once I have paid with my life can I truly earn your parent's forgiveness".
Soo-won took the sword back up in his hands and thrust it to Il "avenge your grandfather Il, kill me and ascend to the throne!" Even Il had to appreciate the beauty of the symmetry in this situation.
With a heavy heart, he nodded in understanding; Soo-won had always meant for it to be him that would kill him, that was why he had fathered no heir! He had told his mother that in atonement he would allow her child to be his heir. She hadn't realised though, that the real atonement would come from that child taking his life.
Taking the blade in his hand, Il noted the weight of it. Any other time this sword would have felt light to him- but the burden he now held in taking this sword into his hands, was heavier than he could have imagined.
Soo-won's eyes never left Il as the blade plummeted into his chest. Sinking to his knees, Soo-won fell forward as he awaited his demise.
Resting the dying King's head in his own lap, Il ignored the fresh, hot tears that were streaming down his face, how many more deaths must he endure?!
"Il…thank you. I hope your mother and father can now forgive me" his eyes had begun to fade and the strength was quickly leaving his body. Il bent his head low so that it touched Soo-won's slightly cold cheek.
"Idiot! My mother forgave you a long time ago! So did my father- even if things weren't the same as when you were children, they loved you!" Soo-won did not answer.
Il smiled at his sister as she approached him to give her consent to his ascension to the throne, Shin-ah followed closely behind her as her protector and quickly, Il spied the remaining dragons amid the others- each had aged tremendously.
Jeaha and Kija were looking as aged as Shin-ah but still they had managed to make it here to witness Il's coronation- despite their busy lives.
Kashi retreated as the other generals stepped forward to offer their consent- one after another, Il bowed his head before addressing his people as their king for the first time.
"My name is Il. Named so after the 'cowardly and foolish' King Il who was my grandfather. Know this, Foolish- though he was, my grandfather was kind!" Il's eyes bore into each of the eyes of anyone who looked upon him in doubt.
"I aim to rule with his kindness, mentored by the great late King Soo-won and all of his wisdom, trained in combat by my father Son Hak, I shall draw from the strength he passed on to me. All of this with the inspiration of the courage and bravery that belonged to my mother; Princess Yona! I swear this to all of the people in my kingdom; I shall protect the people and maintain our greatness!"
The uncertainty quickly faded away, as everyone present roared "long live King Il!" With pride in his heart he once again looked to the heavens. Are you watching Mother? Are you proud Father? Have you found peace Soo-won?
Soo-won's life had left him. His spirit soared towards the two children that were waiting for him. When he broke free of the light, he noted that they were in the secret garden!
The three of them laid together side by side on the warm grass and watched the sky above them.
The young red-headed girl smiled to Soo-won "finally, we can stay here like this forever!" She reached out to take his hand, before turning to the dark-haired boy next to her and extended her other hand to him "Yona? Will they really be ok without us?"
She pointed at the Sky and nodded with a warm smile "Of course! We have taught them everything we know- the rest is up to them now! We can watch over them from here always- together!"